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If there’s one thing Tuscaloosa has a surplus of, it’s restaurants claiming to be “Greek” or “Mediterranean-inspired.” Fig, Zoe’s Kitchen, Tazikis, Tut’s, Big Daddy’s, and Hooligan’s are the ones that immediately come to mind. The first three are stylish “Mediterranean-inspired” cafes with good food, which I take to mean “we use feta cheese.” Tut’s Place is a solid pizza/sub/calzone/gyro joint that serves “Greek and Italian foods,” while Big Daddy’s strikes me as the most authentically Greek restaurant in town. But nevermind all that. This review is about Hooligan’s.

Hooligan’s boasts an “American and Mediterranean” menu ranging from hummus, falafel, gyros, and baba ghannouj to burgers, spuds, BLTs, and chicken fingers. My personal favorites are the cheeseburger and the chicken gyro. Hooligan’s, in my opinion, has some of the best burgers in town (along with Rama Jama’s and Oasis). They’re nothing fancy, just simple, juicy and flavorful. I order the chicken gyro when I want something a little lighter, but I don’t mean to suggest that it’s anything less than filling. Again, it’s fairly basic (chicken, lettuce, tomato, and plenty of tzatziki wrapped up in a pita), but it never fails to hit the spot. I also hear good things about their spuds. Whatever you order at Hooligan’s, get the combo. Their seasoned crinkle-cut fries are always hot and always delicious.

The only thing that disappoints me at Hooligan’s is something that most people love. The only variation of sweet tea they brew is one flavored with mint. It’s a nice twist that I’ve not seen offered anywhere else (and I’m told it’s quite good), but I’m not a fan of mint so I tend to abandon my usual sweet tea order for Coke instead. If you’re weird and prefer unsweetened tea, they have an unsweetened mint tea as well.

While I love the food at Hooligan’s, the main reason I frequent it has more to do with its convenience. It’s near campus but far enough away from the Strip to allow a little peace. A couple of TVs are usually set to sports channels, and the outdoor patio is great once temperatures dip below the 90s. I chose to go to Hooligan’s for this particular meal for a combination of several reasons. I wanted good food (obviously); I needed it quickly (I had thirty minutes to eat and get to the Bama theater for a show I was attending); and I wanted to eat somewhere that wouldn’t make me feel like the most awkward person on the planet for sitting down to eat alone. Although I’d rather endure said awkwardness that settle for drive-thru. Hooligan’s atmosphere (unless they’re super busy, which doesn’t happen too often) is just chill enough that I knew I’d be able to get my food and get downtown quickly and enjoyably.

There are plenty of places I can go in this town when I want good food or a relaxed atmosphere or quick service. There are significantly fewer places that meet all of these requirements. Whether I want a quick bite by myself or a place to relax and catch up with friends, Hooligan’s menu, prices, location, and atmosphere make it a consistent contender when I’m trying to decide where to eat.

Hooligan’s is located at 1915 University Blvd (between downtown and the Strip), next to Innisfree.

7 days a week: 10am-midnight