Monday, July 2, 2012

L.A. HAVENS - Hugo's Tacos

Hugo's Tacos in Atwater Village

Hugo's Tacos

3300 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village

4749 Coldwater Canyon, Studio City

Almost a year ago, our family decided to try and only eat meat once a week. When we do eat meat, it should be humanely raised (free-range chicken, grass-fed beef). Like most Angelenos, we're addicted to Mexican food, but our dietary restrictions meant saying goodbye to our beloved taco stands like Tacos Arizas. We definitely wouldn't have lasted this long without Hugo's Tacos.

Not only does Hugo's Tacos offer vegetarian and vegan choices, all of their meats are humane. We eat at the stand in Atwater Village at least once a week, and I've tried pretty much every item on the menu at least once. I like the food at Hugo's Tacos so much that even when I've gone to its parent restaurant in West Hollywood (Hugo's) – where there are plenty of scrumptious options to choose from – I've ordered dishes that I normally order at the taco stand.

My favorite thing to order is a soy chorizo burrito. The chorizo has just the right blend of spices, and it really tastes similar to the traditional pork sausage. I've tried soy chorizo at other vegan places, but Hugo's Tacos is by far the best. They grill the chorizo with diced potatoes and zucchini, then fold that into a tortilla with organic Spanish rice and white beans.

A soy chorizo burrito from Hugo's Tacos

Hugo's Tacos' other vegan-friendly filling is the mixed veggies with herbs: grilled cauliflower, potatoes, zucchini and yellow squash. I don't like this option as much because the herbs they use are just too overpowering, and the natural taste of the veggies gets lost.

Even when it's a "meat day," I usually stick to my soy chorizo burrito, but their carnitas are also amazing. They take marinated pork, shred and brown it on the grill just enough so that it's still moist and succulent. Often times, you'll find bits of the marinade (whole black peppercorns or pieces of orange peel) in your taco. 

Both the chicken and steak are marinated in a citrus and chili mixture that gives the meats a slightly red tint before they're grilled. Other meat fillings are the al pastor (diced pork marinated in Middle Eastern spices) and grilled fish.

Their salsas range from mild Pico de Gallo to the quite spicy Salsa Arbol. I'm such a spice wimp that I usually stick with the Jalapeno & Tomatillo that is just one step higher than the Pico de Gallo. But even the Salsa Habanero isn't too crazy hot.

Besides burritos and tacos, you can order any of the fillings on top of nachos, a tostada, green tamales (which are really heavy), a salad, bowl or inside a quesadilla. Oh and there's no rubbery, orange cheese at Hugo's Tacos. They only use Oaxaca, Cotija or vegan (if requested) cheeses.

One of the more unique items they offer is the Torta Ahogada. The standard Mexican sandwich is kicked up a notch by dipping it in their sweet Honey Chipotle salsa then cooked on a griddle. They also do the same dip-in-Honey Chipotle-then-griddle treatment on a beef or veggie patty for their Salsa Burger.

Hugo's Tacos' French fries are delicious and can be added to any menu item with a soda for $2.48 extra, or you can add chips/salsa or rice and beans instead of fries. They also have delicious watermelon Agua Fresca (Their Horchata is a bit too sweet for me.).

If you like them on Facebook or join their newsletter, you'll be alerted to their special offers. Every Wednesday night, you can get burritos for half-off with their secret password, and from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. on weekdays, breakfast burritos are just a fraction of their regular price.

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