hou_food_shrimp_bowl_photo_by_troy_fields.jpg
Photo by Troy Fields

Xochi

Photo by Troy Fields
The latest marquee venture from chefs Hugo and Ruben Ortega and restaurateur Tracy Vaught, Xochi focuses on the foods and traditions of Oaxaca. Mole takes center stage, comprising an entire section of the menu, its many varieties paired with an array of proteins. You can (and should) opt for a mole tasting, four moles of your choice served simply with fragrant, tender, wonderful corn tortillas. You might try the twangy, nuanced mole amarillo, or the subtle and refreshingly herbal mole verde. The latter is also lovely as a complement to a pair of intensely flavorful crustaceans. Thoughtful wine choices and cocktails from Sean Beck and whimsical and delicious desserts from Ruben Ortega contribute to a wonderful experience all around. Throughout the menu and throughout the restaurant, there is a sense of sharing, of discovery, of enthusiasm. Waiters, when solicited even slightly, don’t just offer suggestions, they gush them. Every head in the place seems on a swivel, looking longingly at the other tables, decked out with all the other things they wish they’d ordered, leaving even me doubting my own choices: a high crowned puff of blue corn masa, decked with a shreddy tumble of rabbit swathed in red sauce; curls of octopus from the wood oven, topped with purslane and rainbow dabs of sauces and purées: green salsa, sweet potato, etc; regal pork shank bones jutting into the sky; a stone soup bowl, nested on a woven ring. I know it contains a seafood soup, and I want it. I want all of it. Even when I’ve only just returned from Xochi, I’m longing to go back.

Map