Northwest Herald

Mystery Diner in Hebron: Hoops Sports Bar & Grill scores tasty slam dunk

Hoops Bar and Grill, 10521 Route 47, Hebron, offers up bar food that was a slam dunk.

When I walked into Hoops Sports Bar & Grill in Hebron, it felt like a familiar favorite. For me, that is a local bar and grill where I can get a lunch with my friends or visit later for drinks with dinner. All while knowing the food will be as good as I remembered the last time.

If you know Hebron, you also know the town has a basketball painted on its water tower. That explains where Hoops gets its name. In 1952, Hebron’s high school team, a school with just 98 students, beat 1,035-student Quincy High School for the state basketball championship. The 1986 “Hoosiers” movie is said to be loosely based on that win.

Hoops is just the kind of neighborhood restaurant you want after the Friday night basketball game.

For me, Hoops felt like one of the eateries I go to with friends in the summer or stop at in the winter when we need to get out of the house. The bar and grill has the bar up front, dining room toward the back, and an outdoor patio. Being a quick stop for me, I decided to eat at the bar, chat with the server, and check out the news showing on a Chicago network.

Hoops Bar and Grill in Hebron offers French cut fried pickles for a new and tasty take on the bar food favorite.

The menu has a good variety of appetizers, salads, burgers, wraps, sandwiches and pizza. Hot dogs and wings round out the regular menu, but Sundays also offer prime rib, and there is a Friday fish fry.

The atmosphere at Hoops didn’t make me feel rushed, and I had a little time to spare for this early dinner/late lunch, so I ordered the fried pickle appetizer and a Buffalo chicken wrap. Knowing I’d have a long night and next day (and pizza is the preferred election night food), I picked up a cheese pizza to go.

I am a sucker for fried pickles ($9.26). Instead of spears or chips, the fried pickles were French cut. Yes, just like French fries. The breaded coating had a nice spice and came with Thousand Island dressing. I ate almost half of the generous basket.

A Buffalo chicken wrap ($13.40) is my go-to for bar food. When it is done right, it is just so right. This one was beyond right. The chicken was crispy on the outside and tender in the middle, and had just enough Buffalo sauce to give it a nice zing without becoming messy. The tortilla was heated on the grill with a touch of browning. That was the game-changer for me – not just a tortilla but one that held together perfectly. Toasting it on the grill added flavor, kept the tortilla from getting soggy, and just added to the overall experience. The fries were hot and a good-sized portion.

Hoops Bar and Grill in Hebron browns its wraps on the grill for added flavor and preventing a soggy tortilla.

The cheese pizza ($14.49) was advertised as homemade. For someone who makes homemade pizza on occasion, the crust was exactly what I want mine to be: this dough had not seen the inside of a freezer. And the cheese was plentiful. Even later that night, the crust wasn’t soggy from sitting, and had a nice chew. That is a sign of a well-made pie.

Other appealing dishes on the menu include the totchos ($18.95), tater tots smothered in barbecue brisket, jalapeños, nacho cheese and sour cream. The Italian beef wrap ($13.95) looks like a lower-carb version of the Chicago favorite.

A cheese pizza with a homemade crust from Hoops Bar and Grill, Hebron.

They are among the items I’ve going to have to go back and try.

The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.

Seeking reader suggestions: We welcome readers to share their recommendations of places they would like the Mystery Diner to visit. Email ideas to tips@nwherald.com.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Hoops Sports Bar & Grill

WHERE: 10521 Route 47, Hebron

PHONE: 815-648-4667

INFORMATION: www.hoopsbar.net