Restaurants are a tough business--even some of the best don't last more than a few years. But since 1987, The Bros. Houligan, family owned and operated, has been packing 'em in with old fashioned, home cooking. And big portions. The original location in midtown, 2508 E. 15th Street, is the founding site, and actually, as many Bros. Houligan devotees will remember, opened with a bar atmosphere, with pool tables and full bar.
Through the years, a transformation has taken place to shift from the bar feel to a family atmosphere, says Rich Walker, General Manager of the south location, 9701 E. 61st St.
"We consider The Brothers Houligan a family restaurant now," he says. While drinks are still available, the atmosphere is definitely fit for all-sized families, with a full menu for the adults and a down-sized menu for the children.
Walker was fairly tight-lipped about the family background to the restaurant, especially its name--he was not going to divulge too much about the beginnings. From what we gather there are two brothers from Kansas City who opened the eatery. It is said their mother, when they were children, often referred to them as "little hooligans."
For years duking it out at one location, The Bros. Houligan last November opened a second, bigger location in southeast Tulsa.
It's food great-grandma used to make, comfort food, rich and filling. And, from the looks of the menu, it's all here: fried chicken livers, fried shrimp, fried catfish and chicken fried steak, with fries, gravy and green beans.
This is not the first time I've eaten here, so I was prepared to eat heavy and well. I met a friend at the Southside location for lunch recently, and we were also accompanied by my four-year-old nephew.
It was around 1pm, busy, but we were seated at a comfortable booth, and began to survey the menu. Appetizers & Specialties include such items as Onion Rings, Back Bar Chili, Deep Fried Chicken Strips, Deep Fried Mozzarella, Deep Fried Chicken Livers, Deep Fried Catfish Nuggets and Fried Shrimp Basket, all priced under $6.95.
We ordered the Deep Fried Mozzarella ($3.50) mainly for the child's enjoyment, but for us, the Livers ($3.95). Both came swiftly, hot from the kitchen. The Fried Mozzarella was what one would expect, the stubby fingers of breaded cheese then fried. This came with a ranch sauce, a staple in these parts.
The livers were fried fresh and crispy. Hot, white gravy accompanied them. The batter was part of the joy in eating these morsels. Walker had to check with the chef to see exactly how they get so crispy and light; he found that the livers are coated with an egg wash then dredged through a flour breading.
The result is a light and immensely fragile batter which accents the softness of this rich, organ meat.
This would have been a fine lunch, but there's more. On the main lunch menu the categories include Sandwiches & Salad, Burgers, Plate Luncheons (11am-5pm), Full Dinners and Sides (Cottage Fries, French Fries or Mashed Potatoes, Dinner Salad, Cole Slaw, Cottage Cheese or Apple Sauce).
Since I know The Bros. Houligan prepares great Burgers, I was looking to sample something different. Best sellers are the Chicken Fried Steak, Deep Fried Chicken Tenders, Grilled Salmon Filet and the Deep Fried Gulf Shrimp.
I ordered the San Francisco Sirloin ($8.95) which is chopped Sirloin smothered in grilled onions and melted cheese--sort of like a Philly Steak, without the bun. This came with my choice of Cottage Fries, French Fries or Mashed Potatoes, plus Green Beans and another choice of Tossed Green Salad, Cole Slaw or Cottage Cheese. I ordered a salad with blue cheese dressing and the mashed potatoes.
My adult dining companion ordered the Rainbow Trout ($9.50) with Cottage Cheese and Cottage Fries; and for the Little Guy, I ordered Deep Fried Chicken Tenders ($5.95) off the Plate Luncheons menu.
My ("unique," as Walker called it) chopped sirloin was different--this meal was a large piece of meat, cooked as I like it--medium rare--then covered with many sweet and partially caramelized sautéed onions and a generous serving of yellow (Colby?) cheese. I enjoyed this--the meat was fresh and full of rich flavor. The Mashed Potatoes and white Gravy are all about customer satisfaction.
The Green Beans came in a large bowl for all of us the share; they were well seasoned and packed with a rich, smoky flavor. Not your average open-a-can-green-beans haricot verts.
My friend's 12-ounce Trout was broiled lightly and served with lemon wedges. It was a full fish, cut in half open faced. It was light, but very filling, he said. The Cottage Cheese was just that; and he did enjoy the novelty of the Cottage Fries.
My little dining companion thought the Fried Chicken Tenders were made just for him! This came with gravy for dipping, but being a purest, he did not dip. He, like my adult friend, enjoyed the Cottage Fries, without ketchup.
The service, as Walker explains, is in teams, so we had up to four people serving us throughout our time here.
Set in a comfortable atmosphere, we found Walker's food philosophy true, that "we prepare solid quality food at reasonable prices."
The Bros. Houligan
9701 E. 61st St.
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