Pirate-themed Big Hoffa’s restaurant offers tasty barbecue dishes, extreme milkshakes under one roof in Westfield

CBS4 This Morning

WESTFIELD, Ind. — When Adam Hoffman moved from Los Angeles to Indiana two decades ago, he was looking to get away from the hustle and bustle. 

He started a barbecue food truck, named Big Hoffa’s– after his old nickname back home. After three years, he officially opened a brick and mortar restaurant at 800 E. Main Street in Westfield.

The restaurant was such a hit, he expanded and purchased the antique mall it was connected to and eventually turned it into a huge 350-seat facility with both indoor and patio seating, a truly unique theme and a sweet new addition all under one roof. 

We’re enjoying two summer favorites—barbecue and ice cream—all in one place on this trip In Your Neighborhood.                 

“The origination of pirates and barbecue came from pirates smoke-drying meats,” said owner Adam Hoffman.  “And we said you know what? What a cool theme to go with for a barbecue joint? Let’s do a pirate theme.” 

And Big Hoffa’s BBQ did the pirate theme in a big way. 

Photo credit: Yelp Indy via Patricia A

It took three months to paint the giant mural on the side of the 16,000 square foot building (which used to be an antique mall.) It’s impressively detailed with ocean waves, skeletons and pirate ships. 

It took another three months to paint the equally ornate interior. Hoffman says it’s all meant to give guests a truly unique experience. 

“Kids love it, parents love it.  It’s a great experience for them so that’s what we try to create,” he said.  “I don’t want them to think they’re in Indiana. I want them to think they’re on a bayou, eating a pork sandwich somewhere. Something fun.” 

Then, there’s the real draw — the food. 

Photo credit: Big Hoffa’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Cue Facebook page

After 20 years of practice, Hoffman has perfected the art of delicious barbecue.

“Slow and low process. You want to cook [barbecue] at a low temperature for a very long time… Anything that takes time is going to be really, really good,” he noted.

Their menu offers traditional options like sandwiches and platters featuring pulled pork, chicken, beef brisket and ribs. 

Or kick it up a notch with one of their specialty creations like the top-selling “Hoffinator”, which consists of loaded fries topped with 29 different ingredients. 

Photo credit: Yelp Indy via Big Hoffa’s BBQ

Another favorite is called “The Amendment.”

“It’s a bed of jasmine rice topped with brisket, teriyaki sauce, spicy mayo. We make a homemade giardiniera, which is like a Chicago style relish with fresh cucumbers and carrots and jalapenos,” Hoffman explained. “And we drizzle a little sesame oil on top.  It’s flavors you’ve never tried in your life and they’re amazing.”

Don’t forget to grab a side like mac and cheese, habanero cole slaw, fries or cayenne potato salad.

“The cayenne potato salad is one of our biggest sellers. It doesn’t look like it’s hot [but when you] take a bite, it creeps up on you in the throat a little bit with some cayenne pepper,” he said.

Or save some room for dessert in their newly opened ice cream shop at the front of the building, called The Freezery. 

But why just get normal ice cream when you can have one of their crazy towering creations– nicknamed Insane Shakes.

Some of them measure up to two feet tall. 

Photo credit: Big Hoffa’s Freezery Facebook page

“Today, we’ll probably make you a shake called the Tears of a Mermaid. The base is a kryptonite ice cream— kids call it Superman ice cream,” he said. “Then we put cotton candy on it, rainbow lollipops… it’s super cool.”

Four Things You Need to Know About Big Hoffa’s BBQ:

  • After 27 years of living in Los Angeles, California, Adam Hoffman moved to Indiana to escape the hustle and bustle. He opened a food truck and had so much success that within three years, he was able to open a brick and mortar restaurant—Big Hoffa’s BBQ—in Westfield. Nearly 15 years on, the restaurant has grown as Hoffman purchased the antique mall the restaurant was connected to and expanded into the 16,000 square foot space, which offers seating for 350 people between the inside and front and back patios.  
  • This pirate-themed restaurant offers all the barbecue classics like pulled pork, chicken, beef brisket and ribs but they are most known for some of their even more adventurous specialty creations. Their top-seller is called “The Hoffinator”, which consists of loaded fries topped with 29 different ingredients.  The menu also includes a solid selection of beer, including local brews from Sun King and Daredevil Brewing as well as red and white wines.
  • They also recently opened a new ice cream shop near the front of the building called The Freezery. They offer hand dipped ice cream and regular milkshakes. But the real stars of the menu include their towering “Insane Shakes.” Some of those extreme shakes measure up to two feet tall and include toppings like cotton candy, Ding-Dongs, Twinkies and sprinkles.
  • The restaurant specializes in catering. Hoffman says they cater about 100 weddings per year. They can do both full-service catering or on-site in their party barn located right next door to the restaurant (which is available for rent and has a capacity of about 80 people).

For more information about Big Hoffa’s BBQ and Big Hoffa’s Freezery, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out the restaurant’s Yelp page. You can also connect on social media via Facebook and Instagram.

While in Westfield, check out these other popular local businesses:

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