I recently met Chef Isaias Peña, Hank’s Head Chef at the 6th annual Masters of Taste food festival and was excited to dine at his restaurant. Hank’s opened just about 5 years ago (as of 2023), in the Pacific Palisades. Chef Peña has curated a fantastic and eclectic menu of American cuisine.
It had been quite a while since I visited Palisades Village…it is so charming. Hank’s is located right next to the popular Bay Movie Theater. Jason Diamond greeted us upon arrival and seated us at a sunny table on the patio. He also told us the specials of the day and recommended some dishes. Then General Manager Reagan Moore came out to meet us as well.
I opted to start with a glass of red wine. Jason recommended the Firestone Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles, CA 2019. This was a vibrant, full-bodied wine with notes of plum and dark berries. My husband and photographer selected an orange cream soda, one of Hank’s delicious signature soda pops.
We started our meal with the Deviled Eggs appetizer which came with four toppings – gravlax, salmon roe, prosciutto di parma, applewood bacon. These were exquisite. Each was so unique and scrumptious in its own way. I especially loved the salmon roe which popped in my mouth like a savory salty explosion of deliciousness. Of course, the bacon accented the perfectly cooked egg, while the prosciutto and gravlax were undeniably decadent.
Next the Chicken Potstickers arrived at our table. Drizzled with sesame dressing and adorned with watermelon radish, daikon sprouts, and wasabi aioli, these precious little dumplings were filled with flavor.
Jason continued to take good care of us, and delivered a Soppressata Salami Flatbread (Provolone, marinara, red onion, Pecorino Romano, Calabrian oil, micro basil). This is a meat lover’s dream. The cured pork salami and the onion brought a spice to the gooey melted cheese blend. Also, he lightly poured a beautiful olive oil, infused with all sorts of spices and veggies, over the flatbread. I must say, the crust was quite different than most I’ve eaten. It was both chewy and crunchy, with tight little air pockets – really tasty – much like one would typically think of as a pizza crust.
Jason had recommended two specials – Chicken Fajitas along with Fish and Chips, but also insisted that we try Hank’s Signature Award-Winning Burger. Everything sounded so good, but could we eat it all? Well, we certainly tried.
The Fish & Chips special was truly exceptional. The battered coating had an amazing light and airy crunch, while the cod fish was so tender inside. Another bonus, the heat of the delicately fried fish kept those yummy chips/fries hot.
Hanks Signature Burger
Of the many burger selections, we chose the Hank’s Double Diamond Burger (Tillamook cheddar, butter lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, house sauce). Unlike a typical burger, this extra large patty was made of short rib, wagyu & brisket, a blend of meats you won’t find elsewhere. It was truly luscious. Plus the house sauce, caramelized onions, and sweet pickles took it to the next level. The super-sized onion rings were also stellar.
Next thing I knew, General Manager Reagan Moore brought a margarita to the table, insisting we pair it with the incoming dish. The El Dragone (Casa Dragones Blanco, Aperol, orgeat, Luxardo Maraschino, lime juice) was sweet, and easy to drink, yet had a kick.
Before I knew what was happening, the sizzling Chicken Fajitas platter was placed before me on a cast iron skillet. I loved the smoke and sizzle presentation. Served with sides of guacamole, sour cream, a robust salsa, pico de gallo, cheddar cheese, and warm tortillas, this was a fun dish to share. Plus one could spice it up to taste, slather it with guacamole or just eat as is. This is one of Hank’s go-to dishes for many of the local patrons.
This just happened to be one of the first warm days of Spring, and I just loved the experience of enjoying our amazing meal on the patio. As the sun moved across the sky, the multiple table umbrellas offered both shade and filtered sunshine. It was an excellent way to engage in the full experience of dining at Hank’s.
Even though we could barely fit any more food in our bellies, we happened to see a Cookie Skillet passing by on its way to another table (fresh baked chocolate chip cookie in a skillet, topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and chocolate drizzle). Needless-to-say, we just had to give it a try. OMG, so glad we did. The velvety vanilla ice-cream melted into the warm cookie which was oh so good. The sides were crusty but the inside was slightly undercooked, just the way I like it.
Take time to enjoy a wonderful culinary experience in a fantastic setting. Make your reservation at Hank’s today. You won’t regret it. Hank’s, 1033 North Swarthmore Ave., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272; https://www.hankspalisades.com/
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