Satisfying my Inner Latina at Houston’s Finest Mexican Markets

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.

Brightly colored fruits and vegetables at Canino Produce market in Houston, Texas.

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.

My tray of goodies from El Bolillo Bakery in Houston, Texas.

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 fullTeresa and I show off our goodies from El Bolillo Bakery in Houston, Texas. 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.

Digging into Juan’s Famous Poo Poo Plate at Morrison Inn in Morrison, CO

After a grueling day of hiking to crags, exhausting yourself with beta, and the whole propelling-yourself-up-a-boulder thing, climbers need good grub and cold drinks to help us refuel – and there ain’t nothing better than a hearty plate of Mexican food to get you back on your feet.

Thanks to Mountain Project’s description of the Morrison/Evergreen climbing area, Niko and I gained curiosity about the highly acclaimed Mexican food in the area, especially the recommended Morrison Inn. Located only a few miles away from Three Sisters Park, we figured it would be a great place to unwind after a cold day of climbs. After a day of this, we loaded up our gear and followed the winding mountain roads that led us from Evergreen to Morrison.

Always a beer man, I was surprised when Niko expressed his interest in ordering a margarita. Naturally, he maintained his manhood by ordering a house variety on the rocks, and I stayed true to my own form with a sweet frozen strawberry flavor. My favorite part of my blended drink was the sugar-coated rim, yum.

We both felt comfortable in this cozy establishment, which has some of the friendliest waitresses I have ever encountered. Our particular waitress was quick to refill our constantly emptied salsa bowl, and her quirky antics left us feeling cheerful as we slurped up our drinks and pondered our next move.

As Niko and I sipped on our tequila cocktails and shoveled tortilla chips into our mouths, we scoured the menu in search of edible conquests. Always budget-minded, we decided to order something that we could share. Fish tacos and burly burritos called out to us from the offerings, but as soon as our eyes landed on “Juan’s Famous Poo Poo Plate,” we burst into giggles and found our meal.

To be honest, neither of us had a clue what “cocktail flautas,” or “petite chili rellenos” were, but we decided to take a gamble after our bubbly waitress told us the platter was an excellent choice. Curious, but even moreso famished, we continued noshing on chips and salsa as we waited for our mystery meal to arrive. We eventually spotted our waitress rounding the corner with an enormous spread of Mexican goodness – as soon as she delivered the mound of morsels to our table, I shot Niko a doubtful concern about our ability to clear the massive plate.

Truth be told, we totally demolished every last bite. The nachos were perfectly layered, the queso dip had an ideal balance of spice, and the mysterious flautas and rellenos turned out to be the best part of it all. The flautas were basically deep-fried tortillas wrapped up and stuffed with ground beef and seasoned chicken. My favorite portion of the platter were the petite chili rellenos, little fried balls oozing with jalapeno-infused cheese.

How we managed to fit all that food in our bellies after two huge margaritas and more refills on chips and salsa than I’d like to admit, I simply don’t know. We are veritable foodie champions, conquering the realm of Mexican food so readers like you can enjoy the stories while we clutch our bloated bellies. I would highly recommend this joint as a post-climb pit stop for any climber, hiker, or adventurer in the vicinity. Two thumbs up, Morrison Inn!

Visit again next week for another Tasty Thursday!
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