Our third new restaurant to open recently in Manhattan, Kansas (66502) is Houlihan's. The old Ramada motel that is across from campus was renovated and changed to a Holiday Inn. The Gold Fork restaurant that was attached to the Ramada was remodeled and re-opened as a Houlihan's. You may ask if this a good move. Well I respond; Does baby Jesus have rays of Glory?
When they remodeled the Gold Fork building they did a great job. Unlike Lemmy's Pizzaria (as they like to spell it) Houlihan's does not look anything like it's previous tenant. It is actually really hard to imagine the Gold Fork interior while inside. The decor is modern and red, with plenty of spot lighting to go around. It almost feels too classy for t-shirts when you go, but that doesn't stop me.
First off we need to discuss the drinks. Houlihan's has Coke, which as you know is a big plus. But I will give you some advice, don't waste your drink selection on just getting Coke. The Han's has a wide selection of flavored iced teas that are very tasty and very good quality. For 25 cents more than a soda (Around $2.50 for a soda) they are worth it. For 10 cents more than the teas you can get a flavored lemonade. I actually did not like the strawberry lemonade as much as I do Applebee's so I would suggest the teas as the drink of choice. (If you drink alcohol it is useful to know that Houlihan's offers a "flight" of drinks where you get three small drinks for about $6 I believe. It would be good for sampling while still getting something that you know you would like. I don't drink but I commend them on a very good idea.)
We ordered the lettuce wraps for an appetizer. for $7.50 you get four lettuce shells, some crispy things, a chicken like gooey filling and a sauce. They were good, and free of bugs, something that Chili's has a hard time with in their lettuce for the wraps. But I think I actually like the wraps at Chili's better. I would have to select something different next time I go.
What to get for dinner was a hard choice; on one hand everybody recommended the chicken or the pot roast, on the other hand to get that stuff it would cost around $15 or so. And since we already got an appetizer I wasn't keen on spending that much on dinner. So in the end I got the fish tacos, and Nicole got the calamari salad. (Jenette got fish tacos too, and Chris got a prosciutto pizza, which I did not try.)
I should warn you, one of may favorite foods is fish tacos from Wahoo's Fish Tacos. And apparently Wahoo's makes they tacos differently than everybody else in the world. The main difference is that Wahoo's grills their fish while everyone else batters and fries theirs. Houlihan's is no exception. Fortunately somebody in the kitchen knows how to make things taste good though because the fish tacos were very good, not as good as Wahoo's, but by far the best battered fish tacos I have ever had. The rest of the taco fillings were lettuce, pico de gilo, cabbage, a tangy sauce, and a lime wedge on the side. Did I say that it was tasty? For a side I had a choice of chips and salsa, fries, or coleslaw. And naturally since I don't really like coleslaw that is what I chose. (I really like everything that goes into coleslaw, but it never tastes good to me. I have been trying it lately just to be sure that I don't like it. And yup, it is something that I just don't like.) Jenette got chips and salsa, which consisted of a fair amount of chip on the plate and an above average salsa. But I think next time I will go with the fries. The tacos cost around $9
Nicole's calamari salad was chosen because of it's use of a very unique salad ingredient; bananas. The salad consisted of a bed of cabbage and carrots with peanuts, dried bananas, fresh bananas, and a very tasty dressing, topped with alot of calamari. There was wasabi dressing on the side as well as a cup of strangely good, but hot, red dipping sauce. I am not really a fan of bananas but this salad was very good. there was just the right amount of bananas that you would get one every other bite, which meant that you were reminded of the flavor with out it being overpowering. If you like to try new things this salad is for you. I believe the salad cost around $9.
Something that we always talk about when we go out to eat is whether to get a dessert, but it never happens. Well Houlihan's has found a way to make it happen -they have 6 desserts priced at $2. It is very tricky because at that price you almost fell like you are wasting money to not take up the offer. And we really don't like wasting money so we decided to try the smores envelope. This desert is severed in two parts, one is an envelope of sorts that has melted chocolate and marshmallows in it, the other is a cup of strawberries and sugar coated graham crackers (sugar overkill). It is a fun idea and the graham crackers dipped in the chocolate tastes just like smores, but it was just way too much sugar for me. On the other hand the strawberries with the melted chocolate and marshmallow goo was very awesome, and alone worth the $2. Next time I might just ask for extra strawberries and forgo the graham crackers. The one desert was actually more than enough for all four of us, by then we were very stuffed.
In short: Houlihan's is a keeper. It may cost $5 more bucks for two people to eat at than Chili's or Applebee's but it is worth it. They care about the food and it shows. The service was great, the restaurant looked good, and the food is a step above what everyone else is doing in Manhattan. You really need to check this place out.
My reviews about the other two new places in Manhattan are here: Lemmy's and La Fiesta. And please leave me a comment about what you think about Houlihan's.