Hugo's has brought the refined cuisines of interior and coastal Mexico to a city known for less formal Tex-Mex. The restaurant gets raves for its gentle, flavorful way with seafood, from ceviche—with just a few squirts of lime juice and a bit of cilantro—to lobster tacos. Also brilliant: the taquito de codorniz (quail with peanut mole); duck breast in a red mole; and cabrito (roasted goat with nopales, guacamole, and salsa de habanero). A true sign of the menu's authenticity is the presence of sautéed grasshoppers, a potato chip-like snack popular in Oaxaca. Whether you go for those or the homemade tortilla chips, which are served hot and are pleasingly thick and crispy, the food is best enjoyed while sitting in the lovely walled garden. Inside, the bar in this former plumbing-supply store stocks a variety of fine tequilas like Centenario and Herradura, and serves the best margaritas in town.
Tip: The dining room gets a bit noisy, so if you can't score a table in the garden, ask for a window table for the view of bustling Westheimer.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.