Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review by Dustin Heller (@eatindywatchindie on Instagram)
Foodies should never judge a book by its cover because this week we’re paying a visit to a brewpub whose mission in life is to offer the best beer selection in the world. Just because beer is their top priority, doesn’t mean that they can’t deliver on the goods in the kitchen. HopCat is located in the heart of Broad Ripple on the corner of College and Westfield Blvd where it is the go-to spot for craft beer lovers and also a fantastic gathering place for the community. With 18 locations throughout the United States, HopCat has amassed a number of national accolades which speaks volumes about the caliber of this growing franchise. For businesses that do things the right way, Indy welcomes them with open arms.
If you couldn’t gather from the name alone, the vibe at HopCat is super-chill and it definitely has that Broad Ripple aura. If nothing else, it is a great place to hang out with old friends or to make some new ones. The amazing bar which boasts 100 beer taps is the focal point of the entire place and everything centers around it. There is plenty of room in the dining area as well, which happens to be kid-friendly. I guess you could say that HopCat fits right in with the neighborhood.
Even though most people probably go to HopCat because of their amazing beer selection, they shouldn’t sleep on the scrumptious food that’s coming out of the kitchen. This isn’t your typical “everything-deep-fried-bar-food” type of place. The menu has some nice fresh options to go along with many pub favorites. They have an extensive selection of shareable appetizers, soups and salads, burgers and sandwiches, and some really nice entrée options. As they say, come for the beer, but stay for the food. Without further ado, here are my four “can’t miss” items from the HopCat menu:
Cosmik Fries: The fries that Food Network Magazine listed as one of the top 10 French fries in America. Impressive! They were originally named Crack fries because 1) they’re covered in their signature cracked black pepper seasoning and 2) they’re addictive beyond belief. The name was changed at the end of 2018 due to the insensitive nature of the drug addiction reference, but that is all that changed…they are still crazy delicious and habit forming. You can order the Cosmik fries either O.G. Style which comes with a side of warm cheese for dipping, or you can go all in and get them “Loaded” with hickory-smoked bacon, red onion & pickled jalapeño, and smothered in the aforementioned cheese sauce. Trust me when I say that you won’t be able to eat just one.
Madtown Grilled Cheese: Now this is what an adult grilled cheese is supposed to taste like! I hear ya, I love the kid’s version too, but it’s nice to be sophisticated every once in a while. The most important part of any grilled cheese is obviously the cheese; the Madtown goes all out with Wisconsin dill havarti, smoked gouda and muenster. All of that cheese along with some apple slices are situated beautifully between grilled Italian sourdough that is covered with garlic aioli and honey. It is served with a cup of roasted red pepper & gouda bisque that is perfect for dipping.
Crunchy Buddha Bowl: Anyone who regularly reads this column knows how much of a meat eater I am. In light of that fact, it takes a really special vegetarian menu item to make my “can’t miss” list. Let me introduce you to the Crunchy Buddha Bowl. It’s quite a feat to fit all of this goodness into just one bowl. Let’s take a peek at what’s inside -- exotic grains, quinoa, fire roasted vegetables, roasted cauliflower, corn & bean relish, chili lime chickpeas, roma tomato, pickled red onion, queso fresco, cilantro tahini dressing, avocado, and finished with fresh cilantro. Did you get all that? Just look at how pretty the picture is below. Why not eat healthy when it tastes this good!
Caprese Killer Mac & Cheese: Let me warn you before ordering this dish -- it plays more like an upscale pasta dish than a traditional mac & cheese. That is a good thing, by the way. The standard Killer Mac & Cheese uses pasta shells and cheese sauce that is topped with kettle chip crumbles. You could stop right there and be perfectly satisfied, but ordering the Caprese just adds that extra oomph. They take that same killer mac and add marinated tomatoes and basil to the mix for a gourmet touch. Being the meat lover that I am, might I suggest adding some grilled chicken on top for good measure.