Monday, May 27, 2013

Café Adobe fades into history at 32 - Long live Tex-Mex!

Adios Café Adobe

Another fiesta is over. Café Adobe at Westheimer and Shepherd is now closed. Like the Montrose Fiesta store a few blocks to the East, the property will see redevelopment as multi-story residential project following demolition. The way things go in Houston.

The architecture of the double-decker patio venue was rather unique; not to mention the coloring scheme and illumination at night. It even offered rain-or-shine patio brunching or dining in a courtyard with a water fountain in the middle and glass roof aloft; winding staircase to the cantina on the second floor. Worthy of land-mark status, and no doubt the object of many fond and cheery memories for at least two generations of innerloopers.

Moving truck at back entrance to Adobe Cafe
It’s not the only Mexican restaurant fading into Margarita-infused memories of good times had. Aztecas on the corner of Richmond and Greenbriar has folded too, following the earlier demise of Maggie Ritas, whose effort  to spice things up at Ninfa’s on Richmond at Kirby were all too lamentably to no avail. Iconic patio restaurant Bocados on West Alabama near The Menil just went out with a bang too; in a fitting gesture on Cinco de Mayo. Taco Milagro on the corner of Westheimer and Kirby is next. It’s days are numbered.

Aztecas Restaurant on corner of Richmond and Greenbriar closed
Maggie Rita's was short-lived in former Ninfa's location on Kirby Drive
Bocados on West Alabama (before closing)
Patio at Taco Milagro on Westheimer at Kirby
Not that the neighborhood is on the way downhill. Much rather, it looks like rising land values and rents are squeezing the moderately-priced Tex-Mexes out of the market. There are big construction projects under way all around.

So what’s still there on the Mex and Tex-Mex culinary front?  A Lupe Tortillas on the SW Freeway feeder between Greenbriar and Kirby; Little Pappasitos on Richmond next Indian Restaurant Khyber; Ruchis on the SW corner of Shepherd and West Alabama; La Tapatia and Selma Maria on Richmond. And then there is Chuy’s near where Taco Milagro is calling it quits; although its display of Elvis-paraphernalia and other such stuff put its Tex-Mex credential somewhat in doubt. And then there are a couple of burrito joints: Mission Burritos on West Alabama and FreeBirds on Greenbriar across from the Post Office. 

Seems like there is room in the market for a new Tex-Mex startup; to cater to those loath to navigate down Lower Westheimer to the El Real to crunch chips loaded with salsa in a former movie theater, not to mention driving all the way to EaDo to honor the memory of Mama Ninfa’s in her original establishment, which now features a large patio with outdoor bar, or the new El Tiempo Cantina next to it, which was opened earlier this year by a descendant of the iconic Mexican matron that got Houstonians of all ancestries – Hispanic or otherwise -- hooked on fajitas.