Tampico

Two co-workers quit last week but they didn’t give any notice so I couldn’t leverage their exit for a work-lunch outing. Luckily someone let it slip that two other co-workers had birthdays, so I leveraged that to try another from my growing list of recommended restaurants.

Over the past year more of my younger friends in Houston have moved to the EaDo and Greater Heights neighbourhoods. Greater Heights has always been primarily a well-established Hispanic community but now the subway extension has afforded direct access to downtown combined with still reasonable real estate costs; its demographics are changing quickly. It’s probably why I’ve noticed more and more Instagram photos from this place, Tampico.

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Its Mexican but not Tex Mex. Its also a seafood market. When you take into account both, you  can expect seafood dishes with a Mexican flair. Its developed a solid reputation for its Red Snapper, cooked whole with options of sauce.

Atmosphere
IMG_2007From the outside Tampico definitely stands out with its eye-popping yellow coat of paint. You’ll definitely need the yellow color as a beacon to guide you through maze of road construction. The inside is small, lined with booths and community tables and a small but well-appointed seafood counter, in case you want to pick your own Red Snapper. Its not fancy, its not a scene, its not on anyone’s buzz-list and its definitely geared for large families out for a casual, relaxing time and great food.

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Food
You can get items other than seafood but in a restaurant with a fresh seafood counter why would you?

Shrimp Cocktail. Definitely get the small order if you are planning to order other items. A dozen or so medium sized gulf shrimp suspended in a tomato-based sauce laced with chipotle and lime; avocado slices are along for the ride. Refreshing, spicy and definitely on my short list for a return visit.

Red Snapper Mojo. It was hard to decide which sauce but the garlic-butter Mojo sauce seemed a good first dip. The whole snapper almost refused to be contained on their large serving platter. Garlic, onions, bell pepper and butter with just a hint of chili definitely enhanced the sweet and slightly nutty flavors of the fresh snapper without overwhelming. Our snapper was  over 2.5 pounds, so I would suggest +1 to share or be really hungry.

Service
It was slow but likely an artifact of being at capacity with several large groups and their kitchen looked painfully small. In any case, friendly, helpful and they enthusiastically answered all of our questions about sourcing and preparation.

Price
Reasonable. Small Shrimp Cocktail (which would be large elsewhere) $9. Red Snapper Mojo (enough for two) $29

Lunch: May 2014

Tampico | 2115 Airline | HTX 77009

 

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