rising above the andes

Veteran Houston chef unveils upscale new South American restaurant in Highland Village

Veteran chef unveils new South American restaurant in Highland Village

David Guerrero Andes Cafe
David Guerrero is preparing his next project. Photo by Eric Sandler

Don’t count out David Guerrero. The chef may have closed Andes Cafe last weekend, but he’s almost ready to unveil his ambitious new project.

Alma, an upscale South American restaurant, will open in Highland Village as soon as next week. Located in the former Drexel House space at 3974 Westheimer Rd., Alma will serve a range of dishes inspired by techniques Guerrero learned during an extended visit to South America in 2017.

While the name recalls Alma Cebiche + Bar, the restaurant Guerrero briefly operated in the Energy Corridor, both the environment and menu will be different. In terms of atmosphere and experience, the chef wants to compete with establishments such as MAD and Roka Akor, and the dishes will be different than anything Guerrero has served before.

“I would say my whole menu, you can’t find it anywhere else in Houston,” Guerrero tells CultureMap. “It’s going to be something different. We have items that to a normal person won’t make sense, but you try it and it’s something different. I’m excited about it.”

Asked for specifics, Guerrero mentions a dish built around grilled cauliflower with pureed sweet plantains, jalapeno chips, and a currant puree. He’ll also serve his signature raw dishes such as ceviches and tiraditos, as well as raw and baked oysters. Alma will use locally-sourced pork from Black Hill Meats and grass-fed beef from Argentina. Other dishes will incorporate Nikkei flavors, the buzzy Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine that's a major draw at the Politan Row food hall.

“Everything’s going to be shareable. They’re not composed dishes,” Guerrero says. “I would like to create my own things for mixing different textures and flavors, just put it on a plate like art.”

The beverage options will center around South American wines and a menu of 14 house cocktails that are inspired by South American and Mexican classics.

Guerrero adds that he’s also looking for new investors and a new location for Andes Cafe. The South American comfort food restaurant earned significant acclaim during its almost six-year run, and the chef says he thinks it’s still a viable concept. Still, his attention is firmly on Alma.

“I think this is going to be the last shot for me as a chef. I’m putting a lot of effort into this,” he says. “We’ve practiced for two months. We’re ready. We’ll see what happens.”