Happy Hour Spotlight: Houlihan’s Restaurant and Bar
Houlihan’s | 2 Southpark Ctr. | Strongsville, OH
Confession: I have Indians fever. I’ve been emotionally invested in the team all summer and, prior to injuries to Corey Kluber and Jose Ramirez, thought they were going to win the Central Division. Sunday, then, proved especially tough—the team overcame a large deficit and tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning on a dramatic three-run homer, only to fall in extra innings. So, I pondered how to recover from my sports disappointment. The answer—happy hour! With that in mind, my wife and I headed to Houlihan’s in Strongsville.
Houlihan’s is a national chain with close to 100 locations throughout the country. Their Strongsville spot is in Southpark Mall, ½ mile west of Interstate 71 on Route 82. For a chain restaurant, the atmosphere isn’t bad. Don’t get me wrong, Houlihans has a chain feel, but they do employ elements of modern restaurants such as a display kitchen, an expansive bar/lounge, a patio and two fireplaces.
Houlihan’s happy hour menu is impressive. Let’s start with the drinks. Almost any cocktail on the menu is $5. The list includes mojitos, margaritas, martinis, bloody Marys, spiked lemonades and sangria. Well cocktails are $4. Beer costs between $3 and $5 and includes Blue Moon Belgian White, Angry Orchard, Lagunitas IPA, Stella Artois, Miller Lite, Great Lakes seasonal and Sam Adams seasonal. All 9-ounce glasses of wine—Kendall Jackson chardonnay, Alamos malbec, 14 Hands merlot and Two Vines chardonnay just to name a few—are $7. I thoroughly enjoyed my tall Sam Adams Octoberfest.
The happy hour menu boasts 13 dishes. The featured item is “The Big Cheeseburger,” which has cheese, pickles, onions and Houlihan’s secret sauce. Other offerings include flatbreads, parmesan fries, chicken wings, ahi tuna and spicy chicken and avocado egg rolls.
Overall, I was disappointed in the food. While my wife’s burger was solid, the fries and egg rolls were mediocre. The portions were small and both dishes came out lukewarm and, thus, soggy. Houlihans website says it employs a scratch kitchen. Maybe so, but our food tasted frozen and like it was sitting under a heat lamp.
Our server was friendly and attentive, helping to make up for the fact that we waited almost 10 minutes for drinks and 30 minutes for food. (The restaurant was not overly crowded.) Since Houlihans is part of a major mall, parking is readily available. Happy hour is available Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Drink specials are offered in the entire restaurant. Food specials are available on the patio and in the bar and lounge only.
Rating Scale & Verdict
🍷 🍷=Average 🍷🍷🍷=Good 🍷🍷🍷🍷=Excellent
🍷🍷🍷 This is a difficult happy hour to rate. On one hand, the food was disappointing. Even at $5, I was displeased with the majority of our dishes. Plus, we had to wait a long time for our drinks and meals. On the other hand, Houlihans is one of the rare restaurants to offer happy hour seven days a week. Moreover, I don’t think you’ll find a bigger or better selection of beverages at this value. Their drink specials are unrivaled—I’ve yet to come across a restaurant that even comes close. So, I guess it comes down to what you’re looking for. If it’s food, I’d say two wine glasses. If it’s drinks, I’d say four wine glasses. I’ll split the difference and give Houlihans three. Cheers!