Plantains, beans, rice, slow cooked pork, spicy sauces - these are just but a few foods that come to mind when I think of Latin food. We have such a richly diverse Latin population in Houston that narrowing down the five best is extremely difficult. For the sake of fairness, I am omitting Mexican and Spanish restaurants from this list.
5. Tango and Malbec The strange name of this beautiful Argentinean restaurant was enough to convince me to try the place. Though best known for excellent grilled meats, T&M also makes crispy, delightful pizzas in a wood-burning oven, as well as some surprisingly tasty vegetarian options, such as the Eggplant Milanesa that comes with delightful provolone stuffed tomatoes.
4. Honduras Maya The huge, ridiculously cheap breakfast platters at this Bellaire eatery are legendary not only for their deliciousness, but also their low prices. Fried eggs, creamy avocado, beans, plantains, and more squeeze together to fit on your plate. The baleadas, a thick flour tortilla folded in half and filled with beans, crema and shavings of cotija cheese, are a must.
3. Latina Café Though often lacking in the service department, Latina Café will always hold a special place in my heart. I've been eating at this humble Cuban gem since I was a small child. The pan con bistec (steak sandwich) with crispy potato sticks and soft, sweet onions is a lunch favorite, while the yucca frita and garlicky pollo makes an exceptional dinner. The potent café Cubano is the perfect way to end any meal.
2. Latin Bites A relative newcomer to the Houston restaurant scene, the Peruvian Latin Bites is already creating quite name for itself with a modern take on a range of traditional Latin dishes. I like to start off with the savory beef empanadas with their delicate buttery pastry. The cebiches are always perfectly fresh and balanced. The grilled meats are perfection, and the rice dishes are excellent. Don't leave without sampling the decadent alfajores (dulce de leche sandwich cookies).
1. Tex-Chick The amazing Puerto Rican fare served at this tiny restaurant reminds me of many of the Cuban dishes I grew up eating. It is one of the few places in town where you can get a huge plate of bacalao y mofongo salted and dried codfish in a pile of sweet plantains topped with crispy pieces bacon. The carne frita (fried pork) is one of the best dishes in town.