Houston’s Newest Restaurant on Esquire’s Best Restaurants in America List

Co-owners Emmanuel Chavez and Megan Maul’s 13-seat spot is in a generic-looking mall in Spring Branch, but that’s their use of ancient corn throughout a $125 seven-course tasting menu that stands out in Houston.

Only three Texas restaurants — Birdie’s and Canje, two Austin establishments that gained national recognition this year — were among the 40 spots in Esquire, which is part of a winter issue hitting newsstands later. this month.

“It’s very, very new for us,” Chavez said. “One day people can love us and one day they can hate us. We try not to take listings like this personally, but are grateful for the recognition.

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Ancient corn kernels with cónico azul from Estado de Mexico, cónico rosa from Tlaxcala, bolita amarillo from Oaxaca and chalqueño blanco from michoacán in Tatemó.Annie Mulligan/Contributor

Esquire described Chavez, 33, as “obsessed with corn,” according to Joshua David Stein, a veteran food writer and former restaurant critic, who visited months ago.

“Everything about Tatemó is meant to keep the focus on Chavez’s beloved corn,” wrote Stein, who was one of four writers and editors who worked on the magazine’s annual list.

Although Chavez said he knew Stein dined at Tatemó, he was unaware that the restaurant was in the running as one of the top new restaurants in the country. He was sipping a cortado en bloc at Blended around 8 a.m. today when chef Ana Castro of Lengua Madre messaged him to congratulate him.

“We are very grateful to be in the Houston culinary scene,” Chavez said. “We take it with grace. We don’t think we’re better than anyone. Hope this helps the next generation to inspire them.

Born in Mexico City, Chavez cooked in Houston at “very structured places” like the River Oaks Country Club. He left Bayou City and spent several years cooking in Seattle at the Thompson Hotel, where he met his partner Maul before moving to Houston.

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Last year, Esquire included Mars and Degustwhich is also located in Spring Branch, on its prestigious list.

Chronicle restaurant critic Alison Cook called Chavez’s cooking “glorious.”

She was next Tatemo as the team sold tortillas at the farmers’ market and held pop-ups throughout the early days of the pandemic before the physical store opened in February this year.

In his Top 100 review, Cook wrote, “The dining room in front of studio masa is a candlelit study in spare chic, and I found every dish fascinating.”

Tatemó is open Thursday through Sunday and is by reservation only, with the exception of a walk-in Sunday brunch. The restaurant does not currently have a liquor license and is BYOB.

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