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A New Restaurant Focusing on Regional Mexican Cooking Is Headed to Memorial This Fall

Maize will be led by two industry veterans and one up-and-coming chef

A bowl of tender-looking meat on a bed of banana leaves with smaller bowls of red onions, sauces, and vegetables next to it.
Maize will debut in West Houston later this year.
Becca Wright

A new Mexican restaurant helmed by the former executive chef of Xochi is set to debut in Memorial later this fall.

Called Maize, the restaurant will focus on various culinary traditions through Mexican, including coastal cuisine, street food, and dishes from the country’s interior. It is expected to open later this year at 14795 Memorial Drive, the former home of Carmelo’s Ristorante Italiano, and later, B.B. Italia.

Fabian Saldana, who most recently worked under James Beard award-winning chef Hugo Ortega, will run the kitchen. Restaurant industry veterans Mark Cox, with whom Saldana worked at Mark’s American Cuisine, and Carmelo Mauro, who ran Carmelo’s for nearly 40 years before it closed in 2017, will round out the project.

True to the restaurant’s name, corn masa will be freshly ground on site for dishes like chorizo-filled blue corn huaraches. Saldana, a native of Mexico, plans to use traditional cooking methods and historically accurate ingredients for other dishes, including barbacoa de res slow-cooked in agave leaves and Insectos A La Carta, a popular Oaxacan street food.

Drinks-wise, expect tequila, mezcal and other Mexican spirits, plus an extensive wine list — Maize’s wine cellar will have room for roughly 1,000 bottles. Non-alcoholic drinks will include atole, a hot drink made with masa, and Mexican-style hot chocolate.

Mauro said he expects the restaurant to be a popular destination with West Houstonians. The expansive dining room — 8,000 square feet, plus a 1,400 square foot patio — will be supplemented with several private rooms and a large U-shaped bar.

“People are waiting for a high-end restaurant in West Houston where they can take their friends and entertain,” Mauro says in a press release. “Right now, we all have to drive inside the Loop. I think the elegant, casual concept that’s being developed, with an emphasis on friendliness, service, great food, and beautiful presentation will make Maize the place to be.”