Arnaldo Richards' Picos Seven Regions of Mexican Cuisine [HOuston]

Or just “Picos” for short.

So my OtherBrotherDarrell celebrated a birthday last week and selected Picos as the locale for the traditional repast. For you oldtimers, Pico’s is located at the SE corner of Richmond and Kirby in the space occupied by Ninfa’s for a decade or two or three.

I rarely drink at dinner but we all had margaritas to celebrate. They make a variety of upscale margs and we all selected the “Horny” margaritas made with Hornitos something or other with l’ilbro declaring Hornitos as his very favorite tequila. I’ll admit, it was very good.

As the name implies, this is not your typical TexMex joint although mom did find her enchiladas so al was well.

The tableside guacamole was OK, and allowed us to eschew the fresh jalapenos, (OBD’s allergy to capsaicin), and fresh onions, (mom’s abhorrence), so basically we had smashed avocados. They were very good avocados however, and I snagged the onions and peppers from our server and doctored my own.

OBD had the “carnitas” which were NOT carnitas but a pork shank standing on its end prepared “carnitas style”. It wasn’t bad but it wsn’t carnitas. It was the evening’s special, but our server said it would appear on the menu soon as it was very popular.

I had braised pork ribs in a mole sauce, (Pork Ribs in Pipian Rojo)… It was OK, but contained a lot of the cartilage you find at the end of pork ribs and which were unfortunately well disguised by the mole. This required me to do a lot of spitting little bits of cartilage on the end of my fork and piling them up on the edge of my plate. I know that many people seek out the cartilage for health reasons as a natural source of collagen.

I’m not one of those people.

I know one other person had a different mole with chicken, but I don’t remember what else.

It was good and different and if I worked in the area, I would probably pop in for lunch once in a while and try a few other things. But I doubt I will select it if I make it to my next getting another year older days.

There are just too many other places I haven’t tried yet.

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There are a couple of notable dishes, the Chile en Nogada that my friends seek out (but I don’t like raisins in my food), and the soft shell crab when in season, literally covered in garlic, which I do like. The crab is the single most discussed dish in the food press. Must love garlic.

I find it a bit pricey, and for those who remember the original humble eatery, it may seem to be putting on airs, but it is a good special occasion restaurant.

We also celebrated a birthday last week, what is it about April? (or rather July) So many birthdays this month. Due to lack of time, we celebrated with lunch at Ninos and the birthday boy got the mezzaluna and I had the daily special, shrimp and crawfish linguini with a basil cream sauce - all good. As they are known to do, the family was having a late lunch together when we left, and we stopped by the front table for a brief greeting from both Vincent Mandola of Nino’s and his spouse Mary, and Tony and Phyllis Mandola. These are some of the nicest folks you’ll ever hope to meet, full of good natured ribbing about each other’s food.

As it happens, I swung through Town & Country center later that day and noticed that Vincent’s T&C location of Pronto Cucinino has shuttered having ended a 10 year lease of the property. I will miss it.

Now you’ve got me thinking about that soft shell. Didn’t it start out being named Pico’s Mex-Mex?

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