31 December 2011

Américas River Oaks - Houston

The only reason I originally went to Américas - River Oaks was to get my sister to shut up!  She had been raving for over two weeks about this happy hour she attended with some of her friends.  My mouth dropped when I stepped inside the restaurant.  All I could think about is if they put that much energy and detail into the food as they did with the interior, then this place has to be wonderful.  And it was!

Américas River Oaks is one of the newest additions to the Cordúa family of restaurants.  Award winning chef and restaurateur, Michael Cordúa teamed up with Chicago Architect Jordan Mozer’s vivid mind to create this Latin fusion eatery.  The whimsical rain forest inspired décor and Cordúa’s brilliant combination of North, Central and South American cuisine gives the patrons a true “New World” experience.

I managed to work my way through the first part of the menu over several "working sessions" with friends and family—a hard job but someone has to do it!  Here are some of my sister and my favorite items:

Américas River Oaks

Ceviches + Taquitos
There are four (4) ceviches to choose from and if you can’t make up your mind you can do a “Flight Tasting” of all four (4).  They are all very tasty and are on the lighter side so you won’t feel guilty for indulging in the happy hour drink specials.  Danielle particularly loved the Salmon Ceviche.  It is smoked salmon with lime, pineapple, jalapeno, and toasted sesame.  It is a large serving so there is plenty to share with friends.  Your ceviche choices are:

  • Ahi Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Crab & Shrimp
  • Mixto – gulf shrimp, market catch, red onion, chili and cilantro

Salmon Ceviche

You also have four (4) taquito choices or you can have all of them if you order the Taquito Tray.  The Plantain Crusted Shrimp Taquitos were the hit with my group.  It is difficult to describe them with words but imagine a plantain fried shrimp with cilantro slaw, pico de gallo and avocado.  Mmmmmm.  Your taquito choices include:
  • Soft-shell Crawfish
  • Bacon Wrapped Quail
  • Plantain Crusted Shrimp
  • Beef Shortrib

Shrimp Taquitos

Salad + Soup
If one of your New Year Resolutions involves watching your figure then you might want to try something from the Salad and Soup section of the menu—the ceviche isn’t too bad either.  There are four (4) salads and two (2) soups:

  • Mixed Green Salad
  • Caesar Salad
  • Crab Carprichosa Salad
  • Organic Quinoa Salad
  • Cubana Soup
  • Chupe de Langosta

Crab Caprichosa Salad

The Crab Caprichosa Salad was my party’s choice.  It has fresh avocado, tomato and mozzarella with HUGE chunks of lump crab meat.  The icing on the cake is the grilled chimichurri bread.  Don’t worry, if the bread falls outside of your diet repertoire then pass it on to a friend because I am sure they will enjoy it.

Small Plates
This is honestly my second favorite spot on the menu next to dessert of course.  So many selections you can make a meal just on these options:

  • Empanadas
  • Potato Crusted Calamari
  • BBQ Pork Arepas
  • Lobster Corndogs
  • Angel Wings
  • Smoked Lamb Lollichops
  • Corn Smoked Crab Fingers

The Empanadas, Lobster Corndogs and Crab Fingers are my faves. The empanadas are chicken in an avocado mousse, spinach and cheese in a risotto sauce, black bean and chorizo in cilantro dressing and beef with huancaina sauce.  You can sample all four or create your own combination.  The Lobster Corndogs are so adorable.  You get seven “dogs” presented in a big wooden die with corn poblano dipping sauce.  The Corn Smoked Crab Fingers are served with yucca cake with red pepper lemon butter.  Don’t be afraid to use and lick your fingers after trying these dishes.

Empandas, Crab Fingers, Lobster Corndogs

La ñapa
Américas gives you a little something extra with their awesome Plantain Banana Chips with the three dipping sauces.  All three (3) sauces represent a different part of Pan-America.  The white sauce is called Huancaina.  It is a famous Peruvian fresh white cheese sauce with aji Amarillo—a Peruvian chili.  The green sauce is my personal favorite. It is from Argentina and is called Chimichurri. Made from olive oil, fresh chopped parsley, white vinegar, garlic and basil and is typically used on grilled meat.  There is some question to the origin of the name but one absolute is that this sauce is good!  The red sauce is a Mexican red pepper chili sauce.  It’s not super hot but it has just enough spice to make it quite enjoyable.

Plantain Chips w/ Three (3) Sauces

There is no secret that dessert is my favorite part of ANY meal.  There is no exception here.  The menu boasts many traditional Latin desserts.  I didn’t have a choice but to try The OriginalTM Tres Leches for two reasons:

  1. The name of the tres leches is trademarked!  If they went through that much trouble to protect the name of a dessert, it is worth a try.
  2. The menu says “everyone should experience it at least once”

I tried it once and it was so good.  I have tried a lot of tres leches in my life and Cordúa’s Tres Leches is the BEST!

The Original Tres Leches

If you haven't made a visit to Américas River Oaks yet then I urge you to hurry up and get there.  The happy our is perfect if you want to grab a quick bite and it is very filling.  You can also check out one of their regular wine dinners and their Sunday Brunch.  There are two locations in the Houston area: River Oaks and The Woodlands.  I have to thank Danielle—my sister—for forcing me to try Américas. It was very much worth her raving AND there was zero exaggeration on her part. 

Americas River Oaks

 Epicurean Girl’s Conclusion: 4 VIPs
Américas gets a rating of 4 VIPs.

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