Brian Feels Smart About: Hot Bar

Story by Brian Miller

Here’s some free advice: go to the Hot Bar.

If you know what the Hot Bar is, stop reading and go there. If you’re confused, read on.

The Hot Bar is a magical place inside Festival Foods on Mall Drive here in Eau Claire. On paper it’s just a food counter in the middle of the store, but really it’s everything you could ever want. I was skeptical at first, too, but my roommate who works there convinced me to try it. Now my days are spent trying to spread the good news.

It’s an oasis of freedom that’s half salad bar and half delicious fried food. Sometimes you go in with every intention of getting a salad, but walk out with macaroni and cheese. It happens. You pay by the pound, so try to control yourself, but don’t worry — there’s no judgment at Hot Bar.

I usually take one of the 3 compartment boxes and I leave with this:

Main compartment: Salad
Small compartment: Cottage Cheese and Fruit
Other small compartment: Potato Wedges

Every day from 10 a.m. — 2 p.m. is lunch, and 4 p.m. — 7 p.m. is dinner. You can go online to see a schedule of the daily specials. Today, they’re featuring cheese-stuffed manicotti.

You probably shouldn’t eat there every day. A diet of only fried chicken will catch up with you and you don’t want to lose the excitement, but on a weekend afternoon when you don’t want to cook, there’s nothing better.

If you get there and you’re too concerned with whether or not it’s healthy — you’re in the grocery store. Just buy some bananas or something.