Spotted Cock

Literally translated, gallo pinto means "spotted" or "painted cock." Some translators call it speckled hen. But there's no poultry in gallo pinto, which is a beef dish. In Costa Rica, it's eaten at all different meals, particularly breakfast. Gallo pinto can also be found in Nicaragua, where it's often combined with rice and black beans (in Cuba, this combo is known as congri). At Amazón Grill (5114 Kirby, 713-599-0020), the gallo pinto ($10) consists of a smoky beef tenderloin, slow-cooked until it falls apart, combined with black beans and rice into a sort of hash. It's served in a corn flauta -- its own edible bowl -- and comes with a colorful side relish consisting of finely diced tomatoes, corn, peas, onions, bell peppers, jicama, zucchini and cilantro in a sharp citrus vinaigrette. Two slices of plantain add a gentle sweetness to the dish. -- Paul Galvani

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