In Mexico, streets are lined with signs advertising "comida corrida," a quick lunch ("corrida" literally means "run," so it's "food on the run") of several courses. Think of a French table d'hôte, but with far less ceremony and for far less money. It's a fabulous idea that hasn't caught on much north of the border. The comida corrida at Cuchara in Montrose is one of Houston's great treats, but elsewhere, it's difficult to find.
But another restaurant devoted to the cuisine of Mexico City does advertise a Monday through Friday comida corrida. Taqueria DF on Long Point Road in Spring Branch has its own humble version of the lunch deal. The place is a community hub for Mexico City expats, with 24-hour service on Friday and Saturday and karaoke nights that had my fellow diners buzzing even during Wednesday lunch.
My server told me that the day's special was chuleta de puerco. What arrived was an arid chop that tasted a bit like ham. I wondered for how long that particular special had been "special" and how many times it had been reheated before I ordered it. So that wasn't a hit.
But as surprised as I was by the disappointing main course and its anonymous sides, I was even more surprised by how impressed I was with the bland-looking chicken soup. I'm assuming that someone in the kitchen has a Jewish grandmother, because the schmaltz-addled broth tasted suspiciously like my grandma's. And although we do have relatives in Mexico City, I'm fairly sure Grandma does not consider herself 100-percent Chilanga. Whoever made it, the simple soup is clearly homemade with love.
The meal ended with something that my server identified just as "postre," when she delivered it. I initially thought the homely concoction was strawberry yogurt scraped from the container into a little purple glass bowl. But I was actually experiencing my first taste of fresas con crema, fresh strawberries mixed in an eggless custard of thickened cream. It was the kind of unassuming treat in which a cute animal might indulge in a Beatrix Potter story.
So in the end, I found myself conflicted on the subject of Taqueria DF. I was unimpressed with the main course, but liked the other elements enough that I might still recommend the comida corrida. For $8, a soup and dessert I like, along with fiery salsa and chips, doesn't seem like such a bad deal.