Hugo Ortega at Xochi


The winner of Best Chef: Southwest at the prestigious 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards started with very humble beginnings. Hugo has published two cookbooks: Hugo Ortega’s Street Food of Mexico (2012) and Backstreet Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from Our Neighborhood Cafe (2013). He was a James Beard Award finalist for six consecutive years, 2012-2017. Hugo is one of Houston’s most acclaimed chefs and believes that a chef is only as good as the last meal he cooked. He remains a fixture in his four restaurant kitchens, is an avid bicyclist, and enjoys spending time at the beach with his family.


  • Nominee for Best Chef: Southwest
    James Beard Foundation
  • Chef of the Year
    Houston Culinary Awards
  • Award of Excellence
    Wine Spectator
  • Guest chef
    James Beard House
  • Restaurant of the Year (Hugo's)
    Houston Press
  • ChefsFeed Winner
    One of the Best Things to Eat in Houston
  • Best Chef, Southwest (2017)
    James Beard Foundation

My Restaurants

  • Hugo's
    1600 Westheimer Rd
    Houston, TX
  • Caracol
    2200 Post Oak Blvd.
    Ste. 160
    Houston, TX

Where I Eat

Behind the Scenes

From My Menu

Chef Justin Yu reviews Caldo verde de pescado at Hugo's
$$$ | Mexican
"Hugo’s regional Mexican food has quietly become a Houston institution in a town dominated by Tex-Mex. It seems to be a hard thing to ask that restaurants not to overcook their fish in soups and stews, but this soup combines perfectly cooked fish with flavors—like hoja santa and quelites—that most people don’t associate with Mexican food, even though it’s a major component in their regional cooking. What results is fresh, inventive, and flavorful food."
Chef Mark Cox reviews Appetizer platter at Hugo's
$$$ | Mexican
"Chef Hugo really stands alone when you think about fine, regional Mexican cuisine. The restaurant is absolutely beautiful with its high ceilings and tall windows. If you sit at the bar, be sure to talk to their very talented and well-trained bartenders about their huge selection of tequilas. Order their appetizer sampler (it's not on the menu, but you can ask for it)—it’s enough to be a meal and has everything from lobster tacos to sweet plantain empanadas."
Chef Randy Evans reviews Guacamole at Hugo's
$$$ | Mexican
"Hugo Ortega puts out some amazing dishes daily, but nothing beats sitting on the patio while having a margarita and eating his guacamole. Instead of being prepared tableside and packed full of pico de gallo, it's made in the kitchen where the cooks make it with creamy Mexican avocados, freshly squeezed lime juice, salt, and pepper. The simplicity is what makes it so tasty. Pair it along with the housemade corn tortillas and their pan de maiz, and you have the best lazy-day-on-the-patio snack."
Chef Anita Jaisinghani reviews Pato en mole poblano at Hugo's
$$$ | Mexican
"Hugo’s makes one of the best moles in town. Dark and rich, it has a perfect balance of spices, nuts, and cocoa powder. I also love their tres leches cake."
Chef John Sheely reviews Cabrito at Hugo's
$$$ | Mexican
"This is authentic Mexican cooking from Hugo Ortega and his brother Ruben. It's a diverse menu that features everything from seafood cocktails to Oaxacan moles, all housed in a beautiful 1920s era, Latin-inspired building. The slow-roasted goat meat from the cabrito entrée is pulled from the bones and served with nopales, guacamole, and spicy habanero salsa."
Chef Ryan Pera reviews Veulva a la vida at Hugo's
$$$ | Mexican
"Hugo’s was the first great restaurant I dined in when I arrived in Houston, and this dish is one that I continue to go back for. It’s a mix of fresh, local seafood, including shrimp, oysters, and octopus with just the right amount of lime and tomatoes. It’s simplicity at its best, and it comes with Hugo’s fried-to-order tortilla chips, which are absolutely the best in the city."

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