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La Guadalupana, still one of the best neighborhood Mexican restaurants around

One of the savory and inexpensive dishes at La Guadalupana
One of the savory and inexpensive dishes at La Guadalupana

Though not much to look at, and really not much at all in terms of size, La Guadalupana Bakery & Café on Dunlavy in the greater Montrose area is nonetheless an excellent neighborhood place for a pleasing Mexican meal, or to grab some attractive and scrumptious Mexican pastries (garnachas, orejas, Florentines, conchas y mas). As the name indicates, La Guadalupana is both a Mexican bakery and a restaurant. It’s not really a café, though you can get coffee and the pastries. It’s rather a small restaurant that serves familiar, and slightly more complicated Mexican fare, in addition to the pastries. The unpretentious and familiar items include the expected tacos and tortas, and some more grandiose dishes.

Though the kitchen is reliable for all meals, breakfast might be the best. The breakfast tacos served in the mornings can be excellent, and are among the best in town, in fact. A lot of care is taken to construct these tacos. A judicious amount of fillings (eggs, bacon, etc.) are ladled into either a thin corn tortilla or a house-made flour one. The tortillas are then rolled fairly tightly around the fillings. Indicative of the high standards of this small place, for takeout, each taco is wrapped carefully in wax paper. This wrapping helps heighten the anticipation of the food, and with the cheese invariably sticking to that wrapping, makes the taco a little messy even before the first bite. This wrapping does keep the tacos piping hot in transit. The salsas, a nice complement to these and most dishes, are fiery and packed with flavor. The other breakfast dishes such as Huevos Rancheros and Huevos a la Mexicana are also commendable.

For lunch and dinner the tortas are well prepared, though maybe slightly smaller than some other torta purveyors. Served on the typical Mexican bolillo sandwich bread with refried beans, slices of avocado, pickled jalapeños, onions and tomatoes, the meats available are: beef fajita, pierna (pork leg), milanesa, chicken, carnitas, and the unusual cesina (cured, thinly sliced beef). The more ambitious dishes include Mojarra al Vapor, Pescado a la Veracruzana, Pechuga Poblano, Chile Relleno, Tacos al Carbon and caldos with chicken, beef or a mix of seafood, and a few excellent enchilada dishes like molé poblano with chicken, chicken verde, spinach, and shrimp and spinach. Though I have been visiting since before the first edition of my Houston Dining on the Cheap guidebook was published in 2001, I have dining there more frequently in recent weeks. What has struck me is how relatively light and vibrant the lunchtime preparations are; a not light, but a far cry from a usual Tex-Mex lunch.

There are only about a dozen or so tables and booths at La Guadalupana, and only a handful of spaces in the parking lot, although there is plenty of space nearby on the street on Dunlavy. Decoration is sparse, but service is always very friendly, and it’s easy to order in English. As it is a small place, and all of the dishes are cooked to order, and kitchen can get bogged down when the tiny space is full. No matter, it will be worth the wait.

La Guadalupana
2100 Dunlavy (between Fairview and West Gray) 77019, (713) 522-2301
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