Good | Worth a Return
Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom
Hula’s isn’t Hawaiian themed. It is more like a sports bar crossed with a family dining parlor. It’s the kind of place you take your kids after the little league game. There is beer for the adults, and there are shakes for the kids. Every Friday there is a classic car show in the parking lot.
Char-grilled burgers are thick boys, presented with a huge basket of fries plus a complementary shot of swirled soft serve for dessert. It’s all very charming. Many of the menu’s dozens of different burgers pay tribute to the region’s great drive-ins and Frosty stands, referencing such celebrated local burger styles as the Knock Out at Scenic Drive-In in Modesto. We like the idea of a Hula burger with grilled pineapple, but it’s not nearly as complete as the signature item, an Escalon burger. This one comes with a blanket of white American cheese, sweet grilled onions, and oily mushrooms. We have to think that when we visited, the cook was off game, because our burgers were overwhelmingly overdone. Still, we could taste the promise. We recommend specifying a medium-rare patty to be safe.
Baskets come with fries. Garlic fries are especially noteworthy — an ode to California ballparks, where fries come smothered in minced garlic. They are crisp enough to withstand garlic juices, even if the garlic is very heavy. (We can handle it. We’re Californians.) Sweet potato fries are fried crisp to good caramelization with nice bubbly edges from the hot oil.
As for breakfast, our bacon and fried egg sandwich came on a dried-out piece of toast, but the egg was perfectly cooked and the bacon was thick and generously layered. We got this with beer battered onion rings, which had a pleasant aroma of beer but were under-fried, leaving them soggy as they cooled.
Hula’s is a place to stop for a meal halfway between San Francisco and Yosemite. Get the Escalon burger with garlic fries and enjoy an authentic taste of small-town Californian hospitality, and maybe an inning or two of baseball.
Directions & Hours
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|