Just close to 90 locations of Bar Louie are spread out across the Midwest and the East Coast, slowly expanding west in the U.S. These restaurants tend to locate one or two to a city, generally in the very upscale bar districts where they can justify higher prices and clientele looking for a more upscale experience. The bars are trimmed, often filled with televisions and sports gear, and most importantly, they’re nearly always packed. Expect a safe experience at one of these bars food-wise. Drinks are a different story. But whichever you pick, don’t expect to be wowed.
Some of the menu items I’ve tried:
- Meatball hoagie: The sub is not that bad, the marinara sauce is very thick and the meatballs are huge and the whole thing is topped with a ton of mozzarella cheese and a spicy giardiniera. The hoagie is huge and the bread does make it good.
- Crispy calamari: This app, served in a conical basket, is super, super crispy, and the calamari in the breading does still remain moist, if not a little rubbery.
- Trip dips & chips: This app is a basket of chips with a fruity but ultimately watery salsa, a guacamole and a queso. Only the queso is really worth tasting.
- Spinach & artichoke dip: Artichoke dip served with tortilla chips. I like the garlic, but the veggies in the dip aren’t that great.
- Hummus: Served with cucumber, pita, and a few other sides. But the hummus isn’t bad, though the drippings didn’t impress me.
- Burger: Bar Louie offers $1 burger night on Tuesdays! Veggies and sauces are small upsells each. Combined with happy hour, you’ll find this a relatively cheap experience.
So the atmosphere of Bar Louie is pretty consistent from city to city: The bar is kind of generic. It’s an Americana spot, a nightlife destination in each town. The idea is that it’s supposed to be a happening place, and of course, it’s always packed. See the thing about the place, though, is that it’s supposed to be upscale. But it’s upscale because the prices are higher. Does the experience justify the higher price? Not really. Yeah, maybe the walls are a little nicer, maybe the place is a little busier, but when it comes down to brass tacks, the food is just nothing special. It’s chain-created frozen food, and drinks that do not justify their prices. Demand comes entirely from the crowd coming here for drinks.
So is it worth the experience? I suppose that depends on what you’re looking for. It’s safe food. It’s a pretty neutral experience, nothing is wrong with it. But don’t expect to be impressed by any of it. Really, Bar Louie is a nightlife spot.
- The spots all have a similar lively atmosphere, and they’ll be packed in evenings, partly thanks to drink specials.
- The food is safe but not especially ground-breaking.
- I do like the apps though.