Hugo's Restaurant: Mac and Cheese & More for Kids

Welcome to our guest-critic web series, Free Lunch—Where You're the Reviewer!

People eat out with children all the time (I know I do), so after doing over a dozen Free Lunch episodes, it was about time we served up an episode with that demographic in mind. For this week's installment, KCET treated Liane Weintraub and Shannan Swanson—moms and co-founders of kids' organic fruit snack maker TastyBrand—to Hugo's Restaurant in West Hollywood.

Liane Weintraub and Shannan Swanson.

Hugo's is an L.A. staple. You may already, like KCET.org's own Zach Behrens, be a fan of their mac and cheese (although Zach wasn't in love with the vegan version), but are you familiar with what they offer for kids? Liane and Shannan were gracious enough to give the kids menu a test drive by ordering a variety of dishes.

Their personal favorites were the l'il green casserole—sautéed broccolini, spinach, asparagus and zucchini in a tomato basil pesto sauce, topped with cheese—and of course the mac and cheese. Hugo's makes it with a combination of cheddar, mozzarella, gorgonzola and parmesan.

L'il Green Casserole

L'il Mac & Cheese.

That said, though the casserole topped their list, Liane and Shannan felt that their kids - like the rest of Southern California, would also love the mac and cheese. They also enjoyed tasting Hugo's: pasta jack, vegetarian plate and burger and fries.

Hamburger and fries.

Vegetarian plate with mashed potatoes and vegan gravy.

They immediately noticed that the portions were big. Perhaps too big, as the two adults left food on their plates. The vegan veggie plate was also a winner, both for being compartmentalized (Liane has a child who prefers that their food not touch other food) and also for its healthy preparation.

We'd really like to hear from you. What restaurants in town serve the best meals for kids? How do you think restaurant owners can improve their offerings for children? Please post your comments below, and by doing so you'll become eligible to participate in Free Lunch.

Also, if you have some restaurant recommendations for us, please add them to this discussion.

Keep on Lunching!

Twitter: @KCETfood
Facebook: KCETfood

Hugo's Restaurant
8401 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles
(323) 654-3993

12851 Riverside Drive
Studio City, CA 91607
(818) 761-8985

Tasty Brand Giveaway!

Want a tote full of organic snacks from Tasty Brand? For a chance to win, follow and retweet @KCETFood. Find details about the giveaway in the Swag Blog Post! Good luck!

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LEAVE A COMMENT Leave Comment  

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Those portions don't look too big to me - my nephews and nieces eat like hungry tigers! But that lil' green casserole looks fabulous. And Mac and cheese is a filler. But the burger looks very plain. Does it come that way, or did the diners eschew condiments and garnish on purpose? (And is that a ciabatta bun?)
Was the service good? I haven't eaten at Hugo's for a while because the last time I went there (the West Hollywood location), the service was a bit iffy. Slow and not very welcoming. If you say different, I may give it another shot.

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Great question. The burger is served like that or with cheese. However, I'm sure Hugo's would provide condiments if asked. I don't recall the bun being ciabatta, but it was fresh. This video was shot in West Hollywood and both ladies seemed to really enjoy themselves as well as the service. Hugo's is opening a new branch in Calabasas, not too far from where TastyBrand is located and it sounded like they were excited to eat there as well. If you happen to visit the restaurant again, don't forget to share your experience with us. Thank you.

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I appreciate this perspective as the viability of taking kids is rarely talked about in restaurant reviews. As a parent who never orders off the kid's menu, I would have been interested to hear how these dishes compared to items off the "regular" menu that might also work for kids. For example: I agree with the previous commenter, the kiddie burger looks so bare and unappealing. I would be more inclined to order the adult-sized burger (with an additional side) and share with my daughter.