Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recon: HODAD'S

No shirt?
No shoes?
No problem.

        That 'No problem' sign hangs over the bar at Hodad's and declares the joint's vibe exactly. The driving force behind Hodad’s delicious burgs is definitely its attitude and technique: Simple and efficient.  You can get a mini, single or double size burger- the mini is an In N Out size patty, the single is a bit larger, and the double is two patties.  Comes with everything (tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles, mayo, mustard, ketchup) unless you say otherwise, and you can ask for grilled onions if you like.  One of their techniques is putting all the hot ingredients together and all the cool ingredients together, keeping each bite in perfect thermal balance.  My dad, brother and I all ordered the Single Bacon Cheeseburger.  (We subscribe to the theory that almost anything can be improved with the addition of bacon.)  Burgers come wrapped in paper- DO NOT UNDO.  You’ll need it so you can pick it up and take proper bites. 
        Now, this is where some serious technique comes into play: Because putting strips of bacon on a burger is inefficient and leads to uneven flavor in each bite, Hodad’s designed a ‘bacon patty’ to rectify this serious flavor-gap issue.  The bacon is chopped and boiled, then loosely chopped again and formed into a thick patty. They cook both sides of it, so it’s nice and crunchy, and then they put it on your burger- on f the cheese that’s already melting over the meat patty. To top it off they throw another slice of cheese over the bacon. Genius.

        We ordered a stack of ‘Frings’ for the table, a 50/50 combo of fries and onion rings. Fries are wedge cut with seasoning and as my brother referred to them: they’re “legitimate potatoes.”  Onion rings are thick cut with a crisp bread-batter shell.  They come out positively steaming and are served with ranch dressing.  I like them because they have a distinct flavor- not that generic restaurant “fried” flavor.  Ketchup is on every table and mustard/mayo are available by request.
        Hodad’s has an amazing selection of drinks.  They serve shakes/malts (chocolate, vanilla & strawberry) and each comes in a huge malt cup, with two scoops of matching ice cream inside, and they bring out an extra cup and spoons to help you get through it.  We ordered chocolate, and it definitely took all three of us to consume. Hodad’s also serves regular fountain sodas, rootbeer floats and a wide range of beers. Draft beers like Fat Tire and Sierra Nevada come in mason jars with handles and bottled beers range from PBR, Bud, and Sam, to Pacifico and Miller.
        It’s almost always crowded with a line out the door, especially now that summer’s coming.  Used to be locals only, but the tourism traffic is growing since Guy Fieri named it one of the top ten burgers in America, and chose it for Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate: With Bacon.”  The décor is eclectic: license plates from all different states and countries cover most of the walls, as well as surfboards, maps, stolen street signs, psychedelic stuff and a spattering of awards.  Just half a block from the beach, it’s a lively, casual atmosphere filled with hungry anticipation.  The Ramones were blaring through the speakers while families and friends tried to get out a few words between bites.  Depending on what and how much you like to drink, you’re probably looking at about $10-$15 per person for burger, fries/rings and a drink.

My brother got it right when he said, “It’s a necessary accident that you eat too much.”  Please note: Hodad's is located in SAN DIEGO, CA.

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