Thirsty Lion Gastropub
1220 Chisholm Tr, Ste 100, Euless. 817-283-9000. 10am-10pm Sun, 11am-11pm Mon-Thu, 11am-12am Fri, 10am-12am Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Thirsty Lion Gastrobub’s menu is wildly varied. I was a little cynical about a place where Korean food, Tex-Mex, burgers, and ahi tuna all coexist. When a menu is that broad, one has to wonder how much of it is made from scratch and how much is “semi” homemade. Everything my guests and I tasted during our Cuisines of the World food experience was excellent.
Thirsty Lion (part of a national chain, with a sister location in Irving) sits in Glade Parks, a shopping and lifestyle complex that’s arguably as nice as Waterside but not as nice as Clearfork. As I struggled to find parking, I found myself thinking Euless has gotten fancy since my review of The Lazy Dog in the same strip back in spring 2017. Back then, the area was still mostly dirt.
During a Friday night visit, the dining room was cacophonously loud. High ceilings and a minimum of soft surfaces create a sleek, modern-looking environment but one that comes at the price of not being able to hold an intimate conversation. My table of five landed right at the tail end of happy hour, and, as it turns out, the staff has a little flexibility with the happy hour pricing. The house margaritas tasted fresh and mostly of lime and tequila, without a lot of nasty additives.
The smooth, creamy, moderately spiced queso arrived in a cute little cast iron ramekin with a handful of thick tortilla chips. The cheese dip was better than the traditional easy-melt version at some restaurants, but it tasted like it was made smoothed out by a roux that contained either flour or cream cheese, and that’s just not how it’s done here in Texas.
Much better was the ahi poke bowl, a glorious amalgam of Pan-Asian indulgence. Soy-marinated ahi tuna – so fresh it practically reached under my skirt – was sliced poke-style and accompanied by excellent Napa cabbage slaw, slices of buttery avocado, pickled radish and jalapeños, fresh mango, and a little nori, all atop a bed of sticky rice. The inventive Thai peanut vinaigrette and sweet ginger-kissed glaze hit all the good umami points, and the dish was probably the most beautiful entrée on the table.
Just as good were the succulent pork carnitas tacos, cooked low’n’slow, which were bolstered by a fabulous roasted tomatillo salsa. The white corn tortillas were a fancy, tasty touch. The tacos arrived plated alongside creamy slaw, pickled veggies, and bacon-laden black beans. The effect was delightfully eclectic, and we could have consumed a lot more of those beans had we chosen to abandon normal dining decorum.
The Gastropub Burger (disclaimed on the menu with an asterisk as “a Thirsty Lion signature item”) was just about perfect. Our only quibble was that it was prepared medium-rare instead of medium, which we had requested. Still, slightly underdone is way preferable to charcoal-crispy any day. The patty was infused with mellowing Gorgonzola cheese and topped with a considerable mound of sweet grilled onions, giant slabs of flavorful maple bacon, and a crown of white cheddar cheese. A dash of zesty horseradish cream and a handful of wonderfully bitter arugula lettuce added a welcome respite from the fat-on-fat layers.
The only entree that wasn’t amazing was the Korean fried chicken – and it was actually fine, but the other entrées were just so much better. The dish was essentially chicken nuggets dredged in spicy rice flour for a little extra kick and crunch and then coated in an authentic gochujang sauce. The sauce added a latent heat: I was well into a second piece before the fire hit my taste buds. The bird was arranged with a pretty combo of thinly sliced shitake mushrooms, edamame, peppers bathed in a sweet chile sauce, and a mound of sticky rice that wasn’t particularly useful or tasty.
For dessert, a chocolate brownie with porter in the batter was served hot in its own little skillet. Pecans added a tiny bit of texture to the almost molten lava-like cake. A bit of caramel sauce was mostly lost in the mix. The warm dessert was topped with vanilla ice cream, so each bite was cool, warm, and crunchy. The crème brûlée was another showstopper. The classic, faithful rendition of French vanilla custard featured a perfectly caramelized crust that shattered when tapped with a spoon.
I’m generally suspicious of chain restaurants with menus that offer food from three of the seven continents – sure, Applebee’s does, but that’s faint praise. However, at the Thirsty Lion, the promise of a scratch-cooked, eclectic menu mostly delivers.
Thirsty Lion Gastropub
Queso dip $7.95
Ahi Poke bowl $15.95
Pork Carnitas tacos $15.95
Gastropub burger $14.95
Korean fried chicken $15.95
Deep dish chocolate Porter brownie $7.95
Crème brûlée $5.95