Hugo’s Cocina in Ocean Beach to Close

by on January 20, 2022 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach

A Sad Day in OB

By Judi Curry

Several years ago – December, 2016 to be exact, I wrote an article for the OB Rag about one of my favorite restaurants closing – but opening up with the same name and same menu as the original one. That restaurant was Rancho’s– and it would be reopening as Hugo’s Cocina.

Many of you remember Hugo – he had been a waiter at Rancho’s for many years, and he was delightful.  I always tried to sit at one of his tables, because he was so efficient and helpful.  At the time of the change, Hugo was not going to be the sole owner, but would share the ownership rights with Patrick, the owner of the Thai Time Bistro just down the street.

Hugo Carrillo

Without betraying my knowledge of why Hugo left there several years ago suffice it to say that he has been gone from that restaurant for many months. He still lives in Ocean Beach and works in the area.

If we push forward to now, it is with sadness that I report to you that Hugo’s Cocina will be closing on February 15th.  There are many reasons, but one that I heard from a reliable person is that the rent was raised to the point that there is just not enough business to keep it open, buy food, and pay the employees. There’s also For Lease signs in the windows.

That seems to be the story everywhere, not just in OB, but it smarts when someplace you really like closes because rents are raised at a time when people are struggling just to pay utility bills. (Have you received your new bill from SDG&E?)

I have yet to find a place that makes salsa as good as Hugo’s; I have yet to find a place that makes Shrimp Burrito’s as good as Hugo’s. I have yet to find a place that serves vegans Mexican food that is so good that even meat eaters will order the vegan food.

I hate to say “good-bye” to this restaurant.  It has been a part of my life, my children’s life, and my friends life first as Rancho’s, and then as Hugo’s.  I hope that the recipes live on in other establishments and some day, in the near future, I will be able to say, “Oh…I used to eat that at Hugo’s!”

Editordude’s Note: Judi has been writing about Rancho’s and Hugo’s for some time – and so have I; see these here, here and here

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

judith curry January 20, 2022 at 12:22 pm

Going to go buy a couple of quarts of their salsa to put in the freezer. I know from experience it freezes well. Maybe I’ll have enough until Hugo decides to open his own restaurant again!


Chris January 20, 2022 at 12:30 pm

Sad indeed tho truth is I’ve never been there when it became Hugo’s. Ranchos in North Park is still there. Yep, this is going on all over the city and it’s never going to stop.


Vern January 20, 2022 at 12:38 pm

Wait! Move Hugo’s into the La Dona space! Win/Win!


Kristi January 20, 2022 at 1:58 pm

My understanding is that the Rancho’s location in North Park is owned by the former owner and ex-wife of the original Rancho’s in OB. They each got a location in the divorce. If you need a Rancho’s (or Hugo’s) fix, head to North Park.


Vern January 21, 2022 at 9:12 am

Years back, there was, what memory recalls, a third Ranchos location – at Ebers & Point Loma Blvd in what became, possibly, a short-lived VFW office. Since vacant.


Debbie January 21, 2022 at 9:31 am

Vern…loved this place at Ebers & Point Loma! Inside it was cozy, the food was great plus they sold interesting merchandise and other food items.

FYI Pop Pie Co. that was going to move into Nati’s old location looks like it will be opening soon at the vacant once Coffee Bean location in the Famosa Building on Voltaire.


LeeAnn Stewart January 22, 2022 at 8:21 am

Loved the Ebers/ Pt Loma location. It was right around the corner from home. Great food and fresh vegetables at one location.


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