Summer Surprise in Spring - Alicia's Mexican Grille

July 15, 2011

The Woodlands area is not lacking for choices when you're in the mood for Tex-Mex.  From Chuy's to Los Cucos to the Rico's empire, there's a Tex-Mex spot on just about any corner.

So you can imagine my indifference when I learned that the large restaurant being built at the intersection of 2920 and Kuykendahl was going to be another Tex-Mex spot.  I enjoy the cuisine, but feel that the area would be better served by just about any other type of restaurant.

Nevertheless, a recent weekend found us shopping at Lowe's (across the big parking lot) and hungry.  Alicia's building was inviting, so we walked over and entered.

We were immediately impressed by the beautiful setting and attractive decor.  The proprietor had clearly invested some money in his new establishment, and the result was impressive.  Dining areas were in different rooms (we tire of the single, huge cavern that seems to be popular with many restaurant designers) and an inviting bar was off to the side.

One of the dining rooms at Alicias (Unused at the time)

We were led to our table, and fresh housemade chips and salsa were quickly brought.  Chips and salsa are one's first impression of a Tex-Mex spot's cuisine, and we think they're very important.  Alicia's did not disappoint - the chips were thin and crisp, glowing with a thin sheen of oil that didn't result in a heavy taste.  The salsa was light, fresh, and had the bite of citrus, an excellent choice for a hot Texas summer.

Perusing the menu, we saw all the traditional Tex-Mex favorites, plus an emphasis on grilled meats.  My eye was drawn to one of their combinations.  Called simply "Cowboy Steak", it featured a 6 oz. black Angus outside cut of skirt steak, grilled and topped with three chipotle shrimp.  A pair of cheese enchiladas, and the de rigueur rice and beans completed the dish.

Cowboy Steak at Alicia's Mexican Grille

What came out was impressive.  An aggressively-charred, lime-marianated slab of honest-to-Robb skirt steak, topped with larger-than-expected, perfectly grilled shrimp.  The chipotle sauce provided a nice, smoky counterpoint to both the skirt steak and the shrimp, forming a delightful Gulf Coast / Border version of central Texas BBQ.  It was a fusion that worked.

Perhaps even more remarkable were the cheese enchiladas.  I consider this dish to be another benchmark for measuring a Tex-Mex spot, and Alicia's did not disappoint.  Fresh tortillas rolled around melted, oozing yellow cheese, topped with a very nice housemade chili gravy.  None of the mystery red sauce that some places substitute... a revelation.  These may be the best cheese enchiladas in the Houston area.

We're looking forward to returning to Alicia's in the very near future.  But it's going to be tough to order anything else on the menu.

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