I have now lived in Texas for a year and three months. In that time, I've done a pretty respectable job of eating my way through Houston. After all, I have no choice. My job necessitates that I eat out almost every meal and rarely repeat a venue.
When I recently checked the list of restaurants readers suggested I try when it was first announced that I would be Houstonia's new dining editor, I had eaten at all but four. They were Andes Café (especially sad because it's been a life goal to eat a guinea pig since I first read Olga da Polga around age 4), Banana Leaf, Tacos Tierra Caliente and perhaps the most popular suggestion of all, Raising Cane's. No, really. A lot of people wanted me to try those tenders.
Yesterday, I finally did. And guys, I've got to admit, I'm a bit nonplussed. It was fine. I especially liked the hot dog bun spread with garlic butter (they call it Texas Toast) and the sauce that tasted like McDonald's Sweet & Sour and Special Sauce had a baby.
But the chicken? The breading didn't even adhere to the meat. It was an acceptable tender, but I'm not excited for a return visit. The crinkle-cut fries were from the same bag that every fast food place uses. The biggest disappointment was the "fresh-squeezed" lemonade, which I'm certain bares a stronger molecular resemblance to Crystal Light than to citrus, though a section of real lemon did float therein. OK, I probably set the authenticity bar a little high, but while I wasn't disgusted or sickened by the meal, I have to admit, I did not emerge a Caniac, that's for sure.
Fast Firsts is an occasional series in which our New England-born food critic tries Texas-favorite fast food for the first time. Have suggestions? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.