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Hop Jack’s

Checking out a chain

Big Tony’s BBQ Mac, there are a lot of flavors going on here. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

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ANNOUNCER: With already five locations throughout the Puget Sound, Hop Jack's opened a sixth location in Lakewood this summer. Advertised as the neighborhood gathering place, Dutch and Jackie head out to see why everyone is gathering here.

DUTCH: Walking into Hop Jack's, you're hit with the buzzing of conversations, TVs with sports at nearly every corner of the place, as well as several staff running around helping customers. With the open concept, it is easy to see all the happenings from your table. The design and atmosphere certainly lend more to a community gathering place than to an intimate dinner for just a few.

JACKIE: If you're catching a flick nearby or perusing the aisles of the big box bookstore, Hop Jack's is the place to be. The staff was warm, but the first thing I noticed was a lack of diversity on the liquor shelves. Flavored vodkas abound here.

DUTCH: Truth be told, I'm generally hesitant about chain restaurants because they all seem to have the same menu, but with quirky personalized themes. Though all the expected hamburgers, salads, and such are on the menu, Hop Jack's has taken personalization and creativity to a whole new level with items such as a Caprese flatbread, Kyle's Damn Good sandwich or the Jalapeno cream cheese burger. I started with a basic -- French Onion Soup -- which was flavorful and rich, with a generous amount of onions and plenty of bubbly cheese atop a toasted crostini.

JACKIE: I was delighted by the special menu which included recipes crafted by the diners themselves. Maybe it's my competitive streak but contests involving foods are the best sort. I had the Strawberry Passion Spritz. With Titos Vodka, Peach Vodka muddled with real strawberries and peaches finished with sweet and sour mix and Sierra Mist, you get a sweet sipper that isn't exactly reinventing the wheel. What's fun, though, is the vehicle, which is ice, formed into a martini glass equating to a super chill adult beverage. The hot wings were nice, classic wings with an approachable heat.

DUTCH: As a main dish, I ordered one of the more creative selections, Big Tony's BBQ Mac. This is certainly not your mother's mac n' cheese. Served in a flat iron pan, the ziti pasta is drenched in a rich cheese sauce and then topped with caramelized onions and bacon, along with a healthy helping of pulled pork with BBQ sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. There are a lot of flavors going on here, but they all work well together, with no one item overwhelming the other. I used the side of garlic pita bread as a scoop for much of this dish.

JACKIE: I had to go with something between buns. The Triple Threat Crispy Chicken Sandwich lured me in boasting chipotle mayo, pepperjack cheese and Cajun-fried chicken breast with bacon, lettuce, pickle, tomato and frizzled onions. The burger felt fresh and tasty but lacked even a hint of heat I was hoping for. Not quite a threat in this spice luvva's little black book. The portion sizes were formidable, so come hungry.

DUTCH: I was impressed with the fresh fruit cocktails from the bar. Where many bars, due to time constraints, use drink mixers, you can rest assured that the wait here is worth it for a quality drink. Additionally, 25 cents from each beer purchased is donated right back into the community schools. So, drink up people ... after all, it's for the kids.

JACKIE: Though not the most memorable dining experience, I totally appreciate Hop Jack's commitment to community. Feature cocktails donate a portion of sales to a different nonprofit and for every kids meal sold 50 cents is donated to kids in need. That alone makes it a worthy stop if you're catching a film or in need of fueling a book-buying extravaganza.

HOP JACK'S, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday; 8 a.m. to midnight, Saturday; 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday, 5821 SW Main St., Lakewood, 253.267.0429,

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