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What's up with Houston nachos?!?

I just came across this thread, and wanted to chime in.

Yes. Nachos are Tex-Mex, invented by Ignacio Anaya in 1943 in the border town of Piedras Negras MX, across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass TX. The original nachos consisted of crispy fried corn tortilla chips, jalapeno slices and topped with melted cheese.

These were prepared, broiled, and served as individual hors d'oeuvres/snacks/appetizers. Later versions included a dollop of refried pinto beans atop each chip.

They are elegant and sublime in their simplicity. Each chip remains crispy and crunchy, with molten cheese. A clean finger food.

Later, came the "queso/nacho/pump cheese," pile on whatever: taco meat, chicken/beef fajitas, crema, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes,olives, rice, etc.

Now, I dearly love my chile con queso, but I prefer it for dipping. I also love taco meat, fajitas, crema, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, rice, etc., but in their proper places and order. These smothered versions of nachos result in a gooey and soggy mess, with no texture. It's as much an abomination and a mess as a fully loaded "taco salad" is.

Up until a few years ago, it wasn't that hard to find the real nacho in Texas. Until it closed, a San Antonio TX ice house/beer joint served an inspired version: the Shypoke egg, a crispy, fried small round tortilla with a jalapeno slice, broiled with white and yellow cheese to resemble a fried. egg over easy.

Authentic nachos a la Ignacio are increasingly hard to find, as restaurants move to the cheaper and easier and more profitable ladle/pump/dump version, but, thankfully, they're easy to prepare at home.

sources for free-range, hormone/antibiotic-free, humanely and locally raised beef, pork, poultry, eggs and dairy (cheese, butter, buttermilk)?

I kindly appreciate the lead. I'm on it.

Oct 28, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

sources for free-range, hormone/antibiotic-free, humanely and locally raised beef, pork, poultry, eggs and dairy (cheese, butter, buttermilk)?

Thanks kindly. It was very helpful.

Oct 28, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

sources for free-range, hormone/antibiotic-free, humanely and locally raised beef, pork, poultry, eggs and dairy (cheese, butter, buttermilk)?

Apologies for the long topic. For a variety of reasons, I have decided to try to source my meat, poultry, eggs and dairy this way. Unfortunately, I am in the Clear Lake/NASA area, where the pickings seem to be slim-nonexistent.

Any suggestions?

I could drive into Houston once or twice a week to load up. I'd also be open to the idea of a club/subscription/share/pick up/delivery option.

Thanks kindly for any leads.

Wade

Oct 27, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

Nachos -- probably beating a dead horse, but what the heck?

O.K., call me a purist, a crank, a Neanderthal, whatever, but I like nachos in (or close to) their original form (as invented by Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya, in 1943, in Piedras Negras, MX, just across the border from Eagle Pass, TX). Individual tortilla chips and jalapenos, covered by melted cheddar cheese. (The cheese is melted under a broiler or salamander.) The only other incarnation I like is refried beans on the chips under the jalapenos and melted cheese.

I do NOT want taco meat, chicken/beef fajitas, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, guacamole, and, especially, sour cream. If I have a hankering for any of those, I'll order them separately.

These nachos were once the norm here. Years ago, my favorite place for these traditional nachos (and beer) in Houston was Las Cazuelas, a 24-hour joint on (I seem to recollect) Quitman off North Main on the second floor. I also have fond memories of the nachos at Last Concert Cafe, when mama was still alive. Las Cazuelas is long gone, and the nachos at Last Concert Cafe are not the same. A few years living in San Antonio got me hooked on the Shypoke eggs (nachos) at Hip's and Little Hip's, now gone, too.

While I do love chile con queso, what I really hate is ordering nachos, only to find queso slathered over a pile of chips, which instantly disintegrate into a soggy pool that requires a spoon to eat. This seems to be the norm these days: queso, stuff I don't want, haphazardly prepared, and overpriced. Might as well wait for one of the new 7-Elevens to open.

I want the gooyeness of melted cheese and the crispy crunch of the tortilla chips.

Yeah, I know, I can and do make them at home (mess of nachos for dinner). But, sometimes, I'd like to grab some for lunch or dinner out.

About time to see if Spanish Village still does them the right way. Any other suggestions, particularly around the NASA area would be greatly appreciated. Will drive anywhere in the Houston area for the real thing.

And wondering when, how, and why Houston nachos started to suck.

P.S. Oops. Just looked at the on-line menu for Spanish Village. No way, no thanks.

Jul 21, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

super-coarse-ground sausage/hot links?

Thanks for the tip, bornie. One more reason I have to get back to San Antonio soon. About the only other occasional Chicago craving I get is for a good Italian Beef sandwich, dipped in gravy and topped with hot giardiniera. Tried a couple of "authentic" beefs in Houston, but they just weren't right. But . . . . I hear that James Coney Island has a limited-time Italian Beef. Think I'll try one tomorrow. I grew up on and love their original coneys (mustard, chili sauce, extra onions, no cheese dammit). When I get the hankering for a few more veggies, I've found that they do a respectable Chicago-style dog with a Vienna beef wiener. And their Polish is pretty good, too, if you get it the Maxwell-Street-style: only mustard and grilled onions, maybe sport peppers.

Apr 11, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

super-coarse-ground sausage/hot links?

Thanks kindly. I was away too long before moving back: totally forgot about BW Meat, Pete's, and Hebert's. Fixing to head out to those soon. Meanwhile, I remembered a pretty fine rendition of what I was hankering for at Leon's World's Finest In & Out BBQ house in Galveston (Broadway @ 54th). Skip the regular links and go with Leon's homemade pork & beef hot links.

Apr 08, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

super-coarse-ground sausage/hot links?

My name is Wade, and I'm a sausage-oholic, dry/wet/fresh/aged/smoked from the cheap bright-red hot links to the artisanal and imported stuff.

I'd be the first to argue that Texans are blessed in the U.S., sausage-wise, thanks to the traditions of the Czechs and Germans. We are, perhaps, the only state with such bounty at the grocery store, and within a reasonable drive: Elgin, Lockhart, Taylor, Huntsville, Pittsburg, and even close to home.

But I'm on a particular quest . . . .

Before moving back home, I developed a serious addiction to the super-coarse-ground pork hot links that are a staple in Chicago's BBQ joints. With few exceptions, these are African-American-run, and excel in pork ribs, rib tips, and meaty hot links.

See link about these links: http://chicago.seriouseats.com/2012/1...

I've had similar hot links in the Mississippi Delta, but I'm coming up dry here in Houston (and Texas).

Before I moved back home from Chicago, I even had my own source: Peoria Packing, a wholesale/retail butcher/meat packer in Chicago's meat-packing district (Wabash, under the L). I could buy a 5-pound box of fresh for $15. All I had to do was to twist the long thing into links and smoke them.

Any suggestions? Doesn't have to be pork. Could be pork/beef or beef. Just meaty and super-coarse.

Thanks kindly,
Wade

Apr 07, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

Mourning the humble fish sandwich

Thanks kindly. That is now near the top of my must-try-soon list.

Jan 08, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

Mourning the humble fish sandwich

James,

Thanks kindly. I totally overlooked Christie's since returning home (most of my time is spent in the NASA area, but I do make into town often).

BTW: I also recently found a decent rendition at the NASA Fuddrucker's.

Jan 07, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

Chicago-style deep-dish / stuffed pizza?

Damn, I DO love good pizza, but there's a lot of dubious stuff out there, and, well, I like to eat pizza at home. Even the best pizza does not travel/reheat well. I've tried making it from scratch at home, but the typical home oven won't do the trick (doesn't get hot enough). Thinking about building a brick wood-fired oven for the back yard, but then I doubt I'd use it much here May-October.

Jan 03, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

Chicago-style deep-dish / stuffed pizza?

Thanks kindly for the responses. I suppose it's like a lot of things in life: some things just don't transplant well. After posting, I DID find a frozen deep-dish Gino's East spinach/garlic pizza at my local HEB. Heated it up (with lots of anticipation), but it turned out to be easily 75% dough. That might've gotten me over the hankering for a while. I'm a pilot, and I'm thinking about flying back to Chicago come the spring thaw. When time draws near for the flight, I'll post again. I could fly back with quite a few Lou Malnati's frozen pizzas in the baggage compartment of my Cessna.

Jan 03, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

Chicago-style deep-dish / stuffed pizza?

Just to clarify: stuffed pizza is not the cheese-stuffed crust-edges of the pizza chains. It's more like a full-crust pie: bottom crust; fillings, sauce and cheese; top crust; more sauce and cheese. It's a knife-and-fork-thing, impossible to consume with hands alone.

Jan 02, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

Chicago-style deep-dish / stuffed pizza?

I recently moved back home from Chicago. Food-wise, I'm much happier (Tex-Mex, BBQ, fresh Gulf seafood, boudin, etc.). Until recently, the only Windy City food I occasionally yearned for was a good Italian beef sandwich. Normally, I'm a thin-crust/cracker-crust pizza eater. Every now and then, I need a thicker-crust New York-style pizza. But now . . . maybe it's the onset of cold weather . . . I have this serious hankering for one of those heavy-weight deep-dish Chicago monsters (as in Lou Malnati's, Pizzeria Uno/Due, Edwardo's, Gino's, Leona's) or even one of the heart-stopping stuffed pizzas (double crust/cheese/sauce, as in Giordano's). Yeah, I know I have to try Chicago Pizza and Italian Beef in the Heights, but I'm near NASA and the drive plus the breadth and ambition of the menu have so far dissuaded me. Any other sightings? Even grocery-store frozen would be appreciated (in Chicago, you could often find Edwardo's and Gino's at some grocers). And yes, a lot of those Chicago pizzerias will ship frozen/ready to baked, but I'm not yet desperate and crazy enough (and may never be) to pay $20-some-odd (with shipping) for a frozen 9-inch stuffed pizza). BTW: This craving is all kinda weird to me, since about the only time I had deep-dish/stuffed pizza while living there was when I had visits from out-of-town friends who wanted to experience Chicago-style. Most everyone I knew there preferred thin/cracker crust pizza. Oh, yeah, and cut into saltine-cracker-sized squares.

Jan 02, 2013
waderoberts in Houston

Mourning the humble fish sandwich

There was a time when a decent fried fish sandwich, drive-through or carry-out, wasn't that hard to come by. Even some of the fast-food notables (Whataburger's What-A-Catch, Sonic, Burger King's BK Big Fish, Wendy's, MacDonald's, Jack-in-the-Box) had fairly decent renditions. Those days, alas, seem to be gone, and, I fear, inescapably behind us. I was moved the write this after discovering recently that Jack-in-the-Box had discontinued it's Moby Jack (sad if only for the loss of the name) and finding out that Sonic had reintroduced (looks as if it's one of those "limited time"menu items) its fish sandwich.

By "decent," I mean: fairly substantial, a nice (and real) filet (not "constituted from minced," lightly breaded and fried correctly so the fish is crispy, moist, flaky and relatively grease-less. These days, it seems as if the poor fish sandwich is a second or third thought, forsaken for chicken, wraps and salads. They're no longer substantial, no longer real filets, and rarely properly fried.

Before moving back home to Houston from Chicago a couple of years ago, what I have argued was the city's best fish sandwich was not far from my house, at Hagen's, a Swedish family-owned market/take-out operation that dated back to the 1950s. Their fish sandwich consisted of a nice-sized filet (that also LOOKED like a real filet, not a square of finely textured marine by-product) of cold-water fish (I believe it was Alaskan pollock), perfectly fried, and with a gargantuan bun overhang. (Hagen's also had incredibly toothsome smoked fish [chubs, salmon, whitefish, pike, sable, sturgeon and catfish; for a modest fee, they'd smoke your own Lake Michigan catch).

I actually had a dream last night about Hagen's fish sandwich.

I'd be greatly indebted for any suggestions about worthy fried fish sandwiches in the Houston area (I'm casting my net wide enough to encompass catfish, flounder, etc,, but I'd be particularly grateful for sightings/tastings of the classic-style cold-water fish version (pollack, cod, haddock, etc). And especially indebted for recommendations to the city's southeast (Hobby Airport to Galveston, Galveston Bay south of the Ship Channel to, say, Pearland), although no drive is out of the question.

(On a side note, I've pretty much abandoned by search for smoked fish in the Houston area; my dedicated fish smoker should arrive this Friday. But more about that later . . . . )

Apr 03, 2012
waderoberts in Houston

BBQ Fritos?

Yep. I have found them on-line, and have come dangerously close several times to ordering a case. After years of living all over the country and having Texas, Southern, and Cajun foodstuffs shipped to me, I finally adopted this pre-order test: If the shipping cost is as much or more than the cost of the item, my hankering may not be THAT bad. Of course, though, sometimes it is . . . .

Jun 26, 2011
waderoberts in Houston

Boudin in Houston - for you Jaymes

One of the best on-line boudin references (with ratings) I've found is boudinlink, a work in progress by a professor at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette:

http://www.boudinlink.com/

Like all ratings, as texasredtop mentions, they're relative and depend on a lot of personal subjectivities, but I have generally agreed pretty much the gradings.

Another terrific source is Boudin Trail, a work by the Southern Foodways Alliance at Ol' Miss:

http://www.southernboudintrail.com/

By the way, texasredtop is correct: the migrating Acadians didn't stop at the Sabine River and the TX/LA border during their migration following their expulsion by the British from Canada. Quite a few settled in southern East Texas.

O.K. A few personal local sources I like:

Perry & Sons Market and Grill (at least the Friendswood location) has excellent in-house-made frozen boudin:
http://www.perryandsonsmarketandgrill...

Burt's Meat Market in the Fifth Ward is top-notch:
http://www.burtsmeatanddeli.com/

and Pierson & Co. BBQ in Acres Homes, 5110 W. T.C. Jester, has great smoked boudin.

Jun 26, 2011
waderoberts in Houston

BBQ Fritos?

That's pretty much the one automated-like response I got from Frito-Lay. But why not BBQ Fritos in Texas, of all places?

Jun 26, 2011
waderoberts in Houston

BBQ Fritos?

Haven't tried Billie's or Nick's. I'm fond of the Abe's in Lake Charles, and I hit the Clear Lake City outpost often (I live close by). I don't recollect them making their own, but I recall decent frozen boudin (pork or shrimp or crawfish), either Savoie's or Poche's. I was happy with a few visits to Best Stop. I must say, though, that I've found the boudin at a lot of the small markets to vary in consistency, much like BBQ; there's the occasional off-day/off-batch.

Posting now to texasredtop's new Boudin in Houston thread.

Jun 26, 2011
waderoberts in Houston

BBQ Fritos?

For boudin, I like Cormier's and Boudin King in Jennings, Hebert's in Maurice, Floyd's and Ray's in Opelousas, Redlich's in Basile, Charlie's and T-Boy's in Mamou, Jennings and Opelousas have nice little airfields. I can fly in, pick up an ice chest full of boudin, and be back in Houston in under four hours. By car, they're all right off I-10.

Jun 24, 2011
waderoberts in Houston

BBQ Fritos?

Has anyone seen BBQ Fritos? I use the original for Frito Pie, but I love these for munching and bean dip.

Frito-Lay still makes them, but doesn't widely distribute them. It's sad: the Frito-Lay empire was largely built on Fritos, but they neglect them for dozens of horrible-tasting Lays potato chips and nightmarish Doritos blends. I find Chili-Cheese Fritos passable; can't abide the Honey BBQ Fritos (ugh, and they don't even look like Fritos).

I e-mailed Frito-Lay, and they basically told me to look around. (BTW: I loved the short-lived Tabasco Fritos. Easy enough the duplicate at home: Buy original Fritos, place in plastic bag, douse with Tabasco sauce, shake, spread on baking sheet, heat in 200-degree oven until crisp again.)

You can find BBQ Fritos on-line, but the shipping is a killer.

I'm in Friendswood, so I'm interested in any BBQ Fritos sightings in that neck of the woods. But I'll drive further if necessary. I'll even fly, if I need to; I fly my Cessna for boudin, Hill Country BBQ, and Mississippi Delta tamales.

Thanks kindly.

Wade

Jun 23, 2011
waderoberts in Houston

kefir in NASA (HOU) area

I'm dividing my time these days between Chicago and Houston (where I was born and raised and where I inherited a place in Friendswood when my mom passed away in 2007). I'm surprised not to find kefir (a wonderfully tangy cultured sour milk popular in Russia and Europe; it's all over Chicago, and I brew my own there with kefir seeds); it has proven digestive health benefits [more than yogurt] from active bacteria and uses in a lot of recipes [like cold beet soup, which is an ideal repast for the summer heat]. I figure that Whole Foods stocks it, but there's not one nearby. Any kefir sightings in the NASA/Clear Lake area?

Aug 02, 2009
waderoberts in Houston