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Launderette's Rene Ortiz dishes on ugly restaurants and heartburn

Photograph: Jessica Attie

“I don’t want to make money, I want to make friends,” says Rene Ortiz, chef and partner of Launderette. Luckily for the native Texan, he’s been pretty successful at both. The 2016 James Beard Award nominee worked at both La Condesa and Sway before opening Holly favorite Launderette, a place where diners feel like they’re at home amongst great cocktails and elevated comfort food (oh, and that birthday cake ice cream sandwich). We chatted with Ortiz about where he feels most at home—and how he really just wants to open an ugly restaurant.


Rene Ortiz
Photograph: Courtesy Launderette


Home base
“I always love going to Justine’s. I go at 6pm—we’ll get an appetizer and a beverage, and when we’re done with that we get another one, and then another one. It turns into a four hour evening.”

Hi-Lo dreams
“One of my fantasies is to create an [aesthetically] shitty restaurant with incredible food. It’s like the Sahara Lounge—it’s one of the ugliest, most beautiful places in the world. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, it’s just the draw of good family and friends.”

Dining on a dime
“To celebrate, I usually go to Uchiko. I pretend I'm in disguise and I go to the bar and ask for something cheap. They hate it! I say, 'Give me your cheapest bar food! Cheapest sake!' Fuck yeah. They charge so much, but it’s so good.”

Breakfast splurge
“My favorite breakfast place is at Saint Cecilia Hotel. The breakfast omelet is so good. Gruyère cheese, truffles, a little bit of chives on top. They have beautiful teas there, and the garden is wonderful on that side of the hotel.”

Chef problems
“I wish I got drunk, but I don’t. I’m old! I’m 42 years old, so I don’t do night food. I have acid reflux, and if I eat something at night I get heartburn. I cook spicy food but I don’t eat it.”

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