There are quite a few places in Rolla where you can get burgers, but one stands out from the rest, delivering burgers cooked to taste and, if you want it, with a twist.
Until recently I only thought of Hoppers Pub as a great hang out sports bar with a wide variety of beer. It is famous for its 66 beers on tap, a result of its Route 66 theming. The food was never the reason I went to Hoppers, and would distract from drinking beers and gathering valuable punches on my Hoppers punch card.
That’s why when I visited Hoppers at 6 o’clock on a Tuesday evening, I had one question that I wanted answered: “Is Hoppers worth going to for food?”
Their menu featured a wide array of burgers to choose from, ranging from a classic cheeseburger to more strange combinations like the Jam burger or the Mac & Cheese burger. There were also options for wraps, quesadillas, and salads. I decided on one of the more regular burgers, the Santa Fe burger and some fried cheese curds as an appetizer. To drink, I opted for one of the 66 beers on tap, the Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA. While sipping on my beer, I glanced around at the myriad of TV’s mounted on the walls, briefly tuning in to the Cardinals game, CNN, and Fox News.
Because of the time, the bar wasn’t too crowded yet, and the food came out quickly. First the cheese curds, breaded and fried, topped with a dusting of parmesan. After a short time with the cheese curds, the waiter brought out the main course. The burger towered over the fries, barely restrained by a toothpick. After the first bite, I finally had the answer to my question.
The patty which was around 8oz and cooked to the more well done side of medium rare, was almost everything a burger should be. The outside was well seasoned and browned, the inside juicy and rich. The toppings added to the experience, creating a great Southwestern taste through the combination of pico de gallo and chipotle sauce. The lettuce, onions, and tomatoes were crisp and fresh, breaking up the creamy and salty flavor from the bacon and pepperjack cheese. All of this flavor was contained within a soft warm golden brioche bun.
The side of fries were warm and tasty, and although I didn’t get to them until after they were doused by a generous amount of the juices from the burger, they were not too soft or soggy. The thicker ripple cut style of fries went well with the burger, but were not entirely noteworthy or original on their own.
After finishing the food, I had to make a stop by the bar, where I was greeted by the bartender Zach, who was both friendly and knowledgeable about the variety of beers available. There I had another beer and got a punch on my Hoppers punch card. Perhaps the most well known feature of Hoppers, the punch card is a rewards program that entails drinking one of each of the 66 beers on tap. The rewards start with a shirt and discounts on beer and food on Sundays, and range all the way up to the prestigious Hoppers letterman jacket. Of course there are also the plaques, proudly displayed on the wall, recognizing everyone who has completed at least one punch card.
Hoppers also hosts weekly special events. On Mondays, bingo begins at 7:00pm and goes until 9:00pm. Tuesdays nights are game night, buy one get one beer, and build your own burger. Wednesdays are the popular trivia nights, with prizes of up to a $30 gift card. On Thursdays there is often live music. Saturdays start early with brunch from 11:00am to 2:00pm and end with karaoke. Finally, Sundays have brunch as well, and discounts for the people who have completed their Hoppers card and remembered to wear their Hoppers t-shirt.
I can certainly say that I recommend Hoppers for its food, drinks, and one of the better bar atmospheres in Rolla.