Jan. 18 2012 12:00 AM

Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or something saucy, these new eateries aim to please


If you’re thinking of backing out on that New Year’s healthy eating resolution and you want to do it right, stop by Hank’s 517 (inside the Cedar Party Store) and grab one of their area-code-inspired 517 Dogs ($2.87).

It’s a jumbo-sized ballpark hot dog wrapped in bacon and deep fried, served on a steak bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard and a homemade house dressing.  Take that, heart!

Owner Henry Hursey Jr. opened Hank’s 517 last month in the spot formerly occupied by the most recent reincarnation of Ramon’s.  

“Everything here is homemade,” Hursey says.

He’s been experimenting in kitchens and restaurants for 15 years but now creates his own menu with a mad scientist culinary bent. A recent daily special packed enough roast beef, cheddar and bacon between two buns to make three regular-sized sandwiches when deconstructed.

Hank’s offers everything from ox tails to neck bones, chicken wings, gyros, corned beef, tacos and, on the weekends, hand-tossed specialty pizzas.

Hursey has plans to begin grilling in front of the party store year-round, offering ribs, pulled pork, brisket, smoked sausage and more.      

The 517 Burger ($6.36) is a staple of Hank’s: a half-pound of hand-pattied ground beef with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and a slice of ham.

“It’s the biggest, best burger in town for that price,” Hursey says.

American Crepes launches

For those whose palates desire a little less, there’s American Crepes in the northwest corner of the Trowbridge Plaza.  

Owner Theresa Rice sampled the French favorite during a trip to Las Vegas. She´s made it the basis for a venture she hopes is on the nascent edge of the next big trend in area dining.

“I talked to college friends and they all told me crepes are big in California and New York,” Rice says. “I’ve been told they’re popular on food trucks in Texas, too.”

Think of crepes as pancakes without so much cake — they’re much thinner, crisper around the edges, and with a much larger circumference than what you’d find on the menu in a typical breakfast diner. A finished crepe is wrapped around sweet or savory fillings and, like pita wraps or gyros, are potentially portable meals.

Although Rice has only been in business for a month, American Crepes already has regulars. Rice tells of a family who stops by often for a half-dozen crepes.

Michael Makidon settled in for a custom-made club crepe on a recent evening. He recommends the sweeter, dessert options like the popular fruit and cream cheese filling crepe ($4.75) for a snack, or the thicker savory crepes for more of a meal.

The sweet side of the menu features options such as peanut butter and jelly, S´mores, Nutella and banana and more. On the savory side are familiar combinations like the ham, egg and cheese crepe, or the crepes filled with turkey pesto, cheeseburger or taco ingredients.

“I’ve had a lot of fun so far,” Rice says of her new venture. “We’re really excited to do something different in a college town.”

Aggie Mae´s expands 

The bakery of Aggie Mae’s is expanding beyond the City Market. Owner Neva Austin has set Jan. 30 as the target date for opening a second location, this one in Old Town between Pablo’s Panaderia and Perspective2. 

“We need more room,” Austin says, adding that Old Town has been on her expansion radar for some time.  

“The community is awesome,” she says.  “And not just the people who come to shop, but also the commercial association and the community of business owners.”

At the new location, a deli serving Boars Head meats and cheeses is planned, in addition to a handful of retail products that should attract foodies: olive oil, balsamic, sea salt and more. Aggie Mae’s artisian breads and pastries will be making the move, too.

“To me, it’s soul food,” Austin says, standing near a case of Aggie Mae’s pastries in the City Market. “Pure comfort food.” Call (517) 484-1350 for more information.