Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hugo's Tacos: One Reason to Not Hate the Valley

I recently got some terrible news: A really good friend was VALLEY. (Insert scary horror movie music here). Now, I'm not some snob that refuses to go to the valley ever or give it its props for certain things. It's just that I have the unique pleasure of having all of my close friends live within walking distance of me, so actually getting in my car and getting on the *gasp!* freeway to get somewhere seems like a big pain in the ass. And it's no exaggeration that it's often 10 degrees hotter in the valley than in the rest of L.A., and in the summer that is no picnic.

Upon my first visit to the new pad, however, I changed my tune. Pulling off the 101 onto Coldwater Canyon, there on the corner was Hugo's Tacos and then I crossed the street and saw Hugo's restaurant and I was reminded that the valley is full of amazing veg-friendly restaurants that I rarely get the chance to go to! Looks like there will be lots of new culinary adventures in my future!

When I first moved to L.A. and lived in West Hollywood, I would go to the Hugo's restaurant on Santa Monica quite a bit. I could not get enough of their veggie-packed sweet potato bowl and other vegan goodies. So I was so incredibly pumped to see that my friend lives mere blocks from Hugo's Studio City locations. Hugo's Tacos is the restaurant's sister stand with a choose-your-own-adventure style menu: you choose the type of meal you want (ranging from tacos to salsa burgers), and then the filling and sauce you want to go with it.

On my first visit I ordered a bowl with the soyrizo, potato, and zuchinni filling, and the honey chipotle salsa (yes, I am a honey-eating vegan). The bowl comes with organic Spanish rice, organic white beans, onion, cilantro, lettuce, guacamole, and cotija cheese (which Hugo's happily offers to sub out with soy cheese). Stir all these lovely ingredients together into a gooey mess and you get one big bowl of delicious!
On my many subsequent visits (eek! How am I supposed to avoid going there when it's right there by the freeway entrance just begging me to turn in???) I have been unable to force myself to order anything different because I just love the bowl so much. I now ask for no cheese--the soy mozzarella has absolutely no flavor and I don't see the point in adding extra calories onto this already heavy dish. Although I do love the pain of being so full you want to die after eating the whole thing. I also LOVE the honey chipotle salsa. It is a perfect combo of spicy and sweet and is the element that pushes this dish into the realm of the super tasty.
Hugo's food is enough to bring me there time after time, but their daily rotation of agua frescas will keep me a fan for life. Their watermelon agua fresca, which is my drink of choice--I would mainline the stuff if I could--is sublime. If their horchata--an excellent balance of cinnamon, sweetness, and rice milk--is any indication of how good their (completely vegan) rice pudding is, I will definitely be hitting up some of that next time so I can have a sugar high on top of my food coma.
Between the icy agua fresca and the misters that are constantly on (and are pictured at top with some awesome skeleton garland), the valley heat doesn't even interfere with the meal. Recently as I was chowing down and being thankful that there isn't a Hugo's closer to my house because I would surely gain a dubrillion pounds, I saw a sign advertising a new location right over the bridge from me in Atwater Village! Le sigh, guess I'll just have to put in a few more hours at the gym every week...

4749 Coldwater Canyon
Studio City, CA 91607


Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

Those skeletons look like they're doing somersaults! This sounds like a cool place for a quick vegan meal.

Anonymous said...

i love love love love love hugo's tacos. for super cheap, totally vegan mex they ROCK. glad you found something to make you look forward to visiting the valley, other than just your friend! :D

awesome pix, btw.

trina said...

Thank god. I really, really would like to eat here, but I just can't make it to the Valley. Atwater I can do. Thanks for sharing the good news. Oh, and nice pictures!


Holly crap....I LOVE HUGO"S TACOS.
I am addicted.
I always order the 3 soy chorizo tacos with the #6 sauce. Super spicy, but freaking delicious.
I'm actually eating there AGAIN Friday night...I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Kirby! said...

I LOVE hugo's in west hollywood, but I, too, am obviously not a fan of driving even 15 minutes for anything.

Fortunately, I work in ye ol' Valley now, so I will totally take a different 101 ramp so that I can stop by this place!!!! It looks really super scrummy!

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

I'd read this post a week or so ago, but then was talking to a friend who was raving about them, and I thought... "Is that the same place?" So I had to look, and indeed, it sounds like the same. Apparently there are a couple fans of Hugo's around!!

(Ah, and I LOVE LOVE the new word that I'll be using excessively from now on... "dubrillion" as in " dubrillion pounds") LOVE IT!!! said...

i work next to hugos! look me up next time!!

R said...

I wasn't really diggin' Hugos.

I went there last Friday.

You can see my VIDEO REVIEW of Hugo's at


The Taco Inspector