Oxtail is having a moment.
For example, because the Chinese calendar flipped last month to the Year of the Ox, a bunch of Katy restaurants got together to feature dishes featuring oxtail. Each week you can go to a new spot for its dish (like on Sunday, March 7, visit Chuckwagon BBQ & Burgers for smoked and smothered oxtails).
But that isn't all. It seems as if oxtail—beef tail meat that's best enjoyed after being stewed for a long time—is popping up more often on Houston-area menus. Case in point: Tacos A Go Go's next collaboration taco is an oxtail, sweet potato, cabbage, and mole taco, courtesy Chris Williams of Lucille's (look for it on Tuesdays during the month of March).
Oxtail isn't some new trend, of course. It's long been a popular cut throughout the world, everywhere from Vietnam to the Caribbean, and from West Africa down to South Africa. You can get oxtail in plenty of variations locally, too; here's a list of dishes to seek out:
Head to Caribbean Jerk Cuisine on Richmond Avenue for this delicacy, which is essentially a bunch of slowly stewed oxtails served with sliced peppers, cabbage, and rice and beans. Oxtails were long an inexpensive cut, perfect for big, belly-filling meals, and at spots like Caribbean Jerk Cuisine and Cool Runnings on West Bellfort, you can get a lot for a decent price. (At Cool Runnings, oxtails are served with butter beans and dumplings).
Oxtail with jollof rice
A staple of the West African diet, jollof rice is an aromatic and often spicy slow-cooked rice dish. At West African restaurants around the city, jollof comes in a variety of forms. Typically you can add goat, beef, or chicken to your rice, and sometimes fish is offered. At Taste of Nigeria on Richmond Avenue, oxtail is an option that's as pricey as goat, but it adds a layer of richness.
Up at Flor De Cuba off Highway 6 at Clay Road, you can order rabo encendido, or Cuban oxtail stew. In this dish with Spanish origins, oxtail is cooked for a long time in tomatoes until it's super tender. For a different take, Reggae Hut on Almeda stews oxtails with carrots and assorted vegetables, serving it with rice and beans or potato salad.
For a more American South take on oxtails, head to one of Houston's longest-standing restaurants, Alfreda's Soul Food on Almeda Road. Here you'll get oxtails covered in thick gravy and served with rice. Add sides like yams and macaroni and cheese to raise the richness. Other "soul food" spots like Mikki's and Houston This Is It pile on the comfort as well, with multiple sides at the ready.
Pho with oxtail
We all love a good bowl of pho, but typically we'll find proteins like meatball, brisket, and eye of round steak as options. Oxtail? A little harder to come across. If you're interested in trying it out, go to Pho Hung by Night in Alief for variations of pho that include oxtail (the menu lists them as cow tails).