HotBox in Avondale is somewhat of a mystery. The top of the building is visible when walking along the sidewalk on 41st Street, but it isn’t immediately clear what the aluminum box inscribed with the word “Hotbox” is, exactly. The name certainly lends itself well to post-school hours explorations in the 90’s, but surely a venue reserved for this use wouldn’t be so clearly labeled.
Trying to find the entrance to the elusive spot is even more daunting. There’s a doorway next door to Parkside that has a hanging sign reading “Hotbox”, but the door is locked. Lucky for us, a long-bearded young man dressed in somewhat grungy clothing walked by at just the right time. “This guy knows how to get in; let’s ask him,” I said quickly.
And he did. He quickly showed us that Hotbox is accessed through Parkside. After walking through the bar, we were escorted to the patio, where stumbled into Hotbox’s dining area.
We walked up to the window to take a look at the menu and were delighted to find a myriad of multi-cultural food options. We landed on the Edamame Hummus, Lemongrass Fried Chicken (being a Vietnamese food fan, they had me at lemongrass), and the Chicken Wings.
The food took quite a while to prepare, but it was certainly worth the wait, as everything was freshly-prepared. The Edamame Hummus was a hit. A blend of edamame and avocado, topped with chia seeds, spices, and cilantro, served alongside very crispy tortilla chips, we wiped this dish out first.
Next we sampled our entrees. The wings were solid chicken wings, topped with scallions and served with garlic ranch.
The Lemongrass Fried Chicken was the best dish. A huge mound of freshly fried chicken, tossed with fried jalapeños and covered in aioli and cilantro, this dish was delicious. The meat was flavorful and the jalapeño added some kick, while the aioli cooled the dish down.
This venue is certainly unique and the food was better than we expected. Hotbox is open only in the evening hours and is closed on Sunday and Monday.