For last week's cafe review I visited Caracol, the new Mexican seafood restaurant from Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught, and noted that while there are some truly stellar plates on the menu, the sheer number of items being prepared in the kitchen is perhaps resulting in some dishes being less than they ... More >>
The ambitious new spot is making waves.
"Thirty years ago, I took one huge leap of faith that completely changed the course of my life forever, and with it the course of many other lives. Thirty years ago, I opened Backstreet Cafe." Thus begins restaurateur Tracy Vaught's introduction to Backstreet Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from Our Neig ... More >>
The James Beard Foundation has released its short list of nominees for awards in all categories, including media. The long list for awards was announced in late February, but now it's been whittled down, and we still made the cut. Congrats to Hugo Ortega of Hugo's, Chris Shepherd of Underbelly and ... More >>
The prestigious James Beard Award semifinalists were announced this week, and Houston is represented well by four individuals and one bar in three different categories. Anvil Bar & Refuge was nominated for Outstanding Bar Program for the third consecutive year, while Chris Shepherd, Hugo Ortega and ... More >>
Recently, our music blog listed the top ten bars where your dog is welcome, and we thought, hey, why should the bars get all the canine love? Thanks to Paws on Patios, an organization started in 2010 that made it possible for Houston restaurants to get permitting from the city to allow dogs at outdo ... More >>
Here at EOW, we take our food seriously. We write about all things culinary every day, and for the most part that passion was born in the kitchen. Whether you dabble with molecular gastronomy or are slowly learning your way around a burner or grill, you all share the same quest for culinary knowledg ... More >>
For those who speak Spanish, the word caracol is instantly evocative of seafood. It translates to conch, or shell, and in addition to rolling off the tongue, the word has special meaning for Hugo Ortega and his wife,Tracy Vaught, of Hugo's and Backstreet Cafe. "Hugo's brother used to be the chef a ... More >>
Every year in early October, chef Hugo Ortega begins decorating his restaurant, Hugo's, for one of the most important holidays in Mexico: Dia de los Muertos. Papier maché skeletons hang from the chandeliers in the dining room. Bright, fluffy tissue-paper flowers poke out from behind light fixtures ... More >>
Here in Texas, we know a lot about Mexican food. But what most of America (including Texas) thinks of as Mexican is actually Tex-Mex, a hybrid of Mexican cuisine and American ingredients. It's comforting to us native Texans, for sure, but it's not true Mexican food. Diana Kennedy knows real Mexican ... More >>
At the beginning of July, Chef Hugo Ortega of Hugo's and Backstreet Cafe was injured in a bicycle accident. He was out of the kitchen for about ten days while he recovered, and he tells us that the accident helped him reevaluate his priorities and change his exercise routine. "I love my bike," Orte ... More >>
What does that mean for Houston?
This week, we've been chatting with Ruben Ortega of Hugo's and Backstreet Cafe. This is the third and final part of a three-part Chef Chat series. If you missed our previous posts, you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Ruben is the lesser known sibling of Hugo Ortega, and his official title at ... More >>
The finalists for this year's James Beard Foundation Awards were announced in several categories today that spanned the breadth of the food world from culinary writing to cooking. And just as Houston was well-represented in the semi-finalist round, we also secured some big-name finalists in advance ... More >>
Houston's 10 best beer bars
After a weekend of human gridlock at the Galleria, traffic snarls, bottles poppin', and all the parties you could handle, NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston came to a close on Sunday with the Western Conference defeating their Eastern foes 143-138, the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul getting the game' ... More >>
Eat here before you die.
No. 1, Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings at Underbelly.
After a supremely busy seven days for restaurant news last week, this week let up a little bit -- but not by much. Starting off the week was news that chef Erin Smith is leaving Plonk. Her last day will be October 13 and after a brief trip to visit family, Smith will be back in Houston looking for h ... More >>
First and foremost, go check out today's Voice Daily Deal. It's the first time we've partnered with 100% Taquito, and today's deal gets you $20 worth of food for $10. For those (like me) who are terrible at math, that's half-off your meal. Do you know how many cups of elote you can buy for $20? A lo ... More >>
I met chefs Hugo and Ruben Ortega of Hugo's last week, and what I walked away knowing is that I want to spend a lot more time with these guys -- in Mexico tasting their memories. Chefs Hugo and Ruben are engaging, enchanting and extraordinary, and they're coming out with a cookbook. I wondered why ... More >>
Last week, we told you where chefs Ryan Hildebrand, Michael Pellegrino and Kaz Edwards like to eat when they're not in the kitchen. Today, we bring you three Latin chefs' perspective when we chat with Roberto Castre, David Guerrero and Hugo Ortega. Roberto Castre Executive Chef and Owner, Latin ... More >>
After racking up an impressive amount of semifinalist nods for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards, Houston had only one finalist for the annual "Oscars of food," announced today in Las Vegas. One of the most interesting things about the six semifinalists was how accurately they represent the cu ... More >>
City of Ate: Our sister paper in Dallas interviewed Anthony Bourdain in advance of his new show, 48 Hours, and as Bourdain is wont to do, he dispensed some straightforward talk about his "low opinion" of Dallas Morning News critic Leslie Brenner, why anonymity in a food critic isn't critically impor ... More >>
"This is a great city to work in," said Hugo Ortega as he accepted his award for Chef of the Year at last night's My Table's Houston Culinary Awards. "And this is truly a great country," he finished to loud cheers and applause. It was well-deserved recognition for the man who fought his way out of o ... More >>
We've already put our mothers through enough, so don't add "forgetting Mother's Day" to the list, okay? I say skip the trinkets and go right for the good stuff: brunch, complete with cocktails. Breaking bread with Mom and spending quality time with her will make her a lot happier than the lat ... More >>
The world's great cuisines converge here.
Courtesy of Paula MurphyHugo Ortega with some fresh tomatoes from his garden.The last week of August marks the end of squash blossom season at Hugo's (1600 Westheimer), the restaurant that popularized the edible flowers here in Houston. Hugo Ortega, chef and owner, is sad that another season ... More >>
Photo by Ruthie JohnsonFor more photos from the event, check out our slideshow.Not even yesterday's exotic temperatures could stop more than 100 fine folks from celebrating at OIMBY, a backyard banquet celebrating some of Houston's finest local chefs and vendors. Like most of the vendors them ... More >>
Over the course of the next few months, I'm counting down 100 of my favorite Houston dishes. I chose some because they are such quintessential Houston creations, others for their cultural or historical significance, and others because they are just so damn tasty. Share your own nominations in ... More >>
Since I started my job as restaurant critic of the Houston Press in May of 2000, I've had a chance to observe the Houston restaurant scene for just about the entire decade. Our fine dining scene has evolved in the last ten years, and so have our ethnic cuisines. Houston became the birthplace of some ... More >>
Although the Saturday tours at the brewery are still on hold for now, you can still get your fix of walking and beer with the Saint Arnold Pub Crawl tonight starting at 6 p.m. As a special bonus, there will be limited-edition Christmas Ale on tap. The crawl will take place in the north part ... More >>
Photos by Carlos Meltzer Jr.Tomato season has begun. And last Saturday the Bayou City Farmer's Market celebrated the lipstick-red, round bottom fruits with their Fifth Annual Tomato Fest. The market felt more like a block party that day, with the usual vendors selling everything from eggs to homemad ... More >>
Mexican immigrant Hugo Ortega went from washing dishes to owning Houston's best Mexican restaurant — now he has a few things to say about immigration
To make from scratch or use a paste -- that is the question
Pondering the similarities between rock and roll and Mexican food at Hugo's
Plus: Shoe Scuff, Stand Up, Broiler Steam
Hugo Ortega talks about keeping his new restaurant honest
Backstreet Cafe outgrows its niche as a fair-weather favorite