Under the Radar: Rico’s Morning + Noon + Night In Midtown Houston
At 401 Gray in the heart of midtown Houston, Rico’s Morning + Noon + Night is serving up burgers and hot dogs out of a large, glass-walled stand. It’s right across the street from parent restaurant Cyclone Anaya’s. There are a few tables on the patio and bar counter seating around the stand.
Oh, and it serves breakfast all day long, hence the name. Breakfast is mostly standard protein, egg, and cheese tacos for all under $3 and there’s an egg, bacon, and cheese breakfast sandwich available for $3.50 — which places Rico’s in the “very affordable” category.
General manager Alex Velasquez says that breakfast is good, but that most customers come for chef Jason Gould’s burgers. These are made with 100-percent certified Japanese Akaushi beef from Heartbrand Beef. Gould chose the beef purveyor not only for the quality but also because the meat is supposed to be healthier for your heart. He prefers to keep the seasoning simple — using only sea salt flakes and black pepper — to let the quality of the beef speak for itself.
Speaking might be an understatement—those patties were shouting. Each bite of the Tex-Mex burger packed a punch. The burst of flavor was partially thanks to the bold toppings: chile con queso, guacamole, jalapeños and spicy salsa. It may sound like a bit too much to swallow, but I can assure you that wasn’t our experience.
Diners that prefer sweet instead of heat should instead “steer” towards the H-Town Burger with housemade onion jam. The caramelized onions in the jam play very well with the Monterey Jack cheese and salty bacon. All of the burgers at Rico’s are served on Slow Dough potato buns.
Burger prices range from $6.75 to $7.50 and are an incredible value, especially considering the quality. We might expect the most basic rendition with the Akaushi beef, Slow Dough bun and fresh toppings for that price, but were very surprised (and excited) that all three burgers fall in that price range. Hot dogs range from $3.75 to $4.25 (again, very reasonable) and come with the same toppings as their burger counterparts.
French fries are available as a side with a few different seasonings. Regular fries are tossed with sea salt while the spicy fries are tossed with chili salt. The truffle fries are tossed in sea salt and truffle oil, then covered with shredded Parmesan and chopped scallions. On the other side of the spectrum, the chili cheese fries are doused in spicy beef chili and chile con queso — and should be eaten with a fork.
An open-air restaurant in Houston requires cold beverages to keep diners coming. Rico’s has that covered with iced coffee for the morning crowd, hand-spun Haagen Dazs shakes for the afternoon visitors and a selection of local craft beer and frozen cocktails for diners in the evening. On our visit, the beer taps featured 8th Wonder Brewery and Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Frozen options are the once-haute-now-common frosé and a Sake-Rita. The Sake-Rita was a bit tart for our tastes, but was also served on-the-rocks due to an issue with the mixer. We’ll try that again on our next visit as the equipment issue could have impacted the taste.
Rico’s offers happy hour daily from 4 to 7 p.m. with $3 draft beers and draft wines plus frozen cocktails. It also offers a special Happy Hour Combo with choice of any burger, fries and drink (beer or wine can be substituted at additional cost) for only $10. Diners can also choose a hot dog combo with any dog, fries, and drink for $7.
The hours are Mondays through Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Josh Armendariz is Houston Food Finder’s lead freelance beer and cocktail writer. He can often be found on a stool at your favorite bar, sipping a hoppy craft beer and talking about the Astros with anyone who’ll lend an ear. Follow him on Instagram at @drinkwithjosh.