There are sandwich shops, and there are delis. A sandwich artist takes time sculpting a work of food one ingredient at a time, and while side orders like chips or soup are on the menu, they're an afterthought. A deli is the major league version of a sandwich shop. Anyone who's ever ordered in an East Coast deli knows that you'd better have your sandwich order ready and memorized in its entirety before you start drooling over a case full of salads and pies, or food sold by the pound. There's no dilly-dallying in a deli, and the food usually reflects a no-nonsense approach to eating.
Hugo's proudly earns the title of deli in more than just its name. I've been a regular there for years I've always ordered the Hugo Special. Always.
Over the years, my biggest beef with Hugo's has been consistency. Sometimes my HS has so much horsey I cry my way through it. Sometimes I don't get any horsey at all. And at times the friesthick-stick jojo'sare hot and crunchy, but sometimes they're soggy and limp. But one glorious August afternoon, beneath a blue sky clouded with wildfire smoke and mosquito poison, my Hugo's picnic on a park bench was bang-on in every aspect. One HS on sourdough? Check. One Louie on sliced wheat? Present. Fries with spicy ketchup? Affirmative. Mac salad? Aye-aye. Dessert? Yep.
All bologna aside, the HS is my favorite deli-made sandwich in town. When it's made right, it's heaped with meat (ham, pastrami and corned beef), stacked with cheese (cheddar and pepper jack) and delivers a swift kick to my nasal passages (thanks to hot mustard and horseradish) before filling my gut not once, but twice (because I can only get a half down in a sitting). For the sake of journalism, I did get in a few bites of the Louie (turkey, roast beef, salami, pepperoni, Swiss and sweet mustard), and though I'll continue to stay in my HS rut, the sweet mustard did make for a nice shift should I ever need a break from the spicy stuff.
Whatever your sandwich preference, Hugo's has house specialties, make-your-own, daily specials, hot ones, cold ones, bagels and salads. But beyond the bread, Hugo's does a little frying as well. Chicken pieces and strips, finger steaks and fries are all available by the pound. I always get a quarter-pound of fries to go with my HS. Always. Thick strips of potatoes, dipped in thick batter and fried (and forego the fry sauce at Hugo's because the spicy ketchup, made with horseradish, is the only way to go), they're more like potato wedges than fries.
Glowing endorsement? Yep. Locally owned and operated (in fact, Hugo is usually behind the counter at the Broadway location), it's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Rachael Daigle loves her horsey.
Hugo's Deli, 2789 Broadway Ave., 385-9943. Mon.-Fri.: 9 .am.-7 p.m., Sat.: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Sunday