The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Tex-Mex Restaurants
3. The Original Ninfa's on Navigation
Photo by Robb Walsh Certified Hereford outside skirt steak fajitas at Ninfa's.
As with Spanish Village, a long and winding road led to the Ninfa's on Navigation we now know and love -- and the only Ninfa's that belongs on this list. The 40-year-old Tex-Mex restaurant has its own Wikipedia page devoted to the years of complicated history, but what matters most is this: Ninfa's gave us fajitas and the much-imitated creamy green sauce made with avocados, both after Mama Ninfa Laurenzo's own recipes. "The Original Mama Ninfa's on Navigation is the restaurant that made fajitas famous," wrote Robb Walsh in 2010. "And it's one of the last places where you can eat fajitas that taste like they did in the old days." Current chef Alex Padilla has updated the menu with a slate of adventurous, modern dishes, but the famous fajitas (and homemade flour tortillas, green sauce and much more from the original menu) remain exactly the same.
Photo by Michael Shum Mixed parrillada at Teotihuacan.
This wonderfully festive, colorful and inexpensive neighborhood place has a spacious covered patio, efficient waitstaff and large portions of some of the best Tex-Mex in Houston. As an added bonus, the Teotihuacan on Airline (my favorite of the two locations) is easy to find: Just look for the brightest pinkest restaurant you've ever seen. The green tomatillo salsa, charro beans and thick, handmade corn tortillas are awesome, as are its daily breakfasts. But it's the grilled items like fajitas, shrimp and mixed parrilladas, the cheap but strong margaritas and the singularly spectacular snapper al cilantro that keep me coming back week after week.
1. La Mexicana
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt Menudo at La Mexicana.
The family-run restaurant La Mexicana has been serving Montrose its Tex-Mex since 1982, and the food reflects those years of loving care. You'll find old favorites like entomatadas here that are a rarity on more modern Tex-Mex menus, as well as huge weekend portions of soul-saving stuff like menudo and barbacoa breakfast tacos. If the line gets too long, seat yourself at the bar or grab some tacos to-go; they're made to order and always fresh. For a restorative weekend breakfast, an order of menudo and a breakfast taco will cure anything that ails you. And at dinner, the tampiqueña platter with a cheese enchilada over La Mex's perfectly seasoned, perfectly chargrilled beef skirt steak is the best of both worlds -- fajita and enchilada all at once.
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11623 Katy, Houston, TX
416 N. 76th St., Houston, TX
1201 Westheimer, Houston, TX
11606 S. Wilcrest, Houston, TX
4720 Almeda, Houston, TX
7901 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX
2704 Navigation Blvd., Houston, TX
1511 Airline, Houston, TX
1018 Fairview, Houston, TX