Saturday is by far my favorite day of the week. When January comes and college football goes, I’m always searching for fun new ways to spend my Saturdays. Usually, that involves some combination of shopping, food, and beer. When I read that Hop City opened a bar at Krog Street Market back in December, I decided it was time for a visit.
We headed over around noon and the place was hoppin’. The parking lot was as crowded as the mall during Christmastime. After a lap or two, we lucked out with a spot and successfully avoided the valet. Inside, the market was swarming with people and more baby strollers than I’ve seen in one place.
We started with a round of beers at Hop City, where the beer was flowing like water. I was pretty impressed by their selection of 60 different beers on tap, although I definitely had to google a few of them to figure out what they were.
With beers in hand, we were ready for a loop around the market to scope out the shops and lunch options. A handful of the restaurants are only open for dinner, which left us with three lunch options:
Fred’s Meat & Bread (burgers, fries, and sandwiches), Grand Champion BBQ (BBQ + sides), and Yalla (Middle Eastern Cuisine). My initial plan of sampling bites from all three places was quickly shattered when we saw the 30 minute lines at each of the restaurants. They all looked good, but I was not about to spend 90 minutes waiting in line for food. We decided on Yalla because the food looked delicious and it had the longest line, so it had to be the best, right?
After 20 minutes in line, we realized that Yalla’s line was the longest not because the restaurant was the most popular, but because it was the slowest. The lines at Fred’s and Grand Champion were moving much faster, but we were already committed to Yalla at that point, so we stuck it out another 10 minutes.
The menu is set up so that you can build your own meal as you go down the assembly line of options. You can choose between a pita, laffa wrap, or bowl and there are plenty of options for fillings and sauces. I decided on a falafel bowl and Chad went with the shawarma laffa.
In terms of sauces, I added hummus, Israeli salad, olives, zhug and urfa. For those of us who are not experts in Middle Eastern cuisine (myself included), the back of the menu had a nice little cheat sheet that explained all of the sauces and spices you’ve never heard of: Israeli salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions with lemon and olive oil), zhug (a spicy blend of jalapenos, parsley, cilantro, cumin, etc.), and urfa (dried chili peppers).
Everything in my bowl was delicious. The hummus was a really nice base and the Israeli salad and spices were bold and fresh. The falafel were extra crispy on the outside and super flavorful on the inside. I loved the blend spices that they added to the chickpea fritters: cumin, cilantro, mint, and parsley.
Chad’s laffa wrap was also really tasty, and was definitely big enough to share. The laffa itself was fresh and doughy. It somewhat resembled a massive burrito when all was said and done. The shawarma (roasted chicken) was shaved and piled into the wrap. In addition to the hummus, Israeli salad, and zhug, Chad added some za’atar, which had a nice toasty sesame seed flavor.
The entire Krog Street Market experience was fun and enjoyable. Hop City was definitely a critical component, because waiting in a 30-minute line isn’t really all that bad with a beer in hand. Our only complaint was in the seating, and the fact that there just wasn’t enough of it. We had to make a few laps through the seating area before finally snagging one chair to share. I would imagine this problem is only going to get worse as more restaurants open, so hopefully there are plans to add a few more tables. All in all, it was a successful Saturday, soon to be repeated when I make my rounds at Fred’s and Grand Champion.