Before there was Hank’s Eats, the space it now occupies housed a small restaurant called Love’s. Love’s was a breakfast and lunch only kind of place and it was awesome. I only visited once before it closed, but from what I observed on that one visit their specialty was stuffed baked potatoes. Like, whatever you could ever imagine wanting in a baked potato, you could get it at Love’s. It was pleasant inside, really sunny (it’s right on the corner of Polk and Post with floor to ceiling windows on both walls) and had a sweet sort of vintage feeling green and white color scheme. It was run by a group of little old ladies who would chatter continuously while they deftly made scrambled eggs on a hot plate and tossed breakfast burritos under the salamander to brown. It was nice place to go on a lazy weekend late morning and I was sad to see it close ( I had never had the baked potato!). I was prejudiced against Hank’s Eats from the start, just because it was replacing Love’s. I avoided it for a long time after my loyalty to Love’s had waned because I was confused by it. I didn’t understand sangria and bacon wrapped hot dogs and pulled pork sandwiches together. Also, for a long time they had an off putting photo of a woman, her head thrown back, her mouth wide open and smeared with condiments, with a hot dog propelling towards her mouth. They must have finally taken that down. I was still kind of down on the place, but Steve suggested we go there the other night for dinner. I checked out their Yelp page and I noticed several reviews mentioned blue cheese tater tots, and every bad memory was erased. I was focused: must. have. tater. tots. Nothing else mattered.
Things were kind of uncomfortable from the get go. I was waiting on Steve and sat in Hank’s for probably about 10 minutes. It was totally empty. As you can see, it’s pretty dark in there. The new decor has none of the charms of Love’s bright retro kitsch. It’s all dark wood paneling and lots of sandstone-esque tile. They are trying waaay too hard. It’s counter service, so I sat studying the paper menu while the cashier kept staring at me, probably wondering if I was ever going to order. A lot of the items sounded good, but most of them looked to have one component too many. There were a lot of sliced almonds in places where they didn’t seem to belong. It was hard to decide what to get, but I knew I wanted the sangria, which is advertised heavily in the restaurant, and of course the tater tots.
Steve finally arrived and we got a pitcher of sangria. This was probably the biggest disappointment for me. When I saw the pitcher I was pretty impressed, it seemed like a lot of punch for $14 bucks. They offer three flavors; watermelon, peach and mango. We got watermelon because watermelon is the best, duh. It turned out to be one of the weirder drinks I’ve had. The first taste was as though you had a big glass of Welch’s grape juice, put a watermelon Jolly Rancher in it then put a shit load of ice in there and set it out on the counter until all the ice melted then you drank it. Then there was a finish of musky, dessert wine flavor. It was pretty unpleasant, but not undrinkable. It’s the kind of stuff where you’re drinking it and drinking it and drinking it and you think you’re going to get a buzz but you never do, but you sure get a stomachache. Fun!
OMG, do you see those tater tots? They’re beautiful right? Those things were so tasty, there are not words. I have never had tater tots so wonderfully crispy; they had a crust on them like a loaf of sourdough bread. The blue cheese was definitely there but it was subtle and delightfully creamy. These were good on their own, but I think even better dipped in ketchup or one of Hank’s housemade sauces.
From left to right; sweet tomato sauce was like a perfect middle ground between ketchup and barbecue sauce, it had the salty sweetness of ketchup with background chile smokiness. The sweet mustard sauce was exactly what the name says, thinner than your average mustard, very good. The mango hot sauce was too hot for me, but if that’s your thing it was perfectably serviceable.
You can see Steve’s salad behind the tater tots, he ordered the Tuscan. Goat cheese, romaine, grilled chicken, roasted red peppers…it all sounds good. And it wasn’t bad. I was disappointed by the chicken, it was that waterlogged lunchmeat type stuff formed into a ham shape you find wrapped in plastic in the deli case at the store. It’s fine, but I was hoping for real chicken.
I had a similar issue with the chicken in my wrap. Let me start off by saying that I originally ordered the bangkok pup, a hot dog with cilantro and some spicy sauce. The counter guy said they were out of cilantro so I took that as an opportunity to change my order to something I thought would be a little more healthy, the Cajun chicken wrap. The description said it contained cajun chicken, which I assumed would be grilled but turned out to be fried. It also turned out to be cold. In fact, the whole wrap was refrigerator-cold; cold tacky tortilla, cold lettuce and tomato, cold spicy “aioli” (it was mayonnaise). I couldn’t taste any of the blue cheese the description said it contained. Really, this wrap was gross. I only ate half of it, but that might have been partly because I was feeling pretty full of sangria at that point. The half I did eat I left the very end of because it was so logged with mayonnaise. Steve ate the chicken out of it and really enjoyed it, but agreed I probably ordered the wrong thing. I was really disappointed the chicken was cold, but when I went behind the counter to get to the restroom I noticed they don’t have a real kitchen at Hank’s, just a refrigerated counter, a salamander and a deep fryer. I’m interested to know how they make hamburgers with that set up. I’m also curious why they decided to move the counter so that your customers have to go into your work area to use the restroom. When Love’s was in the space their counter was to the left of where it is now. Seems like an odd choice to me.
I think what all this boils down to is that I ordered the wrong thing. I’ll probably be back to Hank’s Eats, I’d like to try one of their hot sandwiches or the burger. The tacos sound interesting and the hot dogs seem to be their specialty, so it seems like I made a big mistake not ordering one of those. Also, they have a pretty interesting and cheap beer list. I think ordering beer instead of sangria would have made an impact on my meal as well, it seems like Hank’s serves more beer food than sangria food.
Two dollar cans of Pabst with food, if you’re in to that kind of thing.
Anyway, Hank’s Eats is really reasonably priced, they have a diverse menu and they are in a fairly nice stretch of Polk street. The atmosphere isn’t the greatest but if you order the right thing it could make up for it. I’d stay away from the wraps and the chicken. But hey, if you love cold chicken, it could be for you.
1101 Polk St @ Post
PS – What is up with restaurants not having websites? It’s 2009 people, get with it.