Best Cheap Eats


With the most expensive item on the menu, a steak dinner, costing $8.45, Hodak's is the place to go if you're hungry and near-broke. It's cheaper than most fast-food joints, plus they sell beer. And the service is excellent. You never have to wait more than a few minutes for your order to arrive. A cheeseburger and fries cost $3. For a shade over $8, you can get frog legs. But Hodak's is best known for its fried chicken, which will set you back $5.10 for a half-chicken dinner that includes fries and the world's best cole slaw at any price. The chicken is phenomenal, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and plenty of meat -- these aren't Cornish game hens, by any stretch of the imagination. Side portions are generous enough that all but the gluttonous or starving leave with doggie bags. Although service is lightning-quick, you might have to wait awhile for a table. Lines typically stretch to the sidewalk during the dinner rush, though you can sometimes snag a seat at the bar in fairly short order. You'll also have to wait several minutes after your meal arrives because Hodak's believes in serving food hot to the point where overeager diners risk burned mouths. Featuring three dining areas, a tin ceiling and a low-key bar smack in the middle, Hodak's is part family restaurant, part neighborhood tavern. As this edition of the RFT goes to press, Hodak's was closed for remodeling of the bar and kitchen. We hope they won't tinker too much.
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Previously in Best of St. Louis