I'm not really sure how Hubcap Grill owner Ricky Craig will feel about his DEFCON designation. Despite my feelings on the subject, I'm fairly certain that Hubcap isn't meant to be kid friendly. Not that it's meant to be unfriendly, but something about a gravel yard filled with a ramshackle assortment of discarded lawn furniture, a menu single-mindedly focused on beef and beer, and the almost elegant austerity assembled from those components leads me to believe that my eight year old isn't exactly his target audience.
Of course, that's. not how she feels. In that gravel lot, she sees shell-mountains to build. In all the open space, she sees a stage from which to perform interpretive dance to the ZZ Top blaring from the juke box. The picnic tables and collection of odd, cast off automotive odds and ends tell her that this is a place that doesn't mind a little noise, a little party. Perhaps she's right on that last point.
I love that my kids love Hubcap Grill, because I love Hubcap Grill. I rarely find opportunities to visit the original, downtown location; my work schedule just doesn't permit. The 19th street spot, with it's friendlier hours and almost muscle-relaxer-like vibe of calm, has become something of a go-to on those evenings when cooking sounds like a chore, equaled by the thought of having to sit up straight in some restaurant or other, hawkishly mindful of the volume of our children's voices, and constantly aware of the angle and disposition of their limbs. Hubcap affords us the ability to relaxe in ways that few other restaurants, intentionally kid friendly or not, seem able to match.
As with any DEFCON operation, logistics are key. Show up early, before there's a crowd for the pitch and volume of your kids' voices to annoy. Sit in the back, where the ample space between tables act as a buffer, and the unoccupied patches of open gravel provide a sort of DMZ. Be prepared to reign them back in. Despite the relaxed air, and in some ways because of it, it behooves you to consider the diners around you, and ensure that your moment of calm isn't spoiling theirs.
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We keep those rules in mind, and Hubcap always comes through. At first, the kids loved it solely for the freedom it granted. Now, they're increasingly in it for the food. Usually, we split an order of sliders between them. On our last few visits, the older girl has been bugging me for a burger of her own. She's got her eye on the Frito Pie.