18th March, Charlise and I went to Houlihan’s in Dallas-Prestonwood to check out their #Inspiralized menu/feature, which is around until June. We ate lunch for free, save the appetizer and Charlise’s order, courtesy of a reviewer’s coupon [for two] she received in a VoxBox from Influenster.[1. Apparently they just keep sending them to her, LOL.] I am not obligated to blog about this, but my ‘Explore DFW’ series isn’t gonna fill itself, so I’m taking the advantage of the ability to blog about a place in the DFW Metroplex, because why not?
Neither of us had heard about the restaurant or been to it before [obviously], so it was definitely a new experience. I’d read through Houlihan’s FAQ a bit Thursday night, because I look up restaurants I’m going to in advance; when you repeatedly run into issues regarding allergies when at a restaurant, you start to realise you need to research where you’re going before you get there—especially if you’ve nut allergies.
I wasn’t really expecting to like anything, because I’m a bit of a picky eater, and their menu is…diverse.
But it’s surprisingly chill…and there are puns—everywhere. I LOVE PUNS.
Anyways, Charlise ordered the Sweet Potato, Corn & Bacon Mexicali Flatbread, while I decided to try the Butternut Squash and Sausage Lasagna. I decided to play it safe, because #lasagna and #cheese (hard to mess up), but also because the other Inspiralized dish, Thai ‘Noodle Salad’, contained nuts. I know it did without even asking, too, not just because of the description, but because their menus have symbols. Dishes with nuts contain daggers (†) next to them. (I personally admired this feature.)
When we arrived, we were quickly seated. Our waitress, Cara, explained how Houlihan’s works and offered to have Charlie’s plate prepared as Char and I decided on what we wanted to order. She also went ahead and took our drink orders. Char and I focused on an appetizer to eat on whilst waiting for our own food. At some point, Charlie’s grilled cheese and cup of fruit arrived at the table, and Cara brought us our drinks. It was a rather quick process.
Then, we decided to go with the Parmesan Frites (fries) appetizer[1. Not covered in coupon; the whole meal wasn’t free, yo.], which comes with three dipping sauces: chipotle mayo, tangy tomato, and garlic Parmesan. The chipotle mayo was too spicy for my liking, the tangy tomato tasted like a tangier ketchup, and the garlic Parmesan was perfect. Seriously, I want to buy that sauce in bulk and have it for everything.
Houlihan’s has this 20-minute deal around lunchtime: For parties of 6 or less, there is a 20-minute guarantee between 11am and 2pm Monday through Friday. The timer begins when the waiter leaves with your order and ends when they come back with your food. Add-on meal items count in the original course; an appetizer, if included, counts as the first course. The 20-minute guarantee applies only to the first course.
I think it’s pretty neat, because teamwork is key here to making everything run smoothly. Yes, we had a waitress, but we had other Houlihan’s employees coming to our table to help us, which is really…awesome? It’s not something I see too often anymore when I go out to eat.
Anyways, we weren’t paying attention to the timer when the appetizer arrived, because it arrived fairly quickly, and we were too concerned with the fact that food just came to our table. Shortly after, Cara took our orders and explained to us which sauces were which. I liked how she told us which she liked best, because places I’ve been in the past consisted of the waiter(s) not wanting to pick favorites.
Our main courses (the Inspiralized dishes) came to us before we even finished the fries.
The food at Houlihan’s is healthy. The prices range from $10 to about $25. But the experience is different, and I wouldn’t be opposed to going back just for the Parmesan Frites appetizer. >.<
The lunch portions were borderline dinner portions; we were filling and taking home a to-go box each.
Overall, it was a really nice dining experience. The lighting isn’t on the verge of sensory overload, it’s not super loud, and the service is quick. A manager (or franchise owner, or someone along those lines) was going around and talking to people at their tables; he came to ours and talked to us a little bit about the Inspiralized dishes—more favorites—which I thought was really cool.
Houlihan’s offers a unique, personal dining experience. They’re rather social, in that they actively use social media, which I’ve found to be a bonus when it comes to food. The interior is beautiful; you can get in and out quickly, even in a lunch rush; and it feels kind of…homey. It’s comfortable. There isn’t the awkwardness that falls into existence at a restaurant. Their only dress code is that you are dressed. The staff works together well and is friendly.
I want more Parmeson Frites and Garlic Parmesan dipping sauce. I loved the lasagna, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the pesto zucchini ‘noodle’ side salad—probably because I always forget I’m not a big pesto fan I meet it again, heh.
If you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and want a fine, yet casual, dining experience, Houlihan’s is the place. ^^;
There are multiple Houlihan’s locations in the DFW Metroplex. 🙂
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They have a Houlihan’s in northern Virginia where I’m from but I went to one down here in Houston with work friends a few weeks ago and they’ve made some big changes. They used to be really kitschy, think the restaurant from Office Space with their mandated flair, but they look so modern now. Though I do like that they’ve kept some character. I just drank while I was there but the new menu options seem pretty awesome.