COOL SPACES: Hugo Ortega's Xochi brings southern Mexico to Houston

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James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega's latest eatery is in downtown Houston. (KTRK)

James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega's latest cool space is Xochi, a recently opened restaurant located in the Marriott Marquis downtown.

The colors, flavor and interior design pay tribute to Ortega's love and frequent visits to Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico with a diverse and storied culinary history.

"Oaxaca is where my husband grew up, and he has always wanted to open an Oaxacan restaurant that shows off the food of the area," said owner and restaurateur Tracy Vaught.

Structural columns are wrapped in thick rope, decorative Mexican tiles create geometric art, and custom-designed tables, chairs and woven leather bar stools give the dining room a clean, finished look.

There is also an entire wall decorated with hand-painted alebrijes, which are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures that are hand-carved from wood.

Vaught and Ortega took several trips to capture hundreds of images of the Oaxacan architecture and culture for design inspiration.

The menu includes many very distinctive and diverse Oaxacan-inspired dishes.

"Xochi is truly a unique Mexican experience," Vaught said.

MORE HUGO ORTEGA: Creamy flan de maiz recipe
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Add some flair to your holiday menu! Check out this flan recipe from Hugo Ortega.

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