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3rd Coast Foodie                             

HARDKNOCKS Corpus Christi, TX

I am one of those hard core, yell in your face, get kicked out games kind of fans. Well, I haven’t really gotten kicked out of a game, but I have had to talk to security more than once. Not only do we wear jerseys, chalk our hair, and wear our ever-so-stylin’ team chucks, but at the start of football season my husband has a chat with all the neighbors so they don’t think I’m totally crazy! I am also like many of my fellow fans not always able to see “my” team play and since we have a kiddo under 21, going to most sports bars isn’t an option, because of how late games get over – you know west coast games don’t even start until 7:30pm or so and usually kids need to leave before half-time. I would say this sounds like a Facebook rant if it weren’t for the fact that this has a happy ending. Ah, yes, thank goodness for happy endings!

I’m not much of a soccer fan, but when there was no football, basketball, or hockey going on we needed a way to get some “yell” out! We found Hardknocks Sports Lounge & Grill during the World Cup and we’ll be heading back for a lot of our games! First, they have 83 TVs! That’s all I should have to say, but they show sports the whole time and not just the big events, but all events. Second, Hardknocks is a grill first and then a lounge, so they open at 11am for the lunch crowd and kids can stay until 11pm!  Oh and just as importantly, they have a kids menu that will appease even the picky eaters. There is also a game room and a patio. Don’t worry mom and dad; there are TVs in there too! Third, the kitchen serves entrees until 11pm and appetizers until 1am! Did I mention that they have 29 appetizers?  And four, everything is reasonably priced! I believe the most expensive meal is less than $20, so you don’t have to earn a professional sports player’s salary to eat at Hardknocks!

Let’s talk about Hardknocks the Sports Lounge first. The bar is the center piece! Lots of sports memorabilia and inspirational quotes by sports heroes adorn the walls. At night the waiting area transforms into intimate seating for the big games and music. Happy hour is from 4 to 7pm Monday through Friday featuring specials from the bar and appetizer menu. Did I mention they have 29 appetizers? Wednesdays are Hardknocks’ service industry nights and besides great prices on drinks and appetizers they also serve free sushi from 10pm to 12am. Can you say Sunday Fun-day? Build your own bloody Mary bar, mimosas, and 83 TVs?! I think I’ll be in heaven!

Mm on to the food! Hardknocks the Sports Grill!! To start with I need to take my hat off to the Kitchen Manager and Executive Chef, Doug Claus, who is doing a spectacular job in preparing and overseeing the staff! Everything was so artfully arranged I thanked goodness I had the excuse of the magazine to take pictures, because I was sending shots to my friends telling them they were missing out – and they really were!

So, I think I mentioned that Hardknocks has 29 appetizers? Their menu is fun! Everything on the menu is named after a sports reference; ok, there are a few things that aren’t, but all 29 appetizers are!  That of course is where we started and I have to tell you it’s hard to choose from a list that long, but we managed to do it in pit-stop time. Pretty clever, huh?  So for appetizers we narrowed it down to three: Touchdown Tuna is seared tuna slices arranged in as a rose in the center of the dish with wasabi-sriracha mayo and HK sumo sauce drizzled around it; The Field Goals are mushroom caps stuffed with slam dunk dip drizzled with an olive and herb pesto and I do mean stuffed, not merely filled; and the Bases Loaded are aptly named for twice baked potatoes  with a parmesan-bleu cheese blend and topped with sour cream, bacon (not pits), and chives. Chef Claus is truly an artist and each dish served is picture perfect!

For our Main Event we ordered the Tuna Steak with wild rice and green beans, the Hardknock Ribeye with Mack n’ Cheese and carrots, the Rocky Balboa’s Bowtie Pasta with Alfredo and grilled chicken, and the Chick-n-brie Knockout Burger. We always order our steaks (fish and beef) cooked to medium, because honestly, you never know how it’s going to come out, so we were pleasantly surprised as both the Tuna and Ribeye were perfect in both the quality of product and in how they were cooked. Chef Claus’ Alfredo sauce is amazing! No other way to describe it and that also goes for the Mack n’ Cheese! The chicken breast smothered in sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and melted Brie on a brioche bun is not a burger… it’s an event!

Well at this point we were stuffed and thinking that the locker room was calling for us, but no; our wonderful waitress, Desarey, said, “You can’t be done yet, there’s overtime! You need dessert!” Well, we didn’t “need” dessert, but then she told us about the Oreo Cheese Cake and the Fried Twinkies a ’la Mode, so we were back in the game! Although the Cheese Cake was calling our names, we had to try the Twinkie! Delicious goodness from the cream filled sponge cake to the creamy vanilla ice cream to the sweet strawberry coulis drizzled over the Twinkies. I had heard of deep fried Twinkies but hadn’t had the chance to try one until that fateful night at Hardknocks. Now, I have to go back for more!




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