"I'm excited," says my lunch partner Louie when I pick him up at 11:15 in the morning. "Hugo's Deli has the best fries in Boise."
The deli, one of two locations owned by the Hugo brothers, is celebrating 25 years of service. And in addition to their very popular fries, the deli also has sandwiches, salads, fried chicken and desserts.
At the Broadway Avenue strip mall shop, patrons can pick meat, fixins and bread at the deli counter. There are also some traditional sandwich combos such as the club, which Louie gets on wheat bread, and less traditional ones like the Pilgrim (turkey, cranberry sauce, cream cheese, sprouts) that I order on a wheat roll. Half sandwiches are an option, but we both go for the whole.
While we wait for the sandwiches to be prepared, we skitter down the counter to order fries, which are sold by weight. Louie wants a pound of fries, and I agree, but Mr. Hugo himself suggests that might be too much for just two of us. Louie looks suspicious, so Hugo ponies up a heaping serving that is just ounces shy of a pound. I hope it's enough for Louie's mad fry love.
We get our trays and grab a seat. It's all very casual. There's not a lot of decor in Hugo's, other than some shelves with Idaho products and signs that suggest patrons should support Idaho-made products. But frankly, there isn't much talking between Louie and me either. We focus on the food. We scarf our sandwiches, chasing down every few bites with a few of the biggest fries I've ever seen.
My sandwich is huge and fresh. The Thanksgiving combo makes a great sandwich on a roll, but had it been on bread, the sauce might have sogged through. And Louie's club is enormous, piled high with ham and turkey and bacon.
"This is the best sandwich in town," Louie says finally as he finishes the first half. "But maybe it's just that the fries are so good, the sandwich tastes super-great, too."
That's a hard one to determine. The sandwich is noble, no doubt, but man, those fries are something special; they're thick and battered in the same coating that the chicken is fried in. And Hugo's doles out cute little cups of ketchup, spicy ketchup, ranch and fry sauce for dipping. It's like a fry sauce buffet.
I'm stuffed when we leave, and Louie is, too, but he nods thoughtfully when he declares, "I could eat those fries all day long." So could Imaybe we'll go back for dinner.
Jennifer Gelband has a card company. "Happy Thanksgiving" is popular all year long.
Hugo's Deli, 2789 Broadway Ave., 385-9943. Mon.-Fri.: 9 .am.-7 p.m., Sat.: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Sunday