If you haven't heard of Hash House A Go Go yet, you're missing out on a spectacular place to get breakfast. It's the quintessential American brunch restaurant, featuring jaw-droppingly outrageous dishes you'll feel compelled to post on social media. Not only are the dishes visually stunning, but they'll make your mouth happy, too.
It's rare to find a chain restaurant that has tens of thousands of 5-star ratings all over the U.S. Yet, Hash House A Go Go has been wowing customers and making them happy for over two decades. If you haven't heard of this chain before, it's probably because there are only a few open around the country. However, if you ever come across one, don't hesitate to stop in for brunch or dinner. As one Google reviewer said, "I don't think that there's a wrong choice" when it comes to what you order.
While the best way to understand Hash House A Go Go is to experience it, we've tried to capture its essence by writing about it for you. Once you read the descriptions of some of the menu items and see what they look like, you'll have a better idea of why we think you need to know about this chain.
The Founders Have Varied Culinary Roots
Hash House A Go Go was founded by Andy Beardslee and Johnny Rivera all the way back in 2000. While Beardslee grew up in Indiana, Rivera is from sunny California. Beardslee first learned to cook in a Midwestern kitchen with his mom and grandma before perfecting his craft on the East Coast at Boston's Cambridge Culinary School. Meanwhile, Rivera's culinary influences are from American and European cuisine, and he was actually a musician before he went into the restaurant business. Thus, the restaurant describes its cuisine type as "the Midwest Meets the Coasts."
Even though the first location was in San Diego, the food doesn't have a typical Californian feel. You Beardslee's Midwestern food preferences and time spent on the East Coast in his favorite dishes at the restaurant: Smoked Chicken Chowder & Cornbread with a Crispy Pork Tenderloin, washed down with a Bud in a Bag (literally a Budweiser beer served in a brown paper bag). Meanwhile, Rivera's favorite menu items at the restaurant showcase his more European-inspired tastes: Crispy Polenta, Basil Pesto, Andy's Chicken Liver Pate, and a glass of Chateauneuf-Du-Pape.
It Has Locations Scattered Across The U.S.
Despite being a Midwestern-inspired restaurant, there aren't any Hash House A Go Go locations in the Midwest yet. Most are in California, Nevada, Florida, and the East Coast for now. With founder Johnny Rivera's vision of creating a restaurant that's one part food and one part fun dining experience, it fits well into the landscapes of cities that already have a lot of entertainment potential, like Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and locations near Disney World.
The original one in San Diego is the only one in California. Nevada has the lion's share of the locations, with three in Las Vegas, one in Henderson, and one in Summerlin. There are two locations in Florida: one in Orlando and one in Winter Garden. If you're on the East Coast, you can find one in Montville, Connecticut, and another in Atlantic City, New Jersey. So, next time you're in any of these cities, you'll want to keep it in mind for brunch.
It Promises Twisted Farm Food
If you were to ask what kind of food Hash House A Go Go serves, the answer is "twisted farm food." What exactly does that mean? Well, imagine what you'd normally eat in a traditional Midwestern farmhouse kitchen and then add a modern, over-the-top twist to it. It's typical comfort food. However, there's nothing ordinary about the dishes that will come to your table at this restaurant. No matter what you order, you're going to say, "Wow" when your food arrives.
For example, Andy's World Famous Fried Chicken Waffle Tower comes stacked sky-high with two pieces of fried chicken and a big knife stuck in the top. Crisp bacon is cooked into the four waffles, and there's a deconstructed salad draped over and around the whole creation. The Hand Hammered Crispy Pork Tenderloin Sandwich comes with a ridiculous fried pork tenderloin that's probably five times as big as the bun it's on, staked together with a huge knife and a large sprig of rosemary on top you can take home to reuse.
Even the holidays get twisted at Hash House A Go Go. If you order a Big O' Turkey Pot Pie during the Thanksgiving season, it comes turned on its side with the pie filling poured out on the plate like a cornucopia.
The Portions Are Huge
Hash House A Go Go promises "portions just like your mama would serve you," which means more than you can likely eat. One employee told phantomgourmet on YouTube, "I've never worked in a restaurant where I've seen so many people be surprised by how much food we give them. Some people are almost offended by how much food we give them." So, you might think about sharing a menu item with a friend or family member if you're not hungry enough for a meal with enough calories to last you the whole day (and probably beyond). Myfitnesspal says that the meatloaf is 1,850 calories, so we don't even want to think about how many calories are in that ginormous stack of chicken and waffles.
Even the pancakes are huge. If you want to picture just how big the Big O' Pancakes are, know that they're big enough to fit across a tractor's steering wheel (hint for the tractor-challenged: it's bigger than your car's steering wheel).
It Has Both A Brunch And Dinner Menu
When Hash House A Go Go started as a brunch restaurant in 2000, brunch wasn't as big as it is now. Chefs like Anthony Bourdain hated making brunch because they thought it was a "horrible, cynical way of unloading leftovers and charging three times as much as you ordinarily charge for breakfast" (via The Oregonian). However, owner Johnny Rivera had a different vision for what brunch could become. He wanted it to be a meal in itself, telling San Diego Magazine that "[b]runch was recovery from the night before, and it was a sense of redemption the next day, where you could revitalize yourself."
The dedicated brunch menu at The Linq location is available every day starting at 7:30 a.m. It ends at 3:00 p.m. every day except Friday and Saturday when it ends at 9:00 P.M. The brunch menu contains farmhouse egg scrambles, hashes, flapjacks and waffles, farm favorites like biscuits and gravy, basic breakfasts, sandwiches, fish and chips, and hash house "twisted" burgers.
Interestingly, the dinner menu at most restaurants is available during the exact same days and hours that the brunch menu is available. You can order meatloaf at 7:30 in the morning or 7:30 at night depending on your mood. The dinner menu includes starters, salads, main meals like steak and grilled salmon, and dessert. So, if some people in your party want pot roasts while others want avocado toast, you can all eat in harmony.
All The Desserts Make Big Statements
When the menu in a restaurant that serves gigantic entrées tells you that the desserts are "big enough to share," you take it seriously. Even though the portions at Hash House A Go Go are huge, somehow, there's almost always room for dessert. However, if you don't leave any room, you can always make a special trip back to the restaurant just to experience the desserts.
If you need something to satisfy your sweet tooth, the dessert menu is ready to please. There's usually only one dessert on the menu at a time, but you can trust that it's good. One option you're likely to find is the Churro Waffle, which is a cinnamon-dusted vanilla waffle that comes with ice cream and caramel sauce. Another item that shows up on the menu often is the wow-worthy Snicker's Bread Pudding, which comes topped with ice cream, caramel, and chocolate sauce. The bread pudding is good enough that Martha Stewart has even talked up. Luckily, you can find a recipe for the bread pudding online when it's temporarily off the menu in your location.
Its Drinks Are As Extra As Its Foods
When Hash House A Go Go first opened in 2000, it didn't have a liquor license, so it focused on creating spectacular non-alcoholic beverages. Once it got its liquor license, it opened up the Tractor Bar, so it could offer over-the-top alcoholic beverages as well. The non-alcoholic beverages are all on point. In keeping with its tradition of offering menu items that go the extra mile, you can get a Banana Latte served with blowtorch-caramelized banana or a S'mores Mocha covered in melted blowtorched marshmallows and served with graham crackers and syrup drizzles. You can also get a non-alcoholic Kiwi Watermelon Lemonade which has layers of green, white, and red like a watermelon and comes with a slice of the fruit.
The most well-known alcoholic beverage at Hash House A Go Go is Johnny's Famous B.L.T. Mary. It manages to combine a B.L.T. sandwich and a spicy Bloody Mary drink all in one by sticking bacon, lettuce, and tomato in the drink with a side of toast and mayo. Founder Johnny Rivera told San Diego Magazine that it "sets the tone for your whole enjoyment of the day ... I felt like the [standard] drink wasn't enough -- and to be honest with you, while touring, that was my meal." You can also get drinks like the Huckleberry Sin, which comes in a souvenir barrel-shaped glass, and has a whole garden of fresh mint and fruit coming out of it.
It Has The Approval Of A Few TV Food Show Celebrities
Hash House A Go Go has been around long enough to attract the attention of several food celebrities and food TV shows. When people whose whole lives revolve around food love it, you know it's something special.
When Adam Richman visited a Hash House A Go Go on "Man V. Food," he showed how perfect the restaurant is for Las Vegas, saying, "Everything in Sin City is larger than life, including the most important meal of the day: breakfast." (via YouTube). Richman got a behind-the-scenes view of the making of Andy's Sage Fried Chicken Benedict. It starts with griddled mashed potatoes and biscuits stacked high with corn-flake-covered fried chicken, scrambled eggs, fresh tomatoes and spinach, a piece of grilled mozzarella cheese, and bacon. Plus, it's smothered in chipotle cream sauce and topped with a rosemary sprig. Once Richman takes a bite, he just blabbers blissful nonsense before declaring it "beyond Benedict."
Some other shows that it's been featured on are "Chef Vs. City," the "Rachael Ray Show," and the "Martha Stewart Show." Martha Stewart has talked fondly of several dishes, including the Meatloaf Hash, the Big O' Pancakes, and the World's Best Bread Pudding (the one with Snickers).
It Has A Community And Environmental Focus
No matter where Hash House A Go Go is located, it tries to help the local community and the environment. In fact, you'll never see a Hash House advertisement because it puts its extra money into community outreach events and fundraisers instead.
Hash House A Go Go has hosted events for health causes like prostate and breast cancer, AIDS, and MS, as well as events to help children such as Stop Hunger for Children and Young Inner City Entrepreneur Programs. Its community events reach beyond people to helping programs like the Wildlife Fund. During National Pancake Day in 2023, it celebrated for an entire week and donated a dollar from every specialty pancake in one location to an organization that helps families who have a family member with epilepsy.
The environmental focus at Hash House has been a part of operations since the beginning. Even before it was cool to recycle, Hash House was doing it. The restaurant has even won a small business recycler award. So, if you happen to get a big sprig of herbs like rosemary or mint in your food or drink, Hash House encourages you to take it home and reuse it to season your homemade meals or drinks. The restaurant also only gives you water if you ask for it to avoid being wasteful (not uncommon in California during water shortages). It's also farm-conscious and strives to use non-GMO foods in its meals.
It Has Won A Ridiculous Number Of Awards
While it doesn't have Michelin stars (it's not really that type of restaurant), Hash House A Go Go has won over 60 separate restaurant awards (some of them multiple times). These are the types of awards magazines and newspapers hand out yearly to the best of the best in their area, often based on readers' votes.
It's won awards for being the best restaurant in San Diego and the best in Southern California, as well as six awards for being the best restaurant serving American cuisine. It has also been recognized for its specialty meal, having won 31 awards for having the best breakfast, brunch, or Sunday brunch. It's also won a couple of awards for great comfort food and one each for having the best beverages, happy hour, and dessert. Some awards have been a little more specific. For example, it has been recognized for having a great burger, has won the same award for the best Bloody Mary six times, and its Big O' Crispy Pork Tenderloin has been named the best sandwich in Las Vegas.
It Opened A New Location In 2023 While Another Closed
There have been so few Hash House A Go Go locations added over the years that it's a big deal when new ones open or old ones close. The numbers balanced again in 2023 with one opening in Florida while another closed in New Jersey. Winter Garden, Florida got its first Hash House a Go Go in May of 2023. Being only about three miles from Disney World, it's the perfect location for the restaurant. The building is 7,500 square feet, which can accommodate a lot of guests even with a Farmall M 3-plow crop tractor sitting in the middle of its lobby.
Unfortunately, one in Moorestown, New Jersey, closed at the end of 2023, leaving customers sad to see it go. The company gave no indication as to why it closed the Moorestown location, but told Patch that it was a "difficult decision." Some of the more recent reviews for the Moorestown location had started becoming less than stellar, bringing the overall rating to a 4.2 on Google, which is fairly low for a Hash A Go Go. Customers were especially disappointed after the restaurant decided not to renew its liquor license when it finally reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022. Former customers on Facebook mentioned that a lot of the stores in the mall where it had been located had been closing down recently and that they would often visit to find it fairly empty at lunch.
One Location Closed Temporarily To Deal With Cockroaches
When health inspectors from the Southern Nevada Health District investigated the Hash House A Go Go at Las Vegas' Plaza Hotel in October 2019, they found over 50 German cockroaches in the kitchen. It was clear that they had been around for a while because there were different ages of cockroaches, indicating there had been time for multiple generations to be born and breed. Cockroaches don't start breeding until they're 15 months old and have a gestation period of six to eight weeks, so you do the math on how long they had likely been around for there to be multiple generations in the restaurant.
The restaurant received 25 demerits and closed down temporarily since cockroaches weren't the only problems the inspectors cited that day. There were some sanitary issues related to handwashing and not washing fruits and vegetables. Plus, the restaurant was keeping meat out at temperatures that were too warm. Since cockroaches can be tenacious, the restaurant had to call in some professionals to help get rid of the infestation and close up places where other vermin could get into the building.
Never fear, though. When the restaurant reopened, inspectors gave it no demerits and a grade of A during the reinspection. The restaurant has maintained an inspection grade of A ever since its 2019 temporary closure. While it has received a handful of demerits here and there since then (like most restaurants), none have been related to cockroaches.
It Had A Food Truck Spin-Off Called Hash House 2 Go Go
In December 2020, when a lot of people were still staying out of restaurants as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hash House A Go Go decided to try out the food truck restaurant model in Las Vegas. Its food truck was called Hash House 2 Go Go, and it had a much narrower menu offering than the full-fledged restaurant.
When it started out, you could get a spicy chicken sandwich, grilled chicken, homemade biscuits, fried chicken fingers, sauces, seasoned waffle fries, coleslaw, and chicken finger sandwiches on Hawaiian sweet buns. It also sold drinks. The prices were great, with full meals starting between $7.50 for "The Twisted Sandy" sandwich meal and $8.50 for "The Twisted Finger" chicken finger meal. However, the offerings weren't over the top like the food you would get at the full restaurant. The last time Hash House 2 Go Go updated its social media accounts was in 2021. When we tried calling the phone number for the food truck, we got shunted into an on-hold message that eventually hung up on us. So, the food truck seems to be Hash House A No Go for now.
Read the original article on Mashed.