Katharine Shilcutt's 10 Favorite Dishes in Houston
2. Barbacoa at Gerardo's
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
No list of Houston dishes would be complete without tacos or barbecue, right? Personally, my favorite barbecue comes from my dad's smoker and nothing -- I mean nothing -- in Houston can touch it. He's getting a new custom smoker delivered this weekend and I am already itching for him to get it good and seasoned.
As good as my dad is, though, he draws the line at smoking entire cow heads. It's just too messy and too much work (and my mother probably wouldn't allow it). That's where Gerardo's comes in -- because that's where true barbacoa comes from. Almost every taco truck and restaurant that serves barbacoa is buying pre-cut beef cheeks and stewing them down. Not so at this Northside landmark, where the cow heads are still smoked the old-fashioned way every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
I love the fact that you can only get these tacos three days a week, just as much as I love walking the patterned linoleum floor along the same, time-worn track that thousands of others have walked before me: straight up to the meat market's counter to order a couple of barbacoa tacos de harina, para aqui. The wonderfully slippery shreds of beef are rich with the thick musk of smoke and sheen of fat. Squeeze a little lime on top and you've got one of the best tacos anywhere in the United States -- not just Houston.