Where Did We Go?
The El Cantina Superior
602 Studewood Street, Houston, TX 77007
What’s the Skinny?
You would have never known the struggling The El Cantina Superior was destined for demise only a few shorts months ago. After opening last summer and shutting down soon after, we didn’t know just what would come of this spot. Closed due to utility issues was the story…well, that was until F.E.E.D. TX (owners of popular eateries Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette, Petite Sweets, and BRC Gastropub) came to save the day. Fast forward to now and all is well on the corner of Studewood and White Oak. It’s almost as if its history has been deleted from memory; the playing field is level again. Clearly, a complete overhaul and revamp of everything from the staff to the menu was just what the doctor ordered.
The El Cantina Superior, also known as “The El”, has quickly become synonymous with not only really good Tex Mex, but also really good BBQ. Truth be told, we were not sure what to think of the concept. Yes, we are in Texas, and yes Tex Mex and BBQ are the initial associations when one thinks of our native cuisine – but serving them together in one spot and both be stellar options??? Well, we are here to state for the record that The El has tipped the scale in their favor and they are creating a version of home-style Mexican food that is a welcomed treat to the historic Heights community – and Houston. Your traditional fare is ever present but think BBQ Pork Rib Quesadillas and Chopped Brisket & Jalapeno Sausage Enchiladas. We were sure that would peak some interest!
What Did We Love?
Can you recommend the entire menu? Or at least the half of the menu that we tried and loved; and we’ve visited on multiple occasions just to make sure it was truly a love fest and not just a case of major like. So if we are forced to pick our absolute favorites it would have to be:
Smoked Carnitas (Peppery smoked and fried pork shoulder & brisket, flour tortilla, pico de gallo, fresh chile & onion, lime, and side of tomatillo sauce): The combination of the smoked and fried meats are the secret here. It gives you a bite that is familiar, but unique enough that will keep you interested in developing a new relationship with this classic.
Smoke 2 J’s Relleno (Naked poblanos stuffed with our smoked brisket & three cheeses, roasted tomato sauce, refried beans and tomato rice): This is easily one of the most overlooked items on the menu, because folks just think of it as just your basic/boring chile rellenos dish. However, the addition of the smoked brisket takes this classic Mexican food staple to a culinary masterpiece – making it one of the best dishes on the menu.
We must admit that our love fest only goes for the food, because the drinks left us a lot disappointed! The poor bartender could not make a good margarita if his poor life depended on it. So we opted for frozen margaritas which are prepared by the batch and harder to mess up; they were pretty solid. We also made it known that the drinks were a little off on multiple visits, but we are confident that they are working those kinks out.