Among the many ongoing renovations throughout the TU campus, one completed new building that seems to be getting some notable attention is the Hurricane Hut Sports Bar & Grill, the opening of which coincided with the start of the fall semester in the Allen Chapman Activity Center.
This student hangout continues to grow in popularity, not only among students, but the general public as well--especially before sporting, theater and other public events on campus.
"We often get many TU alumni come in and say, 'Oh, what happened to the snack bar that was here?'" said Scott Mullen, manager of the Hut. Mullen works for Sodexho, a food and facilities management company, and is contracted by TU to run many of the food facilities and catering at TU.
"Alumni are really impressed with this place," said Mullen. "We especially get a lot of alums and other TU fans on weekend and games days."
As a former TU student, I too was quite interested in checking out this new hangout. Walking in one early evening at about 6pm, I found a spot at the bar to plant myself for a while. Gradually, students began filing in around me, chatting about the day's events with eager enthusiasm. Plenty of TVs look down upon the bar area, allowing solo diners some company while eating. Current TU men's and women's sports memorabilia--action photos and jerseys--don the walls in large frames.
Mullen explained to me that this is the first time for a sports bar and grill on the campus. There was no such place when I was at TU. Formerly, there was a bleak-looking snack bar in this spot.
The menu is similar to any other sports bar, consisting of appetizers, platters, soups and salads, burgers, baskets, sandwiches, pizza, sweets and of course, drinks. I sipped on a Blue Moon while I decided on my dinner. I asked my server what she recommended among the sandwiches. She said #21, the Southwestern Chicken Breast ($6.49) was very good and pretty popular. I ordered that with hand-cut fries.
Mullen explained to me that all the beer is 3.2 and there is no liquor. Signs at the bar say IDs are checked for everyone under 30.
Mullen said he and other food managers on campus thought the idea of a sports bar would do well on the TU campus, so they set out to do some research of other such places on university campuses and then came up with a plan and a menu.
"The menu was built on what was popular at the snack bar that used to be here, and from the menus of other sports bars we researched," he said.
All food is made to order he said, using fresh ingredients. Some of the most popular items, he pointed out, are the Chicken Finger Basket with waffle fries($4.99) and BBQ Baby Back Ribs (priced at $5.99 for ? rack to $16.99 for a full rack).
Mullen explained that Hurricane Hut smokes the ribs, and the BBQ sauce is the recipe of one of its employees. Also popular are the burgers ($6.99), which can be built according to order, and the 7" Build Your Own Personal Pan Pizza ($3.49 single topping).
My dinner arrived in good time, and I began first with the hand-cut french fries. I enjoyed these--some were crispy and firm, while others were squishy and less crisp, yet both styles imbued the taste of freshly cut potatoes. The sandwich was a char?grilled chicken breast topped with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and Southwest Ranch dressing. This was served on a soft onion roll.
My server was right--this was a good sandwich. The chicken had a nicely grilled taste about it; the cheese was generous and perfectly melted, and the bacon was tasty. I enjoyed half of the sandwich without any dressing or lettuce, tomato or onion, which came with the sandwich. It was good plain.
Other sandwich selections include Veggie Wrap or Veggie Wheatberry, Club Wrap, Chicken Salad, The Philly @ TU, BBQ Brisket, The "Blue" Grinder, The "Gold" Grinder with Grilled Cheese. Appetizers include Potato Skins, Chips and Salsa, Fried Cheese Sticks, Buffalo Wings, Wing Zings, Hurricane Cheese Fries and Loaded Cheese Nachos.
Soups are made fresh each day, says Mullen, and daily specials are also featured, which cater to the changing seasons. I noted Frito Pie on that week's daily special. Homemade chili and stews are coming as the weather gets cooler, says Mullen.
For the folks back home I did place an order to go, taking home the BBQ Baby Back Ribs and a Grilled Cheese sandwich. I had a few bites of these later, and Mullen was right, the ribs were very good--richly barbequed, tender and tasty. The grilled cheese had melted cheddar and Swiss cheeses on Texas toast. This simple sandwich held my attention as a great warming comfort food.
Save room for one of the Hurricane Hut Sweets--Mullen says they are more popular than he expected. Although the cobbler is made from scratch, #31, Chocolate Obsession Cake with Chocolate Sauce, is the most requested dessert.
Hurricane Hut Sports Bar & Grill
TU Campus, Allen Chapman Activity Center
Gary & 5th Pl.
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