Apr 21, 2015

Hooligan's, where a BLT knows how to stick up for itself and the whole place gets fishy on weekends

Hooligan's: More restaurant than bar
The hairy guy's report:
Last weekend, the hairy guy saw the 1960 film "The Little Shop of Horrors," which was showing at the old Masonic Temple downtown. In the movie (which includes a young Jack Nicholson in its cast), a strange potted plant lives off human flesh and blood, and whines "Feed me!" in a deep voice when it's hungry.

By coincidence, we'd stopped in a couple days earlier at Hooligan's, up on Water Street near the Independence Bridge. Looking over the menu, Harry noticed that the description for a BLT says only: "It speaks for itself."

Even before seeing a movie about a talking plant, a talking sandwich sounded ominous.

Harry actually loves BLTs but he was hungry and not in the mood to converse with his intended lunch. And who knows what a BLT might say for itself, especially as it was about to be eaten? Discussion could get heated.

So, with a beer safely in hand, he asked instead for a burger. The friendly bartender asked what we wanted on it.

Can you do Swiss and grilled onions? we asked.

"Whatever you want, honey. It's a restaurant," said the cook, who was standing nearby.

Others might not like being addressed as "honey," but we don't mind. It's nicer than some of the
Breanna at work behind the bar
possibilities. And the non-talking burger turned out to be very good.

But it was becoming clear that the place we'd picked to visit was more of a restaurant than a bar.

Sure, there's a bar to sit at. And there is a pool table, not a typical restaurant item. And sure, the line between bar and restaurant can be fuzzy anyway.

But Hooligan's has a full menu -- one that gets much fuller on Fridays and Saturdays, along with the crowd. If we had been smarter about it, we could have paid more attention to the sign -- Hooligan's Food & Spirits, with the food coming before the spirits -- but who pays that much attention to signs? Anyway, you never really know what you're going to find until you walk in.

The menu includes assorted sandwiches (such as a fried egg sandwich, at $4.50, which might be able to speak for itself, or at least chirp a bit), pizza, salads and nachos. There's a small salad bar. And daily specials.

Friday and Saturday are the big days, with all sorts of fish offerings -- perch, frog legs, cod, walleye, salmon, whitefish, tilapia, shrimp and clams. There's a fish special on Wednesdays, and other fish meals are also available then, as well. The fresh fish is supplied by Wrege's

Handy bar serving tray
Company in Saginaw. Hooligan's doesn't do fish in the same fryer it uses for french fries and other food; that second fryer is only in use on fish-serving days.

Ordering food at the bar, the surprise turned out to be little serving trays that sit level over the wide lip of the bar and make eating a lot cleaner.

Breanna, the able daytime bartender, says she started tending bar 10 years ago at the nearby Shot & Shell.

The cook turned out to be Bonnie Young, part owner of the family-run business that once was located at the downtown Empire complex when it was owned by Art Narlock. Young said she's been cooking for 44 years, since she was 14. Hooligan's, she said, has been at its current location for 16 years.

Eight beers were on tap: Bud, Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Guinness, Blue Moon, Labatt Blue and Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy. Pints are $2.25 for domestics, $3.75 for imports;
Corner decor
22-ouncers are $3 and $5. For happy hour (3-6 p.m.), there are $1.50 cans. Harry, as usual, asked for a manhattan and got a strong one for $4.75, made with Jim Beam; it came with three cherries.

Interior decor is fancy beer signage. In mid-April, a St. Patrick's Day beer banner was still out. In the men's room, golf was showing on a TV set.

Hooligan's is open from 11 a.m. (except noon on Sunday) to midnight, or 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. A game on the lone pool table costs 75 cents. All lottery games are available.

By the way, Hooligan's is located next to Tri-City Brewing, which serves no food. If you're looking for more of a bar atmosphere, you could walk across the parking lot with a carry-out. And if you try the BLT, please let us know what it says.


  The particulars:
  Hooligan's Food & Spirits
  3022 N. Water


Anonymous said...

I see the yin, where;s the yang? Did you put Doc in the penalty box? (That's a hockey reference.


Anonymous said...

oops, I forgot to close my parentheses. Sorry hairy guy. I know you hate that. Here it is. )