The ’burbs can get a bad rap — especially in Dallas — for being boring; for lacking an inherent cool factor; for below-average dining; for all of the above.
It’s true. Suburbia can sometimes be rather uninspiring, with chain restaurants and big box stores at every turn. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of epicurean diamonds in the rough.
If you’re part of the resident ’burb bashers in Dallas, we hate to break it to you, but the outskirts of the city have started to look mighty tasty.
In fact, the restaurant scene is booming in the suburbs, with trendy new hotspots opening up everywhere and talented chefs setting up shop at places that give Dallas proper a run for its money.
So, prime your taste buds for this bunch of amazing Dallas dining destinations that aren’t actually in Dallas. However, they’re worth the drive outside the city limits. And, if you live in the suburbs, you already know this.
The epitome of the farm-to-table movement, Harvest in McKinney lives up to its name with Chef Andrea Shackelford’s seasonal menus that are a celebration of local farmers and feature exceptional products grown close to home. Some of her garden-fresh, Southern-gourmet goodies might just include fried green tomatoes, chicken and biscuit with peaches and candied jalapeños, crispy ribs, house-made charcuterie, and pan-roasted red fish with tomatillo glaze. There’s even a robust gluten-free lunch and dinner menu that won’t have you missing out on anything. Plus, you have the option of dining on a patio in a porch swing, which is reason enough to make reservations.
Wine on tap. Need we say more? Uptown dwellers might recognize Sixty Vines as being in their ’hood, too. But, the airy-elegant Plano location was the first for this wine-and-dine place. To pair with your vino is cuisine inspired by the wine country — the creative wood-fired pizzas and shareable cheese and charcuterie boards are a must — all served from an open kitchen that delights every sense.
For a slice of modern Texas hospitality in Plano, this Legacy West destination has all the bells and whistles you could want. Saddle up to the rustic bar on the first floor before settling in for locally sourced Cadillac burgers or TX Whiskey BBQ baby back ribs on the second. They even bake their fresh bread in a can — it’s a thing. Brunch is a pretty legit experience, too. The trip to Haywire isn’t complete, though, without a visit to the vintage airstream on the rooftop deck of the third floor.
It’s definitely saying something when the team behind Michelin starred chef José Andrés’ celebrated Zaytinya chose Frisco for the restaurant’s first and only location outside of Washington D.C. Taking up residence at the Dallas Cowboys’ world headquarters, The Star, in Frisco, the restaurant serves up an innovative mezze menu inspired by Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese cuisines in a sleek, modern setting. You’ll likely be tempted to get one of everything. One way to avoid that is with the Chef’s Experience, which provides a tour of the menu’s best and most exotic flavors guided by local head chef Jon Thompson.
Where: Frisco and McKinney
Texas is the land of the ’cue, and the suburbs are smoking-hot thanks to Hutchins BBQ. The family-owned business was officially born in 1978 with owner Roy Hutchins’ first iteration: Roy’s Smokehouse. Now, with locations in both Frisco and McKinney, Roy's son acts as the primary pit master for some of the best smoked flavors around. Expect solid showings of brisket, ribs, sausage, chicken, and pulled pork, plus all the sides, and some seriously good banana pudding.
Legacy Food Hall
Your eyes will be way too big for your stomach at this multi-level, mega foodie playground that’s equal parts premium food hall, beer garden, craft brewery, and live entertainment destination. Just stepping inside the massive indoor-outdoor space will have you salivating over more than 24 artisanal food stalls with international flavors, all run by local chefs and restaurateurs. On the liquid libations side, in addition to that full-fledge brewery onsite, there’s a natural wine bar, tiki bar, craft cocktail bar, and more.
Although North Italia is part of a chain, don’t roll your eyes just yet. Located at Legacy West in Plano, their modern approach to traditional Italian fare still features seasonal ingredients, artisanal preparation, inventive flavor combinations, a decent wine list, and creative cocktails. With strozzapreti, squid ink mafaldine, homemade Bolognese, arancini, and more, this is not your standard Italian chain.
Where: Richardson and Irving
Who knew some of the best Lebanese food around could be found in Richardson. The family-owned eatery from brothers Ayad, Youssef and Nabil El-horr was originally a sweet shop — the baklava is revolutionary, BTW — but now it’s a Mediterranean mecca for fresh pita, falafel, baba ghanoush, hummus, kafta, shawarma, mezze plates, and more. There’s also a newer location in Irving.
Jeng Chi Restaurant
A taste of China in Richardson is what you’ll get at this family-owned, must-try spot for authentic dishes from Taiwan and mainland China such as marinated pork ear, salty duck, steamed dumplings, and too many noodle dishes to count — and that’s only the first half of the menu. They also have an in-house bakery for sweet treats.
The Common Table
Wildly popular in Uptown, The Common Table has a second location now outside of Dallas at The Star in Frisco. A lot of people go for the cool range of craft beers on tap — and then stay for the food that includes decadent, home-style dishes and “biggie smalls” apps that are super-shareable like Bavarian pretzel bites, kobe beef corn dogs, bison meatballs, and Philly cheesesteak eggrolls. Oh, and the tableside s’mores are a must-have for dessert. Live music on Friday and Saturday nights just adds to the spirited fun.
Where: Lower Greenville
If you love HG Sply Co. in Lower Greenville, try this Rockwall spot that was opened by the same people. It’s far less hunter-and-gather, paleo-forward food, but the American cuisine is still taken up several notches from the norm with a good mix of healthy and, well, not so healthy items. From signature burgers, to bunless burger bowls, and other build-your-own-bowls, to Wagyu steak and potatoes, and chicken fried steak, it’s all up for grabs. The coolest thing, though, is the cocktail menu. Every month, they feature five cocktails created by and named after locals, and for each drink ordered, they donate $1 to the charity of the respective person’s choice. Cheers to that.
Whiskey Cake Kitchen + Bar
Where: Plano and Las Colinas
Have your cake and eat it, too. This rustic-rad destination in both Plano and Las Colinas has been the talk of the town for a while — and for good reason. The decadent whiskey cake is a meal in itself, but you’ll still want to save room for other things that the made-from-scratch-only kitchen sends out using a huge list of locally sourced ingredients. The brunch is hugely popular, too. And, oh yes, the whiskey cocktails and bold elixirs are a must.
Bonnie Ruth’s Neighborhood Bistro
Paris by way of Frisco? Oui, oui! This adorable bistro is a pastry shop, and a bar and café, where the crepes, mussels, Croque Monsieur, quiche du jour with pommes frites, and crispy duck leg with lavender honey drizzle will have you thinking you're in France. There’s another location at Watters Creek in Allen, too.
Part whimsical seafood restaurant, part tropical tiki bar, The Keeper at The Shops at Legacy in Plano is definitely, well, a keeper. It proves that our land-locked city can still deliver on fresh fish done right. Check out mahi mahi with ancient grains and pomegranate salad, whole red snapper, scallops over udon noodles, lobster rolls, and more. And, the cocktails even come with umbrellas for a vacay vibe. Of course, there’s land-style offerings, in addition to seafood, but when in Rome … (or at The Keeper).
Patina Green Home & Market
Precisely what farm-to-table should be, this vintage-inspired gem is the brainchild of three talents: a chef, an interior designer, and a retail expert. So, it’s no surprise that the charming spot in the historic McKinney square offers curated, edgy antiques and artisanal gifts along with Chef Robert Lyford’s daily lunch-only menu. Sandwich lovers will be spoiled for choice with roast Wagyu beef and pepper jack cheese, roasted cauliflower and raw cheddar on hippie health bread, and the ultimate grilled cheese on sourdough. Chef Lyford also hosts multi-course Market Dinners once a month — and they are worth the wait.
Barley & Board
Touted as Denton’s first gastropub, this hip-industrial eatery pairs small and large plates with handcrafted brews that celebrate the local craft beer scene. But, you really can make a meal of just the cheese and charcuterie mega boards without even making a dent in the “sweet pig and angry bird” half-rack ribs and brazed quail along with other spirited entrees. Randomly enough, actor Jason Lee is one of the partners of the restaurant.
Where: Flower Mound
Relying on a homespun yet refined vibe and menu, this Flower Mound restaurant delivers modern American cuisine with a global, and often eastern European, spin. Cue the house-made pierogis, schnitzel, and pot pie.
Carmel Restaurant and Lounge
California meets Mediterranean meets… Coppell? Absolutely, at this elegant restaurant and lounge that’s a perfect spot to linger for happy hour wine that turns into dinner. Land and sea are equally represented here, but we’re more interested in the small plates like the mezza extravaganza, oven-roasted caramel goat cheese, chorizo-stuffed calamari, and fluffy-crispy falafel.
Richardson locals would probably prefer you not know about their “secret” go-to for the freshest, most authentic sushi around. The place is pretty non-descript in a strip shopping center and only has an unpopulated Facebook page to its name. But, once you step through the doors and chef-owner Ryo-san greets you into his “home,” you’ll get it.
Where: Frisco and Southlake
Get fired up! There’s literally a dish for any type of diner at TruFire’s two locations in Frisco and Southlake. They have a full gluten-free menu and a vegetarian version, too, to accompany their regular brunch, lunch, and dinner offerings that rely on American favorites with Mediterranean and Italian influences. As for the drinks, there's a unique wine program and specialty cocktails with freshly muddled fruits and house-made elixirs and sours.
Sushi aficionados from all over the metroplex frequent this Japanese gem in Richardson for sashimi, nigari, tempura, maki, and more. Naturally, sake is all part of the experience.
Rye Craft Food and Drink
This adorable restaurant in downtown McKinney shuttered for a short time. But, lucky for you, it’s back by popular demand — and so are the handcrafted dishes that nod to simpler times. They might even remind you of your mom’s delicious homemade cooking (or not). Regardless, Rye features a number of ingredients from local purveyors and celebrates the true spirit of southern hospitality.
With culinary twists on classic faves, FnG in Keller has legit lunch and dinner menus along with a killer brunch. Where else could you find the homey flair of chipotle bison seven-cheese mac; pot roast benedict; “Trench” toast with jalapeño cornbread, chorizo, and barbecue crème anglaise; and J.A.C. n jam dip (don’t ask, just try). Bob “Gordo” Stephenson and Chef Carlos “Flaco” Arevalo prove that opposites attract (just refer to their nicknames!) when it comes to hometown dishes taken to the next level with locally sourced ingredients and creative inspiration.