Coming home from a bitterly cold birthday trip to Fargo, North Dakota, I disembarked the aircraft at 11:34am. And as I was being driven home by Michael from Uber, I noticed the “Grand Opening” balloons and signs in front of the old Rancho’s. For five months I have been craving their salsa, and I was in the house for only a few minutes when I grabbed Hitomi and we drove to “Hugo’s Cochina.” But … there were no parking places, and the place was jammed, so we went home to return after the rush hour was over. And I am so glad that we did!
Several things struck us as we walked in; all of the artifacts are off of the wall and there was a new paint job. And the floors looked like they had been freshly painted also. (Editor: See our earlier report.) As I mentioned to Hugo while we were there that several times I drove by the restaurant at 1-2:00 am only to find workmen frantically painting, sawing, and doing whatever construction crews do at 1:00 in the morning.
The menu is very similar to the original one with many of the same items. It took a little bit of scanning the menus, because I was so used to the old format. And there are two menu’s – “Hugo’s Specials” which have items like Calamari Steak ($18.25); Lobster Fajitas ($22.25); Sweet Potato Specials; Tamales ($4.75), etc. Also on that menu are five desserts.
The longer menu, printed on both sides, have headings such as Burrito, Tostadas, Taco, Enchilada, Tortas, Kids Menu, Combo Plates, Sides, Drinks, etc. (That was just one side!) The other side has Breakfast Burritos, Breakfast Torta, Mexican Pancakes, Breakfast Combo’s, Salads, Soups, and Starters. This part of the menu if virtually the same as the old one. At the very top of each menu the “V=Vegan or Vegan Option” sign.
It took us awhile to decide what we wanted to eat, probably because of the new format, and also a little jet lag on my part. Hitomi ordered the Carne Asada Burrito ($9.95) which was loaded with tender meat, tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, cheese, onion and guacamole. She made the statement to me on the way home that she never really liked Mexican food but she loved this burrito!
I decided on a chicken tamale ($4.75) and a shrimp enchilada ($6.95) for several reasons. I usually order tamale’s as an indication of how good a restaurant is, and I had never had a shrimp enchilada and it sounded good. Not too much fresh shrimp in Fargo!
Let me tell you – because you know I will – that this meal far surpassed any other meal I have had a Rancho’s. It was wonderful. The tamale tasted fresh, loaded with chicken, rice, corn, and the massa was sweet and tender. It did not taste as if it had come from a freezer months ago. The enchilada was succulent. I tried to take a picture of the size of the 5 shrimp in the enchilada, because they were not little bay shrimp; no … hey were large shrimp, and delicious. (The shrimp is in the front of the picture.)
Besides the meal being the best one I have had there, I must say something about the service, because at the old place good service was sometimes lacking. The service today was tremendous! Four waiters checking to see if everything was okay; everyone pitching in and helping each other. Hugo, in his blue guayabara, went around to the tables asking how things were; if they needed anything. It was actually Hugo that brought us our third dish of that wonderful salsa. (So glad that didn’t change!)
There is no question that this restaurant will last another 18 years as long as they keep doing what they did today. I can hardly wait to go again. The total bill was $26, and I should mention that I had a glass of lemonade, which was also quite refreshing. I also asked if they had a take-out menu but at this time they do not. But it’s coming!!!!
Welcome back, Hugo. We missed you.