If there’s to be an accounting, you can put me firmly in the Not Tired of Amped-Up Burgers column. Hamburgers are one of the finest foods on the planet—why shouldn’t we have as many to choose from as possible? And when accompanied by a serious bar and craft beer program, who could argue. Recent case in point: Hopdoddy, an Austin-based chain that opened its first Orange County location in Newport Beach last year and, just last month, its second in Tustin, where I was invited to a preview. It’s in the Market Place, adjacent to the also-new Snooze all-breakfast restaurant you can read about here.
Among very good burgers on house-made buns you’ll find the chile-boosted flavors of the great Southwest, as well as non-beef alternatives; the ahi I tried was exemplary. The line to order is patrolled by a friendly Burger Bouncer, who stands at the ready to expedite the wait and answer any questions. Food is delivered to your table. Excellent frites, cut in-house from potatoes for which the company contracts with a single Washington state farmer to supply, come with a choice of dipping sauces, the best of which also come from the Tex-Mex tradition. I gave the truffle fries a miss—truffle oil is right up there on my Do Not Eat list—however the non-truffle-oil-averse at my table liked them a lot. But at Hopdoddy’s, there’s something, or more like two somethings, far better anyway: House-made queso, the Texas state dip, in red and green varieties. The green—my favorite—I’m told is based on the classic cheese and chile concoction, while the red—my husband’s preference—has additional ingredients, including a meaty element. Both are absolutely fab with the frites, or on an old shoe.
And about that serious bar program… a company manager from Austin on site for the opening got talking whiskey with my husband, and offered a day-drinking taste of her favorite bourbon, from Garrison Brothers, a boutique Texas distillery, that was so good we had to stop at Total Wine to buy a bottle on the way home. The manager said she thought, when spying it on the shelf in the restaurant bar, “I didn’t know they were going to have that here.” Guess once Texas starts shipping its secrets the floodgates are open.