For Tex-Mex fiends, Washington Avenue continues to offer incentives. Today it welcomes Ula's from chef-owner Ulises Gonzalez and co-owner Brady Bussey, marking the second location in 10 months for this Missouri City-based eatery.
Featuring made-to-order fan favorites like fajitas, chile rellenos, and campechanas, the menu also pays homage to Gonzalez's Southern Mexico heritage. Dishes like the Three Amigos (three grilled shrimp brochettes, three juicy-smoky ribs, and four ounces of char-grilled skirt steak) and a solid bar program of local craft beers and classic cocktails keep things interesting. Try the Boom Town margarita with custom-made Pura Vida tequila, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and Cointreau. Bonus: Every flour and corn tortilla is made in-house and to order.
The restaurant occupies space previously used by Coppa and while the bones remain the same, diners won't recognize much else thanks to the heavy-handed colonial, historical, and colorful Mexican décor, much of which Bussey sourced from border town McAllen. Reclaimed wood from the former patio lends visual appeal to the interior dining room and reclaimed tin adds artistic contrast. The combined patio, bar, and dining room provide around 200 seats; a party room in the back is event-ready with audio-visual capabilities, a large flat screen TV, custom music, and its own private entrance and restroom.
It's impossible not to notice Ula's proximity to uber-popular El Tiempo that's virtually across the street, but Bussey says he and Gonzalez see this as beneficial healthy competition and not a threat. "I just think we're different," says Bussey with a smile. And in case you're wondering, there's no wrong way to pronounce the name. "Ooh-la's" or "You-la's" are equally acceptable.