Dining on a Shoestring: Hank's Tavern & Eats
Geoff Tracy's Hyattsville crowd-pleaser.
Reviewed By Rina Rapuano
Comments () | Published July 23, 2009
Happy Hour
Hank's Tavern & Eats
Address: 6507 America Blvd. , Hyattsville, MD 20782
Phone: 301-209-0572
Neighborhood: Hyattsville
Cuisines: Modern, Fusion/Eclectic, American
Opening Hours: Open daily 11:30 AM to 10 PM.
Nearby Metro Stops: Prince George's Plaza
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Hank Burger; shrimp dumplings; popcorn shrimp; fish burrito; shrimp and grits.
Price Details: Dinner starters, $4.99 to $9.99; main courses, $6.99 to $21.99.
The Hank Burger, with cheddar, bacon and a fried onion ring. Photograph by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg

When the waitress at Hank’s Tavern & Eats in Hyattsville brings the six-inch-tall Hank Burger to the table, my eyes widen. If this is the regular burger, what does the Impossible Double Hank Burger look like?

It’s hard to imagine a burger twice the size of this behemoth: an eight-ounce patty of grilled Angus beef stacked with strips of bacon, a slice of cheddar, a fold of lettuce, a slice of tomato, and a large fried-onion ring.

The burger ($8.99) has more than size going for it. At a time when even pedigreed chefs are slinging burgers, this one ranks among the area’s best. Geoff Tracy, the brains behind Hank’s (with brother Chris), has demonstrated a knack in his other restaurants—Chef Geoff’s in DC’s Wesley Heights and downtown and Lia’s in Chevy Chase—for creating affordable, crowd-pleasing places.

Tracy brought the same formula to Prince George’s County when he opened Hank’s in the University Town Center six months ago. His company, Chef Geoff Universal, has a one-year management contract, which means he’s essentially leasing with an option to buy. Will he stay on after the year is up? He won’t say, but the fact that the restaurant is named for his two-year-old son may provide a clue.

Prince George’s residents, who have wanted more good dining options, will find more than just a terrific burger. Standouts among the starters are crispy shrimp dumplings ($7.99), vibrant with hits of ginger and scallion, and popcorn shrimp ($9.99) with a spicy aïoli dip. The fish burrito ($9.99) is elevated by beans that are clearly not from a can and by fresh fried-fish chunks. The excellent shrimp with creamy grits, peppers, and onions might bust the budget at $19.99, but you could get two meals out of it.

Hank’s isn’t immune to missteps. The spinach dip ($8.99) was flat on flavor, and a mini-buffalo-burger starter ($9.99) lacked the juiciness and seasoning of the Hank Burger. The brownie sundaes ($5.99) look picture perfect, but you might find yourself eating around hard chunks of brownie.

While the restaurant often delivers on its promise of “creative twists on classic bar food,” it seems content to have provided a generic sports-bar setting. Perhaps that can be explained by the length of the lease, a reluctance to make too strong a commitment. Tracy should stick around. He’s got a good thing going.

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 07/23/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews