Monday April 30, 2012
At LocalEats, we pride ourselves on finding backwoods barbecue shacks, surprising strip mall sushi and back alley burger joints, but we're not entirely about obscurity. Sometimes the most renowned restaurant in a city is popular for a reason. And there's no better way to acclimate yourself to a new place than eating the foods that it's most well-known for. With eating the obvious, I'm featuring restaurants and foods that are no-brainers in their respective markets. So far, I've examined shrimp and grits in Charleston, Primanti Bros in Pittsburgh, deep dish pizza in Chicago and a few others. Today's entry: seafood enchiladas at Pico's Mex-Mex in Houston.
While visiting Houston for a recent family wedding, my responsibilities were minimal (a wise choice by the wedding planners). Working around the festivities, I had plenty of time to fulfill a few leisurely pursuits on my travel agenda. These goals were pretty much limited to 1. quality time at the hotel pool - it was in the high 90s - and 2. voraciously devouring the best Mexican food I could locate. Fortuitously, a few of the other guests and I stumbled upon Pico's Mex-Mex in Bellaire. A local favorite since 1984, Pico's features a palapa-covered outdoor patio and an interior bedecked with exotic potted plants and a fountain in the middle of the restaurant. Mexican seafood specialties are the order of the day here. Given the relative proximity to the Gulf, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to focus on the aquatic edibles available on the menu. Fresh fish and gulf shrimp ceviche made for an excellent start to our meal with cilantro, chopped serrano peppers and plenty of lime juice. The star of the show was the superb seafood enchiladas, stuffed with shrimp and crab meat and topped with a flavorful (but not too rich) poblano cream sauce and Chihuahua cheese. Other favorites of the table included the spicy crawfish enchiladas and the camarones Adobados: charcoal-broiled, bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp in a tangy adobo sauce. Bonus points for the perfectly balanced, not-too-sweet margaritas, which each arrived with a kitschy cocktail shaker.