I had been seeing raves about this place on Yelp. Rave reviews for a brand new place on the East side? Yeah, right. Then Alison Cook of the Chronicle started tweeting about her experiences and published a very positive review.
I was craving some more Mexican today so I set out across town. I almost talked myself out of it and turned back about half way over; it’s a long drive. But I persevered and found the place without much trouble (the La Tapatia sign is gone; the only signage is on the building itself, so it’s easy to miss).
I started with the thick, irregular, house-made chips with salsa cruda. It was nothing to write home about but this is comfort food to us Texans, of course, so i dug in.
Then came the Beef Cheek Tostadas and I immediately knew I was glad I’d made the trip. Beef cheek meat tinga on tostadas - there were two of them - with refried black beans, crema, avocado and lettuce. They looked a little over-dressed to me but I left a lot of the crema on the plate and I thought the balance of flavors was just fine.
For my main I went with the Enchiladas Rojas. The menu description says ‘my grammy’s very special blend of chili (sic) peppers over open faced enchiladas…’ How can you possibly pass up something made with grammy’s special sauce? The proprietress/chef, the Habanera of the name, is from El Paso as Cook notes, so these are West Texas style stacked enchiladas. The filling is Monterey Jack cheese and diced onions and it’s topped with a fried egg. This was a very big plate - would have more than enough for me by itself, without the tostadas; I wound up taking half of it home. The enchiladas were too oniony for my taste; I’d try something else next time. And whereas Cook had commented on the saltiness, I thought my dishes could have used a little. The plate was very aromatic, the rice very tomatoey. I should have punctured the egg yolk for the money shot, of course, but didn’t think to.
Conclusion - I’m glad I went and I will return. There’s more interesting stuff on the menu. It’s going to be even farther for all the rest of you on this board than it was for me, so think of it in terms of a stop off on the way to or from Galveston or the bay, or perhaps if you have to drop off or pick someone up at Hobby. It is right next to the new Eastside location of Hong Kong Market, so that’s something, also.
The Gringo of the name, who serves as the server, was sitting at a table next to me chatting as I boxed up my leftovers and signed the ticket. He mentioned that they had recently started opening for breakfast at 7 am, including brunch Saturday and Sunday, but said the couple is having trouble getting there by 7. He advised if you’re planning to stop by for breakfast, don’t show up before 8. And even if you’re planning on being there at 9, it’d be a good idea to call first! Yeah, even almost a year in, it’s still a rough around the edges operation, but promising.
Oh, and those margaritas Cook mentioned. Like the plates, the glasses are pretty big.