WHO’S IN CHARGE Jane and Jeff Wicks, owners of our favorite summer shack, Hull’s Kitchen, have stretched out and replicated themselves two doors up the beach. The space is three times the size and named HK Too.
After working with their son Ben for 12 years at the original place, Jane and Jeff have moved to HK Too, and Ben is running Hull’s Kitchen. This is a verifiable mom-and-pop place, with Jeff cooking and Jane managing the front of house.
Opening a restaurant was the couple’s longtime dream and they’ve grown their business, year by year, into what’s now two very popular spots serving consistently good, simply prepared fresh food in, as Jane says, “a laid-back, open air environment.”
THE LOCALE It takes a lot to stand out on the Nantasket Strip — that uneven string of honky-tonk summer stands and bars, amusement park remnants, arcades, and restaurants. But HK Too manages to both stand out and fit in with its tropically colored wooden fencing, bar, and umbrellas.
The year-old, 90-seat space (formerly Barefoot Bob’s) is all and only patio: It’s as close to Margaritaville as you can get in New England. So far, the Wickses haven’t opened their indoor space, but plans are afoot to make it a casual hang, with couches. “It’ll be very chill,” said Jane.
ON THE MENU The two restaurants have almost identical menus. Our longtime go-to — when the season hits and the restaurant opens — has been the fish tacos ($4.75). They’re deep fried in a very light batter, served in a soft corn taco over grated cabbage, and topped with crema, guacamole, and a wedge of lime.
Anything fish is good here: Fish and chips ($15.50) is a nice portion of the same lightly battered fish over shoestring fries. The lobster roll (market price/$19 now) is freshly shucked meat in a light mayo salad with celery and red onion in a lettuce-lined bun.
The mahi mahi plate ($18), a frequent special, is a terrific piece of grilled filet over a salad covered with that summer quartet: fresh cukes, cherry tomatoes, ripe avocado, and red onion. The house salad dressings are extremely light, which I like much better than gobs of commercial stuff. (Ask for a wedge of lemon. Perfect.)
The fried clams in the clam roll special ($18) this summer are extra large — with bellies, of course — and it’s nice to be able to get a small portion (not a whole meal) of these intense mollusks. Several of us are suckers for scallops, and always order the chopped salad ($14) with the add-on scallops (only four, $12), which ends up being irresistible but not quite filling enough. The same salad with steak is delish and more filling, or if you’re up for meat, try the steak tacos ($4.50). They’re covered with tomato salsa and guacamole. Really good.
Tacos also come in chicken, scallop, shrimp, and portobello mushroom versions. Hummus ($5.50) is a great vegan deal (I love being able to get good hummus at a clam shack), and the roasted brussels sprouts ($7) are an unexpected and delicious appetizer or side. Love them. So, too, the grilled sweet potatoes ($4.50).
Definitely go for the fried zucchini ($9) if it’s on the specials menu: It’s delicious with a biting horseradish dip. Several sandwiches also hit the spot: turkey, chicken, pulled pork, that kind of thing. It’s a very creative menu for a seaside shack, with all the favorites you’d expect along with others you wouldn’t. How very Nantasket Beach!
HK Too, 276 Nantasket Ave., Hull, 781-783-5425, www.hktoo.xyz.
Joan Wilder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.