Austin-Based Loro Announces Chef for Houston Restaurant in the Heights

Marcos Leal

Hai Hospitality (the group behind Uchi) announced that the chef de cuisine for the forthcoming Houston location of Loro will be Marcos Leal. Loro Houston is scheduled to open this fall in the Heights. It is the third location of the concept that melds the southeast Asian culinary perspective of chef Tyson Cole of Uchi and Uchiko with the Texas barbecue of pitmaster Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue. (The first Loro is in Austin; the second is in Dallas.) The collaboration has created dishes such as Smoked Beef Brisket with Chili Gastrique and Thai Herbs and Char Siew Pork Belly with house hoisin sauce.

Aaron Franklin and Tyson Cole
Aaron Franklin and Tyson Cole of Loro. Courtesy photo.

Leal was born in Monterrey, Mexico, but grew up in Houston. He started in the hospitality industry as a hotel dishwasher. In high school, he wanted to be professional prizefighter, but after graduating, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Houston instead. After earning a degree in Culinary Arts, he worked his way up as a line cook and butcher, eventually getting an opportunity to run a kitchen as the lead cook at Wolfgang Puck Express in Houston. His next big break was securing the executive sous chef role at the historic Hotel Galvez in Galveston.

Pork Belly Bowl at Loro
Pork Belly Bowl at Loro. Photo by Logan Crable.

According to a press release, Leal’s interests and experience includes classic American fare and barbecue. He sharpened his skill in the latter by smoking meats as a side gig for David Welch of FireCraft BBQ. Leal also worked at chef Kent Rathbun’s restaurant, Jasper’s and at Topgolf, where he gained experience in a high-volume setting.

“Chef Marcos has such a great attitude and diverse experience; we’re excited to have a Houstonian lead our Loro team in the Heights,” said Cole via a press release.

Michael Hsu rendering Loro Houston
A rendering of the forthcoming Loro location in Houston. Rendering by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture.


“Joining the team as chef de cuisine at Loro Heights represents the culmination of my culinary journey,” said Leal via press release. “I am excited to build a team from the ground up and to come back to Houston, the city I consider my hometown.”

While hours for the Houston location of Loro have yet to be officially announced, the Austin location operates from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and offers happy hour from 2 to 5 p.m. It seems likely that the new Heights location will offer similar hours. More updates are expected between now and when Loro Houston opens this fall.

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