Monday, March 14, 2016

Hopping Along to LAX

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
850 South Sepulveda Blvd.
El Segundo, CA 90245

Yes, you guessed it, another trip up this way to take Chuck and Stephanie to LAX. For ardent readers of this blog, you already know that they are flying off to North Carolina to see their grand kids for one of their 8 trips a year to the East Coast. You'd think that with all of these trips up the 405 Freeway, that we'd have run out of places to try, but just like OC, the South Bay always seems to have a new place opening up. This time we decided to send Chuck and Steph off with a meal from Hopdoddy Burger Bar.

Hopdoddy is a burger chain from Austin, Texas, that has just recently made a push into California. This chain established its first restaurant in 2010, and now has locations in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and soon to be four spots in California. They have three already open and operating in the Golden State, (Playa Vista, Newport Beach, and this one, El Segundo), and a coming soon sign hanging over the one Tustin. This South Bay location opened last August, and has had some pretty positive press, so the four of us were pretty excited to give it a try.

I could sense Chuck's apprehension about us getting them to the airport on time, when we pulled into this pretty busy shopping center on the corner of Sepulveda and Rosecrans. The shopping complex is called The Point, and it's anchor stores are all pretty hip, and includes restaurants like True Food Kitchen, North Italia, and Mendocino Farms. Chuck's high anxiety about making it out of here on time was not warranted because we almost walked right up to the counter at Hopdoddy.

As you are waiting in line to order your food here, you are assigned a table by a hostess. I kind of like this system, as it prevents people from staking out a table before they even order, one of my pet peeves. I felt this system kind of helped the flow of customers, but this is one of the bigger complaints about this restaurant online.

The menu here is of course burger driven, but there are three salad options for the two of you that are not into burgers. There are 15 burgers to choose from here, one of which includes a special burger, which is rotated frequently. Burgers run the gamete from beef, bison, lamb, chicken, turkey, tuna, and for non-meat eaters, a black bean corn patty. There's also a few sides, and wider variety of shakes available. This menu brings to mind the one we experienced at Shake Shack in Vegas. Let's see if we'll end up liking this place as much as we enjoyed  that New York based restaurant chain.

We started things off with these Green Chili Queso Fries ($6.75). The fries here are made with Kennebec potatoes, and tasted pretty fresh. They were fried well, with the absence of any grease. I would have liked them to be a little bigger in size, especially because we had to dip them into the green chili queso dip. This dip had a slight punch to it, and I really liked this. It resembled more of a soup than a dip to me, but maybe that's because I could have seen myself eating this with a spoon, it was that good.

Just in case we did not have enough fries, we also tried the Truffle Fries ($6.95) at Hopdoddy. These were not as good as the ones above. Yes, the fries were the same, but the truffle flavor failed to shine for us. Also, with the absence of grease, the Parmesan and green onion slid off of these fries rather easily, and collected on the bottom of the basket. Stick with the green chili queso fries.

Burger time, and up first was Katie's selection, the Magic Shroom ($9.75). This burger starts off with an Angus beef patty, and is then topped with goat cheese, mushrooms, tomato, mayo, basil pesto, white onion, and red leaf lettuce. Katie really enjoyed the way that all of these toppings played well with each other. The burger was juicy, and you can definitely tell that they grind their beef daily here. A very fresh tasting burger, and one that she'd get again.

Whenever we have eaten with Stephanie n the past, she always scans the menu for the items that have some heat behind them. That's probably why she got the ominously named El Diablo Burger ($9,25). Again the Angus beef patty is in play here, and is outfitted with pepper jack cheese, habanero and Serrano chilies, caramelized onions, salsa roja, and chipotle mayo. As is the case with most items she tries, she claims that it could have been hotter, but she did appreciate the heat that was there. Stephanie did make quick work of this burger, but that's probably because old man Chuck was prodding her under the table to hurry up, as they only had two hours until their flight.

Speaking of old man Chuck, he wanted a burger that reminded him of his boyhood, and since they didn't have dinosaur on the menu here, he settled on this basic Classic Burger ($8). This basic model, with cheddar cheese added, also came with tomato, lettuce, and sassy sauce, which is their house spread made up of mayo, mustard and horseradish. Not as strong as I was expecting, I rather enjoyed this sauce. Chuck was pretty impressed with his burger, calling it one of the best he's had in awhile.

I had a hard time deciding what burger to have here, but ultimately went with the Terlingua Burger ($9.50). This burger came with a meaty chili, cheddar cheese, Frito's, and sassy sauce. I did a little digging and found out why they call this burger the Terlingua. There's a chili cook-off every year in Terlingua, Texas the first Saturday in November. Not sure this chili would win there, but this was a pretty superb burger. The chili had a good, mild flavor to it, the Frito's added some crunch, and the Tillamook cheddar is always one of my favorites on a burger. The buns here are freshly made everyday, and did a good job of standing up to the insides of this burger. I would have liked a little more sauce on this, but that would be my only complaint with this burger.

The burgers at Hopdoddy are not going to wow you with their size. We all left here satisfied, but not overly stuffed. The burgers are a little bigger than the ones at Umami, but what they lack in girth, they more than make up for with flavor. We all really enjoyed these, and would come back here in a heartbeat. I'm looking forward to checking out our own Hopdoddy at Fashion Island soon. I did not think that the prices were too out of control here, but if you are hesitant to pay ten dollars for a burger, this might not be your spot. Service was pretty good on this visit. The guy that brought our food to the table checked on us frequently, and even got Chuck a refill on his drink, saving his arthritic hip a few steps. If we ever run out of spots to hit up when we are driving these two to the airport, we would definitely visit here again.

Out of five bats, (because Hopdoddy started in Austin, Texas in 2010, and one of that cities biggest attractions is watching over one million of these flying mammals fly out from under a bridge in search of that nights dinner), five being best to zero being worst, Hopdoddy Burger Bar gets 3.5 bats.

For more information about Hopdoddy Burger Bar, go to their website here: 

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