(UPDATED NOVEMBER 2022) My Texas travels have evolved into a four-month RV journey all over the state. We spent a lot of time in North Texas, where we sometimes explored a different small-town daily. With so many incredible restaurants to choose from, and so many small towns to sort through, I wrote this post to help you plan some fun day trips and where to eat while you are there. I give you a restaurant guide to North Texas, an area waiting to be a gracious host and delicious dining choices.
Dallas: Smoky Rose
Looking at TripAdvisor for Dallas restaurant reviews, be prepared to turn out 3,576 of them. That’s how many dining establishments that are in this thriving city. Luckily, a local friend, Mike of The Nomadic Texan, took me to one of the best.
Smoky Rose is a hip restaurant with a great covered outdoor patio and superb service. We began our lunch with the Smoked Brisket Queso with tortilla chips that were right up there with some of the best queso ever. IF I had not been dining with a friend that I was just now meeting, I might have licked the bowl clean.
I had a pulled pork quesadilla for my main course, packed full of caramelized onions and jalapeños, with sides of salsa and sour cream—even enough to take home part of it for a snack later. Smoky Rose has a killer cocktail and margarita menu, but the sangrias were the tempting option for me.
Valet parking is offered at this Tex-Mex restaurant, a great perk.
Frisco is one of my favorite cities in North Texas, and it’s no surprise that there are so many incredible places to eat there. My favorite was Mash’D, a high-energy eatery that serves hand-crafted cocktails in Mason jars and moonshine flights to enhance your meal.
The Chicken Fried Pepperoni will most likely be one of the most enjoyable appetizers you’ve ever sunk your teeth in. I asked for the recipe, but it was a big, fat no. The classic Fried Chicken, Bootleg Ribs, and Mash’D Meatloaf are excellent options for main course suggestions. Check out Mash’D’s weekend brunch or happy hour.
Garland: Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
Flying Saucer is a fun and tasty chain taproom we first discovered in Nashville at the Union Station Hotel. Visit for the food and drink, and then peruse the crazy collection of plates and outer space decor.
Have the Saucer Dipster sandwich: shaved roast beef on a tasty roll with melted Swiss cheese. The stout au jus (dipping juice) is rich and perfect for dipping the billowy bread in. For a sharing plate, try the Loaded Rocket Tots. They are fried golden brown with fresh jalapeños and dotted with goat cheese, crispy bacon, and green onions.
Then, a drool-worthy fried egg is laid across the top. How fabulous does that sound? The Flying Saucer also serves German-inspired dishes and loads of craft beers.
Grapevine: Chez Fabien’s Main Street Bistro
I’m a creature of habit and keep going back to the same places for the same dishes. Do you do that? In Grapevine, also known as the Christmas Capital of Texas, I can’t pass up a chance to eat at Chez Fabien’s Main Street Bistro. So many delicious things on the menu, primarily French-inspired and homemade to perfection.
I order the Croque Monsieur with a divine mornay sauce and melted Gruyère cheese across the top. It is definitely a knife and fork sandwich. Chez Fabien’s Caesar salad with brioche croutons is another tasty choice, with a tangy and wonderful dressing.
Save room for one of the specialty desserts, such as the Strawberry Romanov crepe or profiteroles.
Greenville: TaMolly’s Mexican Restaurant
If you are in Arkansas or Texas, you may see TaMolly’s Mexican Restaurants throughout a few cities, and they are worth stopping for. Get all your favorite Tex-Mex favorites at this vibrant restaurant with an overload of colorful lights and fun painted murals and decor.
I loved that you could order a trio of dips at TaMolly’s, which we happily did. The appetizer features fried tortilla cups of yellow queso, guacamole, and Queso Blanco. All three were good, and it was nice to have a selection.
I’d been waiting for months to see puffy tacos on a Texas menu, and I found them here. TaMolly’s also has really good chicken poblano and chicken tortilla soups. If it’s Mexican or Tex-Mex, chances are you will find it on the menu here, but something cool I’d mention is that the lunch specials are available all day for only $1 more after the lunch cut-off time. That’s a real money saver right there.
Irving: The Ranch at Las Colinas
You can travel the country and probably not find more than a handful of restaurants as good as The Ranch at Las Colinas. This iconic Texas eatery is huge and has a reputation to match. Seating hundreds of people and offering several private or separate dining areas, The Ranch is a mix of casual and sophisticated. Its staff is well-versed in proper table service and has a vast knowledge of the menu, food, and drink.
The Ranch’s wine room and menu are in a league of their own.
Offering farm-to-fork local cuisine and honkin’ big hand-cut juicy steaks, farm-raised Texas beef, that is. The Ranch has something for everyone, and it’s bigger and better here. I recommend Mini Elk Taco and Lump Crab Dip, served with grilled flatbread, though you can’t go wrong with Queso Blanco and chips. Pair those with a Cadillac margarita or frozen Texas Tea (a Long Island Tea with sangria).
My pick for steaks is the garlic stuffed filet with peppered bourbon butter, which I’m drooling just thinking about how tasty this steak was. If you have a hearty steak appetite and feel brave, try the 33 oz. Wagyu Tomahawk Ribeye served with roasted bone marrow butter.
Other excellent dinner choices at this Irving restaurant include blackened red snapper, smoked fried chicken, and chipotle meatloaf. Save a smidgeon of room for the fried pies dessert, with flavors that change daily. I had carrot cake with a side of caramel sauce, and they were to die for!
Enjoy live music in the Ranch pavilion with artists from Austin to Amarillo on Tuesday through Saturday.
I love when a restaurant has easy-to-remember hours, such as daily 8 AM to 2 PM, serving breakfast and lunch, which is just what LAYERED, in McKinney, has. And I also love it when I’m blown away by something unique at a restaurant. Enter the robot delivery gal at this eclectic eatery.
I met a friend for breakfast at LAYERED and loved the elevated cafe foods menu. The sweet potato hash was a perfect option for me, with bacon, onion, peppers, and jalapeños. Other menu items range from tacos to toasts, salads to chicken & waffles.
Another item I contemplated was the Shakshuka Skillet, an Israeli dish that sounded heavenly. When the robot brings it to your table, have your camera ready to get photos of this unique offering no matter what you order. We loved it!
Reservations are recommended at LAYERED, especially on weekends.
Mount Vernon: Cotton Belt BBQ
You quickly learn that gas station restaurants in Texas have really good food. Case in point, Cotton Belt BBQ at the TA Express Travel Center in Mount Vernon.
It was nice having a quick stop for lunch that was affordable and only took about 20 minutes, start to finish. I had the two-meat plate (turkey and pulled pork) with green beans and mac & cheese. Other side options are sweet or mashed potatoes, sautéed carrots, vegetables, mushrooms, fried okra, rosemary potatoes, and baked or pinto beans. Every bite was really good, and the bbq sauce was not too sweet or tangy.
Cotton Belt BBQ serves breakfast and is most popular during prime meal times.
Plano: Jorg’s Cafe Vienna
I was thrilled to see a German restaurant in Plano, so we put it at the top of our to-do list. We arrived for lunch at Jorg’s Cafe Vienna and realized we barely got a seat, so reservations are recommended. The setting is lively and fun, plus there is so much to look at. When our pretzel with a southern Austrian cheese spread arrived, our table looked like it should be in Bavaria rather than North Texas.
I enjoyed the sautéed Oma’s Paprika Pork Schnitzel dish for lunch. I appreciated the option to have it served as deep-fried (as traditionally done) or sautéed, paired with Spätzle noodles and braised red cabbage. My husband had the Oktoberfest Bratwurst…another tasty choice.
Consider the apple strudel to crave your sweet tooth if you can still move.
Please note that Jorg’s is closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
Richardson: Pappasito’s Cantina
You’ve probably seen Pappasito’s Cantina around the Lone Star State and in airports. This lively spot is the perfect place to enjoy Tex-Mex favorites and great margaritas. Pappasito’s Chile con queso is super creamy and addictive, with crisp, lightly-fried tortilla chips.
My husband and I split the Chicken Fajitas because it is big enough for two. The chunks of chicken are full of flavor and moist, while the side of melted butter is nice for dunking the wrapped concoction in. I’ve never been served butter like this at a Mexican restaurant before, so I’m not sure how or why it is included. But it’s darned tasty.
Thirsty? Ranch water, spicy pineapple mules, watermelon, agave, or plain margaritas are on the drink menu.
Rockwall: Rosa’s Cafe & Tortilla Factory
Wow, Texas has so many chain Tex-Mex or Mexican restaurants that you could eat at one every day, no matter where you travel. Rosa’s Cafe is one of the quick-serve places we’ve fallen in love with for the taste, self-serve drinks, salsa bar, and warm, perfectly crisp tortilla chips.
Rosa’s Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and even has family meals for money-saving and convenience. There are also daily specials and several choices for desserts. My husband is a fan of the hard shell tacos (rice, beans, and warm flour tortillas), while I prefer the Smothered Burrito topped with chili con carne and zesty nacho cheese.
Join Rosa’s email VIP program for even more savings and discount opportunities.
Sachse: Osaka Hibachi Sushi Bar
Some days you just want a Japanese-style lunch. Am I right? On this day, we happened to be in Sachse, one of our favorite North Texas towns. We wandered into Osaka Hibachi Sushi Bar to find a beautifully decorated restaurant with attentive staff and a tantalizing Japanese, Ramen, and sushi menu.
We both ended up with the Hibachi grill lunch choices, though Bento boxes were close contenders. I had the chicken & filet mignon, while he had just chicken. We both opted for fried rice, a $2 uncharge. Lunch specials are available Monday through Friday and include soup, vegetables, and salad.
We’ve eaten at many Japanese restaurants in our life, and this one was one of the best. The meats’ quality was top-notch, and I give my meal a 10/10.
Wylie: Frankie’s Casa
Frankie’s Casa Mexican Cuisine was so good that we went two days in a row and got it for take home on another. This cute little place is full of life and energy, with separate dining areas and a great outdoor patio. We prefer the bar area, which is also perfect for watching football.
The queso is a must, with spinach in it, a first for us. You can also add brisket, ground beef, or sausage for an additional charge. The dish that hooked me was Mexican Lasagna, the first time I’d seen this on a Mexican restaurant menu too.
Picture this—layered tortillas with chicken fajita, mole, corn, and beans, with a poblano cream sauce. Then (it gets better), the whole slice is drizzled with pico and queso. Oh my, this is one dish you won’t want to miss. My husband was more a fan of the $7.50 jalapeño margaritas.
There are three Frankie’s locations: Garland, Sachse, and Wylie. Check out the weekend brunch from 11 AM-3 PM.
We have even more restaurant suggestions when you are in these towns: