Hugo's next restaurant

Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught reveal exciting new concept for Uptown Park

Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught reveal exciting new Uptown Park concept

James Beard Foundation dinner Tracy Vaught Hugo Ortega
Tracy Vaught and Hugo Ortega are planning a new restaurant. Photo by Quy Tran

Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught are expanding their restaurant empire. Vaught confirmed that the couple's company, H-Town Restaurant Group, will open a new concept at Uptown Park in the recently shuttered Cafe Express space.

Vaught's statement, posted below, confirms rumors first circulated by the real estate super sleuths on the Houston Architecture Info Forum. It will be the couple's fifth Houston restaurant, joining Backstreet Cafe, Hugo's, Caracol, and Xochi. H-Town also operates Italian restaurant Prego in Rice Village, Third Coast in the Medical Center, and Origen in Oaxaca City.

Hugo and I are always thinking about new concepts and checking out spaces, and Uptown Park was a possibility for something new, but we didn’t finalize until recently. Like with all our other concepts, we prefer to keep the idea close to our chests, as we like to have the ability to plan, develop, and make changes at-will without being hindered by any previous announcements.

So, yes, we did sign with Eden to go into Uptown Park. Our plans are still fluid, and the opening is at least a year away. We have no further details at this time.

Regardless of whether or not the specific restaurant is the "more casual/budget-friendly" restaurant in the rumor or something more elevated that's in line with their other establishments, any new project from the James Beard Award-winning chef and his wife, a James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur, is worth getting excited about.

Adding a new restaurant from H-Town is only the latest change as Uptown Park seeks to update its mix of offerings. Over the last couple of years, the development has added healthy eating restaurant Flower Child and two long time tenants, McCormick & Schmick's (recently rebranded as M&S Seafood, Steaks & Oysters) and Uptown Sushi, have undergone extensive renovations.

More changes are coming. California-based sandwich shop Mendocino Farms will open its second Houston-area location on October 3. In addition, Merus Grill, a new concept from J. Alexander's, will open this fall, and a second location of The Rustic will open in early 2020.