Eat Like Local weekly episodes kick off Saturday, September 16 at 10 a.m. right after KPRC 2 News Saturday on KPRC 2, click2houston.com and streaming on KPRC 2+. You can get a taste of what’s to come before September 16, by watching preview stories on click2houston.com/eatlikealocal.
I notice on his instagram account that they’ve taped one episode about birria tacos at Tacos el Bigotes on S. Gessner, and another about the banh mi at Cali Sandwich & Pho on Travis.
A few years ago, he published a book with a similar name, but with his recipes. The Introduction had this great passage that I bet gives a clue to how this new show will be focused as well:
I’m lucky to live in Houston, Texas, which—this may surprise you—is by some measures the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse metropolis. In fact, the last census showed that there is no longer a “majority” in Houston. It’s a city of minorities. So for me, thinking about what it means to cook locally in Houston means going out into the different neighborhoods of my city and taking a census of my own: one of flavors, and of culinary traditions…
Reframe your idea of what your local food is by including the food of the people who live nearby, especially the people who may not look or sound like you.
Because here’s the thing: Houston’s diversity is not unique. Every city, and nearly every town, has its share of immigrant and cultural communities. Usually, they’re concentrated in specific neighborhoods. The food traditions of these communities are often kept within these neighborhoods as well, at a distance. They remain outliers, the food relegated to an “international” or “ethnic” label rather than viewed as what they are—as part of a regional cuisine.
And it’s not just restaurants but also ingredients. In chain supermarkets, there’s usually an “international” section, part of an aisle that has some Asian sauces, rice products, ready-to-eat curries, and seasonings. These are all grouped together, a whitewashed, Epcot-like pantry. To be fair, it’s getting better—these sections are growing slowly. But most immigrant neighborhoods have specialty grocery stores and markets where the ingredients to make their staple dishes aren’t ghetto-ized. I encourage you to expand your shopping options as well as your cooking horizons.
Unaccustomed as I am to the notion there are notably good restaurants in my area, I brushed Tacos El Bigotes off when it was first mentioned a year and a half to 2 years ago (?). It was in a thread on Next Door about birria tacos, the big new trend, and every place mentioned was receiving raves. Honestly, I thought it had probably closed by now. I’ll try to get over there before the episode airs and it becomes a mad house. Thanks for the heads up.
Be sure to report back and let us know your thoughts!
I’m curious about his pick of Cali for banh mi - has anyone been here? I assumed we were all agreed that the best banh mi (since Les Givral’s closing) was at Don Cafe on Bellaire…
I’m not sure we all agree on much of anything around here. I’ve heard about Cali for years but never been. I like Don; also liked Roostar.
I prefer ramen over pho so I don’t get out for Vietnamese very often and banh mi is not destination dining for me so even if I hit a Viet spot I’m not likely to have banh mi. I have Pho Binh 59 close by, probably the last place I had banh mi and that was maybe 5 years ago.
Edit to add: Oops. I see I missed the premier today.
I thought the first show was ok, and I’ll watch the next few. So far it’s not the kind of show that normally sucks me in, though.
The first one was about hamburgers. Some things I learned:
Burger Bodega on Washington Ave. uses halal meat; I don’t need this myself, but often work with people who prefer halal so this is handy to know about.
Champ Burger in East Houston has a history that the owner discussed briefly, and it’s neat to think about this place that’s been in the same family for so long.
Riel on Fairview is doing something different (?): Caramelized onions. And using a piping bag to put butter on the burgers.
What’s not up my alley (but part of many successful food shows):
- All men, cracking jokes in the kitchen, assembling as many animal products as possible in a pile and then taking a ginormous bite while assuring me that it’s good and 'splaining “fat is flavor”, with aggressively commercial music playing constantly in the background almost like a pickup truck commercial.
What I hope will be part of future shows:
More stories about the cooks, the location, the history, the neighborhood; or more detailed information about cooking techniques, ingredients, cuisines; or information about the cross-cultural influences that are shaping Houston’s food.
Just for me personally, I’d like to see what non-meat items are available at these places, or even just healthier foods.
Well, they’re just getting started so maybe…? Only one of the burgers I’ve had was Champ’s. I liked the burgers at the New Orleans Po Boy shop on Main close to the old Sears better, but it’s been gone for a couple of decades. Never heard of the Riel Burger; sounds interesting. I miss the recently closed Blake’s.
Burgers are not destination food for most people, either.
Will second your hopes for the future without even having seen this episode.