Tila's is a beautiful place, and while there is clearly a lot of heart here, the experience was not universally lovely.
Last year, the Austin to Florida family road trip set a new bar for food wretchedness. A combination of my misplaced faith in local flavor and towns we knew nothing about resulted in some truly abysmal meals ("At least it's not Madison's" is a catch phrase my kids now use to make the best of something the find deeply unappetizing)
So this year, on the road, and now iPhone-equipped, we vowed to do it a little differently.
Payoff started at the compact and pretty Tila's in Houston. We arrived early for lunch, and had the place nearly to ourselves. It's a stunning restaurant, somehow managing combine the kitsch of Chuy's with the soft light and elegance of Cafe Josie. Impressive right off the bat.
We ordered on the safe side of things, flautas for the kids, chicken mole for me, shredded chicken deconstucted tacos for Tracy. Universally, while the presentation for each was well done, the food lacked spark. Maybe safe wasn't the way to go here - they had some pretty innovative-sounding dishes and specials that may have been a better bet.
My mole, for instance, was overpowered with something that tasted a lot like chipotle. It wasn't a bad flavor, but it missed the point - mole has a zillion ingredients because you're supposed to *taste* all of them. In this case, the smoky kick of that one pepper just drowned out the supporting cast. And while the flavor on the flautas was excellent, the shredded beef was dry and stringy.
It's worth noting that Tila's far surpassed standard road trip fare, only failing to meet the high expectations set for it by Facebook friends and social media foodies. Maybe not destined for a return trip when we drive back in late July, but I can see giving it another shot one day to see if there's something more hiding there.