I’ve been in Texas before – too many times, if you ask me. My visits to the Lonestar State are usually long stretches of driving during hauls across the country, most noteably my May journey where I struck a black bear with my hatchback at 2:30 AM while driving in the middle of nowhere.
Really, Texas and I don’t historically get along.
The first leg of the Simply Adventure trip called for a few weeks traversing new parts of Texas, but my excitement for places like Hueco Tanks was combated by the bad taste Texas tends to leave in my mouth.
And then I got to Houston.
Niko and I stopped in the city for a day on our way out to Reimer’s Ranch near Austin. We weren’t expecting much from the day, but ended up knee-deep in an incredible culinary journey.
The first stop: Canino Produce Co.
This bustling Houston hotspot is an absolute must for anyone into farmers markets. I haven’t been to all of the farmers markets in Houston, but I’d be willing to bet that this one is the best. Crowded rows of merchants line a narrow corridor where you can find everything from prickly cactus pears to thick bundles of fresh cilantro.
The best part? I didn’t speak a lick of English during my encounters with the farmers and veggie peddlers. I somehow summoned up my inner Cuban, and discussed everything from corn prices, avocado readiness, and pepper sizes entirely in Spanish.
We loaded up on multi-colored bell peppers, tall stalks of green onions, fat cherry tomatoes, and a wealth of vegetable before heading over to our next stop, which sits conveniently across the street.
El Bolillo Bakery is the kind of place that makes you question whether you’ve been teleported into the heart of Mexico.
Picture this: You walk into a cute bakery, pick up a giant metal tray, arm yourself with a pair of tongs, then wander through a maze of cabinets, displays, and countertops littered with a dizzying amount of freshly baked goods. It is absolutely incredible.
I felt like a little girl visiting my family in Mexico City as I explored the rows of skinny churros, plump bollilo rolls, and hundreds of unidentifiable treats. While I attempted to seek out familiar confections, Niko let his curiosity take control, and loaded up on whatever items tempted his appetite. We filled our tray with a heap of sweets, and grabbed a bag full of the best tortillas I have ever eaten.
And it all came out to just $8.25 (including my gigantic bottle of Mexican cola). Culturally-rich, loaded with flavor, freshly baked, AND budget-friendly? Yes, please!
Afterwards, we retreated to Teresa’s house, where she cooked up an incredible taco dinner unlike any taco concoction you could imagine: I’m talkin’ tortillas filled with butternut squash, whole roasted beets, quinoa, kale, fresh arugula from her garden, and shredded queso blanco. Needless to say, I was a very happy camper after that meal.
While our stop in Houston was short, and focused largely around these two destinations, my experiences exploring the culture and food of the city’s Latino community totally changed my attitude towards Texas – an perspective that has only grown more favorable as I spent more time in this state.