In the world of Mexican dining in Houston, the restaurant occupies a middle ground in both the setting and cooking somewhere between a taqueria and Hugo Ortega’s trio of terrific upscale offerings and also the more casual Cuchara on Taft. Taking its name from the upscale neighborhood of Polanco in Mexico City – Polanquito is "little Polanco" – this is a nice, if casual, at-times, counter-service spot that serves up well-made, usually enticing and nicely presented versions of unpretentious dishes from several areas of Mexico, and found in Mexico’s largest city. The chef was quoted in the Houston Chronicle as saying that: “Our food represents many Mexican provinces such as Sinaloa, Veracruz, Puebla, and Yucatán.”
Polanquito provides a welcome, often lighter taste of Mexico, with a welcome array of choices. It’s evolved since opening from a breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch place that serves lunch and dinner – from Tuesday through Saturday – while keeping the brunch component during the weekends. The menu is divided among tacos in several guises, larger plates, seven dishes to share, a half-dozen breakfast options, and a handful each of desserts and pastries. The attractive croissants are made in house, though, maybe a bit oddly, the bread and tortillas are not. No real matter, though.
The dishes look and taste like these do in Mexico, or at least the nicer places where I’ve had similar preparations in years past. The flavors are usually vibrant and distinct, and properly complex in the case of the mole poblano that is served atop the traditional chicken. And, also, to a lesser extent with the green mole with the pork ribs, Pipian. There is even a pink mole preparation on the menu now. The conchinita pibil, the slowly cooked pulled pork dish from the Yucatan and served with red pickled onions has been a favorite, and it does commendable double duty in both a taco and in a sandwich. And, the fryer works well for both the beer-battered fish and shrimp taco plates.
Portion sizes and prices are moderate. The piquant, bright shrimp agauchile tops that prices at $12.99 while one of the two single-serving tacos, the neat potato and chorizo version with diced onions and poblanos, is just $2.49. No alcohol.
404 Shepherd (at Feagan), 77007, (713) 485-4047
The Green Pipian Mole with Pork Ribs