Hidden in a nondescript strip mall in the Conejo Valley, a short 30-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles lies an oasis in the desert. An enclave of delicious food that will have you rethinking how food should be prepared, cooked, and served. Where great restaurants are as plentiful as the California sun, Hugo’s Restaurant stands out from the rest with one simple mission: transforming simple ingredients to create great food.
Disclosure: My trip to the Conejo Valley was provided courtesy of Augustine Ideas for the #VisitConejo #VisitConejo Valley #CatchYourBreath Press Trip before the #DiscoverOxnard16 #NATJA conference. All opinions are 100% mine.
Hugo’s Restaurant Agoura Hills
We were greeted warmly by Tom Kaplan, CEO, and grandson of Terry Kaplan, the original founder of Hugo’s Restaurant. Tom was a gracious and welcoming host. Despite a long day that began with a hike followed by a long stint in the restaurant, he entertained us for hours with stories of the origin and the philosophy behind Hugo’s.
My dining companions on this trip included:
- Troy Petenbrink, The Gay Traveler
- Margalit Francus, Autistic Globetrotting
- Carla Rupp, freelance journalist
- Alison Davies, Augustine Ideas
Hugo’s Restaurant is for foodies who aren’t foodies. Where ‘stealthy healthy’ meals are the norm. Children and even the pickiest of eaters and/or vegetable haters eagerly scarf down vegetables without pause. Hugo’s delicious vegan food can turn a carnivore into an herbivore.
You’ll want to check out the menu in advance because the choices are practically limitless. With over 70 choices, Specials, and “Create a Plate” options there’s something for everyone. Portions are large enough for two (or three) people to easily share. And unless you plan on bringing leftovers home, you may want to consider splitting a dish.
Asian Spring Rolls
A California take on an Asian spring roll. Traditional Vietnamese spring rolls are filled with pork, shrimp, squid, beef or tofu. Hugo’s serves a vegan version filled with snow peas, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, and kelp noodles.
And whereas most spring rolls are long and thin. These plump Asian spring rolls were burrito sized. Forks are necessary unless you can wrap your mouth around these bad boys.
The combination of crunchy vegetables with the soft ripened avocado and kelp noodles tucked in the soft rice paper made for a delightful ?.
The Asian Spring Rolls are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.
Cuban Style Croquettes
The Cuban Style Croquettes are not something I would normally order. And the description isn’t intriguing.
But OMG. Melt in your mouth, give me more of these croquettes.
The Cuban Styled Croquettes are a must when you dine at Hugo’s. Reminiscent of a California style Shepherd’s Pie, these veggie Sloppy Joe filled potato balls surprised me. You will regret not trying these if you don’t order them when you eat at Hugo’s.
The Cuban Style Croquettes are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.
Mung Bean and Rice Flatbread Pizza
You can sneak in extra protein into your kid’s (or your) diet with the Mung Bean and Rice Flatbread Pizza. You could happily eat the Mung Bean and Rice Flatbread Pizza instead of regular pizza any day of the week. The flatbread is thin enough to be crispy yet thick enough to support the weight of the mung beans and rice.
The Mung Bean Flatbread Pizza is gluten-free.
Spaghetti With Turkey Meatballs
You must be thinking, “Spaghetti? Why would order spaghetti when there are so many other wonderful choices are on the menu?”
Because Hugo’s Restaurant makes their spaghetti from scratch every morning. And if you eat a vegan diet, all pasta at Hugo’s (spaghetti and fusilli) is vegan (no eggs are used) and organic. You can also order red lentils gluten-free penne pasta for an extra $3.
Perfectly cooked without being chewy or rubbery, the pasta was outstanding. I can’t do this dish justice in my description. Once you’ve had fresh pasta, you will be ruined and off-the-shelf dried pasta will forever pale in comparison.
The turkey meatballs are made with Shelton’s free-range ground turkey.
The Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs are vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free. If you choose the veggie balls they contain nuts.
I’ve included photos of my dinner companion’s entrees with whom we shared bites of each other’s food. There was nothing on the Hugo’s Restaurant menu that I would not hesitate to order again.
Red Lentil Bacon
Red lentils have never been high on my must eat list but this bacon is a good way to add lentils to your diet.
Spanish Sorghum Wrap
The Spanish Sorghum Wrap is vegan and vegetarian.
Very Green Casserole
The Very Green Casserole is vegan, gluten-free, and contains nuts.
The Chicken Carciofi is vegetarian and gluten-free.
The Chocolate Mousse is vegetarian and gluten-free.
Hugo’s Restaurant Agoura Hills is located at 5046 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills, California.
If you’re looking for simple, great, healthy food, a visit to Hugo’s Restaurant Agoura Hills in a must. Where everything is lovingly made from scratch without artificial preservatives or colors.
Hugo’s Restaurant Agoura Hills is only 30 minutes from downtown Los Angeles and is known for ‘stealthy healthy’ meals. With generous portions and over 70 menu choices, even the pickiest of eaters can find something on Hugo’s menu.
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