Hu Hot Mongolian Grill is a different sort of dining experience. There is a menu, but more popular is the make-your-own stir-fry, prepared with spatula gymnastics on a giant flat-top grill that looks like something from a medieval dungeon. Fill a bowl with any combination of meats, vegetables, noodles, fruits, and sauces – then watch as they cook it with flair and return it on a plate. This allows for pleasing a variety of patrons, including picky kids and yes: paleo/primal eaters. I picked beef, pork, broccoli, carrots, bok choy, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, & cilantro, with Kung Pao sauce – one of the gluten-free options. While unable to gurantee no cross contamination, telling them of a gluten allergy initiates an impressive ritual of supercleaning an area of the grill and sequestering your food, even as other workers continue to circle, mixing and chopping the rest with spatulas flying. I suggest an extra tip for this special care. I doubt anything is organic or grass-fed, but the food is tasty and you choose exactly what ingredients are used. For a chain restaurant with wide appeal, Hu Hot is surprisingly paleo friendly.
Update (7/12/2014): I’ve since made additional trips to Hu-Hot in various cities and continue to be impressed. Just tried the one in Kenosha, and they’ve upgraded handling of “allergens” another notch. You no longer need to tell the cooks when you get up there – instead the server gives you a special color bowl to alert them, and the process is the same regardless of what kind of allergy or sensitivity you have. (The person ahead of me got the same treatment for an onion allergy.) I’m not sure if this change is chain-wide, but I think it should be.
610 Junction Rd #101, Madison
Good food; Nice casual atmosphere. Many dishes made paleo on request. Many quality ingredients sourced locally from Jordandal Farm, Parisi Farm, Primrose Community Farm, Underground Meats, Prairie Bluff Farm, New Century Farm, Lange Farm, etc. Some grass-fed meats and organic vegetables when available. Full bar is one of the most paleo-friendly in town, featuring local kombucha, organic teas, and “The Catfish” (seltzer and your choice of fresh or Rose’s lime juice) or, of course, they’ll mix up a mean NorCal. Would like to see their take on a true paleo dish on the menu, but recommended as is.
1201 Williamson Street, Madison
Subs and other sandwiches. Known for fast delivery. Will make any item as a lettuce-wrapped “unwich” on request.
Menu features wild and grass-fed options, many local and organic, and inspired side options. Try a flight of house pickles or roasted bone marrow (omit bread). I really want to try the Graze burger, but feel weird about omitting the bun on something costing $21. Rainbow trout may be best piece of fish I’ve ever had, lacinato kale was fantastic but wished there was a bit more. Lots of “gluten free” (vs. paleo) options. Would like to see a true paleo dish (no grain, dairy, legumes, seed oils, sugar) on the menu, and a breadless option for sandwiches – perhaps a bed of greens.
1 S Pinckney St #107, Madison