James Beard-Recognized Restaurant Couple Eye Uptown Park For New Concept
Dynamic duo Tracy Vaught and chef Hugo Ortega of H Town Restaurant Group are going to expand their Houston restaurant empire again — and it will be near their award-winning restaurant Caracol. They’ve signed a lease on a space at Uptown Park in the Galleria area. Ortega won the James Beard Best Chef Southwest award in 2017 and Vaught has been an Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalist four times. Additional key players who contribute to the company’s success are beverage director Sean Beck and pastry chef Ruben Ortega, who is Hugo’s brother.
For now, the company is keeping details close to the vest. In a statement, Vaught says:
“Hugo and I are always thinking about new concepts and checking out spaces, and Uptown Park was a possibility for something new, but we didn’t finalize until recently. Like with all our other concepts, we prefer to keep the idea close to our chests, as we like to have the ability to plan, develop and make changes at-will without being hindered by any previous announcements. So, yes, we did sign with Edens to go into Uptown Park. Our plans are still fluid and the opening is at least a year away. We have no further details at this time.”
The new restaurant is rumored to be a more fast-casual concept, but that was not confirmed in the statement, so we’ll just have to wait and find out the specifics in the future. Whatever it is, the new establishment is slated to be the sixth in Houston, joining Caracol, Oaxacan restaurant Xochi in downtown Houston, interior Mexican restaurant Hugo’s, and the place where the couple first met and started writing restaurant history, Backstreet Cafe. In addition, there’s an H Town Restaurant Group outpost at George Bush International Airport called Hugo’s Cocina. That restaurant is operated by HMSHost, which oversees several chef-branded airport restaurants.
We’ll keep you posted as more details about the Uptown Park concept are revealed.
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.