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Whether a cat lover or not, HopCat is a good choice for a quick bite after class or a full-on dinner celebration. Founded in 2015, HopCat Ann Arbor aims to “pay homage to the city’s psychedelic side.” It creates an intimate atmosphere uniquely different from all other HopCat locations. The original HopCat in Grand Rapids, Mich., features bikes hanging from the ceiling with a “local tap list, infamous fries, paired with food your mom would make if she loved craft beer.” HopCat is anti-chain and nonconforming, which means every location has a different menu and interior design. 

HopCat Ann Arbor has a retro and energetic atmosphere; the walls and tables are decorated with profiles of the ’60s and ’70s musicians like Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles. Its dim lighting with orange and red hues creates a calming and nostalgic environment for someone to unwind from a stressful day. Guests have the choice to sit at the bar or a table depending on their food or drink of interest. 

HopCat is known for its craft beer rainbow and aims to bring the best craft beer to local communities. The restaurant puts people first and provides genuine hospitality and quality customer service. They also care about sustainability, as they emphasize recycling waste or composting it in the restaurant’s local communities.

For any HopCat first-timers, the Cosmik fries are both a go-to and a must-try. The original Cosmik fries are beer-battered fries sprinkled with Hopcat’s signature cracked black pepper seasoning. The fries are crunchy and lightly salted, making a great comfort food but with Hopcat’s unique take on it — with a little sprinkle of sugar. It can also be served with a side of rich, warm cheese sauce, an incredible addition to the Cosmik Fries.  

To level up the original Cosmik fries, loaded Cosmik fries consist of hickory-smoked bacon, red onions and pickled jalapeños. This option adds more spice, flavor and richness to the original Cosmik fries. Though the fries have more ingredients, it is not overwhelming to eat and does not steal the show for the main course. The loaded Cosmik Fries can be even more loaded with the hot and new BBQ brisket Fries with a 6-hour beer braised brisket and smoky BBQ sauce. These are the best Fries options for meat lovers who do not want to sacrifice either meat or fries and are seeking the perfect Unami flavor. 

Football is on Ann Arbor’s mind during the game season and on Hopcat’s too. For this year’s anticipated University of Michigan and Michigan State University rivalry game, Hopcat asked both Tight End Erick All and Quarterback Payton Thorne to build their burgers. Hopcat makes their dining fun for sports fans by allowing them to choose their college football team. University of Michigan Fans can support their team by getting the All burger which consists of two smash patties, American cheese, haystacks, bacon, lettuce, tomato and red onion served with honey sriracha on a brioche bun, and Michigan State University fans can support their team by getting Thorne’s burger, which consists of two smash Patties, American cheese, bacon and a sunny-side-up egg served on a pretzel bun.

Hopcat also provides The Build Your Own Burger, which comes with two smash patties and a choice of cheese, with lettuce, tomato and red onion served on a brioche bun. The great thing about BYO burgers is that diners have a lot of freedom for which ingredients they want or don’t want on the burger without a lot of additional costs. This is a good choice for diners who like to stick to the familiar or for those who are very adventurous and would like to customize their food to their preferences. There are a variety of cheese options such as pepper jack, smoked gouda, dill havarti and more. If customers want to get creative with the add-ons, BYO burgers can be enhanced with bacon, cheese sauce, avocado or a sunny-side-up egg. 

When eating with family and friends, Hopcat provides some classic shareables. The jumbo chicken wings are juicy, crispy and hot with fire, honey sriracha or Nashville hot sauce. They are also incredibly easy to share as they are served in a basket. The flash-fried and salted pretzel nuggets are warm, soft and melt on the tongue. They become a true delicacy when dipped in spicy horsey mustard, which adds a pleasant peppery and potent flavor to the plain pretzel.  

Hopcat is a restaurant worth trying because it is conveniently located from campus and provides a retro escape for Ann Arbor residents who are trapped in the constant daily hustle and bustle. No matter if a diner wants a foodie adventure or simply comfort food, Hopcat has got all of it. Eating at Hopcat is always fun because they have great music taste and always keep their diners entertained while they are enjoying delicious food. It’s also a great spot for friends and family to catch up while avoiding unnecessary awkward silences. Hopcat not only offers a taste of delicious food but also a taste of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan’s football and game season culture. HopCat’s unique atmosphere and meals is truly unlike another and worth checking out.  

Hopcat is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas and for anyone who’s a fan of a good deal and good food at the same time, happy hour at HopCat is Monday to Thursday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., where Build Your Own Burger that comes with Cosmik fries is only $7 and a basket of Cosmik fries is only $4. Feel free to drop by and enjoy some great food without feeling guilty about spending money. 

Daily Arts Contributor Eva Ji can be reached at