Houston's newest taqueria
Star Mexican chef's tasty taqueria sets opening date in historic Houston farmers market
The wait is almost over the next restaurant to debut at the Houston Farmers Market. Comalito, a new taqueria that’s inspired by the flavors of Mexico City, will officially open this Friday, November 17 (2520 Airline Dr.).
First announced this summer, Comalito replaces Wild Oats, Underbelly Hospitality’s Texas comfort food restaurant that’s moving to a new location in Spring Branch. It’s led by chef Luis Robledo Richards, an award-winning Mexican chef who has also served as a judge on Netflix’s Sugar Rush: The Baking Point, and his co-chef and business partner Atzin Santos. Their restaurant group Nixt operates a number of concepts in Mexico City including Tout Chocolat, Robledo Richards’ signature chocolate shop.
Robledo Richards spoke to CultureMap about the opening (read on for our interview), and officially noted in a broad statement to the media: “Our vision for Comalito is to create a fun, affordable, and approachable concept where Houstonians can immerse themselves in the vibrant culinary landscape of a traditional Mexico City taqueria. We hope to become a go-to destination for those seeking simple, high-quality food and are excited to bring this unique dining experience alongside Underbelly Hospitality to The Houston Farmers Market.”
Star chef Luis Robledo Richards will lead Comalito. Photo by Fernando Gómez Carbajal
As the chef notes, Comalito is designed to be a casual, welcoming restaurant. Its menu is based on a wide array of tacos, highlighted by pork pastor that’s prepared on a trompo, topped with pineapple, and paired with six housemade salsas. Other taco options include a chile-rubbed beef pastor, bistec (top sirloin), and marinated chicken. Diners will also find traditional braised meats such as beef tongue, beef cheek, and tripe. Vegan and vegetarian options include tacos de hongos al pastor (mushrooms al pastor), ensalada de nopales con quelites (cactus and purslane salad), and quesadillas.
Critically, the tacos are served on tortillas made in-house using heirloom corn that’s imported from Mexico. Santos is leading the restaurant’s masa program, which using a traditional nixtamalization technique to process the corn. The street-style tacos use tortillas that are roughly four or five inches in diameter, meaning it’s easy to eat a few during a meal.
Starters include a crispy chicharron de queso, guacamole, and braised onions. Cazuelas, small bowls filled with melted cheese, come topped with either chorizo or roasted poblano peppers.
Robledo Richards puts his skills as a pastry chef to good use with desserts that include flan, chocolate pudding, rice pudding, and churros. Beverage options include beer, micheladas, and a range of agave-based cocktails made with tequila and mezcal such as the margarita and paloma.
“It’s a simple taqueria. We’re trying to replicate the Mexico City flavors,” Robledo Richards tells CultureMap. “Simple techniques, simple recipes. We’re trying to execute them to the best of our ability.”
The restaurant held a couple of invite-only previews over the weekend to get read. The chef is pleased with his team’s progress but realizes they need a little more seasoning before the doors open officially on Friday.
“I think we’re making great progress. I think we’re maybe 90 percent of what I wanted it to be, especially in the little details of flavors and people executing the recipes,” he says. “It’s such a wide and very diverse team that we have. It’s not easy to make them understand the flavors, temperatures, textures, everything.”
For now, Comalito will be open for lunch and dinner daily from 11 am to 8 pm. Once the restaurant is fully staffed, it will add daily breakfast service featuring the chef’s pastries along with breakfast tacos and coffee. The process of getting to opening has been long, but Robledo Richards is ready for the next phase.
“I feel excited. This project was a long way coming. When we started, it was back in March 2020, right before lockdown. We had to wait,” he says.
“When we saw the first couple come in, I was, like, oh my God, finally. We get to serve someone. It was a big weight off my shoulders.”