Yesterday, The Daily Meal—a website for "all things food and drink"—unleashed upon Houston the most embarrassing round-up of restaurants since Moon Handbooks recommended eating at Corner Bakery for a good Bayou City breakfast. In an article it had the gall to title "Houston Restaurants: 5 Best Tex-Mex Restaurants," The Daily Meal contributor Alexandra E. Petri, a New York-based writer, rounded up the website's best Tex-Mex joints as voted on by their readers.
"Chili’s Grill & Bar is a very popular Tex-Mex chain also located in Houston, and is best known today for its sizzling fajitas, premium burgers, and baby back ribs," write Petri, with what I'm assuming is a straight face. "Del Taco, another of the best Tex-Mex chains in the States, also calls Houston home and is known for its breakfast burritos and American-style tacos."
Here's the problem, though. None of the five restaurants listed could realistically be considered Tex-Mex by even generous standards. Let's take a look at the list:
- Chipotle: this is classic Den-Mex, as evidenced by the fact that the entire, Colorado-based fast food chain is based around burritos.
- Taco Bell: perhaps the French would consider Taco Bell to be Tex-Mex, who knows; the reality is that the California-based fast food chain is Cal-Mex, period, end of story.
- Chili's: Chili's hasn't been a Tex-Mex restaurant since Brinker took it over in the 1980s and made it into the baby back rib empire it is today.
- Del Taco: there is one Del Taco in Houston. One. Explain to me again how this is the No. 4 most popular Tex-Mex restaurant in the city?
- Chuy's: the most enduringly popular local example of New Mex (a.k.a. New Mexican cuisine); any Houstonian worth their salt will tell you that Chuy's—while commendable—is not Tex-Mex.
In fairness, I understand that The Daily Meal is only regurgitating the results of a poll, in which its [potentially Martian] readers voted these five restaurants as the among the best Tex-Mex chains in the country (though, notably, the word "chain" is conspicuously absent from the article's headline).
From there, however, this is what should have happened: The Daily Meal looks at this list, realizes it has no real-life correlation to actual Tex-Mex food nor to what Tex-Mex restaurants are popular in Houston, and scraps the entire article. Alas, here we are. At a Del Taco.
In response, Houstonia has compiled a list of the Top 5 Best New York City Restaurants for our friends up north. We think it's only fair that those food-deprived New Yorkers should be pointed to the best options in their own city, in case they've never experienced the truly vibrant NYC dining scene for themselves.
- Einstein's Bagels: bagels are really popular in New York. You can get a bagel and American-style cream cheese at one of the many authentic Einstein's around New York.
- Sbarro: nothing says New York like a slice of pizza. Try a slice of cheese or maybe even an American-style pepperoni pizza at a Sbarro near you.
- Gray's Papaya: this is a true New York secret! Gray's Papaya is best known for American-style hot dogs with many varied toppings.
- Panda Express: if you visit New York, you have to visit Chinatown—but you don't have to eat there. Get some American-style beef with broccoli or orange chicken at Panda Express.
- Planet Hollywood: Times Square is truly the beating heart of the Big Apple. You can enjoy big bites of American-style food at Planet Hollywood, a unique New York dining experience.
I hear Planet Hollywood has a pretty long waiting list for reservations. Better get on that now, travelers.