One fry to rule them all…

Just to show you how much I suck at this sometimes, I’m going to share a little story.  A while back, a reader by the name of Cameron dropped me a line to say that there were fries I needed to try in Boise.  The exact words used were “They are absolutely the best method of consuming potato that I have ever encountered in my life.”  I told Cameron that it might take some effort, due to the eatery’s location and limited hours, but that I would get to it as soon as possible.  That e-mail is dated December 7, 2011.  But hey, it also means that if you’ve contacted me with a recommendation…well, at least I haven’t forgotten it!

Before we get to Cameron’s recommendation though, let me tell you about some of MY favorite fries…

You know those foods that make such an impact on you that you can remember the first time you tried them?  Not necessarily the date, but the experience?  When I was a kid, there was a Hugo’s Deli in Meridian in what was then the PayLess Drugs plaza.  I don’t remember what we got for dinner that first visit.  I’m guessing it was fried chicken.  But the fries…deli fries, Hugo’s calls them…I’d never seen anything like them before.  There was skin still on them, and a thin breading.  At this point you might be thinking “jojos” or potato wedges, but these are an entirely different beast.  Hugo’s deli fries actually resemble steak fries in shape, and they pack a LOT more flavor than the wedges that seem to be in every grocery store’s deli case.  They also tend to be greasier, and are accompanied by a smoky, slightly spicy variation on fry sauce.  That Hugo’s is long gone, but there are still a couple around.  The oldest is on Overland next to Hastings, and it’s where I started going for my deli fry fix after the Meridian store closed their doors for good.  Mind you, these things are REALLY unhealthy and you order them by the half pound (or pound), so it’s not something I recommend as a regular indulgence.

Deli fries from Hugo’s Deli on Overland

For some reason, the Overland Hugo’s seems to serve up broken and smashed fries more often than the other location.  Not that I really care, I’d happily eat these things with a fork.  It’s not like it affects the flavor.  The Overland location seems to have more options in regards to prepared foods and desserts as well.   I do need to try that fried chicken again as it’s been a really long time, but usually I’m grabbing lunch to go and I stick with the sandwiches.

Vegi on wheat bread from Hugo’s

On my most recent visit to Hugo’s in Boise, I ordered the Vegi sandwich.  I don’t know why.  It certainly doesn’t sound like me.  I was probably really craving avocado and sprouts.  Anyway, it’s a yummy sandwich and pretty simple actually.  Just smashed avocado, cream cheese, sprouts, tomatoes and cucumbers.  And I gotta tell you that a sandwich like this, when a lot of other places seem to want to cram as many different kinds of vegetables in as they possibly can, makes me pretty happy.

Hugo’s newest location, in Meridian

A while back Hugo’s decided to try Meridian again, ,interestingly enough next to another Hastings store, except that this time they’re across a side street from one another rather than sharing a building.  This is the newest of the two Hugo’s locations, so it’s prettier inside if that’s important to you when choosing a deli.  The Meridian branch also offers online ordering and the ability to group items into a combo meal, which is a nice bonus.

The Louie on white roll from Hugo’s in Meridian

The Louie is a sandwich with a bit of an identity crisis, but it’s damn good.  Turkey, pepperoni, roast beef, salami, Swiss cheese and sweet mustard come together to created a varied flavor profile.  It’s a sandwich that never gets dull, as there are just too many different possible flavor combinations you can get in any one bite.  Still, I don’t think I would order the white roll again.  There’s so much good bread around lately that I’ve become a little snobby about it, and there was nothing that stood out about this roll. Opting for sliced bread gives the sandwiches a more homestyle feel, which is awesome because I would likely never make this sandwich at home myself.

A picture of deli fries from Hugo’s in Meridian, just because

Hugo’s in Meridian has deli fries, too.  Just as delicious, but with the added bonus of being pristinely intact most of the time.

Hey, remember Cameron?  I started this write-up by talking about him, and his favorite fries, before going off on a tangent about some of my own favorites.  What’s the connection, you might be asking (or might not, doesn’t matter)?  I’ll tell you…

Broadway Deli in Boise…guess what street it’s on.

So Cameron’s favorites come from Broadway Deli in Boise, which is actually in the spot that used to be yet another Hugo’s Deli location.  I noticed a few interesting things while perusing their menu.  First of all, Broadway Deli also has an item called deli fries.  Secondly, Broadway Deli’s menu is almost identical to Hugo’s Deli’s menu.  As in the names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Just as an example, the Louie seen above exists at Brodway Deli, but there it is known as the Larry.  Broadway has changed an ingredient here and there as well, and since splitting off from Hugo’s has added a few new signature sandwiches, but if you’re familiar with the food at Hugo’s you’ll feel pretty well at home here.

French Dip from Broadway Deli

On my visit to Broadway Deli, it was a sunny yet chilly day and a hot sandwich was sounding good.  I ordered a French Dip with onion and Provolone, and when adding horseradish was suggested I happily agreed.  They make the sandwich all hot, crusty, melty and dippable by pressing it, which if you’re going to do then forget what I said about the white rolls.  It’s amazing what pressing/toasting does for white bread.  Just a great sandwich overall.  Kinda wishing I had one right now…

Deli fries from Broadway Deli

If anything, the deli fries from Broadway Deli might be just a little better than what you get at Hugo’s.  The flavor is the same, but Broadway’s seem just a little crispy where Hugo’s are more or less limp.  The picture really accentuates that, simply because taking a picture of food in sunlight generally does amazing things for it.

I’m not going to do a grade score here.  We’re basically talking about three hole in the wall deli-style eateries, two of which are connected and one which used to be.  I don’t know why Hugo’s on Broadway split off, but it doesn’t really matter.  The sandwiches are good, and I’m sure the rest of the offerings are as well.  The important thing is that the deli fries are amazing, and odds are that if you live in the Boise area, you’re within 15 minutes of a place that sells them.  Need I say more?

Hugo's Deli on UrbanspoonHugo's Deli on UrbanspoonBroadway Deli on Urbanspoon