Xochi in Downtown Houston Set to Reopen October 1
Back in mid-March when Texas governor Greg Abbott ordered restaurant dining rooms to close, the husband-and-wife team of chef Hugo Ortega and restaurateur Tracy Vaught chose to temporarily shutter their Oaxacan restaurant, Xochi. With restaurants now allowed to have up to 75% guest occupancy, Xochi — located on the first floor of the Marriott Marquis Hotel at 1777 Walker in downtown Houston — is reopening on Thursday, October 1 at 4 p.m.
Two differences from before: for now, the restaurant isn’t serving lunch and the menus are more streamlined than before. Xochi is open for happy hour, dinner and Sunday brunch service. The hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m. (note that the last dinner reservation is at 8:30 p.m.) and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
A few of the items still on the menus: the popular wood-fired oysters, Molotes de Xoxocotlan, or oval masa cakes filled with potato and chorizo Istmeño (pork sausage with dried peppers and other seasonings) and Barbacoa de Res de Zaachila, or grilled rolled skirt steak with hoja santa (Mexican pepperleaf), guajillo, puya (both the latter are types of chiles) in costeño (coastal) pepper broth with potato, carrots and masa dumplings.
“With so many business offices not yet re-opened in downtown, and conventions, concerts and sporting events halted, our customer base for this downtown location has been severely impacted and we have struggled with when to re-open,” said Vaught. “While these hurdles are still in place, we felt it was important to welcome guests back and again and start to bring life back to downtown.”
Several safety measures are in place to protect patrons and employees from COVID-19. These include tables spaced six feet apart, employee temperature screening, online menus accessible either as single-use or electronically via QR code, sanitation stations at the entrance and throughout the restaurant. Of course, employees are required to wear masks, as are patrons when not seated at a table. Don’t bring your filthy lucre; cash is not accepted right now, only credit and debit cards.
While valet service is available, guests who don’t want someone else in their car right now (understandable) should be able to find metered street parking or pay to park in one of the area lots.
With more limited seating due to social distancing requirements, would-be patrons are encouraged to make reservations. Walk-ins will only be seated based on space availability, and guests should wait in their cars until their tables are ready.
Those who aren’t ready to dine in yet — especially nearby residents — who have missed Xochi’s Oaxacan fare might be glad to know that curbside pickup will be offered, and the restaurant self-delivers up to five miles. Those farther away might find delivery is also available though UberEats, Grubhub, Doordash and Favor.
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.