Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Chilos Mexican seafood

A random shout-out here to one of my favorite local restaurants, but it's one you might be wisest to hit en route from Point A (some location inside the Loop) to Point B (your home in League City or other points south), given that it is some distance away. 

Such was the case for me this past Friday morning when I had to be outside working in a lot of that weather mess and three inches of rain. (Working outside except during the most intense interval of lightning, during which there were an estimated one hundred fifty thousand lightning strikes in southeast Texas (!!) and a City of Houston employee was tragically struck). 

Anyway, to make a long story short, despite having rain gear, I got soaked. 
This is what the sky looked like after the worst of the rain and lightning had passed.  Pretty raunchy stuff. 
I got soaked, which meant that stopping for a hot bowl of soup on my way home was just the ticket, and my favorite destination for soup is Chilos Seafood Restaurant on the Gulf Freeway at Howard / Bellfort.  
Screengrabbed from Googlemaps. 
It's on the south end of that funny looking strip center which is accessible from the southbound feeder.

Screengrabbed from Googlemaps ground view. 
Most Houston suburbanites think that they know what Mexican food is.  And most of them would be wrong.  Here's how to tell the difference. 
If you log onto a Houston restaurant's website (if it even has a website, which most of them don't) and the content is presented in English, it's probably not a real Mexican restaurant. 

Screengrabbed from Chilos Seafood Restaurant homepage

If you order seafood in a Mexican restaurant and it comes without the head still attached to the fish, it's probably not a real Mexican restaurant. 

Screengrabbed from Chilos Seafood Restaurant homepage.
Most Houston suburbanites think they know what Mexican food is, but really what they know is Tex-Mex.  And there's nothing wrong with Tex-Mex, but when your butt is soaking wet and you want a good hot hearty soup to remedy that condition, you're probably not going to find it in any Tex-Mex restaurant.
But you will find it at Chilos.  This is the Sopa de Mariscos in the small size.  You add both the lime and the rice to your soup yourself so that all components are maximally fresh and the rice is un-soggy when you eat it. 

Chilos serves its salsa fresh and warm, which I really like.  It's spicier than Tex-Mex but not blow-your-head-off spicy. 
This is an expensive soup, but you get what you pay for, and the high quality is plain to see here.  Rather than being packed with low-quality fillers, it's made of fish chunks, shrimp, crab fingers, oysters, pulpo - my favorite!!, and vegetables such as carrots and peppers.  With all of those good ingredients, they don't need to be adding excessive oils or carbohydrates in order to pump up the flavor.  It has a rich and wonderful home-made taste to it, without an oily broth. 
A word about the indelicate question that will be on the minds of many suburbanites at this point in my discourse:  should a person really stop at any establishment on that part of the Gulf Freeway?  Isn't it one of those proverbial "bad areas" of town? 

My personal opinion is that it's about three orders of magnitude less dangerous than actually driving on the Gulf Freeway.  I've been going to Chilos for at least ten years and I've never seen anything that caused me concern.  I do go at lunchtime rather than in the evening, because the mood gets very festive with Mariachis and crowds, whereas I prefer a quiet meal.  That part of town might be a little more animated at night. 

Anyway, we may have lost a number of high-quality local restaurants such as Hans Mongolian Wok, Korean BBQ, and Dimassis, but I reckon Chilos will be around for a long time to come, because it's extremely popular.  Mostly with people of Mexican heritage, but wet-back (I mean that literally) gringos like myself enjoy it, too. 

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