I’m getting old.  Not that I necessarily look old, or even feel it sometimes, but I hate the idea of it, mostly because I feel under-accomplished. I want more from my life and although I’m in the midst of doing so, I feel like I didn’t make the most of the past 30 years. Crap. I’m 31. Does this make me a cougar?

I’ve mostly grown out of my birthday bash days and now prefer dinner with family and friends. According to the brothers, I can sometimes be “bougie“, and they hoped I’d choose something more casual with a fun atmosphere. I settled on Hard Knox Cafe after nixing my original idea for Woodhouse Fish Co., with Pride happening the same weekend and Woodhouse being in the Castro, we never would’ve gotten parking! Hard Knox turned out to be a great choice, established in 1999 by chef and owner Tony Hua, I had only heard of it after it opened its Outer Richmond location on Clement St in 2008. Great Southern Soul Food coupled with its reputation for having a laid back dining attitude, the Fam Bam was excited to try the menu. The best part, they have a family dining option which I don’t usually see offered outside of Asian restaurants, we forego it this time around though, mostly because the boys eat a lot and thought single entrees were a better option.

HARD KNOX CAFE
2448 Clement Street
San Francisco, CA 94121
415-752-3770
hardknoxcafe.com

Arnold Palmer ($2.50)

Very refreshing and served in these cute mason jar cups. I’m a sucker for cute kitschy things like that, only bummer was no free refills! I liked Angeline’s a bit better because their Swamp Water had free refills.

Corn Muffins

A big plate of finger scorching AMAZINGNESS!! I love cornbread, but I hate how dry it can be, but these were the perfect hybrid of moist Mexican corn cake and crumbly southern style cast iron corn bread. Not greasy, a lovely sweetness and with a rich slathering of salty butter melted into every little crevice it was mind-blowing. I was trying not to fill up on before out meal but I couldn’t help it! I could have easily polished off the entire plate myself.

Cajun Shrimp Balls ($8)
Fried shrimp, corn, rice, and Cajun seasoning served with spicy aioli

When they said Cajun, they MEANT IT! I loved the assertive seasoning and the all out punch of spicy flavors in my mouth, you’d think the aioli would cool it down for you, but no, it add to it even more so! Fried spheres of shrimp and rice, reminded me of the Italian arancini. I didn’t see many shrimp pieces inside, but the flavor was enough to keep me satisfied.

Hard Knox offers all their entrees with your choice of sides. I didn’t get to snap a picture of everyone’s dinner, but there’s no composed dishes at Hard Knox, it was huge portions, simple plates but sometimes that’s all you really need.

Blackened Catfish: w/ French Fries and Mac n Cheese ($14)
Farm-raised catfish filets, seasoned, then pan-fried on an iron skillet with blackening seasoning and butter

Ros’ plate, two huge filets, I had a piece of fish, cooked very well, flaky and moist, very yummy.

Fried Pork Chops: w/ Mac n Cheese and Candied Yams ($12)
Two 6 oz. center cut pork chops marinated in our special seasoning and fried to perfection

Jonny’s plate, he said the yams were a little too sweet but everything else was great.

Fried Chicken: w/ Yam Fries and Mac n Cheese ($11)

Matt’s plate, the yam fries were so GOOD! Really, really, REALLY GOOD! I kept stealing them off his plate. He said it tasted fine, but the chicken itself was nothing to go wild over.

Spicy Chicken n Waffle ($10) with a side of Mac n Cheese ($3)

My plate! I’m such a Chicken and Waffles fan and was glad they let me substitute spicy chicken for their regular chicken. My plate came with 3 pieces (breast, wing and drumstick) of chicken and crispy on the outside, moist and fluffy on the inside waffle. For $10, it’s a seriously amazing value. The spicy chicken had great flavor, really in your face spicy which I loved with my butter and syrup soaked waffle. Dig that spicy/sweet flavor combo so hardcore, only downer was the chicken being over fried and a little greasy. Not enough to stop me from eating it, but it would have been just that much better had it been pulled from the oil sooner. The mac n cheese was raved about on Yelp and at the table from my siblings who had it, but I felt it was a little gummy and I missed that crunchy breadcrumb topped baked Mac n Cheese. I am definitely a baked Mac n Cheese kinda girl.

The perfect bite.. chicken, waffle with syrup poured all over it! YEA BABY!

Leftovers ready to box up

Yes, I am Ms Fatty and I do take home food, 2 pieces of chicken and all of that mac n cheese left. Not that it wasn’t great, but there was so much, I had more than enough for lunch the next day, except the baby brother ate it before I did.

Oxtails were also ordered but I didn’t grab a picture of them, three huge pieces and the meat was falling off the bone! I’d so get that the next time around! All in all, great dinner and a great night, I entered 31 smoothly, without too many of the bumps and bruises of birthdays passed. Wow, I’m officially in my early 30s, jeeze.

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