The culinary wizards at La Parranda appease appetites of all types with fresh dishes that take residence on a cantina-style menu of zesty Mexican cuisine. Amid a casual setting, coronate a meal with friends by dunking triangular tortillas into a small order of chili con queso ($3) or skinny-dipping shrimp into a pool of shrimp cocktail ($10). Growling tummies will be tamed by hearty beef enchiladas ($9), while the carne asada—a 10-ounce fajita steak—($13) halts hunger pains with more facility than a piñata stuffed with meat. The classic tacos de pescado ($12) leave taste buds swooning like 1950s teenagers at a Franz Liszt cover band concert, and recently earned a spot in Erin Miller’s Houston Classic Mexican Recipes cookbook.
Tortas El Angel’s cooks spill a cascade of lovingly spiced meats into french bread receptacles to forge the menu's 13 titular tortas. The sandwiches burst with flavorful skirmishes between explosive jalapeños and tangy chipotle dressing, mediated by the cubana torta's ham, pork, and sausage ($5.99¬–$8.99) or the beef and egg of the nortena torta ($5.99¬–$8.99). The selection of tacos ($1.65 each), whose diminutive size makes them ideal for bribing hungry librarians, showcases corn or tortilla discs buckling under the weight of chicken, beef, or pastor. Bend straws around a dulcet array of aquas frescas ($1.75¬–$2.25): from tamarindo as delicately sweet as the tears of Kool-Aid Man to the cinnamon-fueled party of horchata. Diners digitally supplement the authentic fare that fills El Angel's welcoming digs on the restaurant's free WiFi.
Within the sun-baked walls of Las Ventanas, experienced chefs create an authentic Mexican culinary retreat for diners. The lunch menu touts a bevy of light soups and salads, such as the sopa las ventanas, a brothy blend of homemade chicken and tomato soup garnished with fresh avocado, sour cream, queso fresco, and tortilla strips ($6). More filling midday sustenance can fuel complex siesta dream sequences, such as tacos al carbon, two soft fajitas wrapped around chicken or beef and stuffed with guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, and charro beans ($12.50). Lasso a decadent dish off the dinner menu, such as beef tenderloin, a 7.5-ounce swatch of succulent beef marinated in a chipotle sauce with garlic and mushrooms ($26.95), or swan dive pout-first into tropical pescado al mango, featuring sautéed mahi-mahi over a rice pancake and topped with dry vermouth mango-habanero sauce ($18.95).
Berryhill Baja Grill continues an 84-year-old culinary tradition begun by Walter Berryhill, who sold his handmade tamales around Houston with nothing but a pushcart, a tortilla press, and his personal recipe. Today, the grill’s tamales pack savory cornmeal and fillings such as beef, pork, and spinach within cornhusks recently liberated from overcrowded cornucopias. Elsewhere on the menu, fish tacos combine tempura-battered fish, special sauce, and cilantro in a hearty corn tortilla, and pollo platters smother grilled chicken breast with affection in the form of poblano peppers and mushrooms—the hugs and joint tax returns of the food world.
Poblano peppers, queso blanco, house-made flour tortillas, and other Mexican influences join Southern staples such as pecans and spinach dip on Tejas Grill and Sports Bar's expansive menu of burgers, salads, and fajitas. A longhorn skull peers over tap pulls as they loosen drafts of Shiner Bock, Fat Tire, and Lone Star and affable barkeeps pour more than 23 tequilas into cocktails and shots. Between stacked stone columns and Texas ephemera such as metal stars, vast plasma TVs dapple the walls of the airy dining room, flickering with sporting events and perpetual loops of The Lawrence Welk Show.