I admit I had no inkling of what to expect when I entered Harry’s Hofbrau on our recent trip to visit our Fremont family, but I probably had an image of old mustachioed, pot-bellied men walking around in suspendered shorts toting mugs of beef and plates of sausage. I could also picture pigtailed blondes serving tables full of beer-drinking men singing “Ja, ja, ja, ja!”
Boy, would I have been wrong. It turns out that Harry’s Hofbrau is a cafeteria … but not the kind one usually sees.
Dozens of customers make their way down a Disney-style winding line before getting their chance to order at the counter. The first server asks what you want and you’d better be ready (after all, you’ve had a long line walk with lots of time to decide). Once that’s done, he hands you over to the second guy, who loads a plate with your entrée and takes your order for sides.
One more down the line and more sides are offered. And so on, until you reach the cashier. By the time you get there, your tray is full of plates, they take your beverage order, and you empty your wallet. But the prices are very reasonable and the first thing you ask yourself is, “Can I eat all of this?”
They’re famous for their roast turkey, so that’s what I decided on. After all, my grandson had proclaimed that their turkey gravy is the “best in America!” I mean, how could I resist? It comes with mashed potatoes, choice of white or dark meat (or both), a sesame bun, and a huge ladleful of gravy.
I had a side of stuffing (or course), eschewed the cranberry sauce and replaced it with a tomato salad. The wife ordered a sandwich and ate half my salad, as usual.
The turkey was moist and tender, even without the gravy. You know how it is. You love turkey, but never make it except on special occasions because it takes so much time and attention. Harry’s does all that for you; all you do is eat … and eat … and eat.
They did have the knockwurst and sauerkraut on the menu; I was Jonesing for it when I got in, but then I saw all the turkey being served and I capitulated to my grandson’s proclamation, re the gravy. So … only one conclusion: I have to go back. I’ll probably get sidetracked again and order any one of their other comfort food menu items.
But that’s okay, it’ll give me yet another excuse to return, this time with a bigger appetite.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the ice-cold frozen beer taps. You don't see these things very often!
Harry’s Hofbrau, 390 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, CA 95129. Phone (408) 243-0434. Open daily, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.