Did you know that there is a restaurant in Dubuque, IA whose brand started out as a department store in 1972? It’s true! Houlihan’s is that restaurant and has been part of the Dubuque community since October, 2005. It is currently owned and operated by the Mystique Casino. The cozy booths, comfortable tables, and energizing bar area with raised booths and pub tables offer seating for any size group. Whether you are hoping to grab a drink and something light, or enjoy a full dinner, Houlihan’s presents something for everyone, even kids. They are open seven days a week at 11:00 a.m. and close at 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Houlihan’s offers an extensive drink menu and they feature a Happy Hour Sunday through Thursday from 3:00-6:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am-5:00 p.m. The Happy Hour specials are $2 domestic draws, $7 pitchers of Long Islands, $4 select wines, $3 rail drinks, and $1 off appetizers.

One appetizer that is a must try any hour of the day is Houlihans’s Famous Shrooms. These are giant panko crusted and garlic herb cream cheese stuffed mushrooms served with a creamy horseradish sauce. The mushrooms have been on the menu for 43 years and are available in orders of 3 or 7 mushrooms. Another appetizer, the Firecracker Shrimp, could double as an entrée. The lightly fried shrimp are tossed in a Thai Chile sauce for the perfect amount of kick and are served over banana-ginger dressed Nappa cabbage slaw. The presentation is stunning.

Houlihan’s offers wine flights as well as mini martini flights to allow sampling of multiple drink menu items. This is a great way to expand your horizons and try something new. The mini martini flights feature uniquely garnished mini martini glasses, rimmed, and served in grand style. They showcase an abundance of flavorful martinis, from fruity and fun to rich and decadent. The Blueberry Martini mixes vodka, fresh blueberries, and white cranberry juice. Another option is the Guavatini that features Absolut, a shot of guava, and fresh squeezed lemonade. One martini that could double as an after dinner drink is the Key Lime Tini. The glass is rimmed with finely crushed graham crackers around the frothy top layer and the sweet liquor tastes exactly like a key lime pie.

All of the mini martinis are available in full size as well. The drink menu also sports a large selection of Mason jar mojitos and signature margaritas. One mojito you might wish to try is the Black Cherry Mojito. It features Cruzan Black Cherry Rum, fresh lime juice, mint, and club soda. Sit back, sip, and relax!

Once drinks and appetizers are ordered, it is time to turn to the main course. Houlihan’s features soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrées. They are best known for their baked potato soup. While many try to replicate this rich, creamy soup, garnished with cheese, green onion, and bacon, few will ever come close to what Houlihan’s has perfected. Other flavorful soup options include the French onion soup with melted Provolone cheese and the chicken tortilla soup.

Houlihan’s feature many choices to accompany your sandwich or entrée selection. Choose from a house salad, Caesar salad, Tuscan white bean salad, brown rice with pineapple, Honest Gold mashed potatoes, French fries, tortilla chips with housemade salsa, French green beans, grilled asparagus, fresh fruit, or a loaded baked potato.

The handhelds, or sandwiches if you will, include burgers, wraps, fish tacos, menu favorites like clubs and Reubens, as well as a veggie burger. The Southwest Grilled Chicken Wrap is a favorite of many who dine at Houlihan’s. Wrapped in a light and flaky flour tortilla, grilled chicken is married with spicy pecans, red peppers, bacon, tortilla straws, pepper jack cheese, and garlic ranch. The pecans and tortilla straws add just the right amount of texture to this flavorful wrap.

For a heartier entrée selection, the Stuffed Chicken Breast is a must. The menu even features a story about the preparation of this favorite. The boneless skinless chicken breast is flattened with a mallet, then filled with cream cheese, buttermilk, onion, garlic, parsley, thyme, and other secret ingredients. The chicken breast is then dredged in flour, coated with a buttermilk batter, and rolled in panko breadcrumbs which, after cooking, add a golden brown and crunchy coating. Pair the finished product with the Honest Gold mashed potatoes and asparagus and your dinner entrée is complete and beautiful.

Be sure to try save room and top off your lunch or dinner with dessert. Selections include Crème Brulee, a Snickers Crunch Ice Cream Dome which sits on an Oreo and peanut cookie crust, strawberry cheesecake, and the Grande Cappuccino Cake, which is also an original from Houlihan’s 1970s menu. This rich and decadent dessert has layers of rich chocolate cake with espresso icing and chocolate ganache. It is served with coffee ice cream, Kahlua fudge, and drizzled with caramel sauce. Ask for extra spoons to share or take a slice home to enjoy for a late night snack.

Whether you are looking for a lunch spot or a comfortable dining atmosphere, definitely make a point to stop down at Houlihan’s. Tell them Heather sent you!

Heather Hutchinson-Schuster
Heather Hutchinson-Schuster’s love for writing and food comes from many days spent cooking and dining with friends and neighbors. She invites you to share in some of her favorite restaurant experiences each and every month in her column. If you have a personal favorite restaurant that you would like to share with her, please email suggestions to Feature@juliensjournal.com.

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