Ten Best Signs You're a Houston Foodie
6. You like to tell the entire histories of Ninfa's and Carrabba's restaurants (and name at least three generations of Laurenzos and Carrabbas) for your friends at parties.
Photo courtesy El Tiempo ...you're not entirely sure Mama Ninfa isn't your own grandmother, too...
Who among us doesn't know the rocky history of Ninfa's, the restaurant where fajitas were invented and margaritas were perfected? We can all recite the story of the single mother who worked her way from small tortilla stand to restaurant empire, only to lose it all when the chain went bust shortly before her death. And we know that the Laurenzo family now owns El Tiempo, where Mama Ninfa's dreams and recipes are kept alive. And then there are the Carrabbas, related, of course, to the Mandolas. The two large Italian families came to Galveston with little but the clothes on their backs and some killer recipes, and now there are Carrabba's chains all over the country. If you don't know all this, you can read about these folks and more in our First Families of Houston Food feature.
5. Your hot dogs and burgers are designed by chefs, hand-formed and never previously frozen.
Photo by Molly Dunn The "Date With A Dog" designed by Monica Pope for James Coney Island.
In Houston, we won't settle for Oscar Mayer or McDonald's. Not when we've got James Coney Island (now JCI Grill, if you're into that), Bernie's Burger Bus, Good Dog Houston, Hubcap Grill and any number of other purveyors of hand-ground, chef-made hot dogs and hamburgers. Typically relegated to the realms of crappy fast food, we take our franks and burgers seriously in Houston--so seriously, in fact that JCI hosted a series of chefs to make their own hot dogs, and we don't often think twice about paying upwards of $10 for a great burger.
4. You know exactly which Tex-Mex restaurants make the best salsa.
Photo by Kevin Shalin Not too shabby, Pappasito's. Not too shabby.
Any respectable Tex-Mex joint--be it a classy, sit down establishment or a lowly taco stand--makes its own salsa, and it's usually served gratis with a container of freshly fried corn tortilla chips. It's a magical moment when you taste a new salsa for the first time and realize you're going to fill up on chips and dip before the entrees even arrive. And sometimes it's so good, you have to ask for a to-go container to take some home with you, because store-bought salsa just won't do.
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