Viva la Tex-Mex.
We had been kicking ourselves (actually, A. was kicking me, as she is not old enough to rent a car) for not renting a car for our trip to Houston. Which was really not worth it in my mind, as we have been in seminars and workshops and lectures for most of the time, save for one afternoon spent at the Houston Space Center and a few trips to the Galleria Mall after dinner (a sweater and dress I had seen in Barneys that just would not go on sale, for 75% off? WHY YES PLEASE). On the other hand, it limits our dining options to the hotel restaurant (not worth thinking about) or the Galleria across the street (ditto). Until we noticed that the hotel has a shuttle available for restaurants within a one-mile radius. Again, this limits us somewhat, as our hotel is in a more expensive area of the city, and most of the restaurants in the neighborhood are chains, or more expensive than we would like, or expensive chain restaurants, none of which I would go to even in Seattle. (Although ur first night we wound up at the Cheesecake Factory. The last time I ate at a Cheesecake Factory, I was in college).
Somehow we wind up at Escalante, which appears to be part of a chain of local Tex-Mex restaurants, quite upscale but not hugely expensive. Tired of the omnipresent air-conditioning - this entire trip I have been wearing just as many clothes as I have been wearing back home, except when actually walking around outside - we choose an outdoor table. It is warm, but not unpleasantly so, as there is a breeze and the sun is going down. We order drinks (after the past few days, I think a mojito is in order) and our dinner and settle in with a pile of tortilla chips (lighter and crisper than anything found in a plastic bag in the supermarket) and salsa. I never eat chips and salsa, in fact, I never eat Mexican food (or Tex-Mex) unless it is someone else's choice. (Which is why I always have trouble deciding what to order).
On the way back from the bathroom I notice a server making guacamole tableside, mashing avocados plucked from a pile on her trolley. I rush back to our table and order the guacamole for ourselves. Unfortunately, we've left it a bit late, and the guacamole server has only just finished mashing fresh (she splits two avocados in half and scoops them into the serving bowl) avocados with "everything," onions and cilantro and tomatoes, when our main courses arrive. We dig in, and it is all extremely good, from the fresh tortillas wrapped around grilled steak and ground beef (I have ordered some combination of enchilada - the ground beef - and soft taco - the grilled steak) and the made-in-front-of-us guacamole. The table behind us is asking their server about the tomatoes, but I figure any restaurant that uses fresh tomatoes in just about everything would be very careful about, you know, not giving their customers salmonella.
We eat nearly the entire bowl of guacamole (plus two baskets of chips) and are too full to even contemplate dessert. We don't even miss it.