PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston April 2022

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Page 99 of 115

umbrella of The Big Vibe Group, devised by Cooper and his business partners, Josep Prats and Marc Cantu. They conceptualized Flora more than two years ago, but the pandemic delayed its opening. Flora blooms in the glittering space lit with more than 40 crystal chandeliers — a pretty holdover from its former incarnation. The name was inspired by the sustainable farm Flora Farms near San Jose del Cabo, Mexico — a resort frequented by Cooper and his wife, Jacy (a frequent collaborator on his projects). One can appreciate how Flora riffs on a few Tex-Mex favorites, as well as more authentic Mexican regional dishes and ingredients. Yet unlike other Mexican-style eateries, Cooper's mandate here is to cook clean, banishing lard from the kitchen in favor of olive oil, crafting cocktails and sauces that utilize fresh, cold-pressed juices, and grinding everything from cacao beans to masa for their house-made tortillas and chips. Start with a refreshing cocktail perhaps the El Pepino, a blend of fresh-pressed cucumber juice, jalapeño-infused agave syrup, tequila Blanco, and a squeeze of lime, inspired by one made at Chulita in Venice Beach ($18). The margaritas come frozen ($15), on the rocks with reposado tequila ($16), or with mezcal ($16). The wine list is a thoughtful array of European, South American, and California labels moderately priced, half of which are available by the glass. One must-try dish is the charred octopus; the unexpected coupling of roasted sweet potato, a dollop of sour cream, and crispy bits of house-made chorizo enhanced with seven varieties of smoked chiles imparts a depth of subtle spice to the entire dish ($29). Everything on the raw bar will make you feel virtuous, from the simple Gratify ceviche created with red snapper, shrimp, and octopus mingled with a mango habanero sauce ($24) to ceviche negro, wherein yellowtail tuna, cucumber, and avocado take on a glossy black hue when tossed tableside, care of the ash derived from blistered peppers, squid ink, and a squeeze of lime ($28). The yellowfin tuna tostadas spotlight thin, sashimi- style strips of tuna atop sautéed leeks, with avocado and crisp fried leeks atop spiced with serrano chile and chipotle aioli ($16), while the green enchiladas a la Caymus are made with salsa verde, which provides a smooth, balanced accompaniment to corn tortilla-wrapped poached chicken ($23). Also notable is the beef short rib, a tender sous-vide cut served on the bone and bathed in a 34-ingredient red mole, with a delectable black-bean tamal by its side ($48). Desserts elevate the classics, from perfectly cooked flan ($9) to a sweet, rich cajeta caramel pot de crème ($11). Flora's chocolate tart ($15) is a gluten-free indulgence made with house-ground cacao beans encased in a pistachio crust with a dollop of whipped cream and berry compote ($15). Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Flora, 3422 Allen Parkway, 713.360.6477, (Continued from page 96) Street tacos al pastor Ceviche negro Mexican regional dishes A treetop view on the dining deck at Flora 98

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