Overview: If there is one thing I miss in The Shore it’s the old—and original—Hof’s Hut. Opened Sept. 16, 1951, Hof’s was just a tiny, one-story coffee shop for nearly 40 years until it expanded in 1988, taking over another storefront and adding a second story. Its décor went from dark and dank to totally '80s with pastel greens and corals, subway tiles, and an open-air patio on the second floor. For the next 15 years--through college, as a newlywed, and then as a mother--Hof’s Hut was my go-place for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner.
During my single days it was easier to sit at the counter and order a club sandwich than pour myself a bowl of cereal for dinner. Then, to my dismay, and the dismay of many others, the Hofman family transitioned the restaurant into its new Lucille’s BBQ concept. I’m still mourning the loss of Hof’s Hut in Belmont Shore and the convenience of walking down the block to its front door. But not all is lost. Hof’s Hut is still slinging hash over in the Marina next to Albertson’s.
Decor: The red neon sign beckons would-be diners to the entrance of Hof’s and, once inside, guests are greeted with a display of pies, multi-layered cakes, and tarts stacked neatly in a glass-enclosed case.
The main dining room, which has been remodeled several times, features ample-size booths and an exhibition kitchen with an enclosed, heated patio. My favorite place to people watch is in the lounge where old timers throw back Bloody Marys first thing in the morning while sitting around the circular bar.
I imagine that when smoking was still permitted in restaurants those dining inside Hof’s lounge did so through a nicotine haze. But the lounge area is not a bar per se: It’s an extension of the restaurant where children are welcome and the full menu is served.
The Food: Hof’s is one of the few places where you can order breakfast all day. Omelets, griddle favorites, eggs and bacon, and scrambles are what Hof’s does best. Of course, founder Harold Hofman made hamburgers his calling card when he opened his seaside burger stand at 5th Place during the 1940s.
The menu also has a heady selection of sandwiches and salads, as well as more substantial fare like pot roast, rotisserie chicken, steak and ribs--all with a choice of side dishes. There is also a selection of appetizers, such as the Sam Adams beer batter-dipped zucchini sticks, and homemade soups.
Hof’s is also known for their desserts, including fresh fruit pies, chocolate malts and their signature Chocolate Wipeout Cake.
For a while the restaurant was trying to keep up with food trends by offering wraps and gourmet condiments. Thankfully, this culinary experiment seems to be fading from the menu and Hof’s has gone back to the basics, for the most part, offering the comfort foods they’re known for.
Service: Like most coffee shops service at Hof’s can be a hit or miss. The old-time waitresses prove to be the most skilled at their jobs because they’ve been at it the longest. They’re helpful without hovering--ensuring everyone’s meals arrive at the same time. And they’re also quick to refill coffee cups and beverages.
I like that everyone at Hof’s is treated the same. I’ve seen councilmen, business leaders and local politicians receiving the same service—good or bad—as everyone else in the room. On a recent visit I was sitting at a booth next to Vickie Lawrence of Carol Burnett fame (although my 8-year-old daughter corrected me by saying “No, that’s Hannah Montana’s grandma!”). When I tried to get the waitresses attention, she ignored me. But I also noticed she ignored Vickie Lawrence’s attempts, too. Now that’s what I call the best of both worlds!
Address: 6257 E. Second St. in the Marina
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.; until midnight, Friday and Saturday
Disabled Access: Yes
Parking Info: Free lot
Restaurant type: Coffee Shop
Restaurant attributes: Casual, full bar, dining room and lounge seating. Credit cards accepted. Call ahead. Kids eat free on Wednesdays.