Growing up on the northside of Houston, my family and I have always encouraged visitors to fly into Bush Intercontinental to avoid the hour long drive to Hobby. Inevitably, there was always someone who got a great deal on a redeye to Hobby which meant we had to brave the morning rush hour traffic on Interstate 45 to retrieve them. I myself have only flown out of Hobby once so it's not an airport with which I have much experience.
While the address for the restaurant is Telephone Road, Google Maps had us pass up the Telephone exit and take the ramp toward Alvin instead, winding up on Reveille. I assume that was a route to avoid the numerous stoplights on Telephone. As we neared the restaurant, a Southwest plane was coming in so low it looked as if it might land on us. Control towers on one side and numerous strip centers on the other completed our scenery.
We had a look at the menu on the wall. My daughter loves all things elote, so she definitely wanted the Elote Fries. She chose the Adult Chicken Tender meal ($10) and I opted for the Straight Up Burger. Online, I had seen the South of the Border burger and had originally planned that for my burger choice but it wasn't listed on the wall menu. I could have probably asked about it but I wimped out.
We ordered our food and paid at the counter, where the restaurant's name is spelled out in oversized Scrabble tiles. Our masked man at the counter looked to be the owner Dimitri Papadopoulas. We chose a two-person booth by the wall in the small dining room which has a few airport-themed posters and memorabilia on the wall. The back bar area has an actual door from a plane (Spirit Airlines-maybe it fell off) and the shiplap woodwork in the dining area would fit perfectly in a nautical-themed restaurant. My daughter deemed it "cozy".
Our food arrived in good time. The Elote Fries ($5) made my daughter's eyes light up. Lurid orange-red sauce covered the fries and corn. It wasn't spicy at all, which was good for my daughter but I could have used some heat. It was topped with finely grated cheese. The menu lists cilantro cotija and parmesan but it was difficult to distinguish any subtle differences. It's like trying to explain the nuances of chili cheese fries. It's not fine dining, it's just tasty grub.
Speaking of fries, I didn't order any with my burger because my daughter's chicken tenders came with fries so I had those while she enjoyed the elote version. They are hand-cut and crispy. The menu mentions a little seasoning but I didn't detect anything other than salt. The fries here stand up to the various toppings on offer, so guests can be assured that the loaded versions don't get overly soggy. I noticed a special on the restaurant's Facebook page called Chicken Drip Fries, made with buttermilk biscuit-breaded chicken and gravy. That's on my bucket list.
My daughter's dish also came with coleslaw. I am a coleslaw fiend, a trait I share with my six-year old niece. Too often, coleslaw at restaurants is too sweet or has too much mayo. And if it is good slaw, they serve it in a tiny-ass ramekin meant for tartar or cocktail sauce. At Hangar, it's served in a soup cup because it is a legit side. And boy, it's good. The mayo had a slight pink tinge from the bleed-out of the purple cabbage and it didn't have a cloying taste of sugar. Thank you Hangar Kitchen for doing coleslaw right.
My daughter and I played it safe this time with our orders. Maybe next time, I will go for a more elaborate burger like the Williams Tower with pulled pork or the Notorious P.I.G. that includes a patty made of bacon to top the beef patty. Or maybe I will have the guts to ask about the South of the Border burger because I love pico de gallo on a burger. The restaurant also has a couple of nods to Papadopoulos' Greek heritage with items like the Chicken Sticks Pita and Greek Salad, which I would also like to try. And there are always new specials along with a Friday Steak Night.
We had enough leftovers for my daughter to take back to her dorm for a snack. As we were leaving, I asked Papadopoulos about the pickles that were on the hamburger. They had a sweetness to them that I couldn't place. He said they were made in-house and that they used thyme and rosemary. I thought I tasted more of the sweetness of a pickling spice. Whatever is in them, I would definitely buy a jar to keep in my fridge. Hint, hint.
As we made the drive back to UH my daughter said, "I can't stop thinking of those elote fries." And that's what makes a good restaurant.