Xochi Recognized

Hugo Ortega's special creation is named to list of nation's 12 best new restaurants

Hugo's latest is named to list of nation's 12 best new restaurants

Xochi Hugo Ortega Tracy Vaught Ruben Sean Beck
Tracy Vaught, Hugo Ortega, Ruben Ortega, and Sean Beck welcome diners to Xochi. Photo by Eric Sandler

One of Houston's most acclaimed new restaurants is getting some national love. Eater critic Bill Addison named Xochi, Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught’s newest creation in the Marriott Marquis hotel, as one of the country’s 12 best new restaurants.

Austin’s Kemuri Tatsu-ya, the izakaya from Ramen Tatsu-ya owners Tatsu Aikawa and Tako Matsumoto, also earns a spot on the list. California is the only other state with two restaurants on Addison’s list, which also includes The Grill in New York City, Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans, and Elske in Chicago.

At Xochi, Ortega explores the cuisine of Oaxaca through the use of special ingredients sourced from the region as well as dishes he’s experienced while traveling there. Pastry chef Ruben Ortega’s desserts utilize chocolate that’s roasted at the restaurant, and beverage director Sean Beck utilizes wine, beer, and spirits from the region.

“Once you’re settled into the calming dining room, the meal becomes kaleidoscopic in its evocation of place — which isn’t H-Town but Oaxaca, with its prisms of moles and its masa-based specialties shaped into myriad geometries,” Addison writes. “In the specificity of dishes and the calibration of earthy, sweet, and gently spicy flavors, Ortega’s cooking is as exhilarating as any of the swank Oaxacan restaurants trending in Mexico City.”

The critic, who, like Ortega, won a James Beard award in 2017, also demonstrated his admiration for Ortega and Vaught last year when he named Hugo’s to his list of the country’s 38 best restaurants. Helen Greek Food & Wine appeared on Addison’s list in 2016.