We would never advocate that someone "dine and dash" but if you're simply in a hurry and still want some decent Mexican or Tex-Mex food here in The Woodlands, you should probably add Berryhill Baja Grill at Market Street to your list. Everything about having a meal at Berryhill lends itself to getting in and out in a hurry. For instance - you order and pay for your meal at the counter when you first walk in; no having to wait around for a busy server to close out your check. You grab your own silverware, (nonalcoholic) beverages, chips and salsa from a centrally located station; and if you're not held up by too many people waiting to do the same, you'll be lucky enough to have this done before a runner exits the kitchen looking for your table number to make the delivery. In this particular case, we had some time to sample the green sauce and the red with our complimentary chips.
Should you dine here and not have time to sample the green sauce prior to your food arriving, don't worry, you aren't missing much. The plates and bowls are those semi indestructible type dishes that are frequently used in the public school system, you may not recognize the color but you are sure to recognize the clatter of them banging against each other as they are being handled while empty. Not that you have to be in a hurry to eat at Berryhill -
- in fact, there's a very nice patio on which to while away an afternoon or evening, sipping on one of Houston's Best Margaritas*, listening to some local live entertainment or simply people watching. The outdoor patio at Berryhill is cozy and inviting; it's where they frequently host their live music and is within easy reach of the decent-sized bar. But as fate would have it, we had places to be this particular evening, and it all worked out well.
* Technically it was the original Berryhill Hot Tamales in Houston that was selected
I really need to start eating something other than Chicken Fajitas ($11.99), described as including fajita style meat sizzling on a bed of onions with just a smidgen of green peppers, grilled onions, along with shredded cheese (which was missing from my plate), sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole and the customary rice and beans.
Unfortunately, for all the love and care and history that goes into Berryhill's tamales, they serve pre-packaged tortillas, so armed with three of those thin, ordinary corn tortillas, you know the kind, they arrive slightly warmed and wrapped in foil. The chicken was cooked well yet cut very unevenly - not that any of the slices were actually measured, but the differences were unusually great. It's more difficult to make a well-rounded fajita taco with large chunks of chicken even by a seasoned fajita taco maker guy like myself. Still and all, the flavor of the chicken was good, the slices of chicken still had some remaining moisture left within and were tender. The re-fried beans were more like bean soup only slightly thicker than water, maybe that's why the serve them in a small bowl. The guacamole wasn't really noteworthy but I did eat all of it, the pico was hot and the Spanish rice wasn't!
I decided it was high time I try a dish I'd always heard good things about but was too chicken (no pun intended) to order: fish tacos. Still not brave enough to fully commit, however, I ordered a Combo #5 (any taco + any enchilada $9.89) with a fish taco and a cheese enchilada, rice and beans. People, let me tell you - it's no wonder Berryhill's fish taco was once voted "Best Fish Taco Ever" by Zagat National Survey. I had mine grilled, not fried, but still, the fish was flaky and had a nice, mild chipotle chile flavor to it, which was complemented by the Dijon sauce all wrapped up with lettuce and pico de gallo. And if it wasn't enough that I thoroughly enjoyed the fish taco, the cheese enchilada was without question one of the best I'd had in recent history. The Spanish rice was so-so, not bad, but not the greatest - it could have used a bit more flavor. The re-fried beans were thin and lardy. I also sampled Berryhill's Red Sangria ($4.95), which was advertised as including Disarrono and a blend of fresh fruit juices in red wine, but unfortunately the taste was reminiscent of the Hawaiian Punch I used to guzzle as a child; a very sweet, not very adult-beverage.
The Bottom Line
Continuing with the theme of 'good if you're in a hurry' - just about the time we were finishing our last bites, a bus boy came and gathered up our plates, utensils, remaining chips and salsa leaving us with only our thoughts and our drinks as we sat and jotted down some notes on our meal. You can go either way with the over-anxious bussers - on the one hand, no one wants to sit and linger over cold, scraped plates while relaxing in conversation, but on the other hand, no one wants to have a busser helicoptering around the table as you try to savor the end of your meal, either. Also, because there isn't any 'table service' per se, it leaves the question of tipping rather open-ended. We had a someone from the kitchen bring our meal, a someone from the bar brought the sangria and then someone else bus our table. Would the tip get split between the three of them at the end of the shift? Or would cash left on the table in care of the patrons to sit there next be the answer? We took our chances, hoping for the former.
So whether you're in a rush or want to lounge about, with kids (hey, free soft serve!) or without, or even looking for a different place to try Sunday brunch, Berryhill Baja Grill & Cantina is probably a safe bet. The pricing is affordable, the portions are fair, and the atmosphere is eclectic and entertaining. Overall, we tend to like Berryhill, the nacho plate is pretty interesting, serving up to 2 people. Been there before? Do you agree or not? Haven't been yet? Check 'em out. Either way, let us know what you think below.
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