The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 5 Enchiladas

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We live in Houston. There is NEVER an excuse for this. You hear me? NEVER.
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.

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Photo courtesy of Los Tios
5. Los Tios

There's likely a Los Tios near you; there are plenty of the Houston-based Tex-Mex restaurants scattered around town. And if you grew up here, there's a good chance you grew up eating at Los Tios after recitals or baseball games. Nostalgia isn't the only influencing factor in loving Los Tios, though; its enchiladas are genuinely good stuff. I'm also a fan of the creamy shrimp enchiladas (pictured), which I normally dislike elsewhere; that alone endears Los Tios to me.

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Photo by Troy Fields
Cheese enchiladas at Sylvia's on Woodway.
4. Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen

Chef and owner Sylvia Casares has alternately been called the Enchilada Empress and the Queen of Enchiladas. Her chili gravy is thin and yet still complex, coating the blissfully basic cheese enchiladas with a richness that's unexpected. Yet it all works, bright sparks of chile de árbol and dusky hues of cumin all coming together in a frantic rush of flavor. On top of the soft cheese and beneath the eye-watering snap of raw white onions, this is South Texas Tex-Mex at its finest and most genuine.


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55 comments
The Kitchen Bitch
The Kitchen Bitch

Chuy's custom enchiladas are great if you know how to order them.  Order cheese enchiladas with chile con carne instead of the horrible Tex-Mex sauce or order ground sirloin enchiladas smothered with queso. 

Amy
Amy

I know no one will agree with me, but as a vegetarian, I think Pappasitos cheese enchiladas with red sauce are the some of the best enchiladas I've had in Houston.

Roger Clemons
Roger Clemons

holy shit!!!! she didn't bend over for Walsh and El Real.  Los Tios is a gut bomb!everyone else, beware of the curse

Sahm-Nambulist
Sahm-Nambulist

The enchiladas at Tampico on Airline are like I remember growing up in West Texas. Took a friend from South Texas there the other night and she flipped for their beef 'ladas.

Tim
Tim

La Mexicana did not impress me when I went there. I will have to try the others though. I'm glad El Real didn't make the list, because I was not impressed with the food there. Andy's in the heights has really good enchiladas.

Kathy
Kathy

How could Molina's cheese enchiladas with plain chili gravy not be on this list?  They are the best!

RATM
RATM

Might as well tell you about another great place while I'm at it.  A place called Tacos Flores in Atascocita has a damn fine enchilada plate. $5.99 for 3 enchiladas. Beef, chicken or cheese, it's all bueno.  If you are ever in Albuquerque, try the enchiladas at a place called Twisters. Carne adovada with both red and green chile. I dream about those things... so good!

RATM
RATM

mmmmmmmm - enchiladas... good list!

I know I will DEFINITELY regret this, but here goes... Go to Juanita's on T.C. Jester @ 610. Get yourself a seat and some chips and salsa. When the waiter comes out, order thusly: Enchiladas Al Carbon (3 enchiladas. 2 will simply not do), and tell them to make them with flour tortillas instead of corn. (they get that request all the time, so they won't look at you funny)  Also, have them bring you a bowl of fresh chopped jalapenos. It is like heaven on a plate. I know I will regret spilling the beans, because it seems like every time I find a little "hidden gem" and tell about it, it goes to caca in some way or another.

I10west
I10west

You left off La Hacienda on Memorial and El Gallo on Gessner. Two of the best!

Erin
Erin

I love the cheese enchiladas with carne gravy at Molina's.  And, Cyclone Anaya's lobster enchiladas are DELICIOUS!

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

I think the cheese enchiladas at El Real belong in this list.  Best I've ever had.  Another honorable mention should go to local chain Alicia's.

Handfasted1
Handfasted1

I'm partial to the enchiladas at El Real.

Jay Francis
Jay Francis

Two more exceptional places: The classic 1945 Molina's Texas enchiladas with the home made chili con carne gravy. And of course, Lopez.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Los Dos Amigos are good, but I would've included Larry's as well as El Real when they have the right chefs behind the counter.

rfrederichs
rfrederichs

I haven't been able to find an enchilada plate in Houston that I can recommend wholeheartedly. Fried egg was still runny the one time I tried Los Dos Amigos, which wasn't good. I like Spanish Village. La Mexicana has been very good and not very good. I haven't been to Los Tios in 30 years. I do like the cheese and the mushroom enchiladas at El Real but can't get excited about the black beans. Sylvia's is on my list.

The best enchiladas I've had in Texas were at El Paseo in Fort Worth.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Several people tell me that El Tiempo cheese is the absolute best (though I haven't tried it in years). Molina's enchilada de tejas covered in chili is pretty dang good. My favorite happen to be at Lupita's in sugar land. I simply love their enchilada de faja (beef). I often order them a la carte as a supplement to my main -- they are so good! 

Paula
Paula

I miss the Spinach Enchiladas at Jalapenos (RIP). But a friend told me they think the same ones are served at The Courtyard on St. James (owned by Sue & Tomas Romero who owned Jalapenos). I need to go and find out!

Mary
Mary

The chicken mole enchiladas at La Guadalupana are incredible, as well.  Great write up.

ec
ec

Spanish Village #43, best in Houston.  These others are pretty mediocre.

Ryanmendez82
Ryanmendez82

This list fails so hard by not mentioning Lopez Mexican Restaurant in Stafford. No two ways about it, they have the best cheese enchiladas in town. Also worth mentioning is that they also only charge $6.45 for a two enchilada plate.

Tangyjoe
Tangyjoe

I like cheese enchiladas at several places but I think the best beef enchiladas are at Two Amigos on 290 at Fairbanks-North Houston.  Little neighborhood place that's been there for at least 20 years.  And the prices are good too!  A visit to my parents wouldn't be complete without dinner at Two Amigos.

Chiknkitchn
Chiknkitchn

Los Tios is a complete mystery to me.  And yes I grew up eating it too.  It is greasy and the grease smells old.  There are so many better places IMO.

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

Some mighty fine photos in this piece.

And BTW, there are no onions on that Sylvia's enchilada photo. WTF kinda sham are you trying to pull here?TA

Off Beet
Off Beet

All that were mentioned are solid choices.  The two of the worst I've had in Houston include Chuy's and Pappasito's.  My personal favorites are Larry’s and the Lankford daily special on Wednesdays. 

Ribalding
Ribalding

I know El Real has its detractors, and I'm not some Caswell fanboy.  But their stacked pork enchiladas (Borunda?) are absolutely incredible.

I'm just sayin'.  

Corey
Corey

I second the notion we has los dos on Sunday, unbelievably good. Sylvia's seems to be falling off a little, last time we went the food was mediocre (Woodway), and was nearly $40 for lunch. Left feeling very underwhelmed. Lunch at Los Dos however was $23 and worth every penny, plus the staff is far friendlier.

sbterry
sbterry

Los Tios -- hands down!  Lopez close second!  Spanish Village - solid!

Sam Brown
Sam Brown

I had 'ladas at Pappasito's the other week.  Terrible.  They were the worst suckity sucks that ever sucked. 

Los Tios after soccer games all day.

Chance
Chance

Although I'm an infrequent enchilada consumer, I think Molina's deserves a spot in the top five (or at least an honorable mention).

I agree with you on los dos. I can't think of another spot in town I'd rather eat breakfast on a Saturday morning.

Eric Salis
Eric Salis

Someone Please Please tell me how I can get the recipe for the enchilada sauce they used at Felix's. I've been all over town looking for something similar. No luck. They used a more tamale like brown gravy instead of red. I wish I could find or talk to someone who used to work there. Like the nice lady behind the counter. I'm in pain....I really miss Felix's. That other place that claims to have Felix's queso and other items is not really the same at all. I tried them. No go.  Makes me very sad. 

carrie
carrie

um, that is the point of having fried eggs on an enchilada--if it wasn't runny, i would send it back.

davesmall
davesmall

@Mai Pham  I can confirm that El Tiempo's cheese enchiladas are very good. Their prices are over the top for Mexican food so just order the cheese enchiladas and don't run up a big bill there.

Courtneyiparker
Courtneyiparker

Go to Seco's.  Owner is the same chef from Jalapenos.

Mandacm
Mandacm

 I used to LOVE everything at Lopez, but they changed something (ingredients, chef?)  and it hasn't been good since.

ShitThrowingMonkey
ShitThrowingMonkey

Those summarize my thoughts on Los Dos.  No offense but to me it seems those of the Caucasian persuasion like Los Dos more than Mexicans do.

Bruce R
Bruce R

 Chuy's is awesome.  They're one of the only Tex-Mex places in town that will serve spicy food, if you want it that way.  Try the hatch sauce.

Donald
Donald

Caswell fanboy... 

ShitThrowingMonkey
ShitThrowingMonkey

Lopez is my #1 - If a Lopez fan recommends Spanish Village enchiladas, I will have to try them.

ShitThrowingMonkey
ShitThrowingMonkey

Common mistake to order something other than fajitas when frequenting Pappasitos or El Tiempo.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Molina's queso and chili (and chili and queso together!) are simply amazing.

Jay Francis
Jay Francis

Eric, the queso at El Patio is identical to the Felix queso. The same person who made it every day at Felix is making it at El Patio. Respect to the chili gravy,  a good start would be page 74 of The Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh. However, I would recommend using water, not chicken broth and leaving out the oregano and cumin at first, then adding to your own personal taste. I think that you'll be able to replicate your sauce memory of Felix. Alternatively, recommend checking out Lopez as I have a suspicion their chili gravy is what you have in mind. 

ShitThrowingMonkey
ShitThrowingMonkey

I've never left there thinking something was different about the place except for the expansions.

Off Beet
Off Beet

Don't get me wrong.  I agree Chuy's has great Tex-Mex.  Just not enchiladas.

ShitThrowingMonkey
ShitThrowingMonkey

Awesome is a little much, chuy's is about half good.  Enchiladas CAN NOT be awesome if the corn tortillas are not fried.

Discgolfer22
Discgolfer22

Had that for lunch today. Glad Molina's got a mention or I would have brought them up.  I crave their salsa too!!

Jalapeno
Jalapeno

Lopez chili gravy is so flippin addictive, we drive 20 mile over there at least twice a month.  Best carnitas anywhere also, a large mound of shredded, tender and moist pork at the jawdropping price of around $8. Served with their amazingly fresh guacamole.  But still the enchiladas are why people go, and its the chili gravy....

Eric Salis
Eric Salis

Thanks for the tip Jay. I'm going to look for that book. El Patio says the recipes for the items from Felix were sold to them by the owner of Felix. That may be true however what they delivered was different. I've eaten at the Westhiemer location 3 times since Felix closed. The enchiladas were not the same. Very disappointed. The queso tasted similar but something was off. It's not my memory fading. I've eaten at Felix for almost forty years. 

The food is good at El Patio. Just not what they claimed on the Felix menu. Lopez is decent also.

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