Pico’s Mex-Mex on Bellaire

Pico’s is the only place in a clearly Central American district that serves Mexican food, mostly to gringos. A lot of people swear by it, but I think it must be the margaritas they push. If gloppy were a food group, this place would rate highly. But melted cheese and refried beans can be gloppy and delicious. Somehow these weren’t so great. Maybe we didn’t order right, or maybe a Sunday isn’t the day to try. I like flavors to be clear and distinct, and extremely fresh. If this were a painting, it would be all browns. The agua de tamarindo had too much sugar, or some other sweetener, too little tamarindo. I’d give it a 2.

The best ceviche I have ever had was in Mexico City as a teenager. The fish burst with freshness, and the limes made my salivary glands spurt. The hard crunch of unabashed jalapeños and the hint of onions finished a sublime bite. We were not allowed to order ceviche by my parents, so there could have been a little illicit thrill in sneaking off to get it. I’ve also had great ceviche since in Venezuela, on the coast, and in Maracay at El Portón de la Abuela, and more recently, in Lima, Peru.

The limp fish on lettuce and soggy red tortilla chips that Pico’s served up was not related to those ceviches. It had the metallic taste that lime juice gets when it sits too long. Hmm, I wonder when I’ll next get great ceviche, and will I ever feel safe enough to go to my beloved Venezuela again?

Ambience at Picos? Friendly and welcoming, food delivered professionally, and we were surrounded by lots of people clearly enjoying their margaritas. And our table was the best, lots of family, Dave, both boys, Miller, my parents, and Philip’s friend Raphael. So, yes it was fun, and maybe in the future we should try their more Mexican dishes, but I’ll probably be more likely to drive another block to Pupusa Allegre, or check out that new Honduran place next door.

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Enchiladas.

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The mole was too sweet.

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See the shrimp?

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We shouldn’t have ordered nachos as a main dish.

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These nachos were a little better, not very authentic Yucatecan, though.

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Somehow the ceviche didn’t taste very fresh.

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The soup was fairly good.

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About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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One Response to Pico’s Mex-Mex on Bellaire

  1. Bob Honig says:

    You wrote: “Maybe we didn’t order right”: I suspect that’s exactly what happened. Pico’s has been Maggie’s and my favorite Mexican eatery in Houston for years, and there’s nothing in our experience that has made us waver in our opinion. But we don’t go in for cheesy dishes, nachos, or ceviche, nor sweetened drinks (except the margaritas). So I can’t comment on most of what you describe.
    And, “maybe in the future we should try their more Mexican dishes”: That’s the reason to go to Pico’s: Caldo Tlalpeno, Pollo Pibil, Chiles en Nogada, Huachinango Tikin Xik, Mancha Manteles, Cochinita Pibil — those are the dishes that set Pico’s apart from the rest of Houston’s Mexican restaurants. So try some entrees from the “Especialidades Mexicanas” portion of their menu before you write them off.
    NOTE: Since we now live so far out of town, we don’t get there much any more — it’s probably been over a year, maybe two (or more?). So if quality has declined in that period, I wouldn’t know.

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