Hodak's has been St. Louis' fried chicken go-to since 1962
Its official name may be Hodak’s Restaurant & Bar, but we’ve always called it Hodak’s Fried Chicken. The restaurant has served some of St. Louis’ most coveted poultry since 1962 and has the accolades to prove it – including winning Favorite Fried Chicken in this year’s Readers’ Choice Poll. But nowhere is Hodak’s more beloved than in its own neighborhood, where chicken is a weekly ritual for more than a few Benton Park customers.
“A lot of them [come in] daily,” said Steve Connors, who has served as the restaurant’s bartender for almost three decades. “I’m surprised after all these years how many people come in three, four, five times a week. It’s very much the same clientele – two or three generations of their families have come here.”
Hodak’s itself was a family endeavor for many years. Tony Hodak opened it at 2100 Gravois Ave., in ’62, then his son, also Tony Hodak, and daughters, Tillie Klaric and Flori Muich, ran it before they turned it over to current owner Charlene Hegel in 1989. Throughout its reign, Hodak’s has prided itself on getting the freshest ingredients; these days, the chicken arrives daily from Jones Poultry in Barry, Illinois.
The bird is famous, but it isn’t the only treasured dish at Hodak’s. “The barbecue ribs are always a big favorite,” Connors said. “And those fried mushrooms. We bread them here in-house and fry ’em up and send ’em out. People rave about those.”
Adam Rothbarth is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine.
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