Amazon Grill

Amazon Grill, from Michael Cordua, who brought us the well-loved Churrascos and Americas restaurants, is another example of a success from a top local restaurateur at a more casual level. Serving a great variety of interesting dishes, this is far from your typical counter-service restaurant, both in design and ambition.

The dishes are enticing pan-Latin fare that hardly anyone would attempt at home. They are mostly well prepared, well presented and served in generously sized portions. For such pleasingly unique and usually good food and decor, Amazon Grill is a nice bargain. At the very least it allows diners to avoid having to dress up to have their luscious tres leches.

The most artful of the forty-plus dishes are those with tropical Latin American notes such as grilled beef tips served with jalapenos and a spicy bean sauce, plantain- and potato-encrusted chicken and grilled breasts with interesting and often zesty fruit and sauce combinations. There is also clean-tasting tilapia served with a spicy Central American-style relish, and pecan-encrusted and grilled salmon glazed with a tamarind sauce.

Much of the menu has evolved since inception to include more recognizably Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes such as enchiladas, fajitas, tacos al carbon, fish tacos and that San Antonio specialty done Cordua-style, puffy tacos. These are adorned with shredded cheese and crema fresca, and delicious with either ground beef or roasted chicken. With any entrée, you will also get a noticeably fresh house salad with a choice of about a dozen freshly made, high quality dressings, the well-known fried plantain chips with chimi-churri sauce and several other sauces.

For dessert, in addition to the Cordua-signature tres leches, there are several types of ice cream and sherbet, and the very popular campfire favorite, s’mores. The high quality is not limited to the food. The plating of the dishes, not to mention the plates themselves, are befitting a far more expensive restaurant. These restaurants are quite attractive, a handsome, well-designed establishment that just happens to have counter service rather than service at the tables and booths. When the weather is nice, the patios are usually packed.

Amazon Grill has two Houston locations: 5114 Kirby (between Westpark and Bissonnet) 77005, (713) 522-5888 and 9600 Westheimer (just north of Gessner) 77063, (713) 933-0980 http://www.cordua.com

Copyright Mike Riccetti. Adapted from Houston Dining on the Cheap, and used with permission.

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Image credit: Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (Photographer Mark Green)

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