Hugo’s is an under-hyped, ultra-healthy delight in Studio City. (Another site in Hollywood is currently being renovated.) The location is perfect, which means it’s time to check it out.
At first glance Hugo’s is nothing like what I’d expect a healthy restaurant to look or feel like. I know I didn’t expect much, but it looked like a Greasy Spoon.
Where was all the super skinny, modelesque, “if you eat here you can be as thin as I am” wait staff? Why does this place remind me of that food joint in “Happy Days?” Shouldn’t there be a “Nothing but Organic” sticker posted on the wall or something?
I was thrown off a bit. That is, until the menu arrives at the table. Again, I don’t frequent healthy food spots, but I’ve been around the restaurant block and have never come across a menu with an explanation of product quite like this one.
Located at the very top of the menu before any food item is mentioned is Hugo’s creed: We exclusively use Organic free-range eggs, Zero trans fat for frying, hormone and antibiotic free steaks and burgers, osmosis filtered drinking water, and the list goes on.
What was all this stuff? Never before did I know that it should mean so much to me to have my food prepared in such a specific way. But since they took the liberty of telling me that it was indeed NOT the deep-fried, steroid grown, leave the bag greasy chicken I was used to, I’m greatly appreciative.
Five points to Hugo’s for keeping the customer informed. The disclaimer is enough to gain my trust in the quality of Hugo’s product, but I still need to test the taste.
I look past the intro on the menu and am met with options; lots of options. I start with the turkey burger and work my way around to the Mexican salad.
This turkey burger is massive! “I won’t be able to finish this whole thing,” I think, but boy am I wrong. One bite and I’m hooked!
I previously equated healthy eating with bland; but never again. The flavor is immense, the juices flowing, the bread plush. This burger is insane, and I devour the whole darn thing.
Now I’m at the point where I should feel overstuffed, sick and regret the moment I sat down. There was none of that. I didn’t need a nap, my pants remained buttoned, and I didn’t feel like I picked up 15 pounds in the last 20 minutes.
Though I was satisfied, I still hadn’t mended my curiosity. I needed to know if one other menu item would be just as delightful, or if the turkey burger was a lucky draw. I decide to challenge Hugo’s: “Let’s see you make a Mexican salad healthy, but not at the expense of taste.”
The salad arrives at my table, and for a moment I just stare at it. “What is this?” I wonder. “This salad doesn’t look like Mexico at all.” In fact, it looks more like Italy because it’s served like a pizza.
I get over my shock to take a bite, and if this isn’t what Mexico looks like, I never want to see Mexico again.
This salad is rich! Every ingredient has it’s own taste that isn’t lost behind dressings and combinations. I try to devour this too, but by now I am admittedly satisfied and as full as could be.
Hugo’s went two for two without killing me, so I’m convinced. I never have to eat unhealthy for the sake of taste again. Not that I won’t, but I don’t have to.
Hugo’s is the perfect place for those, like myself, who believe that having it all is the only way to have it. Organic stickers and skinny waiters no longer do it for me. The proof is in the pudding, and if Hugo’s is making the pudding, I’m buying.
For more information, call (818) 761-8985 or visit www.hugosrestaurant.com.