Soto's Cantina

Family business offers variety of Mexican food

Wth decades of combined restaurant experience under their belts, four brothers—Juan, Amador, Carlos and Pepe Soto—team up to run Soto's Cantina, offering Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine to the Northwest Houston community.

"We always try to emphasize the freshness in everything," Pepe Soto said. "We also concentrate a lot on presentation. It has to look good, but it also has to taste good. We're always trying to set ourselves apart from the others."

Every member of the Soto family has worked in the restaurant industry at some point, from the youngest brother to their mother. When oldest brother Juan Soto moved to the U.S. almost 25 years ago, he began cooking at home to save money and soon realized that he had a passion for cooking.

"I love to do research [on cooking]," he said. "I can go to the library and spend hours doing it. I have a passion for following recipes easily or thinking about how I can improve on this or change something easily."

Soto's has a large menu, with items ranging from several enchilada options to fajitas to sauted seafood with onions, peppers and spices. The burrito verde is a flour tortilla stuffed with refried beans, shredded white chicken breast and cheese, topped with green sauce and melted cheese ($10), while the enchilada options range from sour cream chicken to veggie to al carbon ($9–$11).

Healthy choices such as salads and soups, ranging from tortilla soup to fajita salad, are available at Soto's as well, and the restaurant plans to begin offering dishes with quinoa soon.

"People don't usually think of Mexican food as something that's healthy," Pepe Soto said. "We're trying to change that concept to where you can come here and not just have grease on your mind."

Soto's has a full bar and offers beer, wine and several mixed drinks that are distinctive to the restaurant. The agave shake has vanilla ice cream, Jose Cuervo Gold, Bailey's Irish Cream and cinnamon ($8) while the restaurant also offers jalapeo and avocado margaritas ($7).

When the Soto brothers acquired the restaurant a year ago—which used to be the site of Little Red Barn Hamburgers—it was decorated with several different types of surfaces, ranging from wood to concrete to tin. They decided to paint the walls a bright orange and hung a variety of black and white pictures on the wall to create a contrast between the two.

"The type of building we have offered a lot of choices, so we found a lot of ways to decorate it," Juan Soto said.

In the past year that Soto's has been open, the family has made friends with many of their customers in the Northwest Houston community, and the brothers feel grateful to all their customers.

"This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life," Juan Soto said. "I feel like we have been embraced by this area. We already feel so welcome in this community."

Owner recommendations

  • Fajitas—Beef or chicken for one or two is served with guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, rice, beans, and tortillas ($16–$30)
  • Tamales—Three pork tamales are topped with chili gravy, onions and melted cheese and served with rice and beans ($9)
  • Grapefruit avocado salad—Grapefruit slices and avocado slices over a bed of greens with pine nuts and a choice of grilled chicken or shrimp ($10–$12)
  • Tacos de Camaron o de Pescado—Shrimp or fish tacos served on homemade corn tortillas with red cabbage avocado salad, charro beans and mayonnaise chipotle dressing ($12)

Mixed drinks

  • Coconut martini—Made with Coconut Ciroc Vodka and blended with pineapple juice and coconut cream ($7)
  • "Pepe's Margarita"—Soto's top shelf margarita is made with a choice of tequila, lime juice, fresh orange juice and Grand Marnier ($9)
  • Soto's Red Berry Cosmo—Made with vodka, lemon-lime soda, cranberry juice and fresh lime juice ($7)
  • Agave shake—A vanilla shake with Jose Cuervo Gold, Baileys Irish Cream and cinnamon ($8)

Soto's Cantina, 10609 Grant Road, Houston, 281-955-5667, www.sotoscantina.com

Hours:

  • Mon.–Thu. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.
  • Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
By Marie Leonard
Marie came to Community Impact Newspaper in June 2011 after starting her career at a daily newspaper in East Texas. She worked as a reporter and editor for the Cy-Fair edition for nearly 5 years covering Harris County, Cy-Fair ISD, and local development and transportation news. She then moved to The Woodlands edition and covered local politics and development news in the master-planned community before being promoted to managing editor for the South Houston editions in July 2017.