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The Scarlet & Black

The S&B’s review of Hometown Heroes deems it “Rookie of the Year”

Abraham Teuber ’22, Noa Goldman ’22 and Wini Austin ’21 are served food by their waitress, Gabby Gordon ’22, at Hometown Heroes. Photo by Giani Chavez.

By Abraham Teuber and Wini Austin,

Tuesday nights are restless. The responsibilities of the week begin to ramp up and all it takes is one afternoon visit to the Dining Hall to dampen one’s spirits. After finding ourselves in this familiar slump, we decided to seek comfort in the form of an impromptu visit to Hometown Heroes, Grinnell’s brand new sports bar.

Walking into Hometown Heroes, we were met by an array of portraits in homage to current college athletes hailing from the Grinnell area. At the crowded bar to the right, chef and owner Paul Durr was spotted watching his daughter Sienna play basketball on the big screen for Columbia University. As soon as we discovered Gabby Gordon ’22, Grinnell College’s own hero, was to be our server, we knew the night was going to be a victory.

Sleek grey walls and sophisticated black leather booths complement the TV-adorned interior, accented with vintage sports gear and nostalgic framed photos of historic Grinnell athletes.

Hometown Heroes’ menu is jam-packed with whimsically-named cuisine true to the restaurant’s sporty theme. After much consideration, we opted for a sampling representative of the most iconic dishes. This meaty menu ultimately led us to forfeit our vegetarian leanings and put months’ worth of environmentally sustainable values on the bench. You just can’t review a sports bar without trying a burger or wings!

First quarter? Wings served two ways: classic chicken wings and flash-fried cauliflower “Hooligans.” Gabby kindly offered to let us choose a variety of sauces, so we decided on a mix of the classic Heroes’ Sauce, Korean BBQ and the intriguing Sriracha Maple.

The cauliflower wings were served first and quickly devoured. These crispy yet sophisticated bundles of joy exceeded the bar set by our previous acquaintances with vegetarian hors d’oeuvres. (Is that a pole vault pun? Only if you want it to be, baby.) The Korean BBQ sauce was certainly appetizing, but the perfectly-cooked cauliflower at the base of this dish was what really knocked it out of the park.

Chicken wings are a staple of any sports bar’s menu, a fact clearly taken into consideration in forming the next dish we were presented with. The wings were tender and juicy. With each bite, the familiar taste of chicken was highlighted by an explosion of saucy flavor. The Heroes’ Sauce offered a new take on Buffalo, while the Sriracha maple sauce was unlike anything we’d ever tasted. Perhaps its closest rival would be the comforting and equally salty and sweet tastes of chicken and waffles.

We then were presented with the M.V.P and Rookie of the Year. The M.V.P. is a classic burger topped with melted cheese, bacon and an over-easy fried egg poised to cover the dish in delicious runny yolk. The Rookie of the Year, a sammy topped with pesto, arugula, mozzarella and chicken, thrilled our taste buds with basil-y delight. We both agreed, however, that the meatless option might even be better than the chicken. Along with the cauliflower Hooligans, the delicious vegetarian offerings at Hometown Heroes make it clear that this is not just a carnivore’s arena. For lovers of the Honor G Grill’s Beyond burgers, there is even a plant-based burger on the menu, which was highly recommended by our all-star server.

We couldn’t find any more room in our stomachs for dessert, but we’ll be back for another swing at this new downtown staple. On your way out, don’t forget to fit in a round of Pop-A-Shot, Hometown Heroes’ hidden gem, the basketball arcade game next to the bar.

Hometown Heroes feels unlike any other restaurant in Grinnell. Its vibe is distinct, a slam dunk for a chill night out with the family, a cozy but casual date night or a mid-week break from the chaos of campus life—all at an affordable price point. Think small-town Applebee’s or Buffalo Wild Wings without the baggage of microwave-filled kitchens and with much more charm. Hometown Heroes truly seems poised to become Grinnell’s rookie of the year as we move into the final season of 2019.

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