HopCat – East Lansing
I love work trips to Lansing. Anything outside of the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek-Grand Rapids area means the company pays for our meals.
Late last week, a co-worker and I got sent to Lansing late in the day. We had a scheduled appointment downtown at 7:00. We were finished up by a little after 7:30 and wanted to find something to eat.
When I lived in Lansing and wrote Mid-Michigan Dining, I constantly complained about downtown Lansing. I worked for a summer at Oldsmobile Park, so I spent a good number of summer nights downtown…and it sucked. Everything closes at 7:00. There are a couple of bars that stay open, but any of the quick service sandwich shops are closed well before the sun goes down.
Co-Worker wasn’t really impressed with anything in downtown Lansing, so I started thinking outside of downtown. I was about to suggest Leo’s Outpost, but then he came up with a better idea. HopCat.
I love HopCat in Grand Rapids and even though we didn’t have time to actually sit down and eat, I suggested carry-out. We still had some things to do in Lansing later on in the evening and ordering carry-out would give us time to run to East Lansing and get back.
East Lansing’s Hopcat is in the highly visible, well-traveled downtown area right on the edge of Michigan State University’s campus. The restaurant is on Grove Street a block off of Grand River Avenue. I don’t remember that building being there when I lived in the area, so I’m guessing it’s pretty new.
There’s a large municipal parking lot across the street from the mixed-use building as well as meters in the area. We had already called in and order, so I sent C.W. in to pick it up while I waited out front in one of the taxi parking spots.
Hopcat has so much to offer and since we were eating on the go, we could only enjoy about half of it. All of the Hopcat locations have incredible beer menus that includes some of their own brews. The combination of us being on the clock and being in a hurry, we didn’t even have time to see what was being offered that day.
When we made the decision to order, I pulled up the website and went right to the burger menu. It’s what I always get at the Grand Rapids Hopcat and I always love it.
The burger I got is called the Bar Zee. The burger patties are a blend of short rib, brisket, and ground chuck and weigh in at 1/2 lb before being charbroiled. The Bar Zee is topped with cherry smoked bacon, jalapenos, and bar cheese. It’s served on a brioche bun with the usual fixings and comes with Crack Fries.
I’ll get to the Crack Fries in just a minute, but first this delicious burger. Perfectly cooked with a crunchy outer shell and a warm, juicy, pink center. I get this burger because of the bar cheese. The cheese has just a hint of horseradish in it which just elevates anything it touches to an almost untouchable level.
Crack Fries. Holy cow, Crack Fries. They are the signature item of Hopcat and, as the name implies, they’re pretty addicting. The thin cut fries are beer battered then topped with a special house blend cracked black pepper seasoning. I opted to add the cheese sauce to my fries for an extra buck, but really, they’re still some of the best fries you’ll ever eat even without the cheese. This is another one of those places I would be more than happy to just order a gigantic plate of fries for a meal if they, my wife, and my heart would let me.
My Co-Worker ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and, of course, it wasn’t just a simple grilled cheese sandwich. Hopcat’s version of the childhood favorite is Swiss, cheddar, and Feta cheese on grilled Italian sourdough bread with tomato and onion. He also got a side of Crack Fries but skipped the cheese sauce.
The bill for the two sandwiches came out to a little under $25.
Hopcat keeps expanding. They’ve added restaurants in East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Madison, Wi…so logically, Kalamazoo is next? Right? Guys? Right?