We visited Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen today for lunch at the original location on Westheimer. We were so disappointed. The salsa was like warmed-up tomato sauce, and the $8 queso was bland. We were a party of three and each ordered different items. They all tasted the same, and that wasn’t a good thing. Our food tasted like it had been cooked in old pork lard. I have read the reviews for years about this famous spot and have even contemplated joining one of the cooking classes offered. I am so glad that I didn’t waste my time. The place was only 20 percent full. We arrived at 12:15 and expected to wait for a table. The service was unfriendly and almost nonexistent. I ordered the chili rellenos. The menu said please expect a longer wait as they are prepared fresh per order. They came out soggy and tasted like nothing I have ever had. I can’t explain how bad they were. The other entrees my party ordered had the same odd taste, even though we each ordered completely different items. Critic’s pick? It makes me never want to go to a place that receives great reviews again.
I reached out Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen for a response and received this email from owner/chef Sylvia Casare:
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to Ms. Griffin’s letter.
First, I would like to say that I am sorry Ms. Griffin was unsatisfied with any of the menu items she was served during her recent lunch at my restaurant.
Unfortunately, from time to time we do have a guest that dines with us who feels our food does meet their expectations. Throughout my 35 years in the food business, from research and development as a food scientist, to sales and marketing for a national food company, to owning a three restaurants and a food truck, I have concluded that food is very subjective, and it is impossible to please every single guest that we serve.
I worked tirelessly on each of my recipes to create the most authentic flavors possible. I use only the highest quality of the freshest ingredients available to create each dish that we serve. Through years of interacting with our customers, I have concluded that our most loyal customers are those with roots in South Texas, people of Mexican decent, and those that are knowledgeable about food. Our customer base is comprised of people that drive from all across our great city to dine with us.
In reference to some of the points made in Ms. Griffin’s letter:
1.) We do not and have never cooked with lard.
2.) Our complimentary salsa is served warm because it is freshly cooked with plenty of fresh herbs and spices, and we only use fresh tomatoes in the recipe. We do not use canned tomatoes. Our salsa is a favorite of our customers and is “medium heat,” which is what the vast majority of our customers prefer. We do offer a fresh habanero salsa for those customers who want more heat in their salsa, and it is available on request.
3.) Our chile con queso is described as cheesy and creamy, not spicy. It is a recipe that was recently selected as one of the top three chile con quesos in Houston, and our customers love it so much they buy it by the quart!
4.) Our chile rellenos are made fresh to order and have a light batter. Additionally, the recipe was never intended to be crispy nor does the menu describe the batter as crispy.
5.) The day of the week Ms, Griffin dined with us was a Tuesday, which is normally our slowest day of the week, yet we had a full restaurant at 11:30 am. By the time she placed her order at 12:40 p.m., the lunch rush was ending and that is the reason for the less than a full dining room.
6.) Her dining companions ordered the Mission Enchiladas, ... and the Encino ... . Our cheese enchiladas, with my signature chile gravy was selected by Texas Monthly as one of the ‘Top Ten Iconic Foods of Texas’ in its April 2011 issue, so both dishes had the same chile gravy, so of course “everything tasted the same.”
As a restaurant owner and chef, I have dedicated my life, as well as all my energy, passion and thought to providing the highest quality of food available to my customers.
Gail Walsh writes, “Should a wine bar that advertises happy-hour specials limit the special prices to the actual bar stools? I can understand a restaurant limiting happy hour prices to the bar area, but it seems that an establishment that holds themselves out to be a wine bar should offer the happy-hour prices in the entire establishment. I am a frequent visitor to Oporto wine bar with friends and family, and they offer happy-hour prices to every seat in the house during (the special). However, last night I visited Vinoteca Poscol for the first time, which advertises as a wine bar, and they told me they only offer happy-hour prices if you sit at the bar there. Their bar consists of about eight stools. We sat at a table next to the bar because the stools were full and were told we could not have happy hour prices.”