Restaurants / Openings

Mexico City’s Casual Restaurant Favorite Brings All-Day Dining to River Oaks District — A Closer Look at Ojo de Agua

Your First Taste Review

BY // 06.07.23

If you’ve ever visited Mexico City, chances are you might have seen or even dined at one of Ojo de Agua’s 40 casual restaurants dotted throughout that cosmopolitan enclave. Especially if you were in search of fresh healthful food with a focus on natural, holistic ingredients. Now, you don’t have to travel any farther than Houston’s River Oaks District shopping land to get your fill of nourishing, authentic Mexican food care of Ojo de Agua.

The first Ojo de Agua restaurant in Texas (with another soon to follow in the Medical Center) marks the second stateside locale to open, following a successful Miami debut in 2021.

Situated across the street from Hopdoddy Burger Bar, the 3,200 square-foot space with a total of 140 seats inside and out, recalls a tropical Tulum-inspired decor with lush greenery, wicker nest-like chairs suspended from the ceiling and wooden tables lit overhead with clever milk bottle box chandeliers, most of which are sourced from Mexico or created by a bevy of Mexican-born artists. While local Houston graffiti artist Daniel Anguilu created a color-splashed mural depicting the Texas state bird — the mockingbird — at Ojo’s entrance.

“We’re excited to give Texas a first taste of Ojo de Agua’s vibrant flavors and fresh ingredients,” says Rafael Montero, a partner at Texas-based Gitano Capital, which is behind the new spot. “Our healthy menu and our extensive menu of juices and smoothies will resonate with Houston’s diverse clientele.”

Ojo de Agua invites diners to place their order here at the counter and as it is freshly prepared a server will deliver it to their table. (Photo by Alex Montoya)
Ojo de Agua invites diners to place their order here at the counter and as it is freshly prepared a server will deliver it to their table. (Photo by Alex Montoya)

Famous for its fresh squeezed juices and protein smoothies that can hydrate (the water polo juice with orange, melon and carrot is $12.50), energize (the power smoothie with green apples, cucumber, kale, spinach and ginger, $12.50) or my favorite, the recovery which promises to be an anti-inflammatory concoction made with carrot, green apple, ginger and Curcuma, ($12.50). Each delicious elixir arrives chilled in a glass bottle (reminiscent of those fixtures overhead) topped with a bouquet of fresh herbs and flowers.

Of course, if you want to chase the hair of the dog you can order up a Michelada, mojito, lavender martini and other spiked drinks too.

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The Ojo de Agua menu is huge (not to mention many of the portions) with options for vegans and pescatarians too. I devoured (with the help of a friend) the red (rojos) chilaquiles with chicken ($22) baked and layered with tortilla quarters, spicy rojo sauce, beans, shredded cotija cheese, tomato and onion — and topped with avocado slices and sesame seeds. A gracious server brought us a trio of different hot sauces, should we care to level up the heat. Other tempting morning options include cinnamon roll French toast ($16), a guava pancake ($15) made with guava candy, sugar-coated nuts and cocoa nibs as well as lots of egg-rich choices.

Dining mid-afternoon (Ojo de Agua is open for continuous service from 8 am to 8 pm), I tried the Tulum ceviche ($23) made with octopus and white fish, cucumbers and red onions the chilled mixture tinged with oyster sauce. Other ceviche options include a lobster ceviche ($35) its tender meat marinated in a combo of soy sauce, chili, garlic and lime juice — and a tropical ceviche ($23) with tuna, avocado and mango in a similar marinade.

Ribeye Tacos at Ojo de Agua
Ojo de Agua’s rib eye tacos ($23) are marinated in a chimichurri sauce. (Photo by Jennifer Hasbún)

With a dozen taco and tostada options, from rib eye tacos ($23) marinated in a chimichurri sauce to salmon tacos ($23) with a five chili sauce, I narrowed it down and ordered the lobster tacos ($35). A trio of tacos stuffed with lobster tail meat marinated in curry paste arrived with a side of diced fresh mango and topped with sprouts and sesame seeds.

One of Ojo de Agua’s signature dishes has to be the beautifully presented acai bowl ($16 for one scoop), a sweet way to end a meal or treat yourself to a mid-day boost. Composed of fresh fruits like mango, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, this bowl is topped with a frozen scoop of acai pulp sprinkled with coconut, gluten-free granola and drizzled with organic honey.

Open daily from 8 am to 8 pm for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Ojo de Agua brings a quick hybrid service style, one in which diners place their orders at the counter. Your meal is subsequently prepared to order and whisked to your table upon completion.

Ojo de Agua  is located at 4444 Westheimer Road, D-140 in River Oaks District.

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