"You have to give people what they're interested in eating," Robb Walsh laughed over the phone. "Fajitas will be very well represented on our menu." Wise words that should quell any concerns Houstonians may have had about the joint venture between Walsh -- former Houston Press food critic and author of The Tex-Mex Cookbook -- and the men behind Reef and Little Big's: Bill Floyd and Chef Bryan Caswell, who currently can be seen competing on The Next Iron Chef.
|Photo courtesy of Robb Walsh|
|Artist's rendering of El Real Tex-Mex Cafe.|
To some, it seemed like an odd romance: a former food critic going into the restaurant business? A staunch defender of old-school Tex-Mex food partnering with a pioneer of modern Gulf Coast cuisine? One of the city's most beloved food figures in bed with one of its most controversial? Sparks were sure to fly regardless of a good or bad outcome.
The restaurant -- whose name was revealed today to be El Real Tex-Mex Cafe -- has more than just a big-name partnership to live up to. Housed in the old Tower Theater on lower Westheimer, the iconic location was last home to a Hollywood Video and bears very little resemblance inside to its former life. Walsh aims to revive the past at El Real, but in a different way: through vintage Tex-Mex.
What is vintage Tex-Mex? "Poached eggs in chile con carne," according to Walsh. Items like puffy tacos from San Antonio or Tex-Mex seafood from Brownsville. "A lot of the menu items will be stuff that hasn't been seen on Tex-Mex menus in a long time," he said. "We're looking back to the old Gebhardt cookbooks from 1917 and all kinds of old menus."
What else is vintage Tex-Mex to Walsh? Lard. Lots and lots of lard.More »