Tacos & Tequila

Lower Westheimer entrepreneur takes aim at Mexican fare with new taco and tequila spot

First look: Montrose entrepreneur takes aim with new taco/tequila spot

Stars, wooden stripes and Dia de los Muerto's art at Pistolero's
Stars, wooden stripes and Dia de los Muertos art at Pistolero's Photo by Darla Guillen
Pistolero's bar shrine with custom sculpture
Pistolero's bar shrine with custom sculpture Photo by Darla Guillen
Pistolero's exterior day in space formerly occupied by Nabi
Pistolero's is located in the space formerly occupied by Nabi. Photo by Darla Guillen
Pistolero's fully stocked bar and mosaic tile
The fully stocked bar with mosaic tile detailing Photo by Darla Guillen
Stars, wooden stripes and Dia de los Muerto's art at Pistolero's
Pistolero's bar shrine with custom sculpture
Pistolero's exterior day in space formerly occupied by Nabi
Pistolero's fully stocked bar and mosaic tile

The man who is taking aim at a lower Westheimer occupation that could compete with the Anvil (Clumsy Butcher) group’s enclave of bars and restaurants has now opened a shrine of sorts to a gunman, or rather, a pistolero.

Pistolero’s is Montrose’s newest bar-slash-restaurant from already-established retail clothing shop and bar owner Shawn Bermudez, of Royal Oak, Boondock’s, Pavement, The Golden Grill and Koagie Hots fame.

Good taco and tequila joints have long been venerated in Houston, and locals know how to tell the real deal from the less authentic, so how does a man who sells everything from clothes and shoes to grilled cheese sandwiches expand to compete in a market that caters to the most immoderate taco and tequila consumers in the region?

For one thing, you welcome them into the space formerly occupied by Nabi with what looks like an altar of tequila surrounding a backlit pistolero sculpture and make sure you’re balancing a focus on both food and drink.

 “I live here, and I feel like the neighborhood is always going to take care of me,” says Bermudez. 

“It’s a tequila and taco bar, it’s in the title that I’m doing both —  I’m not doing it because ‘oh, well if the bar doesn’t do well I have the restaurant or ‘if the restaurant doesn’t do well I have the bar,’” Bermudez says. “In order to make sure that [they’re both] the focus, we’re doing our late-night menu — there’s constantly food here, and I think that’s going to help us have that balance.”

The expansive menu will offer tortas, burritos, larger plates like molé with roast spice cauliflower, and, of course, a pistolero dog. Tacos are the food menu highlight and come in shareable serving sizes of one, four and ten. Bermudez admits that the first four on the menu are his favorite: roast pork, oxtail (which was my favorite), red molé  and barbacoa.

The tequila-forward drink selection will debut with four in-house tequila infusions including wild berry, jalapeño pineapple, olive and caper and a serrano, cilantro and peppercorn combination. Pistolero’s will also be open for Saturday and Sunday brunch in about a month.

When I asked Bermudez about how this spot compares to another tacos-and-infused-tequila bar, El Gran Malo, he was reluctant to comment. He says Malo’s owner and good friend Steve Sharma has already stopped in to Pistolero’s and there is a definite sense of camaraderie between them. He also says this concept has been an idea for several years and is only now coming to fruition.

His upcoming project, Stone’s Throw, aptly named for its proximity to the rest of his burgeoning Montrose empire and to his own house, Bermudez says he cares for Montrose as his place of business but also as his personal neighborhood.

“I live here, and I feel like the neighborhood is always going to take care of me,” says Bermudez, explaining why it’s important to him that he be proud of Pistolero’s.

“Every time I take on a new project I try to up it a little bit. I look at my last projects, and I don’t want it to be on the same level or any less than I did before, and I think that I did that here, and I hope that people feel the same way.”

Pistolero’s opens to the public today at 4 p.m. The kitchen will be open Sunday through Wednesday until 1 a.m. and Thursday through Friday until 2 a.m.