For those of you that were not familiar with Rancho’s before the change, Hugo was a server there. In fact, I discovered that almost all of the previous serving staff is still there. It was like “coming home” when we walked in the door. And, not only is the original staff there, we were introduced to Hugo’s grandson, who is also serving there now as well as Elena, Hugo’s wife, who is a caterer in her own right.
One of the first things we noticed was that Hugo’s seems much cleaner than Rancho’s. There are still pictures on the wall, and Serapes draping the counters, but it just had a “clean” feel to it.
There is a new television bar – something I could do without – but I noticed that even though it was lunchtime there were some people sitting at the bar watching the program that was being aired.
And the second thing we noticed is that we were still served the wonderful homemade salsa and chips. I maintained when the restaurant was Rancho’s that their salsa was the best in Ocean Beach. Nothing changed in that regard. They make it there; it is thick; a little spicy for some; but oh so good!
The menu has been expanded, and they have more items that are vegan than any other Mexican restaurant I have ever been to. Our soft drinks were served immediately while we looked at the menu, and beer and wine are now being offered. (When they first opened up they did not have these licenses.)
The offerings are many; breakfast, starters, quesadillas, salads, soups, Hugo’s specials, burritos, tacos, tostadas, tortas, enchiladas, tamales, a kids menu, sides, drinks, etc. And in almost every category you can get a vegan and/or gluten-free item.
I wanted to try something that I always ordered when I went to Rancho’s, so decided on the shrimp burrito. Irene had never had a machaca burrito, and since that is my second favorite item I suggested that she try it. I should say that Irene is a very finicky eater; I knew that if she didn’t like it she would definitely tell me about it!
Additionally, she ordered a regular Coke, and it was served in a huge bottle with a glass of ice and I ordered a lemonade, which was refilled every time it got below the half-way mark!
My shrimp burrito was stuffed full of shrimp – I counted nine large size shrimp as well as stuffed with rice, cheese, sauce, etc. It was even better than I remembered it. It was so large that I had to take more than half of it home for lunch the next day. I ordered mine a la carte, but I could have had rice and beans with it if I desired it.
And Irene loved her chicken machaca burrito. It had onions, green, red and orange peppers, rice and cheese and seasonings that were delicious. Hers was also huge, and she took her's home for lunch and dinner.
I have to say that the prices were slightly higher than they were at Rancho’s, but in all fairness, the minimum wage has gone up and it is reflected in the prices. But at least they are not charging the horrific surcharge that many other restaurants are charging and this is an honest price increase.
Hugo’s offers a “Taco Tuesday” special, and also special prices between the hours of 3-5 p.m.
I am so happy to find that Hugo’s Cocina has really improved over what it was when it was Rancho’s. There is no question that I will return again, and again. Want to join me?
Where: 1830 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily.
Info: hugoscocina.com, 619-892-7882