I was thoroughly impressed with Hugo’s simple, yet refined Mexican cuisine. The food was so well executed and nothing too over the top. I don’t think Houstonians or even Texans would fare well with anything that was in the style of Alinea or Eleven Madison Park. Maybe I’m being unfairly simplistic in my view of Texans, but I think its fair to say BBQ, tacos, and kolaches reigns supreme there. I am glad there are places like Hugo’s and Caracol to brighten up the scene a bit. Both restaurants are from the same chef/owner Hugo Ortega. Caracol serves up Mexican coastal cuisine that is very seafood centric. Who does not like seafood? If you don’t we cannot be friends. Once upon a time, I went on a date with a guy who had a shellfish allergy. I knew it was never meant to be.
Ceviche de Caracol conch, pineapple, ginger, red jalapeno
It’s not often you seen conch on a menu stateside. It was everywhere in the Bahamas. The conch itself was nice, but I found the seasoning of this dish to be too sweet. I guess what was I expecting with pineapples right? I like my ceviches to be acidic. The Annoyer liked this one a lot.
Ensalada de Pulpo spanish octopus salad, roasted potatoes, celery leaves, pumpkin seed dressing
We were hesitant to order this one because it didn’t sound all that spectacular. But our neighboring solo diner gave it very high marks. I am wary of the recommendations from a lone stranger, but I think The Annoyer and I didn’t want to insult him by not taking his advice. This turned out to be my favorite dish of the night. The texture of the octopus was not too chewy or tender. The tentacles got the best char. Calling this a salad is a misnomer, there being as much starch and protein as there were veggies. There were 3 different kinds of potatoes, I think some onions and leeks. The dressing was like nothing I ever tasted before. I did not see anybody on Yelp order this. Definitely an underrated dish for sure.
These were too cheesy for me but tasty nonetheless.
Behold! Their signature dish. Everything that is great about the ocean can be found in this dish. Though I suppose frogs don’t live in the ocean and where is my uni?? I really cannot find any fault in this dish. It was solid and everything you would expect.
This was the lone disappointment for the night. I guess these Brussels sprouts were roasted as opposed to deep fried, which is how I normally have them at restaurants. Roasting them can achieve the caramelization, but leads to a mushier vegetable. We had to send these back because they were so mushy and when they returned they were still too soft for my liking. Boo!
I was pretty darn stuffed but this chocolate bomb seemed to be the signature dessert that everyone was getting. This perfect sphere is served in front of you with a small wooden mallet.
Overall, Caracol was pretty delicious. I would still say I enjoyed the food at Hugo’s just a little bit more, but it would be pretty hard to go wrong here. The menu is very extensive and I look forward to coming back here to try some other seafood delights. The food is fresh, the execution is spot on, the service is excellent, and I don’t think I can think of any place like this stateside, so points for originality!