Hop Jack's


Hop Jack's cover

How does one look at Hop Jack's after eating there? You could take the "glass half empty" approach, but that would bring back a lot of memories you in all likelihood had repressed. Therefore it seems appropriate for us to go the "glass half full" route. Some might call that denial, and some might be right, but... Well, let's just get on with this:

As you approach the Northside strip mall park where Hop Jack's resides, you know you are in for something special. These monuments, these testaments to human achievement, can only be compared to Sagrada Familia. The Old City of Jerusalem. And, dare we say it? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Guiding your way through these architectural marvels is a generously wide road, one where any Hummer should feel comfortable navigating through.

Then, the goal, nay, the destination: Hop Jack's.

You are warmly greeted by a sign proclaiming the restaurant to be "a neighborhood gathering place". This brings forth memories of another favorite, namely Applebee's. Remember their old slogan? "Eating good in the neighborhood"? Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and we are stoked Hop Jack's is taking on such a venerable spot. That takes gusto.

After taking our seats in an ever so comfortable booth, we pick up the menu, and gasp at the selection of dishes worthy of a king. Granted, we would usually be a bit miffed when a server rips the menu out of our hands, but here it certainly made sense. With a menu as deep as a Grisham novel, we certainly needed some guidance.

Being handheld through the complexities of the dishes, we landed on a buffalo wrap and a teriyaki burger. The service mindedness of Hop Jack's didn't stop there however. When we asked to substitute the meat patty for a black bean one, we were greeted with two thumbs up. The wonders one can do with pre-prepared food never ceases to impress us.

But, we are of course getting ahead of ourselves: The beer here is promised to be the coldest in town, and I'll be darned if that wasn't the case. Thirty. Four. Degrees. Yes, you read right: thirty-four as in 34. Never has No-Li's Crystal Bitter ever tasted more like watered down Coors Light, just like we prefer it!

As we enjoy our frosty beverage, the food arrives in record time. And what a feast it is! The buffalo chicken, expertly tossed in Frank's hot sauce is a sight to behold. Bite into it, and it is perfectly balanced with lettuce and tomatoes. The wrap? Probably picked up from the finest of bakeries: Fred Meyer. Cold on the outside, lukewarm on the inside... Amazing. Just amazing.

However, it didn't stop there. How can one not sing the burger's praises? Was it a black bean burger, or was it made from meat? We don't know! With the generous amount of teriyaki sauce dumped -- and we use that literally here -- on it, there was no way telling. We enjoy a side of mystery with our food, so this was a welcome surprise.

What else is there to say? El Celler de Can Roca was just named the best restaurant in the world, but we can only assume the jury just never tried Hop Jack's. This is a contender, and with six locations, you can enjoy their cuisine wherever you travel in Washington!

Splendid. Magnifique. Magical.