I had heard great things about The Hoppy Gnome, a restaurant located in downtown Fort Wayne across from the Allen County court house, from friends and acquaintances. While all of the feedback was positive, a theme quickly arose – their tacos were the shizzle and it was very family-friendly. As a fan of all things shizzle and family-friendly, it became obvious that our night out at a Tin Caps game wouldn’t be complete without some pregaming at the Hoppy Gnome with our two little tax deductions.
If you can’t find a spot to get comfortable at the Hoppy Gnome, you’re probably better off just staying home. Huge windows dominate the walls, letting in natural light and the view of the buildings surrounding the restaurant makes them appear as if they stretch to the sky. The restaurant’s space is dominated by its family-friendly main dining area but it does have a sizable 21 and over bar area for those who prefer more adult time. The area was comfortable and lively, exactly what we needed on a Saturday night with the munchkins. Patio dining is available as well.
Something that deserves its own paragraph because it gets its own wall at the Hoppy gnome – the wall of beer. Essentially, it’s a map to the universe of beer and I got lost in it. It’s fascinating and definitely worth a few minutes of your time.
Lordy, the service. It was everything you would expect from a top-tier restaurant. Our server was patient, answered all of our questions and couldn’t have done a better job. Our orders were taken quickly and served in the same manner. All of the employees at the Hoppy Gnome seemed to be genuinely happy to be working there. Happiness pervaded, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable dining experience.
Ah yes. We’re finally to the tacos. To sum it up – if you come here for the tacos or you don’t and end up ordering them anyway, you’re going to leave as happy as the aforementioned employees. Look, I’m no expert when it comes to making tacos but I’ve eaten a crap load of them over the years and these are as good, if not better, than any I’ve had anywhere else. They have about a dozen unique taco takes to choose from. My Southeast Asian meat eating self jumped all over the Korean Short Rib and Smoked Brisket. I’m not ashamed to admit I inhaled them faster than the Cookie Monster inhaled …yeah, you guessed it … cookies. Hey, we all have our weak points and tacos are one of mine. I’d tell you exactly what they tasted like but the descriptions kind of speak for themselves. Plus, I’m pretty sure I blacked out from all the tastiness.
If you aren’t into tacos, don’t fret. They have salads and soups to choose from along with other starters. Entrees are also on the menu but again, they have glorious tacos. Be glorious.
The “Libations,” as they’re labeled on the menu, are delectable and make you want to libate more. I went with their Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned because I always order one when I see it on the menu and when I don’t, I still ask for it. I followed that up with a tiki drink, the Rum Hum Tiki because when I’m not drinking an Old Fashioned, I’m enjoying rum as much as I can. Both were well balanced and if I didn’t have to drive that night, I probably would have ordered more.
As always, beer and wine is available (in flights as well if you enjoy sampling). Also, for the designated drivers amongst us, they offer a category of non-alcoholic drinks just for you. I wish more restaurants would do this and I was happy to see it as an option on the menu.
If you find yourself looking for restaurant options in Fort Wayne, get away from the comfort of Coliseum and head downtown to the Hoppy Gnome. A family friendly atmosphere, excellent dishes and libations along with an overall fun vibe will make it worth your time. And then tell all of your friends about it.