HOUSTON, TX – One of the best things about living in Houston is the Mexican food but there’s more to Mexican cuisine than tacos and enchiladas. In fact, experts say the country is divided into seven distinct culinary regions. If you want to experience all of them, you’ve got some traveling to do. Or you could come to Hugo’s.
“I grew up in Mexico City and every summer as a young boy we went to visit my grandmom in the mountains,” owner Hugo Ortega told us of his childhood love of food. “Small villages – about 500 people.” So small, in fact, that in order to make tamales, he says, villagers had to wake up early and carry their corn to the town mill to be stone-ground into masa. It’s where his love of traditional cooking began. And what he carried with him when he moved to Houston as a teenager.
“Passing through these streets when I was a teenager I wondered if someday will I be able to cook here or work here or buy this building.”
After enrolling at Houston Community College and working in restaurant kitchens around town for years, that dream finally came true. In 2002, Hugo Ortega bought that old building on Westheimer he’d walked past as a kid and opened the doors on the traditional cuisine he grew up with. So traditional, in fact, that Chew on This: Hugo went back to his childhood village of Puebla just to buy an authentic stone mill for his tortillas. His success he credits to Houston. “People form all over the world are coming here and Houston is definitely the next big culinary destination, I deeply believe that.”
Of course, we knew that all along.