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Chef Hugo Ortega Is Working on a Mysterious New Houston Restaurant

He’s taken over the former Cafe Express space at Uptown Park

Chef Hugo Ortega in his kitchen
Hugo Ortega
Amy McCarthy is a reporter at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

Following weeks of rumors, chef Hugo Ortega and restaurateur Tracy Vaught have officially confirmed that they’re working on a new restaurant in Uptown Park.

The real-estate obsessives at HAIF were the first to notice that Ortega and Vaught had their eyes on the former Cafe Express space at 101 Uptown Park Boulevard, Suite 12. Now, a statement from Vaught confirms that they’re working on a restaurant for that location, but doesn’t provide a ton of additional detail. “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,” Vaught said. “So, yes, we did sign with Eden 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.”

Many have speculated that Ortega and Vaught’s new restaurant will be of the fast-casual variety, which is exciting news for folks who can’t regularly afford to enjoy the James Beard Award winning chef’s cuisine at Xochi or Hugo’s. Perhaps he’ll focus on the crispy tlayudas at Xochi, or bring the beloved ceviches from Hugo’s into a fast-casual format.

Eater will, of course, be tracking Ortega’s plans for Uptown Park obsessively. Stay tuned for more details.