Katie Lianez / Lantern reporter
Upon entering Hal & Al’s nearby German Village, which has been open for about four years, I was a little shocked when no one greeted me at the door or even seemed to acknowledge my presence.
The bartender, seemingly the only employee, continued to serve who I can only assume were the “regulars” as we awkwardly made our way to a table unsure of what to do.
After my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit restaurant, I started to take in the decor. The walls were adorned with quirky local art for sale and flat-screen TVs that seemed to clash with the otherwise grungy motif. Vintage pinball machines and video games lined either side of the small dance floor and stage, and couches surrounded a large chalkboard with the daily specials.
Ready to write the place off, I took a look at the menu. Hal & Al’s offers a menu of vegan food, all locally sourced and cooked in house.
I decided on the Luna burger with a Brezel pretzel bun served with hand-cut fries for $8 and waited for a waiter to come take our order. I would still be waiting had I not found the small note at the top of the menu that said, “please place all orders at the bar.” Again taken aback, I made my way to the bar expecting to once again be ignored.
To my surprise the bartender lit up when she asked if we had made up our minds. Her friendly demeanor had caught me off guard but had completely restored faith in my dining experience.
Shortly after ordering, our food was brought out by the lone server from the kitchen. The presentation was nothing special – a burger and mound of fries served in the traditional plastic basket – but the taste was great.
For those who have never dared to try them, just know that veggie burgers are a very hit-or-miss delicacy in the vegan world. This Luna burger was a hit however. It was flavorful, hearty and grilled to perfection. The pretzel bun stole the show. The warm bun from local shop Brezel was a welcome change from your average hamburger bun.
After I got over my initial uncertainty and I realized Hal & Al’s simply has a different way of doing things, I thoroughly enjoyed my dining experience. Overall I would encourage all those looking for a good vegan meal to give it a try.
Hal & Al’s is located near German Village at 1297 Parsons Ave. Hours are Monday through Thursday 4 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday noon to 2:30 a.m. and Sunday noon to midnight.