Houston Chronicle food critic Alison Cook is like "a kid setting out for camp" when she heads to the subject of this week's review, Karancho's, which she adds, "might just as well call itself Camp Taco." Cook describes the atmosphere as "a world unto itself" that "smells like heaven, if heaven were forested in mesquite trees."
Cook's favorite tacos contain the "stewlike asado de puerco with its deep-red achiote tint and its warm spice," which are "nothing short of fabulous." But she also loves the chilitos rellenos, "mini poblano peppers stuffed with white cheese." Follow that with Cook's "favorite takeout chicken in town," an agua frescas that's "gentle and not too sweet, the fruit a whisper rather than a shout," and you've got yourself a two-star, "peak Houston experience."
Reviewing Latin food of a different sort, Houston Press food critic Katharine Shilcutt eats the X-Tudo burger at Friends Pizzeria, which is "gone within minutes," even though "the patty was too well-done." Topped with "tomatoes here, corn there, potato sticks askance, peas slipping out from under a blanket of ham," this traditionally Brazilian style burger is full of meat too... "so much meat."
In a departure from the ground beef traditional in America, Friends Pizzeria also offers the "X-Picanha burger with glistening strips of sirloin smeared in mayonnaise, bits of corn dangling crazily off the sides." And it's not called a pizzeria for nothing, where Shilcutt enjoyed the "soft ribbons of shaved sirloin steak cloaked in melty provolone and barely caramelized onions" on the Gaucha pizza. She also sampled the hot dog, a "monstrous thing," which comes "covered in thick marinara sauce and topped with corn, peas, potato sticks and a wild drizzle of mayonnaise."