Hodad’s motto: “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem!”
Here is the definitive Southern California beachside burger joint, serving truly amazing hamburgers. Available in three sizes (mini, single, and double), as cheeseburgers or bacon cheeseburgers, solo or as part of a basket with a pile of French fries, these burgers are a sight to behold. The double, which is two good-size patties, is huge beyond belief, piled inside a broad sesame seed bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup. The menu warns that all burgers come with all condiments “unless you say otherwise”; and frankly, we suggest that unless you are allergic, all the way is the only way to go.
The hamburger is presented partially wrapped in yellow wax paper, which provides a way to hoist it from the table and to keep it relatively together as you try to eat it. “That paper is your burger trough,” proprietor Mike Hardin told us many years ago. (Hardin passed away in 2015.) He said, “We tell people, ‘Do not take the paper off! It is there for a purpose.'” The purpose is to keep the immense thing from disintegrating. Mike pointed around the dining room at veteran customers wolfing down not merely huge hamburgers, but doubles, which are an insanely larger bun, larger patty, and larger larder of toppings all in one package. He noted that experts all eat their Hodad hamburgers the same way. Grasping it by the paper-covered part, they gingerly rotate it around within the wrapper; and most important of all, they never let go of it once they hoist it from the plastic-weave basket in which it is served. “Eat your onion rings and French fries first. Drink your milk shake. Do whatever else you have to do,” Mike explained. “Then, pick up your hamburger.” We did notice that the Big Kahunas of Hodad’s tables – those with literally very large hands – were able to keep a semi-wrapped double bacon cheeseburger secure in one mitt while they plucked French fries with the other. But barneys who don’t focus on keeping it together risk epic burger wipe-out.
Just getting to Hodad’s is a blast. Lined with palm trees, and with a gorgeous ocean view, Newport Avenue is a colorful part of the city. It is occupied by surf shops, alternative hair salons, juice bars, and high-proof bars; and this rockin’ joint fits right in! Its walls are festooned with vanity license plates from around the nation; surfboards are strung above the dining room. Seating includes hard wood booths and a counter along the wall with stools. Each booth is outfitted with a cardboard container that once held a six-pack of beer bottles. The half-dozen compartments are now used to store sugar and sweeteners for coffee.
Special thanks to San Diegan Michael Kawamoto for originally suggesting Hodad’s.
Note: There is a second Hodad’s, at 945 Broadway; and concessions are open in Petco Park during Padres home games.