My Dad is lucky enough to travel the globe with his job and he is away from home, on average, most weeks. Whilst he is away he eats some weird and wonderful things as well as eating in some truly memorable restaurants. As he often gets a little lonely and bored in the evenings when he is away from home for a long time, on his most recent trip to the USA I suggested that he may like to write a piece for my blog. I should have guessed my Dad would end up going somewhere like Hooters as he has a wicked sense of humour….! So over to Dad who will (hopefully) quash the myth the Hooters is simply a seedy American sports bar.
I had been to Phoenix Arizona before but was lucky enough to go back a few weeks ago. The food at the major chain hotel where I stayed was good enough but after a few days, and particularly when I only wanted a snack, I craved something different. The town centre (downtown) hasn’t got many restaurants so the choice was fairly limited. Just across the street was a little complex of shops with several chain fast food restaurants, the nearest of which was Hooters……..
Now I must admit to having been to a Hooters before, actually for a birthday lunch some years ago in Mississippi so the décor was not really a surprise. Before going any further I need to point out that the ‘OO’ in Hooters forms part of the displayed everywhere owl motif, how could it be any other? The waitresses all seemed to be very young, over 18 I was assured, have impossibly thin waists and all looked as if they were taking time out from being cheer leaders or beauty queens.
Now this is a food blog so I guess I should concentrate more on the food and less on the waitresses. The menu was limited to what we would call fast food but the choices were varied and the portions very big by UK standards. There were the usual burgers, crabs legs, huge salads, oysters, hot wings and the usual fried pickles, onion rings and curly fries. Puds were limited but there was a caramel fudge cheesecake, a chocolate cake and Key Lime Pie
I was (uncharacteristically) not desperately hungry so chose ½ lb steamed shrimp and mixed hot wings. The shrimp were excellent, not swimming in water from not being totally defrosted, tasty and made more so by dipping in the molten butter provided. For the wings I chose 10 pieces, a mixture of Honey Thai and Parmesan Garlic. The wings were succulent, meaty, beautifully cooked and came with a cooling blue cheese dipping sauce. I had no meeting that afternoon so no matter if my breath could stop an express train.
The waitresses were typically attentive. A Brit often finds the attention a little overwhelming: it is the US way, service is valued and such jobs are not regarded as menial, everyone is valued. UK restaurants could learn much from the USA in this respect. The manager kept a close but low profile watch giving constructive comment to less experienced staff. I didn’t manage a pud but would have liked the Key Lime Pie on offer, a typical Southern delicacy. My bill was a very reasonable $40 or so (around £35) which included two Mexican bottled beers and the obligatory 15% or so tip.
Was it worth it? Absolutely! Was it full of middle-aged men? Surprisingly not, there were certainly more men than women but you would expect to see more businessmen taking a quick-lunch.
For the tourist it is an experience not to be missed. A little tacky? Of course, and they are proud of it. Good fun? Very much so!
Photos and article with permission of the manager and staff of Hooters, downtown Phoenix