Last fall, I had a lovely lunch at Chapultepec Lupita with my good friend Carlos. I hadn’t visited in a while, and we enjoyed the fun same-as-it-ever-was front room peering out on Richmond. We reminisced about late nights there in the 1990s and loved our tacos and enchiladas.
Heading back to my car, I thought of the good fortune we have in Montrose, with so many great Tex-Mex places just blocks from each other in any direction. I then shed a tear for the Heights, which didn’t seem to have any.
(I know, you’re thinking “Teotihuacan? Spanish Flowers?” My tear was for the central part of the Heights, which had been making do with Andy’s and Berryhill.)
But then Superica, an outpost of a popular Atlanta chain from Houston-born chef Ford Fry, opened at Shepherd and 18th. I was excited to find out if Superica brought anything new to the Tex-Mex table.
My first visit was a month after Superica began service, but it might as well have been opening night. Servers scattered about, working their hearts out but accomplishing very little. Food and drink were slow to come out of the kitchen, and when they did, they were underwhelming.
Chile con Queso with Chorizo was gummy, with way-too-large pieces of the sausage fighting the cheese for attention. Steak Fajita Nachos lacked seasoning; my margarita was OK (and strong enough) but I’d had better elsewhere.
I’d planned to write a column about Superica after that visit, but I decided to hold off. I’m glad I did, because after a second meal there, I’m convinced Superica is just the Tex-Mex tonic the Heights needed.
I returned after Alison Cook, the Houston Chronicle restaurant critic (and goddess), gave Superica a positive review. Her description of the El Lopez combo plate practically drove me there itself.
I ordered the El Lopez from a far more attentive and on-the-ball server, and the plate that was set before me could only be described as Tex-Mex nirvana.
Cheese enchiladas had the texture of softened butter and just the right mix of velvety cheese and assertive spice. The shell of the crispy beef taco was fried right there, making everything in it taste all the better. A puffy tostada con queso, served first, had an irresistible (and far silkier) cheese. Refried beans were made with lard, as they should be.
My margarita choice was much better as well. El Matador, made with tequila Blanco, pineapple, lime and cilantro, was smooth and full of tart-sweet flavor. As I was only halfway done with my combo plate when I finished the cocktail, I happily ordered a second.
I’m looking forward to trying Superica’s brunch on a Sunday morning soon. It’s a tightly edited menu, with favorites like Migas and Huevos Rancheros, but it does have eggs and “Delta Style” tamales — with chili gravy and saltines — as well.
Superica is pricy for Tex-Mex, there’s no getting around it. But judging by its popularity, I think Heights residents have good reason for a fiesta!