Hooligan’s Sports Bar
Wingage Score: 70%
Address: 3515 Portage Rd - Niagara Falls
Parking: In the Snow
Intersection: Portage Rd & O’Neil St.
Last Reviewed: March 16th, 2023
Last Visited: March 16th, 2023
|BHON - March 2023
|BHON - March 2022
|BHON - Sept 2020
|BHON - May 2018
|BHON - Sept 2017
|BHON - Feb 2016
|BHON - Apr 2014
|BHON - Feb 2010
Overall - March 2023
It always saddens us to see a once favourite location fall from grace. We’ve visited Hooligan’s twice since the end of the pandemic and both times we were disappointed. Since the past year saw so many bars and restaurants struggling to recover, we tried to cut them some slack and not be too judgmental in our re-reviews. Almost a year later though and we have to be honest, the wings simply did not stand up against the competition. Would this be their third strike?
This time around we went back with lowered expectations. We even ordered a much smaller batch hoping the kitchen might have an easier time preparing wings in smaller amounts. What we got was an underwhelming basket of the smallest wings ever seen, overcooked and dried out, then drowned in sauce.
That said, Hooligans never had the largest wings even back in the day, but they used to be priced accordingly, so their value made up for their lacking in size. Like most places these days, the wings were priced at over $1 a piece. We understand inflation is at record highs and food prices have skyrocketed, but when you take a look at these wings and ask yourself...."Are these worth a dollar each?", the sad answer is "No".
Nothing against the place really...we REALLY want it to improve and get back into the regular rotation. The truth is that there are just way better wings available elsewhere at the moment, so we have to knock Hooligan’s score down to reflect the current reality.
Overall - March 2022
Oh no....what happened? One of our favourite places slipped back from the coveted 100 Club. How can that be??
Simple terms - the wings were scrawny and overcooked, and the wing sauce had a strange off-flavour we weren’t expecting. Perhaps this was just an anomaly, or perhaps, like many places, they are struggling to get back on their feet after the pandemic beatdown hanging over the entire hospitality industry for the last 2 years.
We still enjoyed the night overall and polished off a few rounds of Guinness to seal the deal, but all agreed it wasn’t their finest night. Still, we didn’t bump their score too much in hopes that they can return to their former glory.
Overall - Sept 2020
Hey - we’re allowed to go to bars again! Our first real BHON outing since the pandemic began brought us back to one of our regular haunts, Hooligan’s Sports Bar. We enjoyed our time on the makeshift patio out in the parking lot thanks to the covid-19 nonsense, but that didn’t dampen our spirits while we enjoyed some great wings washed down with a few rounds of Guinness. Also great to see everyone again.
Overall - May 2018
Throughout our history, there’s been very few times we’ve been able to move a wing spot into the coveted 100 Club. So far only Bugsy’s and the dearly departed Celtic Pub have made it to the ranks. It is with great honour we bestow Hooligan’s with the next spot in our 100 Club ranking!
So what makes Hooligan’s worthy? Do they have the best wings in the Niagara Region? Here’s the breakdown:
Textbook wings: Consistent every time we’ve been there. Not the biggest, nor the smallest, but priced appropriately with a texbook hot sauce that’s EXACTLY what you would expect when you order wings at a sports bar/pub. None of this pretentious $14 a pound bullshit that the so-called hipster ’gastro-pub’ crowd are trying to sell these days. When you are a bunch of guys going to a bar and ordering pizza and wings, nobody cares about plating or artsy presentation! Are you listening chain restaurants? Check out a place like Hooligan’s and maybe learn something!
Service: A huge shout-out to Onya (hope we spelled your name correctly) who always has our Guinness poured and on the table before we even ask for it! It’s not like we are regulars who are there on a weekly basis, but she always seems to remember us and makes sure we never have empty glasses on the table, even when the place is packed and she is tending bar and looking after a dozen or more tables singlehandedly. Easily one of our favourite servers in the last 22 years of BHON. That alone is a big contributor to the score!
Overall, we’ve gone back there dozens of times over the years and never had a bad experience. Hooligan’s remains one of our ’go to’ spots in the regular rotation, so we figured it was time to bump them up to the 100 Club. These places are few and far between lately so we are happy to give them some well deserved props!
Congrats! We’ll be back - obviously!
Overall - Sept 2017
So here on the eve of the 21st Anniversary we decided to revisit a long time favorite, Hooligan’s Sports Bar. And while our favorite psychic bartendress was not readily apparent, overall a good time was had by all.
Wings were spot on. A good size, well sauced and really tasty to boot. Perfect heat and taste combination. They have kept up the standards we have become acustomed to over the last few years.
Beer? Why Guinness of course! And did it flow that night. 18 of them if the bill was correct. There was even a preemptive Guinness strike on the table! We did have a member go outside the norm with a StrongBow (cough - Jones) but he soon came back to the fold and finished off the night with Guinness.
As for the atmosphere, maybe because I’m getting older but it seemed to be much louder than I used to remember. Then again we have the competing music/football game/rowdy teams all competing to be heard. That always makes for a loud night. And the other thing that was noticable was that the later the night got, the younger the crowd seem to get. Perhaps the older patrons couldn’t handle the noise levels or maybe it was past their bedtime? We stuck it out until the ringing in the ears became a bit much.
And so, with that, we give them a boost in the score one more time. A well deserved 95%.
Overall - Feb 2016:
Every once and awhile you come across a place that just checks off all the boxes....
Guinness on tap.....Check
Decent textbook wings.....Check
The best part.....the bartender saw us through the window and began pouring the Guinness pints before we even stepped foot in the front door! How’s THAT for service? Although we’ve made Hooligan’s one of the default spots in the BHON rotation, I wouldn’t say we were regulars. They treated us as such nonetheless....and that’s worthy of a bump in score!
Overall - April 2014:
After a run of returning to some of our usual spots through the long winter of 2014 it seemed spring would never come. We decided to give Hooligan’s another visit while doing another run through Niagara Falls. Again, decent textbook wings with a fairly standard Frank’s based hot sauce along with $5.30 pints of Guinness made it an extra-value night. We bumped up the score a few points for consistency and can recommend Hooligan’s as one of our ’Go-To’ spots for the Falls.
Overall - Feb 2010:
Formerly Kelly’s Winghouse, we thought we’d return to this past BHON contender to see how things have changed since we were last there. Kelly’s had been hit and miss and we’re pleased to report many improvements over the previous fare.
Decent sized wings, and reasonably priced with a fairly standard hot sauce. Not overwhelmingly hot, but satisfying with a proper afterburn. Plenty of cheap Guinness on tap too, making this a possible new default spot for Niagara Falls.
Also congrats to Hooligan’s for the first BHON hat trick of 2010! This makes the third new spot in a row to make it into the 80% range, not to mention another night that was far below the $40 average! Overall an excellent value.