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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Houston
Food
Feel
Price
7.1
7.5
$35
Mexican
Casual restaurant

Hours
Sun–Thu 11:00am–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 11:00am–11:00pm

Features Kid-friendly, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Not accepted

Website

Greenway Plaza
2925 Southwest Fwy.
Houston, TX
(713) 942-0772

Downtown
1201 San Jacinto
Houston, TX
(713) 650-0101

Memorial
9799 Katy Fwy.
Houston, TX
(713) 461-5300

Guadalajara Hacienda
Despite the goofy font and neon lights, this is some serious stuff

The people behind Guadalajara take Tex-Mex quite seriously. Few places in town execute this cuisine so comfortably and consistently, with many unexpected winners among a broad range of dishes (and the weekend crowds know it—expect a wait). Refried beans become platforms for pork fat, and even chips and salsa are better-textured and more complex than you expect. The marinade for fajitas is so intense with fruity complexity that it’s almost too much. “Guadalajara Enchiladas” are delicious, with a roasted corn salsa whose buttery, creamy goodness has an inexplicably deep appeal. The dryish shredded chicken within—normally a recipe for disaster—is wonderfully smoky. Queso, tamales, and tortillas perform as well as or better than expected, too.

We’re befuddled by the aesthetic: why has Guadalajara adopted over-the-top, Disneyish fonts and a menu with the graphic-design look of a Chili’s, creating the illusion that it’s a huge chain when it’s really just a three-branch Houston institution? (Four, if you count the spiffier, more pretentious Guadalajara del Centro, where, although you can get better margaritas and beer, the high-flying dishes fall flat.) At least the Hacienda spaces are fun when full of people; the Greenway Plaza branch even features a pleasant patio to take you away from the constant swish and zoom of the nearby highway.

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