Joe Holleman over at the venerable Post-Dispatch was spot-on with his assessment of Hodak’s fried chicken: the pieces are covered in a relatively dry, crunchy crust, and — though juicy — the meat is light on flavor. Since I eat fried chicken with my right hand and make a sacrifice to the blood pressure gods by liberally salting every bite with my left hand, the meat-flavor issue doesn’t bother me much. Coupled with a crisp skin and the fact that it doesn’t float in a puddle of grease, that’s all I can really ask for in a plate of fried chicken.
Because of reasons of proximity and necessity (read: laziness), I’ve been eating more Hodak’s than usual as of late, so I have made an effort to eat something other than the standard half-chicken dinner ($7.35). As I’ve gotten acquainted with the rest of the menu, I have learned that, on top of the other great perks (fast-food-fast service, killer lunch specials) you can get a lot of food for a little money at this place.
Served on the ubiquitous divided brown melamine plates, you can get the roast beef dinner ($6.45), which includes a hefty pile of gravy-slathered beef slices and three generously-portioned sides of your choice. (The vinegar-based slaw is my favorite.) Or try the Hodak’s toothpick ($3.70), which is a cheese-stuffed hot dog wrapped in bacon, deep-fried and served on a bun. Get an order of crinkle fries ($1.15), and you have a lunch that’s a step up from McDonald’s for under five bucks.
From all the experience the cooks have earned by frying thousands of chickens a year, it’s not surprising Hodak’s excels at deep frying food. Like the chicken, the stuffed jalapeno appetizer ($5.40) is delicately breaded and served without a trace of grease. The respectable Iceland cod platter ($7.25) is also properly fried and accompanied by three sides.
For the health conscious, Hodak’s offers a variety of entrée salads priced between $4.80 and $6.75. The char-broiled chicken platter is also $6.75, and you get a well-seasoned breast of chicken with three sides. Wash it down with a Bud Light draft ($1.75), and you’ll have a filling meal for under ten dollars. Considering the Pick Two at Bread Company ranges in price from $6.29 to $7.89, you really do get some bang for your buck at Hodak’s.
Hodak’s Restaurant, 2100 Gravois Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63104. 314/776-7292. www.hodaks.com