This Ain’t No Fancy-Pants Bistro, This is Motherf*cking Hugo’s Pizza Number Two!

The back lighting of a High Speed pinball machine

If you’re visiting Duluth from the Twin Cities, you don’t just hop on I-35 South to go home. That’s for amateurs.

You hop on Grand Avenue, which becomes Highway 23 and leads you to Gary New Duluth. From there, you’ve got a few options to get back onto the Interstate; but don’t you dare let your GPS take you home without a stop into Hugo’s Pizza II. You need to relax. They might have CHiPs on the television. You could play a pretty rad pinball game that might have been the first one ever made. Order a sandwich for the road.

It’s an honest-to-goodness, just-like-home sandwich.

See?

A legendary club sub from Hugo's Pizza restaurant in Duluth, Minnesota

The Basics: I am unaware of the existence of Hugo’s Pizza I. Here’s my theory:

Do you remember that ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit where band members were arguing over a band name and Chris Farley’s character suggested “Pearl Jam II”? Well, imagine if the band had stuck with that name, eaten the members of the real Pearl Jam, and absorbed their powers. That’s what I imagine happened in real life with Hugo’s Pizza II. That’s why they offer sandwiches you could take out a brakelight with.

Ordering ahead is an option, but then you’d never find out whether the CHiPs caught the Box Office Gang after letting ’em slip through their fingers. I ordered at the counter on my most recent visit. I signed the receipt, thanked the hostess, and then everything got weird.

How did you know my name?” she asked me, as if I’d been standing outside her bedroom window or something.
I read it on the receipt,” I said.

A really creepy teacher once professed that nothing is so sweet to an individual as the sound of his or her name. Despite his penchant for flowery button-ups and calling females “vivacious”, I took his signature lesson to heart. Most of the time, people appreciate it; other times, well, this. She took my signed receipt with one hand, and probably took her other hand off the 9 and 1 buttons of the telephone.

The interior of a restaurant in Duluth, Minnesota

What went around came around as I got back into my car. A young man in a filthy camouflage jacket approached me as I was getting in, and complimented me on my very nice car. He said it with this entranced voice, like it was casting a spell on him, then made an unnecessary step toward my driver’s door. While I geared up to explain that my car really wasn’t that nice, he explained that his car was presently housing a dead battery.

He then looked inside and said, hypnotized, “Wow, leather!”

I wasn’t too worried, because I was a lot bigger than him, but I kind of was worried because he might have been armed with something and I was only armed with the bottle opener on my key chain (Thinking) Actually, I had just taken that off of my keychain. I was a sitting duck, a Citiot, exactly the kind of yack-off whose body the locals would likely help hide.

He wished me good day, then dashed across the street and into the Alpine Bar. He was actually a very friendly young man.

Where was I?

Hugo’s Club Sub, size large, is an elephantine delight carting every household fixing onto one sandwich as if done on a dare. They don’t have a website so I can’t list the toppings exactly, but they include: ham, turkey, roast beef, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles, onions, 2-3 types of cheese, and bacon if you pay extra. A reasonable human being would get 4-5 meals out of this; people like me, who are … er, not as reasonable, get two or three. Without bacon, a club sub runs in the neighborhood of $14. Bacon hikes it to $17.

And yes, I did find “elephantine” on Thesaurus.com. Here’s what else I found:

Website suggestions on Dictionary.com

And don’t think this is just about size. I always wind up bringing 3-4 home for friends and family members by request, and nobody would do that for a crappy sandwich they’d spend three days eating. Tell me: Why do you make sandwiches with these ingredients at home? It’s because it works! Hugo’s is already going over the top; they don’t need to put alien materials in their sandwiches. Their sandwich variety is a steady mix of classics: BLT, Italian, Philly cheese, and a few others. They’re sandwiches you can trust. They just happen to look like two-handed blunt weapons. I’ve offered … I don’t know, 50? … of these sandwiches as gifts throughout the years, and not a single person has rated it any less than “Amazing.”

This sandwich takes your sissy little Ciabatta BLT with aioli and Looney Tunes it. A Chazer-Size sandwich at Cecil’s Deli in St. Paul? That would be a happy meal sandwich at Hugo’s. The Rudi’s Ranger in Hibbing? A fantastic sandwich, but it can be eaten in one sitting comfortably. You’ve heard me chirp love songs in the past about a grilled cheese at Butcher and the Boar and a fried chicken sandwich at World Street Kitchen. There’s a time for fancy tastes indeed; but when you want to make somebody shoot through the roof of an office building, there is no substitute for a Hugo’s club sub.

It’s the biggest, baddest, and best. It brings tin foil, a piece of paper film, the victory of lifting it up, the hit of natural ecstasy in every treacherous chomp, and the fat-and-happy couch nap you’ll slip into soon after.

That’s why you don’t just hop on the Interstate.

RELATED: If you’re into gawking at stupendous food piles, you should see what I dialed up at Frankie’s Pub in Sheboygan and Beth’s Burger Bar in Orlando!