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La Mexicana

1018 Fairview, Houston, TX - (713) 521-0963
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/24/2012 2:24:00 PM
Sometimes we feel sorry for our friend Jim Rains. He's got a beautiful wife, a great job, and a bucolic home; but he's a Texan and he lives in Connecticut. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but Jim grew up eating excellent Mexican food whenever he wanted it. And in our neighborhood – virtually the entire northeast – it scarcely exists. Well, Jim's loss was our gain, at least on a recent trip to Houston, where he highly recommended we stop into a restaurant called La Mexicana. "It's nothing fancy," he warned. "It's plain and it's cheap … and it's goo-ood." We had it in our crosshairs as soon as we arrived in the Lone Star State.

The menu is huge, including fajitas a la Mexicana, for which the beef is stewed rather than grilled, tacos, flautas, tamales, enchiladas, and chilies rellenos. We began with an order of chile con queso, which comes with a large bowl of jalapeno slices to heat it up, then went on to an all-seafood meal: fish tacos made with succulent strips of grilled (not deep-fried) mahi-mahi, and shrimp in a chipotle chili sauce. The tacos were light, refreshing, and incendiary (we asked for them that way), the fish, cabbage, tomato, and cilantro laced with little nuggets of tongue-searing pepper. They were accompanied by Mexican rice and a bowl of creamy-smooth, blue-black refritos.

By the way, La Mexicana offers a full breakfast menu, starting at 7am. Choices include all sorts of huevos rancheros, eggs scrambled with chorizo (Mexican sausage), migas (a sort of tortilla omelet) and, on Saturday and Sunday only, menudo, which is a bowl of stewed honeycomb tripe. Menudo has long been considered a sure cure for hangovers.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Camarones en Salsa Chipotle are shrimp cooked in a fiery chipotle pepper sauce. On the side, you have a choice of bread, tortillas, or crackers.
"Camarones en Salsa Chipotle are shrimp cooked in a fiery chipotle pepper sauce. On the side, you have a choice of bread, tortillas, or crackers."
Michael Stern





Regarded as a remedy for hangovers, menudo is available on Saturdays and Sundays only.
"Regarded as a remedy for hangovers, menudo is available on Saturdays and Sundays only."
Cliff Strutz


There are beers, wines, and drinks galore, but we chose to drink Topo Chico, which is Mexican club soda.
"There are beers, wines, and drinks galore, but we chose to drink Topo Chico, which is Mexican club soda."
Michael Stern


If you love coconut and chocolate, here is La Mexicana's vision of heaven. It's kind of like the ultimate Mounds Bar.
"If you love coconut and chocolate, here is La Mexicana's vision of heaven. It's kind of like the ultimate Mounds Bar."
Michael Stern


Chile Con Queso: chilies and cheese, here shown decorated with a spill of jalapeno pepper chips to heat it up. It's a big balance of dairy-smoothness and capsicum heat.
"Chile Con Queso: chilies and cheese, here shown decorated with a spill of jalapeno pepper chips to heat it up. It's a big balance of dairy-smoothness and capsicum heat."
Michael Stern


Here's how dinner begins: a basket of fragile tortilla chips, just barely salted, accompanied by hot red sauce and hotter green sauce.
"Here's how dinner begins: a basket of fragile tortilla chips, just barely salted, accompanied by hot red sauce and hotter green sauce."
Michael Stern


A close view of a fish taco shows the quality of the mahi mahi of which it's made. This is no cloddish fried cod. It is elegant fish; and the whole package is zesty and bright-flavored.
"A close view of a fish taco shows the quality of the mahi mahi of which it's made. This is no cloddish fried cod. It is elegant fish; and the whole package is zesty and bright-flavored."
Michael Stern


The Fish Taco platter: three of them are accompanied by fiesta rice and refried black beans.
"The Fish Taco platter: three of them are accompanied by fiesta rice and refried black beans."
Michael Stern


We find these simple, heart-shaped cinnamon-sugar cookies impossible to stop eating. We bought a bag full after dinner, and managed to take this photo of the last two remaining in our hotel room that night. After the shutter snapped, they were gone.
"We find these simple, heart-shaped cinnamon-sugar cookies impossible to stop eating. We bought a bag full after dinner, and managed to take this photo of the last two remaining in our hotel room that night. After the shutter snapped, they were gone."
Michael Stern


Among the many amazing bakery items available at the front counter is this chocolate cake topped with flan. Rich? Forget about it!
"Among the many amazing bakery items available at the front counter is this chocolate cake topped with flan. Rich? Forget about it!"
Michael Stern


The Mexican scrambled eggs dish known as migas is especially good at La Mexicana.
"The Mexican scrambled eggs dish known as migas is especially good at La Mexicana."
Cliff Strutz


La Mexicana is a festive place; the decor is abetted by south-of-the-border party music.
"La Mexicana is a festive place; the decor is abetted by south-of-the-border party music."
Michael Stern


La Mexicana first opened as a food market in 1968. The Trevino family turned it into a full-service restaurant in 1982; and it has since become a culinary destination for Houstonians in the know.
"La Mexicana first opened as a food market in 1968. The Trevino family turned it into a full-service restaurant in 1982; and it has since become a culinary destination for Houstonians in the know."
Michael Stern



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