Sunday, June 06, 2004

Review - Pappasito's Cantina

Finally went to Pappasito's Cantina. With all the good Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston this was way down on my list as my brother had said it wasn't much better than others but with a lot higher prices.
But I was taking Anita out for her birthday and gave her a choice of Pappa's off my gift cards and she doesn't eat fish and wanted Mexican. We did not mention it was her birthday as we hate the noisy, stupid singing.

Location I-10 near Beltway, Friday noon. Ten minute wait which I expected. Pretty noisy also as expected. She had a lunch enchilada plate and I, after considering some fish dishes, decided to consider her feelings and allergies about fish and shrimp and had the chicken fajita lunch. Two ice teas and she added chile con queso to split.

Right away the fried chips weren't up to par. Fresh, very thin, but a slightly off-taste. I suspect the grease needed changing. The red salsa dip served warm was nicely flavored and mild, probably an advantage for a restaurant wanting wide appeal. Chile con queso the same, traditional, nice flavor, but too mild.

Chicken fajita were breasts of meat well smoked and grilled - delicious. Very little grilled onion came with the chicken. Didn't notice any grilled peppers. Pico de gallo, cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese and clarified butter (surprise) came with the fajitas for the roll your own tacos. The flour tortillas for the fajita were fresh, thick and soft and they gave you four.

The charro soup was excellent - smoky and beef flavors but the Mexican rice was just OK. I had a bite of her refried beans which had the same smoky flavor. My ex-wife rates Mexican places by how well they do the beans and she would have loved these.

At first we didn't think we'd have room for dessert - but it was her birthday so we split but couldn't finish a slice of coconut macaroon cake. Bottom layer crushed macaroons, then coconut cream pie, then a frosting layer, then cake, then butter frosting on top and shredded coconut on back. Fresh mango and strawberry pieces on the side. This worked out well, as I wanted mango and Anita doesn't eat them so they were mine, all mine, as well as the all the cake I could eat. Excellent. I had considered the mango margarita earlier but I was driving and at those prices I could make my own this weekend at home for by the pool.

Service was excellent after the expected wait and a bit of a slow start.

After taxes but before tip the birthday lunch total came to around $36.10 for two, good thing we hadn't gone at dinner or ordered drinks besides iced teas. My $35 gift cards were slightly more than wiped out. Adding the generous tip for great service hmmm... For my budget, rare special occasion lunches only. I agree with my brother. Now they may be slightly better on the seafood dishes I didn't try.

In many respects this was upscale Casa Ole, a little better - more expensive. They have the same emphasis on freshness but making everything bland enough for the Gringo palette. Major pluses were the chicken fajita's and the flavoring on the beans as well as the fabulous dessert. For Pappa's Seafood I am much more willing to pay their prices but not here with so many good Mexican and Tex-Mex places around.

My bias - I prefer finding great little out-of-the-way hole-in-the-wall inexpensive restaurants.

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