5010 Newport Avenue
San Diego, CA 92107
I think it started with baseball cards, but it might’ve been comic books or matchbook cars. Then it was He-Man and G.I. Joe figures, Atari games, Garbage Pail Kids, Star Wars figures and eventually LPs, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, photos and now, it’s all about the burgers. What the hell am I talking about? The time line of my life of collecting.
Now, before you start comparing me to the extremely unwatchable folks on the TV show Hoarders, know that I’ve grown out of most of these (not music) and have aspirations for godliness, as it pertains to cleanliness. At this point, my obsession with burgers isn’t just about finding the best one(s) but it’s also about finding ALL of them. Thankfully there are more great burgers out there than I could possibly hope to devour.
While the NYC area is a conquest all it’s own, I have come to appreciate what “the Golden State” brings to the butcher’s table. As much as I hate to admit it, California is all about the burger. So when I find myself on the west coast, getting a burger is top priority. The 13 burgers I ate in California in 2009 is proof! When the wife and I decided to visit our friends Karl and Julie in San Diego for New Year’s Eve, I knew exactly how I wanted to celebrate the holiday.
Enter Hodad’s. Originally opening in 1969, Hodad’s was located right off the water in Ocean Beach, CA. In 1991 they re-opened at their current location at the corner of Newport Avenue and (wait for it) BACON STREET! Stop for a moment and appreciate that because once you eat the bacon they put on their burgers…scroll down for more on that.
So who is this Mr. Hodad who found the perfect burger cross streets? He doesn’t exist. The place was started by the Hardin family who eventually passed it on to 2nd generationer (is that a word?) Mike “Boss Man” Hardin. So what the hell is up with the name? You’ll find the answer printed right on the menu; hodad noun – a nonsurfer who spends time at beaches masquerading as a surfer. See also “poser”.
What else is on the menu? Burgers. Minis, single or double burgers…and that is it. Well other than fries and rings and the option to have as much of all of the above for only $100. The burgers are served in a simple presentation — wrapped in plastic paper and beers come in their natural casing (bottles) or if on tap, in mason jars.
So step on in, right off the beach if you like because at Hodad’s “no shoes, no shirt…no problem.” However, be prepared to wait in a long line for your burger. We waited nearly 90 minutes and you know what? It was freaking worth it. As we got nearer to the entrance of the open air restaurant something got me really, REALLY excited. Was it the smell of delicious burgers? Well yes, but that is not what I am talking about here. Was itthe ridiculously large collection of strange license plates and surfboards covering the walls? How about the fun looking VW microbus parked out side or the front end of another one fashioned into a 2 person booth inside the restaurant? Nope, it was none of these.
Although the crowd who had gathered to patronize Hodad’s was truly a real slice of the cornucopia of ages, colors, sizes and beliefs of the people of San Diego, they were blasting IRON FRIKKING MAIDEN!! And not a person seemed to be bothered by it what so ever. Me, I was fist pounding, air guitaring and singing along with the sheer excitement of great metal leading me to great burgers.
But I digress…
Menu’s are offered at the door due to the massive volume of burger lovers so you can be prepared to order upon being shown your seat. We thankfully got seated right at the bench in the front window and before the waiter could even ask, I was ready; a double with cheese, bacon, lettuce and mustard. Regularly they also come with ketchup, mayo, pickles and tomatoes but I have no time for that business. I had originally considered getting 2 separate burgers until Cara and Karl ordered rings and fries to share.
I was sipping on a mason jar of beer, enjoying the heavy metal jams and the warm beach air as the rings arrived first. Careful not too dig in too deeply I had only 2. They were heavily breaded in a crispy, crunchy, yet airy batter that held together as you bit all the way through. They were damn good but easy little Rev, easy, you have a bacon double coming at you.
Holy moly! This burger was so big, I was surprised it wasn’t also zipped tied into the wax paper! This is a full two-handed burger and only a trained individual, such as me, could pull off the feat of a left hand grab photo. But how else was I going to get you a picture? A couple of bites confirmed, this burger was not here to mess around. The bacon, ohhhhhh man, the bacon! It was so good and not like your ordinary bacon. The size of this salted and cured pork was less described as a rasher and more like a slab! Apparently there is some secret cooking process to making the bacon that even those who are shown the method, still have trouble comprehending. I would’ve waited just as long just to eat it.
Lucky me, the beef itself was clearly made from high quality fresh ground meat, with the intended purpose of becoming one of the world’s most sought after burgers. It’s served on a large, soft, sesame seed bun, with shredded lettuce, large white onion slices and some melted cheese. The juicy, delicious, double patty of beef was absolutely a taste sensation and after only a few bites, it was clear to me what needed to be done. I turned the burger upside down so I got more of the flavor of the cheese and the bacon with every bite. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the move. You can thank me later. While we’re at it, do not miss out on the fries, if they could really be called by that name. These chunky slices of deep fried potatoes are more like well done, tangy, seasoned, long potato wedges.
As I rounded up to the last couple of bites of the burger, my stomach was sending me signals to stop, but there was no stopping, there was only Zuul. (Karl / Cara – see what I did there?) All this and the San Diego Zoo all in one day? I’ll take good friends, great weather, giant pandas, kissing otters, humping monkeys and a legendary burger over freezing weather and a 12,000 pound crystal ball dropping any new years.