Mole and Kimchi and Beer, Oh My! Scenes from a Long Point Road Culinary Tour
Long Point Road stretches east to west just north of I-10 between the 610 Loop and the Sam Houston Tollway. It's dotted with used-car lots, fast-food joints and small, rundown apartment complexes. From the driver's seat, the strip centers with signs in Spanish, Korean, Chinese and even Polish don't look like anything special. Unless you live in Spring Branch or regularly travel down that road, you might never know about the amazing cultural melting pot along the five-mile stretch.
Photo from Houston Culinary Tours The table at Polonia after an epic Polish feast on last year's Long Point tour.
On Sunday, I tagged along with Houston Culinary Tours, this month led by Bryan Caswell of Reef and Chris Shepherd of Underbelly. The chefs took us to some of their favorite hole-in-the-wall joints in the vicinity of Long Point Road, a revelatory tour for me. Though I've been living in Houston for three weeks now, I'm often too tired after work to venture out of the comfort of the Loop in search of good food. Consider me converted. I'm no longer a prisoner to the Loop bubble.
The tour started with El Hidalguense, a tiny Mexican restaurant filled to the brim this Sunday afternoon with diners, a large waitstaff and a trio of mariachi musicians whose music was loud enough to cover up the sounds of the bustling kitchen. Actually, the music was so loud that conversation was nearly impossible, but the food was so good, no one was talking much anyway.
The staff had prepared a buffet for our tour group, and as we approached with our plates, a few servers filled them with various meats and tortillas, then sent us back to our tables overwhelmed and delighted by the multitude of options before us. There was guacamole and Mexican rice, of course, but there was also a hunk of chicken smothered in a divine brown mole sauce and a multifaceted pork and green pepper stew. I'm honestly not entirely sure what everything I tried was, or I'd attempt to be more descriptive. It was all so delicious, and it all happened so fast. Before our meal had time to digest, we were walking to our next destination, only two doors down.