Hodges Bar feels like 1940s New Orleans. Inside the narrow space are toffee-colored leather banquettes and jazz vinyls playing from a standard record player somewhere in the back. Chandeliers made of empty bottles hang above a carrara marble bar, where the bartender is ready and willing to make you either a strong coffee or cocktail.
Happy hour offers half off the cocktail of the day and a few choice menu items. We start with $7 martinis, which are slightly floral and served in chilled coupes. As we wait for our food, an interesting trickle of people show up: a duo reconnecting in the corner, a biker decked out in a full “Hodge Bend” racing get-up, two friends celebrating a 22nd birthday, a solo diner working on her computer at the bar.
Our food arrives all at once, beautifully presented.
The burger is the #1 reason to come to Hodges. Sourced from nearby Prairie Creek Farms, it is packed with flavor, layered between a handful of spicy arugula and a well-grilled slice of red onion. Its buttered and toasted brioche bun does an admirable job soaking up the juices from the burger, melty Lomah cheddar cheese, and creamy garlic aioli. Slightly sweet house pickles are lined up next to the burger. I recommend promptly putting them on top. Also, be sure to ask for pimento ketchup for your fries: it’s cheesy, sweet, and unique, a well-textured complement to the salty, herb-y fries.
Crisp brussel sprouts, piled atop a small pool of balsamic liquid, aren’t as much crisped as they are roasted. They taste of malt vinegar powder: tangy and sweet, needing only a touch of salt.
The menu’s steamed buns are not our favorite. Though their kimchi is tasty and the bun soft, the chicken falls flat, and the packaged doesn’t quite come together.
Cheesecake, “Basque” style, is the opposite of the New York-style cheesecake, with an almost burnt and bitter outer layer offset with sour Port Amarena cherries. The inside is somehow rich and light at the same time, its texture offset with bits of candied angostura bitters and cherry syrup.
At the turn of the 20th century, a small street on the east side of Tulsa was named after the Hodges brothers, the original owners of the 2,000 acres that now make up downtown Tulsa. The street is now east 1st street, but their name lives on at Hodges Bend. We hope to come back for the coffee, available in all forms and in many cocktail drinks (co-owner John Gaberino also owns local coffee darling Topeca Coffee Roasters). And also for that burger.