I always thought, and still do, that Hugo’s on Westheimer has the most decadent weekend brunch in town. Buffet tables surround the vibrant dining room, overflowing with Chef Hugo Ortega’s succulence.
But my recent birthday dinner proved there’s more to Hugo’s than a splurge-y hangover cure. Hugo’s is highly popular any time of day, serving regional Mexican cuisine, which is known for its fresh and flavorful, if sometimes complex, ingredients.
Or, as Chef Ortega puts it: “Authentic Mexican cooking is a world-class cuisine that has remained virtually unchanged by the outside world. The food is as light and fresh as a seafood cocktail prepared on the beach; as deep and complex as the moles of Oaxaca; and as earthy as a simple handmade tortilla.”
Hugo’s has a warm atmosphere with a traditional “old Mexico” feel. The neighborhood in the heart of Montrose is equally charming, so Hugo’s is a great place to people-watch.
I had a taste for spice, so I sat down with a Fantasma Verde cocktail made with Ghost Tequila, honeydew, cilantro, cucumber, lime and jalapeño. The drink didn’t quite burn my mouth but had a definite kick. Quite energizing!
Hugo’s service is friendly and very knowledgeable about the menu. Always attentive, they made sure I had everything I needed.
Time for a starter. I’m always scared to try ceviche. I don’t know why; I’ve never had a bad one but still I fear something fishy or not quite fresh.
I needn’t have worried. I loved Hugo’s Ceviche Verde for its freshness and beautiful presentation. Avocado compliments the catch of the day with a nice creaminess, while cucumber and lime juice really brighten it up.
Next, Callo de Hacha featured scallops cooked to moist (yet with an edgy crunch) perfection, and the sweet cornbread was a delicious accompaniment. Poblano cream added a nice richness, while salsa de ajo delivered garlicky goodness.
But I needed steak, too. And another cocktail. (Yes, it was my party and I’ll order two entrees if I want to!)
That second cocktail turned out to be La Pureza, a traditional margarita with El Tesoro Silver Tequila, Combier (which is French… where’s the Naranjo?), lime and agave. While Fantasma Verde gave me wings, La Pureza refreshed, and cleaned my palate.
A meat intolerance I mentioned in a previous column turned out to be temporary, so the Carne Asada a la Tampiquena came to Daddy! That certified Black Angus prime rib eye was so tender, flavorful and juicy, and cooked perfectly medium rare. Truly, this was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.
Hugo’s may be known for Mexican cuisine, but they offer a bread pudding on the dessert menu, and it’s an extreme indulgence.
Mexican brioche is soaked in milk, eggs, and vanilla, then baked until golden brown. It comes a la moda with Mexican vanilla-cheese ice cream and créme fraîche. A wonderful way to end a wonderful meal!
If you’re looking for a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine, Hugo’s is definitely worth checking out.