Restaurants open and close; that’s part of the circle of life in the food business. But rarely have we been as distraught as when Belly of the Beast closed in Old Town Spring. Chef Thomas Bille’s Mexican influenced New American cuisine was like no other, and it quickly became a favorite of ours.
Now Chef Thomas and Belly of the Beast are back.
The new strip center location along FM 2920 in Spring brings more regular hours (dinner only, currently) and much easier parking to fans of Chef Thomas’s superb cuisine. The room is bright, welcoming, and spotlessly clean. Elizabeth Bille, the Chef’s lovely bride, can often be found managing the flow of customers old and new, and making sure the food arrives promptly at the table.
Speaking of the food: Chef Thomas’s cuisine is better than ever. On our visit, we sampled two dishes; our all-time favorite, and a new one that’s sure to turn some heads.
The Birria QuesoTacos are something we can’t pass up at BotB. We’ve dreamt of these tacos since we first at them, and we’ve eaten dozens of birria tacos in hopes of finding tacos this good.
These tacos are rich, deep, complex, and utterly craveable. The beef has been infused with a lush, soulful flavor, and the bowl of consommé brings more deep herbal flavors to the mix. New is a small dish of the Chef’s hot sauce, made from a melange of peppers he’s grown himself. It’s not for the timid, but adds yet another layer of flavor to these deliciously complex tacos.
Chef Thomas’s cuisine is certainly influenced by his upbringing as a Mexican American, but it goes well beyond Mexican food. A case in point is the new Grilled Shrimp & Pork Belly, a dish whose inspiration comes from the Far East, not our southern neighbor.
This dish is a do-it-yourself kit for creating delicious wraps. The flavor profile is reminiscent of Thai Tom Yum soup, and it includes a selection of Thai herbs, lettuce, mint, meticulously de-seeded jalapeño, peanuts, cucumbers, and other veggies. Chunks of fried pork belly and beautifully grilled shrimp are interwoven with the veggies, and the result can be delicious lettuce wraps or a salad that’s bursting with flavor. It’s up to you. For those wanting a stronger kick, Chef Thomas includes his fermented hot sauce.
We’re so glad to report that Belly of the Beast is back, and better than ever. Chef Thomas and his team are turning out their incomparable Mexican-influenced New American cuisine, bringing in flavors from other cultures.
Belly of the Beast is a prime example of the kind of restaurant that makes Houston one of the best food cities in the nation: A California guy moves to Texas, brings the influence of his Mexican ancestors, and his experience creating Asian, Mexican, and American food.
We’re lucky enough to get to enjoy the results. We’ll be back soon, and we strongly recommend that you head down soon.