Hugo’s Media Tasting Party

A refreshing twist on classic Mexican dishes

Shrimp and grits at Hugo's
Shrimp and grits at Hugo's (by Megan Myers)

When we arrived at Hugo's I was expecting a typical media event with coupla cocktails and a few passed bites, but this party was not that at all.

We were seated at tables of four and served 12 different small portions in four courses and given a form to critique and rate each dish. Each course was paired with a tequila cocktail created by bartender Theresa Cox using her own infusions of fruits and herbs. I really hadn't planned to invest three hours, but the food was so good, I didn't mind after all.

New chef Tyler Johnson came from Bacon and Along Came a Slider and is a Texas Culinary Academy graduate. I was very impressed with his talent for putting flavors and textures together and balancing them in a very sophisticated way. While influenced by Mexican flavor profiles and ingredients, Johnson is definitely not serving traditional Mexican food. My table mate, frequent Chronicle contributor Claudia Alarcon, said his food brought to mind some of the cutting edge, fusion things happening with food in Mexico City. Chef Johnson's shrimp and grits was one of the best versions of this dish I've ever had – South Carolina meets South Texas with Mexican queso fresco in the grits with fresh corn kernels and chipotle-spiced shrimp. The positive changes at Hugo's warrant further investigation.

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