Stepping foot into a man cave can feel intimidating. This is not a place where one can be watered down. Sports play on large flat-screens, wood paneling covers the walls, and beer pitchers contain floating ice-filled Ziploc bags. This is Hooters, and it is as bold as the orange short shorts riding up the waitress' bums.
Once your senses adjust to this world, or perhaps relive the wonder of the original in Clearwater circa 1984, it will be as comforting as mother's milk. This place has heart and soul, along with the more predominant body parts: T and A.
The chicken wings ($9.49 for ten), 15 flavors, are a must-have. You can go for the traditional Buffalo in a variety of heat levels, a couple of rubs, or a happy ending sauce, like the chipotle honey or spicy garlic.
If you are confused, your cheery waitress will be happy to help. Whatever you choose, you will most likely end up licking your fingers and nibbling at your wing from different angles to devour all flesh from the bone. It is addictive and tasty.
Each table comes with a roll of paper towels. If you want a more thorough cleaning, reach for the moist towelettes printed with slogans like "Insomnia is nothing to lose sleep over" and "58.3% of statistics are made up."
This restaurant is straight-up clever and crafty. Speaking of craft, about three weeks ago, they began serving craft beers on tap. Some of our favorites are Magic Hat #9 and SweetWater 420 ($6).
Hooters is upfront with its "More Than a Mouthful" burger. We weren't sure we could handle it. So we settled on the burger sliders ($9.49). They were plain, not overdressed (just like the servers), and cheddar cheese melted beautifully over the all-beef patty. In the center of the four miniburgers lay a bed of curly fries for some extra bounce. These springy potatoes could use an extra kick of spice or a sprinkle of salt.
For a taste of something familiar with a new twist, try the Buffalo shrimp wrap ($8.49). Inside a rolled tortilla, you will find breaded and fried shrimp, lettuce, and tomato in a blue cheese sauce. It has a bit of all textures, with the soft tortilla blanket, crisp outer layer protecting the plump shrimp, and the creamy, tangy white sauce.
Serving this delicacy was our regal server, Tiara. She checked on us multiple times and circled her name with a heart on our bill with a handwritten "Thank you." Ah, the personal touches.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Anything we can say about Hooters, they already know. The saying on the back of the waitress' shirts, "Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined," is right on the money.
Next time you see the Hooters logo, just remember that like the O's, there is more than meets the owl's eye at this place. Sure, there are wings -- as well as beers, boobs, and butts -- but there are also clever touches and really sweet servers who add a personal touch to this eatery set in a beachy man cave.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst