Weekend nights this place is packed with patio crowds bordering on fire hazard. Such is the curse of being a Westheimer anchor establishment with actual Mexican food rather than Tex Mex and from what I understand, the best Margaritas in town.

With yet another co-worker leaving I wanted to find a place close to work, friendly to vegetarians and one we had not visited before  – Hugo’s came to mind.

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Casual, upbeat chic. A definite bipolar disorder; weekend nights are packed and chaotic but weekday lunches are sparse and calm. Big comfortable chairs, plenty of table space per person, all glass front affords continuous views of Westheimer eye candy.

Mex-Mex as opposed to Tex Mex; flavourful without gratuitous heat. Good presentation focusing on simplicity. The advantage of going out in a large group is that there are more opportunities to try everyone else’s dishes. And I did.

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Chipotle Seafood Soup
Seafood stock combined with a decent amount of chipotle and just a squeeze of lime hosted a wide variety of seafood: scallops, shrimp, octopus, salmon and tuna. The balance of hot, salty and sour were perfect, allowing the flavours of the seafood choices to shine. The texture play was also good; toothy octopus and shrimp balanced the melt-in-your mouth salmon and tuna.

Roasted pork is tricky, often its too dry or lacks taste, sometimes both. Not the case here. Deconstructed in presentation, served with hand-thrown tortillas, it was simple to create your own taste experience with the side salsa, hot sauce, grilled onion, cilantro and lime. There was waay too much pork but somehow I managed to finish it all.

Vegetarian Chile Rellenos
One of the quintessential Mexican dishes originating just a bit southeast of Mexico City is IMG_1836recreated at Hugo’s with care. I was curious about the veg version and post-bite, I’m likely pass on the meat and cheese rendition in the future. Large, sturdy poblanos stuffed with flavourful rice and grilled veggies, masa-coated and fried then topped with a Oaxaca cheese sauce. Compelling!

Very professional and knowledgeable, they all but operate invisibly after the questions subside. For our 10-head lunch, orders were taken and up in 30 minutes.

Price is high, quality is comparably high. Chipotle Seafood Soup, Carnitas and 1/9th of going-away girl’s lunch was $28 – tax, title and license.

Lunch: 5 March 2014

Hugo’s | 1600 Westheimer | HTX 77006

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