A Summer Sensation: Hodad’s and Padres at Petco Park
Hodad’s Petco Park
Address: 100 Park Blvd., San Diego (Requires Petco Park admission)
The Vibe: Casual, relaxed
Signature Dish: Single Bacon Cheeseburger
Open Since: 2012 (at Petco Park)
Patio Seating: No
Happy Hour: No
Hours: Open 1.5 hours before game time until close
Hodad’s Ocean Beach • 5010 Newport Ave., Ocean Beach • (619) 224-4623
Hodad’s Downtown • 945 Broadway, San Diego • (619) 234-6323
By Kelley Carlson
Where can a person go to revel in America’s favorite pastime while eating at one of the country’s top-ranked burger joints? Hodad’s at Petco Park.
Situated behind Section 205 on the Toyota Terrace level, this laid-back eatery is an offshoot of the famous Ocean Beach location and offers the same quality. Owner “Boss Man” Michael Hardin is at the Petco site each game day to ensure that Hodad’s standards are met, from the ingredients purchased from local mom-and-pop distributors to the friendly employees. Those standards are pretty high — CNN recognizes Hodad’s as one of the top five burger joints in the nation. It’s also a favorite of Guy Fieri, star of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” on the Food Network.
Having been featured on a couple episodes of “Diners,” Hardin is often recognized by customers. He has tattoos on much of his body, including a burger on his leg and “BOSS MAN” etched on his knuckles; wears earrings and sports a blond “soul patch.” Patrons enjoy chatting with Hardin, who obliges when asked to pose for photos.
His casual, happy-go-lucky approach carries over into his restaurant, named for “a non-surfer who spends time at beaches masquerading as a surfer.” There’s no reason to be hasty here; as the slogan points out, “It’s not life or death, it’s lunch or dinner.”
Baseball fans won’t miss any of the game; there are seven flat-screen TVs around the dining room and bar area. If the Chargers are playing, one or two monitors may be dedicated to the NFL action.
Hodad’s has its fair share of Padres logo paraphernalia on display — including surfboards that hang from the ceiling – but it also exhibits keepsakes from customers, namely license plates.
In one corner is a bus that’s converted into a booth — THE place to sit, Hardin said.
During daylight hours, nearly every table has views of San Diego Bay and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.
When it comes to the Hodad’s cuisine, Hardin is a seasoned pro, a second-generation “Burgermeister,” who has been in the business since his parents opened an eatery in El Cajon in 1969. As the website states, there have been “under 99 gazillion (Hodad’s burgers) sold.”
He guarantees the food is fresh. In fact, “my dad (Byron) would say, ‘If these burgers were any fresher, I’d slap them,’” Hardin said with a chuckle. All of them are dressed with mayonnaise, mustard, onion slices, ketchup, pickles, tomatoes and lettuce, unless otherwise specified, and grilled onions can be added.
The sizes of the juicy patties vary, from the Mini Cheeseburger to the Double Bacon Cheeseburger. The latter is so huge, employees warn customers about its enormity. But many people are up for the challenge, anyway. They arm themselves with a stack of napkins and a fork, and possibly a partner.
“My dad told me that 90 percent of your taste buds are in your eyeballs,” Hardin said.
Part of what makes a Hodad’s burger unique are the bacon patties (rather than strips) that top the beef. The bacon is boiled for 1.5 hours to remove the fat and then cooked until crispy.
Another specialty is the Guido Burger, inspired by Fieri. It’s a pastrami burger covered with ketchup, pickles, Swiss cheese, grilled onions and spicy brown mustard.
Not a meat eater? There’s grilled cheese or a Veggieburger, aka Unburger, which consists of all the toppings but no beef.
For those who prefer no bread, lettuce wraps instead of buns are available.
For sides, customers can order large stacks of crispy, golden onion rings and thick-cut fries with a hint of spice.
Beverages include sodas, beer, wine and shakes covered with whipped cream and a squirt of chocolate.
While many guests are content to lounge in Hodad’s, they’re welcome to sit down at a table, order, and then take their meals back to their stadium seats. PCL Bar & Grill also serves Hodad’s fare.
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.
This week: Hodad’s Single Bacon Cheeseburger
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