(Portions of this story and photos were shot before the county take-out only order)

A lot has changed since our last visit to Alma Latina’s East Aldine location. Maybe not so much on the menu, but the restaurant has undergone a total overhaul, both inside and out, and it is truly spectacular. 

The restaurant’s striking bold-blue, bright-yellow and blaze-orange exterior cheers on our beloved Astros with a bold mural, one serenaded eternally by a huge cast iron, trumpet-playing mariachi. And then you step inside, and… enter the mind of Diego Rivera. 

I’ve been to literally hundreds of Mexican restaurants in my 50 years and this one has the best interior decor of them all. I am, quite simply, in love with this Alma Latina. (There are three more locations — one in Porter, another in the Heights area, and another on Jensen Drive.) Everywhere you look, there is a feast for your eyes — down at your table, across the table at your companion’s seat-back, everywhere is a happy riot of playful calacas (dancing skeletons) or dutiful agaveros out in the fields, harvesting the plant that gives us that fermented sun-juice we call tequila. Crane your neck all the way back and take in the illuminated signs on the ceiling reading “Ay, Guey!” and “Tequila” in bold primary colors…It’s a psychedelic vision of puro Mexicanismo, a dream of Jalisco on everything.

And oh yeah, there’s the food. I keep meaning to try the seafood — a specialty of this location — but on my two visits I’ve had cravings for terrestrial fare, and right now, due to the health crisis, they’ve shelved seafood for the time being. They’ve swapped that out with a pared-down to-go menu of tacos, burritos, soups, enchiladas, and fajitas, and are also offering bulk family-style meal packages, such as breakfast taco, barbacoa, and taco bar kits with proteins, fixings, and tortillas. Oh, and let’s not forget their curbside crawfish deals at $4.99/pound and the margaritas they are now authorized to sell to go. Check out their online temporary menu here.  

In short, what they are offering is a win-win — you get great meals to take home for the whole family and can wait to pick them up in the happy beautiful surroundings of the grooviest Tex-Mex joint on the planet, or at least remember better times when you look at that Astros mural when you do a curbside pick-up. (So what if they stole signs? They all do it.) 

And we can all look forward to when the restrictions are lifted and this glorious Alma Latina can fly high once again with its full menu and live mariachi bands every Thursday.