Culture / Restaurants

A New Houston Fajita Restaurant Brings Real Chef Power

This Isn’t the Same Old Tired Tex-Mex

BY // 04.29.16

Fajitas usually bore me, and for good reason: I have had too many, in too many restaurants, that were lacking in flavor. That, and tough, chewy meat, is nothing for me. Oh yes, bland onions and green peppers and something that brings to mind soy sauce.

OK, fajitas are a staple in these parts (and in many locales around the nation), and it’s easy for people producing staples — think pizzas and hamburgers — to treat them callously. Which is why I seldom eat Tex-Mex nowadays (and no, I do not want to start a symposium on “the real Tex-Mex,” I just want food that is cooked well and tastes good). Much to my relief, I’ve located a fajita I enjoy. Plus, the place is serving other things — quesadillas and wild boar sausage, to name but two — that are well worth your time.

Fajitas A Go Go opened earlier this month, on Kirby Avenue near Rice Village, and the team behind it is one reason the food tastes as good as it does (based on my two visits thus far). That team is: Jeff Black and Mallory Buford, two CIA-trained chefs; Sharon Haynes, the founder of Solero Restaurant and Tacos A Go Go; and Kevin Hanratty, the CEO and founder of a consulting firm and a private equity firm, both based in Houston.

The strength here? An insistence on using quality ingredients and thinking outside the box. (Don’t go to Fajitas A Go Go expecting skirt steak; what you’ll get is Angus sirloin. And you want some vegetables? How about grilled asparagus and hen-of-the-wood mushrooms?)

“Houstonian’s taste buds deserve an upgraded fajita experience,” says Black, who graduated from the University of Houston, which is where he and Hanratty met.

Highlights for me are the corn tortillas — moist, rich with corn taste, almost fluffy, and the quesadillas, with their crisp exterior (but not overly), brushed with butter and grilled, full of quality ingredients, including that boar sausage, seasonal vegetables, beef, shrimp, and cheese. You can easily share one order of the quesadillas with the dining companion of your choice, and doing so will leave you room for a shrimp skewer. The sirloin used here is another good choice, and the chickens (brined overnight), done on the restaurant’s wood-burning rotisserie, are excellent. The salsas and beans — charro and refried — are also far better than you might expect, as are the chips.

A thoughtful beer selection — strong on Mexican and Texas varieties — house wines, and Margarita mix (bring your own Tequila) complete the picture. Oh yes, Buford will be making charcuterie on a regular basis.

It’s a pleasant setting, with an unfinished concrete floor and large windows, and the side garden will be a nice place for dinner once summer has come and gone (speaking for myself only, as I shun the heat and humidity, but if you don’t mind the temperatures, give it a go now).

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