Four words that you would never expect to see in the same sentence “Fine-dining Mexican food”, it is exactly
what you will find at Hugo’s on the corner of Westhimer and Mandell.
An immigrant from Puebla, Mexico, Chef Hugo Ortega brings his family history and heritage of rustic Mexican cuisine and introduces some French techniques to produce some of the best Mexican food you can find in Texas.
Now, for the skeptics out there who believe that a Mexican restaurant is a dime a dozen and that an enchilada at
one taqueria is the same anywhere else, while that may be true for some, this is an exception to the rule.
Chef Ortega takes pride in everything that comes out of the kitchen, everything from the Molès, the
cheeses, tortillas, beans, to the pastries are all made in-house by him and his skilled staff including his brother who is the executive pastry chef.
For starters we had the Plantain Empanadas, a mixture of cheese and black beans encased in a Plantain based
dough which is then fried and served with crème fresh and purée of black bean soup all topped with fried plantains and Queso Fresco. The empanadas have a rich and savory flavor from the beans and cheese and then with a subtle sweet kick from the plantain dough, with three per order this was a great beginning to the meal to come.
I am a big fan of lamb but only if it is done right, when grilling the lamb you want to make sure not to cook it
too long because of course you will dry it out like any meat, but if you leave it too undercooked the flesh will have a slight chewy feel to it, this was not the case at Hugo’s. I ordered the special of the evening which was the grilled
lamb chops with lamb sausage (made in-house) over grilled asparagus and swiss
charred and two mushroom tamales.
The lamb had a crisp outer crust while juicy and tender within, this is one of the better lamb chops I have had outside of a
steakhouse. The lamb sausage was fantastic, for any sausage connoisseur this must be on your list of sausages to try, a bold smoky and spicy flavor hits you and leaves you wanting more, if only it could find its way onto my meat lover’s pizza, I could die a happy man. As for the tamales, they could easily stand on their own as a separate dish, paired with the right beer I would be perfectly happy. The main thing that stands out about the tamales is that they are reserved when it comes to the amount of masa that is in each one, making it easier to eat more and the flavor won’t get suffocated by a mouth full of masa.
Seeing as how I was breaking my diet and lighting it on fire, I figured I would throw it off a cliff by ordering the crêpes with dulce de leche, and the fried churros with Mexican hot chocolate. Just like the sausage, the desserts are all made from scratch and it really shows, the churros were like crispy fried cigars filled with caramel and laid over chocolate sauce and served with a scoop of chocolate ice cream then the Mexican hot chocolate’s high level of cacao brings you back to reality before you go blindly into a sugar rush. As for the crêpes, they were simply the most upsetting part of the dinner, they were simply too good. Now I am like an addict who has been switched over to methadone when ever I try a crêpes from somewhere else, though it may ease my craving I am still itching for the “good-stuff”. The flavor of the crêpes was perfect, it had the right spongy texture but it was lighter than air and no eggy flavor. Now combining the light crêpe with the rich dulce de leche will send a signal to your brain that causes your eyes to roll back in your head and gorge much like a shark feeding frenzy.
Hugo’s certainly proves its worth night after night pushing out food like this as one of the top places to eat at in the city, for a real Mexican experience there is no substitution.