When the sun starts to dip into an azure horizon like a flame kissing a flawless sapphire on one of those not-so-wintery days here in The Energy Corridor, there’s a place where a beautiful covered patio beckons, icy glasses rimmed with salt and dripping with lime juice tempt, and a menu that can transport a weary soul straight into the hallowed restaurants of Mexico City makes you wonder why the hostess didn’t ask to see your passport.
It’s a place appropriately named, for Las Ventanas is indeed a window into the storied cuisine of what restauranteur Alex Sneider calls “original Mexican food,” where aromas of roasted chili meld with grilled meats and the scent of homemade mole darker than any Cabernet and crafted with too many ingredients to mention. Or that Sneider is willing to reveal.
But Sneider is open about one thing. Employees in The Energy Corridor, he says, could use a break, in fact a 20 percent Member Deal break on everything Las Ventanas serves from 3-9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. No passport is needed; just an employee badge showing you work in The Energy Corridor.
This just may be the deal to help trade the mundanity of revenue projections and drilling rig counts for a rejuvenating culinary journey into Mexico City, where flavor counts more than spreadsheet proficiency.
Sneider – a veteran caterer of special events – is also expanding his catering hours and capabilities to bring Las Ventanas into more companies in The Energy Corridor, whether for small meetings or large events.
“The secret to any restaurant is having good sauces,” says Sneider. “We try to bring the flavors out. That’s where we try to differentiate versus Tex-Mex. We bring a different flavor to Mexican food.”
But Sneider also believes in ambience and he’s built a place where a suit and tie is as welcome as flip-flops. There’s even a playground where kids can stay occupied while mom and dad savor their barrel-aged Reposado (with just a whisper of oak, mind you).
“Of course, with the service we have and the experience of over 30 years, that’s important, but the most important thing is the flavor and quality of the food,” he says. “Food is the number one reason people go to a restaurant, then it’s atmosphere. We try to bring both. Las Ventanas has one of most beautiful patios in Houston.”
Sneider’s family has always been in the restaurant business. They started with couple of restaurants in Mexico City and eventually opened the progeny of Las Ventanas – a place built by Sneider’s father 30 years ago, Las Alamedas, a hacienda-like restaurant stuffed into a lush setting alongside a bayou tributary near Spring Branch. It would become legendary as one of Houston’s early forays into traditional Mexican cuisine. Countless brides, grooms and business executives celebrated there, venturing to explore traditional Mexico City cuisine and sipping the House margaritas. The place on Old Voss Road is gone. Today, Las Alamedas lives on in Las Ventanas’ menu and the family’s reborn version at LaCenterra.
By the way, Las Ventanas’ margarita recipe is the same one created long ago by Sneider’s father. “We’ve always used the same recipe; the House margarita is our signature drink, because I honestly think it’s one of the best in Houston,” says Sneider.
Then again, passing up Las Ventana’s chile en nogada – a poblano pepper swollen with ground beef and capped with a traditional creamy walnut sauce, dotted with bright red pomegranate seeds that pop with a citrusy tang – is hard to pass up, too. Especially with a 20 percent discount and those spreadsheets that can darn well wait back in your Energy Corridor office.
Click here for the Energy Corridor District Member Deal for Las Ventanas, 14555 Grisby Rd. in Grisby Square.