TQLA Chef, Tommy Birdwell, On KHOU Channel 11
TQLA One of The 10 Best New Restaurants of 2011
One of my ongoing battles is fighting for TQLA to get the respect it deserves despite its Washington Avenue location. I always wonder whether or not I should even mention it, but someone always makes a point of saying that they’d never go there because of the street it fronts. What a dumb, terrible way to go about making dining decisions. Especially considering that TQLA has no valet, but instead offers a secure — and free! — parking garage for its guests behind the restaurant, as well as a beautiful dining room with curvaceous copper sculptures and stately agave plants that make it equally attractive for date nights as it is for happy hours. Chef Tommy Birdwell’s new Southwestern/nuevo Tex-Mex menu is just as unexpected, filled with treasures such as blue corn-crusted Gulf oysters, pepita-studded salmon or duck tamales in a silky sweet potato masa. It’s also the only restaurant in town with a certified tequiler, so come prepared to broaden your horizons when it comes to TQLA’s namesake spirit.
TQLA’s duck tamales come out in first place – Houston Press Sponsored Tequla & Tamales
From the moment I saw Chef Tommy Birdwell’s tamales plated and handed over to eager guests, I knew he’d brought his A-game to last Thursday night’s Tequila & Tamales event at Xuco Xicana. Each corn husk had been tied and butterflied open with a flourish, showcasing the rust-colored tamales inside.
At first glance, I thought the deep-orange hue came from something like an achiote pork filling, but I was wrong. Birdwell’s twist on the traditional tamale went further than that: Instead of corn masa, he’d made a sweet potato masa that hid a filling of rich, fatty duck.
So it was no surprise that evening, as we tallied nearly all 200 votes, that Birdwell’s tamales from his restaurant, TQLA, had come out in first place. The crowd cheered loudly, claps and whoops reflecting the wide margin of votes cast for the nuevo Southwestern/Tex-Mex joint on Washington.more
Houston Press Top 10 Pumpkin Dishes
#8 Pumpkin Seed Crusted Salmon at TQLA
The eighth entry on this list proves that pumpkins have more to offer than just tasty orange flesh. One of TQLA’s most popular entrees, the Pumpkin Seed Crusted Salmon, is a tongue-tingling assortment of seasonings and textures, with an exterior coating of semi-crushed squash seeds.
The lighter, juicier salmon is much enhanced by the nuttier, sharper seeds, which also provide a sharp crunch that contrasts well with the softer filet and fried green tomatoes. A drizzle of tequila butter, a dusting of hothouse peppers and suddenly plain old salmon is wreaking pleasant havoc on your tastebuds. I suggest flipping the whole fish a few times as to infuse the underlying creamy green chile mashed potatoes with stray seeds and excess butter.
Drinking at least two of TQLA’s peach margaritas only enhances the overall experience.more
TQLA Houston voted Best of 2011 for Revival of a Genre by Houston Press
Southwestern cuisine stopped being hip in Houston somewhere around Cafe Annie’s millionth year in existence, long before its closure last year. So imagine our surprise when TQLA swooped in with Southwestern vet Tommy Birdwell at the helm and made it cool again. (Of course, having 167 different varieties of tequila, many of them on tap, doesn’t hurt either.) The updated Southwestern cuisine here incorporates Tex-Mex influences as well as our own Gulf Coast cuisine, and the result is a fresh, lively menu that features excellent dishes such as crawfish corncakes with lime butter and blue corn-fried oysters with chorizo cream.more
TQLA Houston – “TOP 25 TEQUILA BARS IN AMERICA”
TQLA as Top 100 Favorite Dishes at Houston Press
This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston issue, we’re counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston’s cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.
Unlike yesterday’s Favorite Dish, the oysters at TQLA can be enjoyed year-round. And I don’t just love this dish because it involves my favorite bivalve. I love it because of how thoroughly and easily it combines Gulf Coast, Mexican and Southwestern cuisines into one beautifully composed dish.
Crunchy blue cornmeal batter coats each plump oyster, bringing in TQLA’s signature Southwestern influence. The oysters themselves aren’t always from the Gulf — the ones above were from the Pacific — but they’re always fat and juicy nevertheless. And all six of the gorditos sit on a silky bed of chorizo cream.
And if you’re one of those traditionalists who doesn’t eat oysters out of season — even if they’re fried, and even if they’re not from the Gulf — give this runner-up Favorite a try: crawfish and pecan hushpuppies, served with a tomatillo cilantro sauce homemade jalapeño jelly. It doesn’t get more Texan than that.
Read more: 100 Favorite Dishes: No. 29, Fried Oysters at TQLA | houstonpress.commore
Restaurant Review: TQLA | Houston Restaurants | 29-95.com
The Good Life – Houston Chronicle
TQLA on Houston Press
The newest restaurant to open along Washington Avenue serves cuisine not often seen in Houston: Southwestern food. TQLA’s chef, Tommy Birdwell, puts a Baja and Tex-Mex twist on many of its dishes, however. And they’re all served alongside a selection 167 tequilas curated by tequilier (yes, that’s a real title) Scott Lindsey.
Read more: Sneak Peek at TQLA| houstonpress.commore