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Vegan at Hugo’s Restaurant, Agoura Hills

I’m lucky enough to have this week off, so I visited my mom’s preschool this Wednesday for her cooking class.  She does a special, weekly cooking class focusing on whole foods, making treats that are all vegan.  Her students were very excited, open minded, and asked great questions.

After a nice visit and some pipe cleaner art, we went to Hugo’s Restaurant in Agoura Hills for lunch.  I checked out their website before our visit and noticed that they were owned by the same people who run Hugo’s Tacos, one of my favorite places, so I was really excited to try something different from them.

Hugo's Restaurant | A Vegan in Progress

What first struck me was how nice and clean their decor was.  There was an air of fanciness that wasn’t stuffy.  Their staff was also impressive.  Our waitress first asked us if we were vegan, vegetarian, etcetera, then showed us the symbols on our menu that indicated which items were vegan or could be made vegan, but meat options were available.  Just like their Hugo’s Tacos menu, most items could be made vegan.  What was most exciting, though, was the variety of dishes offered.  They have everything from pasta, sandwiches, wraps, salads, shepherd’s pie, to Indian food.

My mom, my sister Samantha, and I decided to eat sort of family style – and by that, I mean, eat off of each other’s plates.  We each ordered a different entree and got an appetizer to share.

To start, we got the Asian Spring Rolls, which are described on their menu as “Vietnamese style spring rolls filled with sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, kelp noodles and fresh herbs with a mild sesame-chili dipping sauce”.  They were fresh and tasty, although a little large.  My favorite part was the mouth-watering sesame-chili dipping sauce.  I could have eaten just that poured over broccoli and been very happy.

Asian Spring Rolls | A Vegan in Progress

I ordered Tikka Masala Plate because prior to becoming vegan, I loooooved Chicken Tikka Masala.  I absolutely love spicy Indian food and really wanted to try a vegan version.  For this entree, you get a choice of their American veggie patties or grilled organic tofu.  I chose the veggie patties.  They come covered with an Indian inspired sauce of tomato, onions and spices and are served with turmeric rice, steamed broccoli and cilantro-mint chutney.  It was a spot-on veganized Tikka Masala.  It wasn’t as spicy as I like, but most restaurants don’t make traditionally spicy dishes spicy enough because they try to please everyone.  It was a little heavy, but that’s probably because I ate too much since it was so good.

Tikka Masala | A Vegan in Progress

Probably my favorite element of the meal, though, was the sauce on my mom’s Pasta Victor.  This is a pasta dish with tofu, garlic, sun dried tomato, corn, chilies, cilantro, parmesan cheese and a light chipotle-cream sauce.  That cream sauce was incredible.  I would totally buy it by the jar if they offered it.  I would definitely order this for myself on another visit if I weren’t so excited to try everything on the menu one at a time.

Pasta Victor | A Vegan in Progress

Samantha ordered the Ginger-Tamari Salad with herb marinated organic grilled tofu cooked in a sauce of tamari, orange juice, mango chutney, ginger, garlic and scallions. Served atop finely sliced Napa cabbage and baby bok choy blended with slices of roasted sweet pineapple, julienne red peppers and yellow squash. Garnished with black sesame seeds and pickled ginger.  This salad was pretty much tailor-made for her.  She loves pickled ginger.  It tasted fresh and light and the tofu was a very nice, firm texture with a flavorful marinade.

Ginger-Tamari Salad | A Vegan in Progress

We were completely stuffed by the end of the meal, so we couldn’t try a dessert at the time.  However, I got one to go because I couldn’t resist.  I ordered the Brownie Tort, described on their website as “a wonderful chewy chocolate pecan brownie topped with a fudge frosting and a ripe strawberry. They are so full of whole ingredients we consider them a more nutritious food source than any ordinary dessert.”  Since I ordered it spur of the moment at the end of our meal, it took a while to get it.  Once the waitress brought it to the table, she kindly described how to warm it up at home.  Many hours later, once the food coma wore off, I warmed up the torte and tried it.  The slightly gooey top of the tort was delicious, although the rest was a bit dense and heavy.  The strawberry was a lovely touch, though, cut into the shape of a flower.

Brownie Tort | A Vegan in Progress

I am already looking forward to my next visit to Hugo’s Restaurant and highly recommend it for groups with mixed diets, since it can please everyone.  The only downside is the prices.  You are definitely getting what you pay for, but Hugo’s is too pricy to be a casual, common dining establishment.

Vegan at Hugo’s Tacos, Woodland Hills

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Hugos logo

Hugo’s Tacos is a small restaurant chain that recently opened a location walking distance from our home.  I hadn’t realized the many vegan options that they offered until my husband stopped by one night to pick up something for himself and excitedly called me, asking if I would like to try anything.

The chain’s three locations are in Atwater Village, Studio City, and Woodland Hills.

Their menu and website are both clearly marked for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free preferences.  Almost everything is vegan or can be made vegan, and when you order something with soyrizo, they make sure to ask if you want vegan cheese.

Hugo's Woodland Hills

From the Hugo’s Facebook page

The way their menu works is that diners may choose from tacos, burritos, bowls, tostadas, nachos, quesadillas, tortas, and green tamales, and then choose one of their 7 fillings.  There are 5 meat fillings and 2 vegan ones.  Vegans can choose from soy chorizo, a spicy soy “meat” grilled with diced potatoes and zucchini or mixed veggies and herbs, a mixture of zucchini, squash, cauliflower, corn, potatoes, and onion.  They also have salads which can be topped with any of their fillings or taquitos (either chicken or soy chorizo filling) with served with white beans, lettuce, guacamole, Pico de Gallo, tomatillo and jalapeno salsa with cheese (which you can order to be vegan).

I tried quite a few of their offerings, you know, for the sake of reporting it to you.

Let me start with my two favorites so far.

Hugo's Tacos - Vegan Nachos | A Vegan in Progress

Hugo’s Nachos

Their vegan nachos are delicious.  They came a bit burned around the edges, but not enough to take away from the meal at all.

The vegan cheese was tasty and the white beans were a nice alternative to black beans.

I should mention that Hugo’s has a selection of 7 salsas, only one of which is not vegan.  I tried all six of them and my favorites were the Pico de Gallo and the tomatillo and jalapeno.

I will definitely order this time and time again.

Hugo's Tacos - Vegan Burrito | A Vegan in Progress

Hugo’s Burrito

For this burrito, I ordered the mixed veggies and herbs filling.  It also has Spanish rice, salsa, and white beans.  I will definitely order this again.  It’s a fun alternative to Chipotle’s burrito, being that it tastes a little more authentic and sinful.

Hugo's Tacos - Green Tamales | A Vegan in Progress

Hugo’s Green Tamales

The green tamales come with such plentiful veggie and salsa toppings that you can’t even see the tamales at first glance.  They were tasty and I definitely liked the veggies and salsa, but I’m not very fond of sweet corn tamales, so I think that’s what made this dish third out of the five that I have tried.

Hugo's Tacos - Green Tamales | A Vegan in ProgressLast, on a whim, I tried their vegan quesadilla, cheese only.

Hugo's Tacos - Vegan Quesadilla | A Vegan in Progress

Hugo’s Vegan Quesadilla

Vegan cheese is kind of temperamental and doesn’t always melt like regular cheese does.  In the case of my quesadilla, the cheese was hardly melted, but was at least warm.  Salsa helped.  It wasn’t horrible, but I probably won’t order it again because there are better choices.

Not pictured is their soy chorizo taquitos.  They aren’t very pretty and are a little dry, but that could be because I was ordering pretty late.  The guacamole added some needed moisture.

My main complaint about Hugo’s is that their food tends to be a bit bland.  Their tomatillo and jalapeno salsa saves the day, though, and adds spice and flavor to everything.  Their restaurants are great places for dual dining.