Everybody Loves Raymond Peña's Donut Heaven & Grill

Categories: Burger Break

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Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
A blissfully simple cheeseburger at Peña's Donut Heaven & Grill.
Well, at least Alison Cook and I seem to. In a funny bit of overlap, the Houston Chronicle's food critic visited Peña's Donut Heaven & Grill during the same general time frame last week -- she for one of her Burger Friday posts, and I for this week's cafe review -- and we both came away very impressed with Raymond Peña's burgers. At a donut shop.

I'm a little jealous that I didn't order the Ole Burger that Cook did: She reports that it came with "queso, pico de gallo and pickled jalapeños -- along with some chipotle mayo for good measure," all the ingredients for a terrific Tex-Mex burger. She gave the burger an A minus in her write-up. I struck out with a Frito pie burger by comparison, but salvaged the meal by having one of the best cheeseburgers I've eaten in a long time.

Double patties sandwiched with cheese, crisp produce and a sweet, eggy bun all made the basic cheeseburger stand out -- especially when eaten with some of the long, skin-on fries that are seasoned almost to the brink of overkill, but manage to restrain themselves.

Peña's outstanding burgers and excellent kolaches and donuts aren't necessarily worth the drive to Pearland, until you factor in the chorizo-and-egg kolaches.

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Photo by Troy Fields
Peek inside Peña's in this week's cafe slideshow.
While the queso-topped Ole Burger is an uncanny pairing of classic Texana and classic Tex-Mex, the chorizo kolache the culmination of two of Houston's favorite breakfast standards: the breakfast taco and the klobasnek, which we now collectively refer to as a kolache. (Food nerd sidebar: A klobasnek is a meat-stuffed breakfast pastry, like this. A kolache is a fruit-topped breakfast pastry, like this.)

It never occurred to me to combine the two, which is why Raymond Peña runs a successful restaurant and I do not. But my God, the unstoppable power of the two things combined? Made me drive to Pearland three times in two days.

And just like a few of the better Shipley's in town, Peña's makes boudin kolaches. They're not as good as Shipley's -- they contain cheese, which is just baffling to me -- but they're still fine specimens of the Czech-Tex-Cajun fusion genre.

But I believe that Raymond Peña's claim to fame in Houston will be those chorizo kolaches. And -- if you're willing to make the drive for them -- so will his damn fine burgers.



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Location Info

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Pena's Donut Heaven

11601 Shadow Creek Pkwy, Pearland, TX

Category: Restaurant

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4 comments
Peggy from Pearland
Peggy from Pearland

Native Pearlanders and friends of the Penas have been loving their food for years. We are proud of their contributions to our local food scene.

Danno
Danno

You mean my mad dashes to Shipley's on N.Main from S. Houston on Saturday mornings, only to watch the last dozen walk out the door ahead of me, are over??!! Shilcutt, you are truly a gift from God with your infinite food wisdom. (and, might I add, an expert linguist)

OldPete
OldPete

Pearland, driving to, 3 times in 2 days. Pena-l servitude, purely.

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