Let’s talk about drunk food. There is a difference between bar food and drunk food. Bar food could be anything you serve in a bar, but drunk food is what you need after all that beer, wine and liquor gets the appetite rolling and that brain thinking it’s a great idea to power down chili cheese fries after midnight.
We’ve all been there. A light dinner before a concert followed by one too many Andygators and you’re convincing yourself and your ride-hailing driver that a Big Buford and fries will right the listing ship, so to speak. Maybe Taco Bell is your poison. Waffle House continues to build more Waffle Houses because of patrons like you. It’s an itch that cannot be scratched by anything remotely healthy. Only drunk food will do.
When I first saw the menu from O’Daly’s Hole in the Wall restaurant I knew they were onto something with the drunk crowd. With far-fetched things like Loaded Baked Potato Pizza smothered in green onions, bacon, cheddar and sour cream sauce with, yes, thinly sliced potatoes, or Conecuh Corn Dogs, you are sure to attract the attention of your bar clientele. This place is a drunk food goldmine. Good thing, with Dauphin Street Blues Co. and O’Daly’s slinging drinks like they’re going out of style.
It was after a drink or two that I stopped in for a sampling of what weird “Island of Dr. Moreau” crossbreeding Hole in the Wall offers, and the results were good. It was a Thursday evening and I was looking for an early night with something to take home with me. I ordered enough food for a family of bears and an Abita for the wait. The order came so fast I had to slam half of my pint, walking out with an armload of groceries.
Back at the house I tore into the plastic foam containers one by one, beginning with Reuben Wontons ($6). Of course these are made from scratch. Where else would you get wontons stuffed with corned beef and sauerkraut? Fried to a crisp and served with Thousand Island dressing on the side, I found these to be remarkable. It’s a pretty solid app or drunk snack.
I couldn’t stand there in the bar staring at Country Fried Shepherd’s Pie ($6) and not give it a try, so an order made its way home with me. These balls of meat, cheese and mashed potatoes are battered, fried and served with a side of homemade gravy. They’re good, and much better drunk.
Trashcan Fries ($10) are no easy feat to take on, sober or lit. It’s a huge serving of waffle fries topped with roast beef and gravy. The kicker is the addition of giant cheese curds. Eat this dish while it’s still hot and you won’t be hungry until next week. I like fries or hash browns with all kinds of stuff on them. This was a good take on that but could suit me better if they added a generous helping of cooked white onions.
It’s a Wrap! ($10) came with more waffle fries but they played second fiddle to the burrito-ish grilled chicken thing in front of me. This rollup features lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese and Bill E’s small-batch bacon with a side of buttermilk ranch for dipping. So far this was about the closest thing to normal I’d had; I think it could find its spot on a lunch menu somewhere.
The next night I met some friends there for more drunk food. I had a couple of extra drinks than the previous evening and got a little bolder with my order. Conecuh Queso ($7) was a logical starter. Warm tortilla chips and a dip of exactly what you’re thinking is a decent snack but won’t make you do backflips. The chopped sausage didn’t have a real presence in our dish but I understood what they were going for. As much as I love Conecuh, I think something not smoked and out of the casing would have been better suited for the cheese.
I had to try the wings ($12). Offered in Buffalo sauce or Guinness Glaze, you know I had to choose the weird one just to see what it would be like. The Guinness in the glaze was hard to detect but there was an overpowering sweetness to the sauce, if you’re into that sort of thing. Nothing a little blue cheese dressing couldn’t fix. The wings themselves were cooked well so I will be back for the Buffalo.
When it comes to eating healthy, you are pretty limited at Hole in the Wall, but we got fairly close with Ahi Street Tacos ($9). No, they are not made on Ahi Street. These flour tortillas are filled with seared tuna, ginger slaw and a sweet chili Sriracha mayonnaise. It was a set of three and they went down easily. If these guys gave the option of corn tortillas I would have these regularly. It is a saucy kind of dish that can please the beer drinker in all of us.
I love how the Hole in the Wall opens up to Dauphin Street with food bar sidewalk seating. If you’re fortunate enough to grab one of the few seats there, you will enjoy the people watching. If not, the courtyard out back has plenty of picnic tables and people watching of its own. Either way it’s like dinner theater.
I think this place fills a perfect niche. It may not be the kind of thing you’d eat for lunch, but after a few cocktails this could be your spot. I love the aggressiveness of the menu and hope it continues to evolve, with more marriages of unlikely flavors. Keep it weird, boys. Drunk people enjoy that sort of thing.
Closed on Sunday, Hole in the Wall is open from 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
O’Daly’s Irish Pub
Hole in the Wall
564 Dauphin St.