Located in Houston’s rapidly redeveloping Montrose neighborhood, Cuchara serves up modern Mexico City cuisine—not Tex-Mex. The restaurant is what Jim Herd of Collaborative Projects—the design build firm that completed the interior—called, “a marriage of Houston and Texas and Mexico.”
The 3,000-square-foot space was treated sparely. The design-build team stripped the walls and ceiling of the pre-war building, leaving the wooden rafters exposed and uncovering some bizarre structural work. “In Houston in the 30s and during and after World War II, you could build what you wanted to; so carpenters came and erected a building,” said Herd. “This building was a wood frame structure for the most part; some wood, some steel, some strange columns made of both of those things. But it had character and we liked it.”
The team poured a new concrete floor and divided the plan into three unequal parts. To the right of the entrance is the dining room, a simple space with tables and chairs. To the left is the bar, segregated by a towering millwork shelving structure designed and fabricated in Collaborative Projects’ shop. Down the middle is a corridor that runs straight through the space to the open kitchen.
The only element that breaks the simple, minimal aesthetic is three colorful murals by Mexico City–based artist Cecilia Beaven. One adorns the dining room wall, another frames the kitchen threshold, and the third is on the ceiling above the bar.