If you read online restaurant reviews, you may conclude that it hasn't been the best start for The Original Ninfa's Uptown Houston, which opened in June at BLVD Place. If you also analyze restaurant news, you would've read that opening executive chef Jason Gould left in August and maybe deduced that, again, it hasn't been the best start there.
Restaurants are prone to stumbling in those first few months, especially since we're talking about businesses that one day aren't operating and the next are fully servicing the public. Add to that the size of the space and the expectation (this is Ninfa's), and the error bar suddenly looks pretty long.
Context was important to me when paying a visit recently to this new Ninfa's. I arrived early during weekday dinner service, so the dining room wasn't very full. Service was prompt. I ordered a cocktail—a well-balanced, sour and sweet tamarind mole margarita (with a salted mole rim)—and it came quickly. I ordered a combination plate—the Tejas with beef fajitas, crispy beef taco, and cheese enchilada—and it came really quickly—within five minutes.
That shocked me. I'm used to ordering my Tex-Mex dinner and waiting at least a good 15 minutes, giving me ample time to fill up on too many chips and queso while needing to order a second margarita.
The quick turnaround also meant I was on watch for undercooked food, and true enough, the tortillas were just a little too doughy. But that was about it. The fajita meat was about right—pink (mostly medium) inside with a deep char—and the rice was soft. It wasn't the most standout combination plate I've had (I am a sucker for those crispy tacos), but it was good and worth the $20.
I was more impressed with the cocktail, and it had me thinking that if I just spotted up at the bar, had a drink and a couple tacos, I would've had the perfect experience here.
Nonetheless, despite the early hiccups, I've yet to experience anything that gives me pause about the new Ninfa's Uptown. Would I have liked to wait a few more minutes for dinner? Yeah. Is it a big deal? Not if the food was fine. If anything, I see a pretty good Tex-Mex spot with a beautiful new dining room and bar. I think it's worth giving it a shot.