Backstreet back soon

Beloved River Oaks restaurant temporarily closes for much-needed repairs

Beloved River Oaks restaurant temporarily closes for much-needed work

Backstreet Cafe exterior
Backstreet Café will return in February. Courtesy of Backstreet Cafe

In the world of restaurants, "closed for renovations" usually means "closed for good," but sometimes a restaurant actually needs to pause for needed repairs. Such as is the case with Backstreet Café, which will be temporarily closed for the month of January.

Like any true River Oaks maven, the beloved restaurant needs some touching up, owners Tracy Vaught and chef Hugo Ortega announced. Work includes leveling the building's foundation and replacing the kitchen floor. 

“This project means we will be temporarily closed for about one month to get this big job done,” Vaught said in a statement. “It’s not how we wanted to start the new year and our 39th year of business, but it is important and we decided, let’s start the year off right!”

Known for its eclectic cuisine that incorporates a diverse array of influences, Backstreet Café has been a fixture in River Oaks since 1983. Beyond its menu, the restaurant offers a spacious courtyard for outdoor dining and top flight service.

The couple's other establishments in the H-Town Restaurant Group — Hugo's, Caracol, Xochi, and Urbe — remain open and operating as normal. Still, Backstreet holds a special place in their hearts.

Ortega famously started working there as a busboy and dishwasher. When he showed an aptitude for cooking, Vaught sent him to culinary school. Eventually, the two fell in love and got married. Ortega won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2017, cementing his status as one of Houston's most accomplished chefs. The couple documented their story in a cookbook that celebrated the restaurant's 30th anniversary.

Thankfully, Backstreet's happy story will continue next month — just in time for Valentine's Day.