The Hoffbrau

613 West Sixth, 472-0822
Mon-Fri, 11am-2pm and 5-8:30pm

As a purist, I have a tendency to sing butter's praises to anyone who'll listen, but a signature Hoffbrau T-bone opened my eyes wide to the wonders of margarine, a substance I normally categorize as butter's evil twin. Since there are no menus at the Hoffbrau, the waitress stops by your table to explain your choices, and to make sure you understand the way life works at the steakhouse which has become a local institution: "Don't think our steaks are swimming in grease, it's actually a sauce. We make it out of margarine and lemon juice, so it's actually pretty healthy." Okay, so that sounds risky, but trust me: The only thing better than a T-bone cooked in butter is a T-bone cooked by people who think that margarine is good for you. And soon you'll be dipping everything within your arm span into the magic sauce: the white bread on the table, the giant steak fries that come with every meal, your hands... The waitress goes on to shoot down requests for vegetables ("no vegetables at the Hoffbrau"), but, luckily enough, they do serve buttermilk-battered onion rings, and salads. For $1.50, they'll bring you a plate of iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges, and green olives doused with a unique blend of lemon juice, fresh garlic, oil, and a healthy measure of a strange secret ingredient: olive brine. (If salads were martinis, the Hoffbrau's would be dirty.) Again, sounds iffy, but you've got to try it to believe it. This place has been in business since 1934 and they play by their own rules: come on a weekday, pay in cash, and don't expect vegetables or dessert. My advice to you? Focus on the small T-bone ($7.50), or, if you're feeling extravagant, the top sirloin ($11.50 or $13.50). Don't waste time with the large T (at $9.50, it looks like a fatty small) or the enormous porterhouse ($7.50) unless you have boundless upper body strength and little to no regard for your cholesterol level. You also have the option to order chicken, but why bother? You're at the Hoffbrau -- eat your beef. -- Meredith Phillips

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