Over the course of the next few months, I'm counting down 100 of my favorite Houston dishes. I chose some because they are such quintessential Houston creations, others for their cultural or historical significance, and others because they are just so damn tasty. Share your own nominations in the comments.
#91 Cochinita Pibil at Tacos La Bala 5800 Bellaire
The stupendous cochinita pibil tacos are a buck and a half apiece at Tacos La Bala #2, across the street from Pico's Mex-Mex. The shreds of fall-apart tender, slow-cooked pork are topped with raw onions and chopped cilantro (by request) and swimming in a spicy orange juice that runs out of the taco when you bite it. It's like a taco filled with pork and chile soup.
The tacos might amaze you, but the cochinita pibil torta will shock and awe you. The pork is generously packed on fresh telera bread with all the lettuce, tomato, avocado and cheese condiments you expect in a proper torta, with a large slice of ham laid over top for good measure. The telera bread absorbs the hot orange chile juices that you lose when you get the taco, creating a terrific soggy sandwich that you have to eat fast before it falls apart. I split one with a friend, which turned out to be a wise strategy. We each finished our half sandwich before it got too wet.
Tacos La Bala #1 was a taco truck on the commercial shipping wharf in Tampico. There is a photo of the original truck hanging in the hallway between the kitchen and the restrooms. Maybe that's why the menu of Tacos La Bala lacks the niceties of most sit-down restaurants. It is essentially a taco-truck menu.
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The list to date: #100: Green Chile Chicken Kebabs at Chatkhara Grill #99: The All-Day Burrito at Cherry Top Bakery #98: "You Buy We Fry" Trout Basket at Hank's Fish Market #97: Chicharron de Barriga at La Michoacana Meat Market # 10 #96: Pakistani Breakfast at Kings Chicken #95: Fried Mojarra at Taqueria Jesus Maria #94: Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake Ball at Coffee Groundz #93:Cheeseburger at Leonard's Famous Burgers #92: Lasagna at Doyle's on 34th St.