The philosopher Descartes famously struggled with the question of whether God exists. Me? I struggle almost daily with the question of whether Chilosos Taco House exists.
I know Chilosos does not exist in cyberspace. I Googled it a few minutes ago. No results. No website. No review. Not even a directory listing. Is it possible that any restaurant can exist in Houston physically, but not in cyberspace? Perhaps it is possible -- if you consider that Chilosos is nothing more than a neighborhood taco joint in the Heights.
But even physically, Chilosos’ existence has been in doubt. In its short life, I have been lucky to eat there at least 10 times. Yet it remains a daily question whether Chilosos will be open.
Last year, a sign with Chilosos’ yellow and red sombrero graphic appeared in front of a house on 20th St., with the promise, "OPENING SOON." After many months, Chilosos finally did open, but only for a short time. Then it closed, reopening a few days later with a patch on the ceiling where a pipe had burst. After several weeks in business, Chilosos posted a large sign in front that said "NOW OPEN." But then, within days, it closed and remained closed for weeks. Finally today, Chilosos has reopened. One of the proprietors explained that they had problems with the floor in the kitchen. Now, they reassure me, the floor is reinforced and Chilosos is open for good.
When it is open, Chilosos serves breakfast and lunch. It is a home-turned restaurant that still feels more like a home. Inside are two small rooms, bar stools surrounding tall tables, three TVs, and a steam table that separates the dining room from the kitchen. The kitchen serves good tacos that each costs between $1.35 and $1.55. Two sisters run the operations. They are very friendly and appear to have great patience with the restaurant’s many physical problems.
The breakfast tacos are good, but my favorites are two lunch tacos: carne guisada and puerco en salsa verde. Carne guisada is a stew of beef tips in gravy. Chilosos’ version does not have quite as much cumin as my favorite carne guisada recipes, but it is far above average. Even better is the puerco en salsa verde, chunks of pork in a mild green salsa. This thick, yummy salsa is not as spicy as I might expect, but it is full of flavor. Chilosos also makes a good chicken fajita taco, which is greatly improved by a liberal dousing of the salsa verde. Although the default tortillas are flour, I prefer the corn tortillas which are thick and taste homemade.
If you find yourself in the Heights at lunch time, I recommend Chilosos for its homey atmosphere and its good cheap tacos. Of course, you might want to call first -- just to make sure it's open. Chilosos Taco House, 701 E. 20th St. (between Studewood and Heights Blvd.), 713.868.2273.
Update (November 18, 2007): Chiloso's is now open regularly, and I eat there regularly. The kitchen seems to be rotating in various taco fillings. For instance, on some days it serves very good chicken mole tacos. Fortunately, they always serve my favorite, puerco en salsa verde.