Restaurant News

Surprise, Xochi Opens Tonight & Bobby Heugel Debuts a Secret New Bar Next Week

Inside Tongue Cut Sparrow
Inside Tongue Cut Sparrow Photo by Julie Soefer
click to enlarge Welcome to Xochi. - PHOTO COURTESY OF XOCHI
Welcome to Xochi.
Photo courtesy of Xochi

Crazy end-of-week happenings for some of Houston's biggest industry names.

First up, chef Hugo Ortega and partner Tracy Vaught debut their highly anticipated new concept Xochi inside the Marriott Marquis at 1777 Walker tonight, as first reported by Culture Map. A rep for chef Ortega confirms that indeed the restaurant is hoping to get off to a quiet start this evening (not likely) with a menu that includes numerous Oaxacan specialties, including mole and mezcal galore. The Marriott Marquis is reportedly where all the NFL executives will be headquartered next week as well, so it's guaranteed to be crazy.

Xochi will be open for dinner only this weekend, including Sunday, with lunch and regular hours starting on Monday. Reservations at 713-400-3330.
click to enlarge Inside Tongue Cut Sparrow - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER
Inside Tongue Cut Sparrow
Photo by Julie Soefer

Bobby Heugel, cocktail whiz and founder of Anvil, debuts a top-secret new bar downtown with an entrance that leads guests upstairs via his cocktail hub The Pastry War. As first reported by the Houston Chronicle, the new bar is called Tongue Cut Sparrow and features seating for just 25 people, with a high-end, intimate experience built around outstanding hospitality.

The Houston Press called Bobby Heugel to confirm the opening and details for the new concept, which is inspired by his and business partner Peter Jahnke's travels to Japan and elsewhere around the globe.

Heugel says all the elements are in place for an over-the-top experience in terms of service. "The glassware we're using is impeccable." Furthermore, the drinks will focus on 16 well-executed classics as he believes the world already has enough original cocktails (though they will offer four signature drinks), and a staff of five will be on hand to tend to customers. Large-format ice and frozen glassware will also be at play along with more than 140 spirits, complimentary bar snacks (freeze-dried peas will make an appearance), and decor and jazz music inspired by some of Japan's classiest bars.

But don't call this a Japanese-themed bar. "That's not accurate," Heugel says. The emphasis here is on the level of the hospitality, not any gimmicks. And in this case, that means "making cocktails really well" and offering up candy in Austrian crystal when the check is presented.

Heugel also has a forthcoming project planned with highly acclaimed Houston chef Justin Yu.

While Tongue Cut Sparrow softly opens on Wednesday, February 1 through Saturday, February 5, the bar won't start taking reservations for business until the following Wednesday, February 8. Our advice is to stay away while the Super Bowl attendees doth swarm.

Opening at 310 Main (doorway found inside The Pastry War; a hostess will greet you) every Wednesday 4 p.m. to midnight, and Thursday through Saturday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Start making reservations on February 8 at 713-321-8242.

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Gwendolyn Knapp is the food editor at the Houston Press. A sixth-generation Floridian, she is still torn as to whether she likes smoked fish dip or queso better.