Looking past Greatfull Taco's determined eccentricity: Hits and misses at thisbrick and mortar stop
So on my first visit I was determined to ignore the determined eccentricity: The employees dressed in retro gear (this only happens on "Funky Friday"), the no-coin policy (if you pay cash they'll either round up or down your change to the dollar), the verbose signs on the door forbidding tipping, all of it. No. Today I am just here for tacos.
Unlike any other brick and mortar taco place in Houston, the tacos at Greatfull are more like the tacos at one of the new high-end food trucks rolling around town, with bold flavors, premium ingredients and quirky names. The tacos here will run you a little more (from $2.50 to more than $4 for a single taco) but they do also come with seating, air conditioning, and a truly enormous television to watch if one so desires.
I started with the Viola Lee, a vegetarian concoction with crispy fried green tomato chunks, garlic and serrano mayo. I henceforth declare that all vegetarian tacos need a fried vegetable, as it cleverly solves the main issue with vegetarian versions — the soggy texture — while also being extra delicious. It was a great start.
Less impressive was the Chicken molé, with a sour bite that left me wishing for the molé from Irma's, and the Red Rooster, a jerk chicken taco with mango-habanero salsa. I love jerk chicken, but the Caribbean flavor was completely overwhelmed by the habanero heat that even an habanero connoisseur like myself couldn't handle.
My favorite was the juicy Pig Pen, with pulled pork, lettuce and a honey chipotle salsa — the ingredients balanced well and played off each other instead of fighting for dominance. I also enjoyed the Dancing Shrimp, which was complemented by a chipotle adobo butter and a sprinkling of fresh lettuce.
While I appreciated the double corn tortilla on the tacos, made to support the heavy, saucy fillings, Greatfull loses a point or two for not making them in-house (though they are local). They could be a little softer and a little bit fresher.
For creative and Americanized tacos from a restaurant without wheels, I'm still giving Bodega's Taco Shop the blue ribbon. But Greatfull Taco is taking some interesting risks — though a few are bound to be misses, there are plenty of hits here.