So, I’m driving my dad haphazardly up South Congress pointing out cool stores and funny food trailer names, he has just arrived in Austin to run the Livestrong Marathon in two days and he’s hungry. I’m doing my very best not to take him to Fran’s or Magnolia. I want him to taste something amazing, not just get fed. Suddenly, at a red light as I’m chattering on about how great the weather’s going to be on Sunday and how I’m so excited I have the day off to cheer him on, the solution to our hunger reveals itself: Hopdoddy, Austin’s farm to table burger bar in the heart of South Congress. I’d wanted to try it for months, so I didn’t even ask if it sounded good. I whipped my car up a side street and screeched to a halt. We darted through the rain (drizzle, really) and took our place in line. Lucky for us, the line (for once) was short, not even to the door yet! We snagged some menus and took a moment to figure out exactly how it works.
The idea is that Hopdoddy is always busy. You wait in the line that parallels the bar (convenient), peruse the menu, and quietly promise your tastebuds that your stomach will have room for a dessert milkshake. After your order a couple strictly local beers for your dad and yourself, you thank the designer who put a bar all along the line because your goblet of beer is kind of heavy and super awkward to hold, but filled with Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap or 512 IPA, so all is well. Once you get passed the break in the line, a waitress comes to ask how many people are in your party and tells you your table number. You mosey past the beer cooler room and boxes of fresh tomatoes, heading straight for the kitchen where you can see burly men grilling hand-formed patties and watch the bun machine churn out dozens of fresh beautiful hamburger buns. You step up to the register and a friendly person asks you what you want, explains how big the sides of fries are, gives you her opinion on whether or not to add anything to your burger and if you need it, validates your parking. Then you search for your table number that should be hanging over your table on a bright yellow tag. You take a seat and soon after, another waitress comes to make sure you don’t need another beer. Then the burgers. Holy shit.
They really are the stars of the show here. I got the “Primetime” with American Kobe beef, brie, truffle aioli, arugula, caramelized onions, and steak sauce. My dad got the “Llano Poblano” (which he totally pronounced “yano” … so cute and not Texan!) filled with angus beef, pepper jack, roasted poblano, apple-smoked bacon, and chipotle mayo. The first thing I want to stress to you is that melted brie is heaven. HEAVEN. I am one of those girls who could eat brie with every meal and now I know how to eat it on my burgers. The Primetime is rich and juicy, but not to decadent, the bitter arugula cut through the sweetness of the onions and truffle aioli and the bun was miraculously un-soggy. My dad is like me and pretty darn easy to please, so he was thrilled with the level of kick on his burger and the expert seasoning on the fries. Even more so impressed with the amazing chipotle ketchup. I kept my promise to my tastebuds and finished the whole thing off with a Thin Mint Milkshake which was slightly salty and definitely had a hint of caramel when I was totally expecting a mint chocolate bomb. I loved it.
We left stuffed and happy and as I fought through work all I could think about was the melty brie and how I wish I’d had time for another beer.
Go to Hopdoddy during the week. Go at a weird time. Enjoy it. 1400 South Congress, Austin TX
Photos via Hopdoddy