Bite of the Week: Sopes at Hodges Bend

Pork Sopes from Hodge’s Bend on University Avenue // Photo by Tj Turner

Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler.

Hodges Bend, the smoothly sophisticated bar that has quietly slipped into and begun to elevate the University Avenue food and drink scene, doesn’t immediately strike a diner as a spot to eat traditional Mexican fare. The menu is studded with oysters and salads and steaks and sandwiches, so the sopes pop up as a bit of an outlier. But once these gorgeous little discs of savory love hit the bar, you’ll be struck by how at home they look next to a craft cocktail or two.

Sopes, like so much Mexican soul food, are deceptively complex. What initially appears to be just an elegant little mound of meat dropped on top of a circular bread element turns out to be at least a half-dozen layers of flavor: fried masa supporting guacamole undergirding deeply flavored meat, radishes, and queso fresco. Everything is gently but properly seasoned, and you get the kind of contrasts you want from the dish: moist tenderness vs. crispy crunchiness, pickled brightness vs. savory earthiness, and so forth. It’s a lovely little package, and you get two for the purchase price, which makes it a wonderfully hearty snack, or an elegant light meal.

Pork Sopes // Photo by Tj Turner

THE DISH: Pork Sopes, $11

THE PLACE: Hodges Bend, 2700 University Ave. W., Ste. 100, St. Paul

THE REASON: They’re elegant, savory, and a perfect complement to a good cocktail