First Look at La Casa de Frida

Categories: Restaurant News

La Casa de Frida 018.jpg
Now taking bets on how long the Frida Kahlo theme will last.
As my two friends and I scanned the long menu at La Casa de Frida (4002 N. Main, 713-880-1564) last Wednesday evening, we found ourselves bewildered.

"Why is there a random Italian section on here?" my friend Hala asked.

"Yeah, I don't get it," echoed friend and coworker Craig Malisow across the table.

"If y'all think that's weird, look at this one," I said, pointing to a dish called Pollo Linda that promised an "Asian twist" of some kind.

Linda is the chef here at La Casa de Frida, a family-run place that's been run by the same folks for 30 years on North Main. It was formerly Rico's Cantina, then -- for a very brief period last year -- Rico's Luchadores. That Mexican wrestling-themed concept didn't pan out, so the family has now switched gears to a Frida Kahlo-decorated Tex-Mex cantina that offers Italian and Chinese food on the menu in addition to college "club" nights on Fridays and drag shows on Saturdays.

I think it's safe to say that La Casa de Frida will last about as long as Rico's Luchadores did. And it's safe to say that the Rico's family has absolutely no idea what they want to do with the place. In its current incarnation, La Casa de Frida is a bizarre mess.

La Casa de Frida 010.jpg
Yes, my camera is still broken. But there is very little that would have made these enchiladas look more appetizing.
I could not convince either of my dining companions to order anything off the Italian portion of the menu, a trend I see being repeated until Chef Linda takes the Chipotle Frida-ttuccine Alfredo and other such randomness off the predominately Tex-Mex menu. I took one for the team and ordered the aforementioned Pollo Linda, while my companions played it safe with shrimp enchiladas and shrimp chalupas.

The queso and guacamole that came out were both disappointing in their own ways -- the cheese in the queso was gummy and tasted of flour -- but the guacamole was the worse of the two. Someone needs to tell the kitchen that making guacamole does not just mean taking the avocado flesh out of the skin and mashing it up until it visually resembles guacamole. Other ingredients are required. Say, salt, for starters.

Our dinners didn't fare much better. My Pollo Linda was, indeed, the bastard child of Chinese and Tex-Mex cooking: sweet and sour chicken with pineapple and bell peppers served over a bed of cilantro rice, with so many jalapeno seeds in the sweet and sour sauce that it made my eyes water with one bite. While this doesn't sound appetizing, the odd combination of flavors somehow worked. But I wouldn't want to order this again unless they eased off the spice level a bit.

La Casa de Frida 008.jpg
The Chinese-esque Pollo Linda was the only of the three dishes that vaguely worked.
Hala's enchiladas were filled with fat, fresh shrimp that didn't taste like they had ever seen a freezer. Unfortunately, the enchiladas themselves were topped with an Italian-style ragout that -- like my sweet and sour sauce -- was far too spicy. Once scraped off, she ate only the shrimp out of the enchiladas. Not a very good deal considering the $15 price tag.

Malisow ate roughly five bites of one of his chalupas. Taking a bite for myself, I could see why. Where our dishes blazed with heat, his lacked any flavor whatsoever aside from those fresh shrimp. Three strikes, and La Casa de Frida was out.

The saving grace of our meal, however, was our wonderfully friendly waiter and his skillfully made margaritas on the rocks. After he cleared our plates, he showed us some pictures on his cell phone, pictures that eerily resembled celebrities like Shakira and Erykah Badu. As it turns out, he's one of the two drag performers there each Saturday night.

"Me and Carmen over there," he said, pointing to a bored-looking drag queen in half drag toward the back of the empty restaurant, "We do all sorts of celebrities."

"We had to cancel this Saturday," he said with an exaggerated pout, "because of the cold weather." Malisow examined the photos again as the waiter told us about the trials and tribulations of wearing five pairs of stockings at a time.

"You make one hell of a woman!" Malisow finally said. And later, on the car ride home, he told me, "You know, the only good thing about that place was the waiter."

I had to agree. Maybe La Casa de Frida doesn't have a bright future as a restaurant, but the Heights could certainly use a great drag revue.

Location Info

La Casa De Frida - CLOSED

4002 N. Main, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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16 comments
Cwashbac
Cwashbac

Stopped in for the Breakfast Buffet.  Not your typical buffet.  All the food is fresh and tortillas are brought to your table nice and warm.  The price of $6.99 was a great lure and I am not a buffet type of gal, but this set-up did not give you that feel.  Nice and cozy spot to kick up and enjoy the coffee or mimosas.

Marcofromhouston
Marcofromhouston

I was on my way to Taqueria Tepatitlan when the promise of a $6.99 breakfast buffet reeled me in.

Although I didn't exactly regret my decision, the food was good, not great. I had entomatadas with an egg on top, barbacoa, menudo, chilaquiles, bacon, papas con queso y chile. Good deal for the money. Service was good.

Lisagmtz
Lisagmtz

We were the only ones in the restaurant and ordered the fajitas, which were very good.  I was a little iffy on the rice, it may have been on the verge of being spoiled. My daughter however ate all her rice & was rewarded with a nice roach leg in the bottom of the dish.  Needless to say we will never go back.

CaseyKC
CaseyKC

I just got back from Frida's and my meal was very good. Based on the meal I had tonightand this being my first visit I would definately go back. I had the Chipotle Frida-ttucine Alfredow/shrimp and it was absolutely delicious. The chipotle alfredo sauce was so different and surprisingly works. It was just right as far as the amount of chipolte in the cream. The shrimp were fresh and large size. The Frida favorite desssert was a wonderful bread pudding w/ fresh mango & strawberries topped with a vanilla sauce.

Sallyp0127
Sallyp0127

Not surprised it's the same old thing. Breakfast: Bland huevos machacado, way undercooked potatoes and refried beans so salty they made my eyes water. Service way below par, and I was the only one in there at the time. The other commenter is right. Teotuhican is nearby, and doesn't have a thing to worry about!

Christine Taylor
Christine Taylor

Frida's New BLUE PATIO is a FUN Place!! La Casa de Frida is in a good location and has a children menu and that is what many of us are looking for in the Heights. All their food is prepped with Olive Oil versus the traditional lard that other local Heights restaurants use. The taste may not be the same as other local restaurants because the Chef only uses FRESH and LOCAL PRODUCE and that in itself WINS MY SUPPORT!!! Healthy Fresh Choices versus canned food is really a different taste.

Rosa martinez
Rosa martinez

Thats disappointing to read. I have visited the La Casa De Frida and was pleasantly surprised. Yes, the building was not much to talk about but the food was the BEST I have tasted. The Heights has several Mexican Restaurants, but not one that has a Chef. I have have tried the Pollo Linda and its ONE OF MY FAVORITES but you did go into a Mexican and Italian Restaurant and you should have tried portion of other meals. I would think as a food critic you would sample several plates, as some other food critics. I challenge you try it again and try the Mole Enchiladas, be daring!!

SYMWAFA
SYMWAFA

I hate to slam a place, but wow- it was pretty bad. The waitstaff was nice, but the food, not so much.

Francesco Orodinapoli
Francesco Orodinapoli

The owners of this venue have tried so hard and at personal expense to make a go of it (witness the new expensive lit restaurant sign). Sadly, they really do need some hand holding. Someone who can go in and say "here's a better recipe for this or that". I want so badly to like this place and see it succeed but the menu is (currently) pricey and the food just isn't that good. I wonder how they would handle some constructive criticism?

amosw
amosw

Why would anyone stop to eat here when Teotihuacan is just around the corner?

Bruce R
Bruce R

Too spicy? I consistently find Tex-Mex food in Houston to be under-spiced.

Jerky91
Jerky91

MESS. Indeed. In fact. In memoriam, soon, I suspect.

Nechlaw
Nechlaw

I had a decent breakfast there a couple weeks ago--excellent homemade tortillas. A friend and I went for lunch yesterday, and I gave the $11.50 lasagna a try--Frida was rolling in her grave on that one. My friend's lunch special of beef enchiladas and a chalupa was likewise mediocre. The old Rico's Triangle used to be decent; I was surprised to learn the new place is the same owners.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I tried three entrees and two appetizers. One of the entrees was "Chinese," to your point, so I'm not sure what more you want from a First Look -- not a full review -- of a restaurant.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Yet when all you can taste is the heat... Yeah, I wish there was more of a happy medium in Tex-Mex places.

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