It is a shame. Polanquito has a liquor license as of the past several weeks and along with Tio Trompo, it offers high quality Mexican cuisine that is somewhat unique for Houston in an approachable and friendly space.
Tio Trompo and Polanquito offer two different aspects of Mexican food. Tio Trompo, which opened at the end of last year, is a fairly bare-bones counter service taqueria with a limited menu that specializes in cuts of pork from the spinner, the trompo, the vertical spit used to cook pork al pastor, is a key attraction. That slowly roasted pork, which retains its moistness unlike at far too many taquerias in Houston, makes its way into traditional tacos, excellent tortas and the Torta Arabe. Though I was not exactly familiar with this large taco-style item, served on a type of pita bread, its name was not surprising as I was familiar with the story of Lebanese immigrants bringing the trompo to Mexico a century or so ago. The taco arabe, I have come to learn, is a specialty of the city of Puebla near where the proprietor is from. Tio Trompo also does a really nice job with breakfast tacos and tacos with barbacoa de res. It is one of the best dining values to be found inside the Loop.
The full-service Polanquito occupies a bright café-like space. Taking its name from the upscale neighborhood of Polanco in Mexico City – Polanquito is "little Polanco" – this is a nice, if casual, spot serving up well-made, usually enticing and nicely presented versions of unpretentious dishes from several areas of Mexico, and found in Mexico’s largest city. It is broadly similar to Cuchara in Montrose in style and substance. Polanquito provides a welcome, often lighter taste of Mexico, with a nice array of choices. Its chef was quoted around its opening in 2019 in the Houston Chronicle as saying that: “We make authentic, elaborate Mexican dishes that will make you feel like you're dining in Mexico. Our food represents many Mexican provinces such as Sinaloa, Veracruz, Puebla, and Yucatán.” The dishes do look and taste as 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 with the Green Shrimp Aguachile. And, also, to a lesser extent with the green mole with the pork ribs, Pipian. I’ve had good luck with a number of dishes here.
Polanquito is currently open for lunch Wednesday through Friday, dinner on Friday and Saturday with a more ambitious menu, and brunch and lunch on the weekends. Tio Trompo is open from breakfast beginning at 8 AM through dinner Tuesday through Saturday and for breakfast and lunch on Sunday. Try to ignore the current construction, which is easier to do for Tio Trompo, and visit these restaurants if you enjoy Mexican food like in Mexico.
404 Shepherd (at Feagan), 77007, (713) 485-4047
316 Shepherd (at Feagan), Houston, 77007, (832) 804-6364