Burgers are not something people tend to mess around with. Those who practice the art of burger making on its highest level refuse to flirt with failure. The burger flipping industry is a vicious business, and if you can’t stand the heat, you don’t have to get out of the kitchen, they force you out. Experts in their field are neither flippant (get it) nor playful. If you can turn a mean patty for the multitudes, all the respect you could ever desire is yours, if you can’t, you may as well get the flip out!
Opened in 1969 in San Diego, California by Byron and Virginia Hardin, Hodad’s Ocean Beach Restaurant encompasses all that is beautiful about the burger world (hodadies.com). After several scene changes and millions upon millions of burgers slung to salivating surfers and Hodads (a non-surfer who frequents beaches and pretends to be a surfer) alike, the Hardin’s finally settled in the perfect spot to dish out their meat masterpieces, the iconic main drag of Ocean Beach, San Diego.
Ever since its opening in the late 60’s, Hodad’s has been a hub for people of all different walks of life. From Surfers taking a break from shredding the waves, to locals looking to get their burger fix for the week, office-workers in search of a beacon (or maybe bacon) of happiness in their otherwise monotonous days, or burger-motivated foodies like myself scouring the land for the best of the best, Hodad’s caters to all sorts of burger-lovin’ folk.
As I made my way into Hodad’s, my stomach was shouting for sustenance, but before I could even attempt to sate my building hunger, I had to take a moment to appreciate the glorious exterior of the restaurant. Accompanying the classic red brick building which Hodad’s was situated in, was a tremendous mural which boasted the restaurant’s name in striking red bubble letters, along with a depiction of a cartoon “burger-man” riding a surfboard and a large-nosed, mustachioed gentleman (presumably a “hodad), atop the burger-man.
The mural was the perfect way to welcome us into the interior of the restaurant, which was even more intriguing than the outside. After walking into the doorway of Hodad’s, one is greeted with a plethora of license plates from around the U.S. and beyond.
In addition to the colorful scattering of international license plates, the ceilings were plentiful with a tantalizing variety of surfboards and other Ocean Beach paraphernalia.
The appearance of the restaurant, along with the happy demeanor of our fellow diners, and the pleased words that other burger-enthusiasts were sharing with each other, resulted in me having a hard time paying attention to my menu. This inability to pay attention was soon abandoned, as I locked eyes with a monstrous meat mountain on the table of one of my fellow consumers. As soon as I made contact with that burger, I obtained a laser focus. I began combing through the succinct menu with fury, and decided on my dinner game plan. My order consisted of a single, bacon-cheeseburger, a side of thick cut fries, and a vanilla and strawberry milkshake. While the menu was limited, and it contained only the necessities in terms of burger-based dishes, what the menu lacked in variety, the burger made up for in bold flavors.
The burger was truly big-league to say the least. The bodacious tower of beef was piled high with a tender, cheese-encompassed patty, several, thick-cut, snappy onions, a vivacious, ruby-red beefsteak tomato, a smattering of shredded lettuce, crispy pickle chips, a cluster of glassy, bacon shards, and a slathering of mayo, ketchup, and mustard.
I truly cannot express to you how delectable it was, but let’s just say, my mother who at one point in her life, proudly proclaimed herself to be a vegetarian, devoured every morsel of her bacon-laden burger. Let that sink in for a second.
In addition to the burger, the dish came with a hearty pile of thick-cut fries. Usually I am not a huge fan of thick-cut fries, as they tend to have a hard time becoming crispy, and often fail to cook all the way through. Thick-cut fries also are typically quite grainy, and after ingesting a few, your mouth becomes coated in starch. While that is my normal experience with thick-cut fries, the fries from Hodad’s appeared to be the exception. The fries were crusty on the outside, and hot and steamy on the inside. Instead of being starchy and cold, the fries were perfectly cooked and presented the consumer with almost a mashed potato-esque filling. With my past experiences regarding thick-cut fries, I was blindsided with the tastiness of Hodad’s rendition.
Lastly we ordered a strawberry milkshake and a vanilla milkshake, to accentuate the wonderful flavors of the burger.
The milkshake is the perfect beverage to ingest while chowing down on a burger. Drinking water while eating a burger dilutes the flavor, drinking soda masks the flavor, but a sweet, chilled milkshake is able to cut through the oily, salty nature of the burger and leave you with the full, robust taste that the chef intended you to experience. The milkshake at Hodad’s was delightful. Served in a gleaming, stainless steel cup, the shakes were overflowing with creamy fragments of ice cream swimming in a velvety, frozen soup. With so much going on in the burger, it is beneficial to your palate to have something that is able to keep your tongue neutral and clean, and a milkshake is able to accomplish that task with ease.
Overall my experience at Hodad’s was one I will never forget, and one that I hope I will have the pleasure to indulge in again. The burger was really something else, there is no other way of putting it. If you are ever in the area, I would highly recommend giving Hodad’s a try, I assure you that you will not be disappointed. You don’t need to be a world-class surfer to enjoy dine there, Hodads are more than welcome!I would give it ZZZZV – 4 and ½ Z’s – Excellent!