In one of those the truth is so strange it sounds like fiction moments, I was listening to Mary Occhino on my Sirius Satellite Radio because I woke up fairly early this morning. Her show now airs here in California between 4 am and 7 am due to the recent addition of Rosie O’Donnell to the Sirius XM Stars channel lineup. I decided to give Rosie O’Donnell’s program a try and stayed listening to her show.
During the Rosie Radio show, she was discussing how she and her daughter are addicted to one of the coffee style drinks at Dunkin’ Donuts. So I ended up checking out Dunkin’ Donuts webpage and on a long shot checked to see if any were in town. And it came up with no results. But a Google search yielded some different results, and so I ended up on Yelp.com where some local reviewers of some local donut shop were reminiscing about how that particular shop used to be Dunkin’ Donuts at one point in time. On the right hand side of the page was a Canadian Maple Leaf that caught my eye. Naturally as a Canadian, I had to see why there was a Canadian Maple Leaf on this page of reviews for a local donut shop that used to be a Dunkin’ Donuts however many years ago.
The Maple Leaf image was basically being used as a profile picture and it was tied to a list called “Comfort Foods” that was under a header called “Related Lists.” So whoever this person is had prepared a list of locations on Yelp, that he or she felt were great comfort food locations in San Diego, so out of curiosity, I clicked on because I’m assuming that he or she is also Canadian like me, so maybe they would have similar tastes.
On this list of comfort food places in San Diego I came across a listing for a restaurant called “Canada Steak Burger.” So I just had to click on that. I wanted to see what was so Canadian about this place that according to the information is located in the North Park area of San Diego. A lot of the reviews seemed to indicate they have great burgers, but the restaurant is not in a location you really want to be after dark. Okay, so not quite a nice neighborhood. I used the link within Yelp to check out Canada Steak Burger’s website. Seemed okay, not too fancy. One of the reviews I read the reviewer stated Canada Steak Burger was his third favorite burger joints in San Diego, and he listed a place called “Waterfront” and “Hodad’s” as his top two choices. I decided to check out the reviews on Hodad’s.
The reviews for Hodad’s looked really good, so I followed Yelp’s link to Hodad’s website, and saw that they were pointing out that CNN had named their burgers one of their picks in the top 5 burgers in all of America. And it also had the distinction of being the only location in the western half of the United States. It definitely sounded intriguing. And their website also linked to a YouTube clip where they were featured on the Food Network‘s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” program hosted by Guy Fieri. The clip made up my mind I wanted to try a Hodad’s Burger. Here’s the clip if you want to check it out.
So I had an early dinner with a friend tonight, but ended up staying in the area checking out a few shops, and slowly found myself migrating my way towards the coast, so I decided I wanted to drive by this Hodad’s and see exactly where it was at. So I made my way into Ocean Beach, on roads I’m pretty sure I’ve never been on before in my twenty-three years here in San Diego. It was kind of exciting to be discovering a part of town I’ve not been in before. And eventually I found the right street, and made the turn and followed it down towards the coast, as according Google Maps, the restaurant is on the last block before you hit the beach. Sure enough, the restaurant was there on the right and it didn’t look too busy this late in the evening.
Only because there wasn’t a line outside the door, I decided to stop. I got a parking spot near the restaurant and wandered in. There was a sign on a surfboard above a basket full of menus saying to pick up a menu so that the staff would know I’m looking to be seated and wait until a server would seat me. A server walked by and told me to just pick anywhere I wanted to sit so I picked a booth. The restaurant’s walls are lined with license plates from all over, but mostly California and Nevada plates and I ended up noticing that in the booth I selected, there was a licence plate from Manitoba, Canada (furthering the Canadian connection) and a Nevada plate that read “CRAPS” (which refers to my line of work). When I see things like that that have meaning for me in ways that seem to be a little more than coincidental, I take that to mean I was in the right place at the right time kind of thing.
Since the Guy Fieri clip spent some time highlighting the unique way Hodad’s does bacon for their burgers, there was little choice but to sample the bacon cheeseburger. I only asked to have them not add ketchup to the burger so that it would be compliant with my low sugar eating program. I decided to sample the fries as well, which ended up being potato wedges instead of fries. I probably shouldn’t have done the fries since I was having the bun on the burger, but I wasn’t going to eat many of the fries, I just wanted to try them for the complete burger experience.
The burger was huge as expected, it did feel like it would require the ability to unhinge my jaw to eat it, but I managed to make my way through the burger. It was delicious. The bacon patty-eque layer was wonderful it make sure every bite of burger right down to the last bite had the taste of bacon. I’m not so sure I would call it the best burger I’ve ever had, but it was amazingly good. The potato wedges were fantastic too. I’m not usually a fan of potato wedges, but they were very hot and crisp and were fantastic.
One of the really nice things that I wasn’t expecting was that I didn’t really have a dedicated server, it seems that everyone who works there jumps in to help. My order was taken by one server, and while he was busy delivering food to another table, my food was brought to me by another server who just happened to be by where the orders come out of the kitchen, and yet another server offered to refill my glass. They definitely evoke a team spirit that I’m not used to seeing in sit down restaurants. It definitely helps from a guest service perspective because it comes across as very attentive service. And I can see from an efficiency perspective, that it also helps keep the flow of guests moving through the restaurant as quickly as possible. Every second saved gets more people through the door especially since the seating capacity is less than 100 people and the reviews and articles I read seem to indicate they often get a long line waiting outside at peak meal hours.
I really enjoyed the experience of my first Hodad’s burger. It was delicious and again the service was just as good as the burger. I’m really glad I went and tried it. I will definitely be back again. To think that my day started out not having known about Hodad’s and how I discovered them was all because of Rosie O’Donnell talking about Dunkin’ Donuts.