After being nominated a number of years in a row, famend Houston chef Hugo Ortega introduced house the gold – the James Beard Award gold medal, that’s. Ortega clinched the Finest Chef Southwest title in Might 2017.
His win signified a full-circle profession achievement, as Ortega immigrated to Houston in 1984 from his native Mexico City with zero culinary expertise. He did, the truth is, begin as a line cook dinner at Backstreet Cafe, a restaurant he now owns.
Chef Hugo Ortega at his restaurant, Hugo’s — Photo courtesy of Hugo’s
After all, Ortega’s historic win was no shock to any Houstonian who’d been consuming and loving the meals from his 4 eating places unfold all through the metro space: Caracol, Xochi, Backstreet Cafe and Hugo’s. Ortega can also be a printed writer having written two cookbooks: Backstreet Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from Our Neighborhood Cafe and Hugo Ortega’s Road Meals of Mexico.
When Ortega isn’t serving up meals in his eating places, there are a variety of locations to eat which might be on his should listing. These 4 eating places, spanning the breadth of Indian and Pakistani eats to Italian American, are his favorites.
The primary of Ortega’s locations to move to when he has a hankering for meal in Houston is Himalaya Restaurant. Situated in Sharpstown, Indian and Pakistani eats might be discovered on the menu. Select from curries, tandoori, and even their revolving weekend fusion specialties equivalent to smoked brisket masala, shrimp masala and grits, and crawfish masala etouffee.
“In so some ways, it jogs my memory of unimaginable Mexican delicacies,” Ortega says. “It’s totally complicated and filled with flavors. The chef and his spouse have an unimaginable understanding of their delicacies.”
Repeat eaters at Himalaya Restaurant rave concerning the lunch particular accessible Tuesday by way of Friday. There are three platters to select from: a mix one, vegetarian and rooster. Every platter comes with a grilled or dry vegetable, steamed basmati rice and contemporary tandoori naan.
Goode Firm Seafood
A neighborhood, homegrown chain, Goode Company Seafood has two places in Houston: Katy Freeway and Westpark. It additionally occurs to be considered one of Ortega’s favorites when eating in Houston. The restaurant is undoubtedly for seafood lovers – oysters, shrimp, fish, crab and extra – and diners can select between completely different preparations: fried, steamed or grilled. Ortega’s go-to when eating at Goode Firm Seafood is the latter.
“My spouse and I’ve been consuming the mesquite grilled catfish with salsa roja or salsa verde,” explains Ortega. “We love to do this on Saturdays for lunch.”
Though Gulf Coast seafood is actually the ethos of this diner-style restaurant, there’s one merchandise it is best to make sure to get a style of: the pecan pie. The Brazos Backside pecan pie, served since 1977, is a vital fixture of the menu as it’s really Texan, full with pecans harvested from the banks of the Brazos River. Even Oprah loves it!
Ortega goes for the smaller, cozier eating places in Houston and Nancy’s Hustle on the east aspect of city is not any exception. They’re described as a bistro paying homage to cafes lining the cobblestone streets of France, however with a contemporary spin. And their menu is split into small, medium or massive plates.
Highlights embody the lamb dumplings paired alongside labneh, lamb jus and a spicy tomato French dressing, in addition to the hand-cut spaghetti with crab, parmesan, breadcrumbs and a fermented chili butter sauce. Their pure wine choice is one other key function of the restaurant.
“You gotta make a reservation like a month upfront,” Ortega says with a chuckle. “We do not have the choice however to attend.”
Have a candy tooth? Nancy’s has a unusual dessert menu with selections equivalent to parmesan cheesecake topped with black pepper honey or rice pudding creme brulee with citrus. End off your dessert alternative with caffeine – both an Irish cream espresso or their $1 customary drip espresso accessible all day.
Coltivare Pizza & Backyard
One other favourite of Ortega’s is Coltivare, discovered within the Woodland Heights neighborhood on the north aspect of Houston. It is an Italian pizza eatery with a backyard twist (contemporary components from the restaurant’s yard). Menu objects are a mixture of small plates, salads, pasta and gulf-inspired entrees.
“This explicit restaurant is one other surprise,” says Ortega. “It is small and first-come, first-serve. There’s at all times a line there.”
If heading to Coltivare, plan forward, anticipate to attend and keep in mind that they’re open just for dinner service.
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