There are many great restaurants in the St. Louis area. However, there is one that is slipping under the radar and is absolutely one of the most underrated restaurants in the St. Louis metro area.
Ok, so I know that this says “the most underrated restaurant in St. Louis.” However, this restaurant is not technically in St. Louis (as are many of the great restaurants in this area). However, this restaurant is in what would be considered the St. Louis Metro Area. The restaurant that I am speaking of is Hop House Southern Eatery.
This is absolutely one of my favorite restaurants and it is really sad to see it not get the play from the St. Louis community that it deserves. However, I understand it to an extent, it is not very heavily marketed and it is tucked away over in O’Fallon, IL and not too many people travel over to that area from the St. Louis city area. This hopefully will soon change with time and more word of mouth.
Now, I am slightly biased, as the restaurant is less than ten minutes from my house and because of that, I have been there well over ten times. Regardless, let’s get into what makes this restaurant so great.
If you know me, you know that I love my barbecue. It is something that I have come to appreciate in the last 7-8 years of my life and part of that goes in tandem with my relocation to the STL area back in 2011. I am very picky when it comes to my barbecue too, it has to have a good strong smoky flavor and not be too saucy. Part of this is due to me learning the trade of barbecue on my own and knowing what it takes to make good barbecue.
In my opinion, this is Hop House’s crown jewel. In an area saturated with good and popular barbecue places that are a constant feature on food network, Hop House stands out in this crowded category. They do it with most of the same items that you see in most of the other barbecue restaurants, but where they beat your Pappy’s, Sugarfire, and others is their portion size, price point, and original sandwich options.
For $10 you can get a massive portion of adobo smoked pulled pork. The actual oz is not listed on the menu, but from experience, I can tell you it’s more than the other guys give you and at a cheaper price. For an additional $6 you can slightly shrink the portion of pulled pork and add a second meat (pepper-crusted turkey, Texas Brisket, baby-back ribs) and for an additional $4 you can add a third meat. All of these options come with two sides as well. We’ll get to the sides a little later.
One thing you cannot sleep on here is their brisket. It has that perfect smoke profile that you want from brisket. It is something that I order almost every time I go there. If you are like me and like your brisket dry, be sure to order it that way, because it comes with sauce on it.
Sandwiches and Burgers
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but this menu is huge and they call it gigantic for a reason. There is so much to choose from on this menu that it would be crazy for me to list them all here. So, here is where I will simply gloss over a few favorites on each portion of the menu.
Among their regular sandwiches, the absolute best one is the Hop House Sandwich. This is their signature sandwich and it was my introduction to their menu when I first decided to give them a try.
You get three of their smokehouse classic items on one sandwich and it is described as such “our signature sandwich offers the best of our smokehouse, with brisket, peppered turkey, adobo pork piled high on a brioche bun, with fresh lettuce, onion, tomato served with a side of Carolina mustard,” mmmm my mouth is watering just thinking about it. This is a hard item to beat and at $11 it comes with your choice of one side. It’s my favorite sandwich on the menu for sure.
Pro Tip: this is a monstrous sandwich. Unless you are really hungry fill up on your drink of choice and the delicious fresh baked bread that they bring out beforehand and you could easily take half of this sandwich home.
I have had a couple of their single item BBQ sandwiches and they are very good as well. Without going over each bbq item all over again, I will just let you trust me that they are just as good between the bread as without.
I will admit that I am somewhat of a burger addict. For the longest time, it has been my go to item at almost every restaurant I went to. Now that I am older, I have ventured out a little here and there. However, that hasn’t stopped me from trying a couple of the burgers that Hop House has to offer.
Again, as a fan of their adobo smoked pulled pork, I had to get the Carolina Burger. This burger is served with their pulled pork topped on top of the two five-ounce patties that are topped with cheddar cheese and their signature bbq sauce. The burgers on their own are delicious, so adding the smoked pulled pork on top is just like icing on the cake.
The other burger on the menu that I have had is the classic double tavern burger. As a fan of burgers, this was on point as well. The meat is perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection and just an all around good burger. Now, in terms of creativeness, it’s probably the plainest jane of all the burgers they make, but that isn’t a bad thing at all.
If I had to pick one to try to try something new, I’d probably go with the Avocado or Southwest Burger.
Entrees and Extras
My wife’s favorite thing on the menu is the chipotle chicken which is described as “Chipotle-marinated grilled chicken, topped with fresh salsa, cilantro cream, pickled onion and jalapeno,” my wife loves Mexican food, so this is right up her alley. It is a fantastic dish and is always a hit with her. The only way I see them improving this is instead of it being just grilled is to smoke it instead, I am sure it would be a bigger hit as a smoked chicken breast.
The only things that I haven’t “loved” on the menu would be their center cut ribeye and dynamite-fried chicken. Don’t get me wrong here, these are great tasting items, but for the price of the items, they don’t knock me out of the park.
With the ribeye, the problem I have is that I can make two or three ribeyes better at home for the price of one there, nothing against the taste of it at all. The chicken is really good as well, but living where I live, I am spoiled living within a close driving distance of Eckert’s whose fried chicken may be the best fried chicken I have ever had.
On the entree side of things where they really stand out is their “Texas Cattleman’s Early Bird Special”. This from 2:30-4:30 PM every day and is only available when you dine in. What it includes is a “5 oz Filet Mignon or 8 oz Frenched Pork Chop, Loaded Baked Potato & a Giant Salad”. While I have not personally ever had this, I have had several of my co-workers rave about this special. One thing is for sure, is that for $10, you definitely get what you pay for here.
One of the only appetizers that I have had here are the smoked wings. These are some of the best smoked wings that I have ever had. They are perfectly seasoned and have that delightful smoky taste to them that you look for in any smoked meat.
They aren’t small either, these wings have plenty of meat on them and an order of twelve wings and a side of twisted fries will leave you full for a long time. The price isn’t too bad on them either, you get six wings for $6 or 12 wings for $10. These are a sneaky item on the menu that can easily be overlooked in the appetizer portion of the menu.
For brevity’s sake, I simply cannot mention the entire menu and it is time to bring things to a close with their sides. Their menu is huge (they call it gigantic for a reason) and I could continue on for days about their food.
Where some barbecue restaurants seem to lose me at times is the lack of good sides. So, many times it’s stuff like sweet potatoes, baked beans, slaw, or just plain french fries. That’s not the case here at Hop House. They have a very good roster of sides here. My favorites are the Craft Beer-Battered Twisted Fries and the Smashed Potatoes with Beer and Bacon Gravy.
If you know me, I don’t care for beer. I just don’t care for the taste or even the smell of it. So, you can understand why I initially was a little hesitant on these sides (especially the smashed potatoes). I sure am glad that I put my hesitation aside here, as these both are fantastic items. The fries are perfectly seasoned and have a different texture and flavoring than your normal run of the mill french fries. They are addictive for sure.
The beer and bacon gravy on the smashed potatoes knocks any other gravy out of the park. It is so flavorful and delicious that I have to order a side of it regardless if I am already getting the twisted fries.
The other side that is a hit is the Smoked Gouda and Jalapeno Grits. From more than one person I have been told that these are an absolute hit and one of those recommendations is from my wife. I myself don’t usually like grits and tried these the last time we went there and they were way different than any grits I had ever tried. I actually kind of liked them. Now they’re not as good as the two sides I have already mentioned, but they’re pretty good if grits are your thing.
The crazy thing about this menu is that there are TEN other sides to choose from. So, there truly is something for everyone.
Here we are at over 1600 words and I feel like that I can talk more about this place. Hop House is a place that I have found myself at on many occasions. It is a go-to when family is in town, my first recommendation to people who are new to the are, and a go-to for a nice dinner or lunch for my wife and I.
It is in a place where restaurants have not had good success in the past and they are thriving. I haven’t even mentioned their large selection of craft beers or their craft cocktails. Nor have I mentioned that they seem to have great desserts.
Without a doubt, this place is a must try if you have not eaten here yet. If you live in the city, I know it’s a bit of a drive 20-25 min, but it is absolutely worth it. It is a place that I feel is very underrated and should be among the top restaurants in the St. Louis area.
To learn more about Hop House, like them on facebook and check out their gigantic menu and learn about the restaurant on their website.