In real Houston, we are surrounded by what we think is real Mexican food, but until you have a taste of authentic Mexican food you don’t realize what you are missing. Ana Beaven, who grew up in Mexico City, knew exactly what the city was missing when she started Cuchara with her partner in crime, Charlie McDaniel, it was just too bad it took the city so long to realize what IT was missing. But, we are happy to report that Ana Beaven, Cuchara and authentic Mexican Food have now found a very bright and cheery spot on the corner of Fairview and Taft, and we are personally very grateful for that!
Ana Beaven settled in Houston by chance, and we thank her boyfriend at the time for that. When she first came to our city, she worked in retail doing visual design and as a favor for a friend managed a restaurant for a month…and ended up up staying there for six years. She realized as she was there, that she could not only do this on her own, but she couldn’t believe that there wasn’t any good authentic Mexican food restaurants in Houston.
Ana considers herself a purist when it comes to food and her palette and she couldn’t stand the tex-mex that most restaurants tried to pass off as Mexican food, so she started to think about the dishes that her Grandmother used to make and put together a game plan. She knew that the location had to be very specific because of the food that she was going to serve, which was authentic Mexican food. She also knew that the ingredients had to be authentic as well. Ana didn’t cook, so she had to find cooks that understood what authentic Mexican food was. It was a huge mountain to climb, but she also knew that she had little competition in a city this size and that amazed her.
Cuchara – Authentic Mexican Food
Cuchara means spoon in Spanish. When Ana had her game plan in mind, she knew that the corner of Taft and Fairview was the perfect space, this was also the owners favorite space and he didn’t want a Mexican food restaurant in a city that he felt was already saturated with Mexican food restaurants. It didn’t matter that Ana explained to him that her food wasn’t like the other restaurants, he wouldn’t listen or even take a meeting with her. One evening she met him at a party, and she told him that she was the woman who was trying to get the restaurant in his space. He told her that she wouldn’t succeed with a tex-mex restaurant. It just so happened that he was leaving town the following week, and she challenged him to stopping in Mexico City and gave him a list of restaurants to eat at. All authentic Mexican. All similar concepts to hers. When he returned, he called Ana and said the space was hers.
What makes Cuchara different, other than the food? All the spices, peppers and corn are from Mexico. The food is fresh and the menu changes based on what is sourced locally. There is no chef in the kitchen, but a bunch of cooks. Ana hired her cooks by having them bring a dish they would make for their families at home. If she liked it, she hired them. She has 7 women in the kitchen who cook with passion and love and they create and collaborate on the menu every single day.
The art and murals that decorate Cuchara were all done by Ana’s sister, Cecilia Beaven, and the colorful decor along with the rustic serving pieces really make you feel right at home. Everyone who works at Cuchara has been there since the beginning, and they are the friendliest and most knowledgeable group you will ever meet. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for suggestions, because anything is possible at Cuchara.
Giving Back to Real Houston
Ana believes in giving back. She feels that if you don’t participate in the community you don’t have a chance to succeed or deserve to succeed, and Cuchara gives back in spades. They give to Buffalo Bayou, Rothko Chapel, Hermann Park and Latino Giving by having their own restaurant week and donating a portion of their proceeds to each of these wonderful places that make the real Houston so wonderful. Ana Beaven and Cuchara’s latest passion is her Buffalo Bayou tour. She has a boat that is decked out, where she serves drinks and appetizers and takes short tours up and down the bayou. It’s a great way to see parts of Houston you didn’t know existed or have a corporate outing.
What makes Ana and Cuchara so successful after only three short years in business?
The restaurant is what it is because of everyone who works here and comes here to eat. We will grow within our four walls. The key is if you do something well from the beginning and have it really thought out, emotionally, financially and every other way, than you can make it happen. And, we are very lucky to be in Real Houston.