First Bite: Eight Row Flint
The buzz is that the parking lot is probably full and you'll have to leave your car across the street at the former 1050 Yale Street post office. People say there's lots of whiskey, including exclusive barrels. The word is it's a hipster joint.
The first two rumors about Eight Row Flint, the latest project from Agricole Hospitality, the company that brought you Heights staples Revival Market and Coltivare, are absolutely true. But yesterday, I was surprised to find a pretty diverse crowd, as pictured below.
And while whiskey is the focus at the bar, in particular the six proprietary tipples co-owner Morgan Weber selected at the distilleries including Jim Beam and Buffalo Trace himself, there are many other things to drink at this modern ice house. We tried a grapefruit shandy that looked like a frozen margarita but replaced the expected sugar high with the grown-up bitterness naturally resulting from a combo of grapefruit, pisco, Aperol, tamarind cordial, Peychaud's bitters and Lone Star beer. The last ingredient is one of the more than 20 types of suds available, with an emphasis on Texan breweries.
Food offerings may be limited to the final page of the lengthy, drink-focused menu, but it doesn't deserve to be ignored. Everything is prepared to order in a yellow taco truck parked behind the building.
Though guests are likely seated either inside or on the street-facing patio, food is packed to go. It does nothing to diminish the quality of the serrano-spiked queso that uses sharp Cabot cheddar as its base and includes a voluptuous snow of shaved Parmesan on top. The thick, crisp chips may be even better utilized to scoop up the guacamole, though. Don't look for chunks of tomato or onion—chef-co-owner Ryan Pera's recipe includes nothing extraneous. It's just avocado amped up with acid and spice.
We tried each of the tacos, not a major endeavor with only four on the menu. All of them are served in tortillas made for the market with the Eight Row Flint corn that gives the bar its name. The heritage breed, saved from extinction in the United States, results in an orangey-yellow tortilla that tastes strongly of corn without the sometimes overbearing sweetness.
Our favorite of the four tacos was a take on carnitas that combines local pork collar in a sweet-and-tangy tamarind sauce with cabbage and charred scallion. Spicy beef cheek and braised chicken with pickled onions are also well-balanced and taste not so much of Mexico, but of fresh Texas terroir.
Most unconventional is the brussels sprouts taco. The crisp petals of the baby brassica surround centers cooked to an almost meaty texture. Charred onion adds a hint of sweetness, while pickled radish and cilantro brighten up the earthy proceedings.
Given Agricole's commitment to local produce, the taco fillings are sure to be highly seasonal. But stop in now to say you were among the first to taste some of Houston's most local tacos.