Irving might be one of the coolest and best-kept secrets in the Lone Star State. Nestled 10 minutes from Dallas and 30 from Fort Worth, this sassy little upscale community has a raved-about food and music scene. On a recent trip, I had a chance to dine at some of the best restaurants in Irving, Texas. Here is where I went, what I had, and my thoughts about each. Bon Appétit!
Via Reál Restaurant
Six years ago, on my first visit to Irving, I had a high-end Southwestern meal that was gourmet and memorable in every way. I never pictured going to a restaurant of this nature and ordering a sea bass dish, but it was excellent, beautiful, and one of the best things I ate all year. Fast forward, on my return visit, I couldn’t wait to see if it was everything I had remembered.
Yep—Via Reál Restaurant has an exceptional Southwestern/Santa Fe-style food menu that is on the line with fine dining eateries. You must try the creamy and decadent guacamole or zesty queso served with warm chips. Peach margaritas are on point at Via Reál and pair wonderfully with the appetizers. If you are really hungry, add the Stuffed Jalapeños, which are quite tasty and full of flavor.
There are two over-the-top delicious specialty dishes at Via Reál for the main course. First is the Pecan-crusted Sea Bass over cilantro mashed potatoes topped with a pineapple sauce. Sautéed asparagus is on the side. The potatoes are stuffed into a quartered pineapple, which looks super fancy, and the taste is like nothing I’ve ever had. This was the dish I came back for.
The second specialty item is Via Reál’s red oak smoked 6, 8, or 10-ounce beef tenderloin. The steak comes out on a cast iron dish that is set afire. The server parades it to the table, then removes it to place it on a picture-perfect dinner plate. Yukon potatoes and grilled vegetables complement the tender piece of meat topped with a house demi-glaze.
Fun Fact: Via Reál also has a Sunday brunch.
The Ranch at Las Colinas
The Ranch at Las Colinas is Texas-sized, and you be the judge of what that means. The upscale setting hosts hundreds of diners each night, coming for juicy steaks, fine wines, and live music (on the Porch) in a lovely environment.
I went there with several travel writer friends, and The Ranch really put on the dog. We sampled nearly every appetizer on the menu and had salads, entrees, and a big spread of desserts. You could even take a helicopter ride from the parking lot at that time with advanced booking. I was smitten and crazy for The Ranch at Las Colinas after only a few hours of being there.
As for the food, it was all spectacular. Our top appetizers were mini elk tacos, lump crab dip, and cornmeal fried Texas gulf oysters. You may be full after just this spread of appetizers, but if you can keep going, the mesquite-grilled Caesar salad with ancho caesar vinaigrette is darned tasty.
For main courses, might I recommend the roasted garlic stuffed filet (this is a genius creation!) or the Texas whiskey BBQ ribs with white cheddar Havarti mac & cheese. Both are sinfully delicious and worth every penny and calorie. The whiskey bread pudding is a fabulous choice (and sharable) to finish your meal, but the fried pies won me over. The flavor changes often, so try them again and again.
Treat yourself to picturesque and tasty appetizers, with hand-crafted cocktails and margaritas as the perfect compliment at Hugo’s Invitados. This restaurant was way up the food chain with me because of its sensational cocktails, tempting appetizers, and bizarre festively decorated mannequins situated around the restaurant. Super cool!
Hugo’s Latin fare is exceptional—from the description to the plate presentation and all the way to the palate, but don’t take my word for it; experience it yourself. Hugo’s sticks to a few rules: Fresh-Baked Chips, House-Squeezed Juices, Nothing Fried or Processed, and All-Natural and Gluten-Free menu items. Sounds pretty impressive to me. I sampled several appetizers instead of having an entire meal and didn’t have anything that wasn’t Mmm-worthy.
My favorite, which surprised me as I’m not a typical ceviche fan, was the Texas Red Snapper Ceviche Verde. Its pineapple sauce, tomatillo, jalapeño, and green onion meshed perfectly, then gently went over the top with the avocado. Australian Lamb Meatballs was a closer runner-up. These little babies are rich and delightful but don’t feel heavy.
A few other appetizers to choose from including pork belly Chicharrón, Mexican avocado toast, and smoked salmon nachos. You may also want to have a side dish of elote because, well, who doesn’t love grilled corn smothered in creamy mayo, lime, cheese, and dusted with chili powder?
Modern Market Eatery
Kitchen 101 is a counter-service restaurant in Las Colinas at the Toyota Music Factory complex serving never frozen whole foods from a delicious menu. Some of Modern Market’s most popular dishes include pizzas, spit-roasted meat, street tacos, and banana pudding sugar tacos, but my husband and I went early morning for breakfast.
My husband and I both had breakfast tacos, mine with carne asada, his with bacon. Both also come with egg, cheese, Fresno salsa, and fantastic avocado salsa. With a $5 price tag, this could easily be a daily staple of mine if I lived in Irving. Breakfast and grit bowls were other popular breakfast choices, as well as sticky buns and orange cranberry bread.
Pimento Cheese Fritters on the appetizer lunch and dinner menu caught my eye, and I asked my server if it would be possible to get them during breakfast hours. She conferred with the chef, who agreed to make me some. OMG, y’all…this was one of the best things I’ve had all year and one of the tastiest appetizers ever.
Inside was a nice blend of gouda and cream cheese, jalapeños, and green onions, deep-fried until melty and yummy. Fresno peppers and bacon horseradish jam were the accompaniments. Now when you read “bacon horseradish jam,” picture me using my highest pitched voice and squealing in delight at how freaking epic this stuff is. I hope Kitchen 101 jars it and sells it on the market soon—it was that amazing.
In a hurry or need something to go? Check out Kitchen 101’s display case stacked high with side items, party dips, dinners for two, and take & bake meals. You can get breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even late-night menu items at Kitchen 101, which is open seven s a week.
Nosh and Bottle
One of Irving’s favorite dining options is Nosh and Bottle, a deli, coffee, and wine specialty market. While I didn’t have time to visit the restaurant for drinks and appetizers, I did have a sweet little box of goodies to take on my canal ride. My charcuterie & cheese box contained three selections of cured meats, three artisan cheeses, Marcona almonds, fresh berries, pineapple, grapes, and crackers.
Locals come to Nosh and Bottle for coffee, craft beer, wine, cheeses, and gourmet foods. I would go for the candied bacon; enough said.
Jam + Toast
My husband and I enjoyed eating breakfast at Jam + Toast, a cute eatery serving breakfast and lunch dishes. Crepes, omelets, waffles, pancakes, and Benedicts mostly make up the menu, but I was intrigued by the five skillet options.
I chose the Irving Skillet, which tempted me with the chicken apple sausages. Other ingredients included roasted red peppers, fresh mushrooms, spinach, and Monterey Jack cheese. Eggs are cooked your way and laid across the top and a bed of hash-browned potatoes on the bottom.
Breakfast was good but could have been better if the dish had been prepared more as a recipe rather than just ingredients added and stacked together. Still, the taste was good, and the menu was supreme.
Something very cool about Jam + Toast I’d never seen on a breakfast menu was the choice between biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, and toast as a side dish. That’s a pretty broad range. My husband loves a bite of something sweet for breakfast, so he typically orders a stack of pancakes. Here, he could just choose that as his side, and for no additional fee.
Homegrown Hounds Dog Deli and Bakery
While we are on the subject of charcuterie boards, how about a tempting dog treat-designed board (Barkuterie board) for your priceless pet? Our dog, Priscilla, was the lucky recipient of a beautiful display of goodies from Homegrown Hounds. Her favorites were the pieces called “poochcakes” and “bones filled with awesome.”
You can get their creative items at their store or order online. One hundred percent of the proceeds from sales at Homegrown Hounds go to rescuing homeless dogs, something near and dear to my heart.
For things to do and see in Irving, we have five awesome suggestions in this post.
One of Las Colinas’s most eclectic eateries is Pacific Table, known for sushi, weekend brunch, and an impressive wine list. Expect the freshest seafood and innovative seafood dishes, plus a few surprises. I chose to go vegetarian for dinner since they had some exciting options, and wow, blown away by the Pecan Veggie Burger, which was delicious in every way. My husband chose the Trout Almondine with a dollop of brown butter. Nom! No matter what dish you choose, you’ve got to try the magnificent jalapeño coleslaw.
We tried Broiled Shishito Peppers and Grilled Artichokes for appetizers, apparently one of the most popular items in Irving, Texas.
Try the brunch, available Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM to 3 PM, with tasty items like Avocado Toast, Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, and a Fried Oyster Omelette.
Fun Fact: There is a second Pacific Table location in Fort Worth.
Law Restaurant at the Four Seasons
Law is the super swanky and sophisticated restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort and Club at Las Colinas, offering one of the best brunches I’ve been to. The restaurant’s decor is gorgeous, and the service is impeccable. Food stations were meticulously created to dazzle the customer; it was almost too pretty to eat.
Traditional breakfast dishes at Law Restaurant include bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, and Eggs Benedict. A carving station featured beef and ham. I appreciated Law’s separate charcuterie station, bursting with choice meats, olives, cheeses, and marinated veggies. Fresh seafood, including salmon, shrimp, and crab legs, lined an entire wall in chafing dishes and on beautiful platters.
Law’s magnificent dessert display took up an entire room! I have never seen so many fabulous dessert options, many in individual serving dishes for a bite-size offering. I enjoyed the pound cake, macarons, pies, bread pudding, cookies, tarts, and Smore’s parfaits. Four Seasons, you have outdone yourself here! The price tag is a splurge but well worth it.
Please note, my visit to Law was pre-pandemic, so the brunch could have changed.
Two Mules Cantina
Grab a seat at the bar and munch on darned tasty chips and Texas Trio (queso, fresh salsa, and guacamole) from Two Mules Cantina, the stylish Southwest-decorated eatery at the Texican Court Hotel. Or, choose traditional indoor or outdoor seating and feast on the Mexican-inspired dishes and stellar specialty margaritas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
While I made a meal on the trio app, lunch choices included brisket tacos and poblano chicken enchiladas, and dinner, loaded street corn (hallelujah!) and beef, chicken, or shrimp fajitas.
There is a weekday happy hour in the beer garden from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.
Po’ Melvin’s Down Home Cookin’
Who knew you could come to Irving, Texas, and find remarkably good cajun and creole food? Well, you certainly can at Po’ Melvin’s Down Home Cookin, a festive eatery with a lively vibe and finger-lickin’ good classic New Orleans recipes.
A table full of appetizers may be your best bet at Po’ Melvin’s because every one of them will catch your eye. Might I suggest Bayou Balls (deep-fried twice-baked potatoes), Louisiana Spicy Fried Pies (crawfish, please), Fried Shrimp (sweet horseradish—nom!), and Cajun Shrimp Fondeaux. Must elaborate on the fondue, made with diced Gulf shrimp, spices, and a blend of cheeses, as this is one palate-pleasing comfort food dish.
Are you not feeling the Cajun mood? Wrap your head around southern-style baked ham & yams with your choice of two vegetables.
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