Thursday, November 05, 2015


Zoës Kitchen recently opened in Waco.  On the advice of friends, I was there on opening day and have returned once since.  The food I ordered at lunch came quickly and seemed fresh and tasty.  Zoës is a fast casual (aren't they all!) restaurant that serves a very Americanized Mediterranean dishes.  They claim to serve up Southern hospitality but the girl at the register said that was an up-sell.  I enjoyed the selections I made.  The Orzo Salad and the chicken breast were both very good.  You may have trouble staying under $10 but that is the price you pay for  fresh, wholesome, dishes. This place seems to be attracting a lot of student business.  It is something different that for Waco and that is a good thing.

If you like the Mediterranean flavors, 1924 Restaurant could be a good one to try or D's Mediterranean has some great kebabs and hummus. 

I have long been a fan of Saltgrass Steakhouse. It seems to be one of the better chain restaurants. That shows in the training of the staff and the hospitality. Their arrival in Waco is most welcome. This is not an inexpensive place to dine but the quality of the food, service and ambiance made it feel like a good value. If you are on a bit of a budget, don't hesitate to split an entree. There is ample food for two people to share with the addition of another side or a signature salad. The wedge and the spinach are both very well prepared.

The Artichoke dip comes in two sizes (each large enough to split) with an accompaniment of thin tortilla chips. Somebody doesn't like artichokes? There is a thimble of salsa on board as an alternate dipper. My steak came out medium rare as ordered. This can be a real challenge at some restaurants but Saltgrass handled it perfectly. Decent crust outside and a warn red center. My sweet potato side was large, hot and delicious. As usual, the Waco first-month crush can cause some service problems but Saltgrass seems to be handling it without a stumble.

 My Favorite Steakhouses
1. 135 Prime
2. Diamondbacks
3. Saltgrass Steakhouse
4. Longhorn Steakhouse

Monday, October 12, 2015

Twisted Root in Waco

I waited a week to visit the new Twisted Root.  I have previously eaten at a TRoot in Dallas. Happy to see this or any new real restaurant come to Waco but my first experience was a disappointment.  Our party of 2 entered at about 1:10 PM and waited in a short line to place an order.  We ordered after 10 minutes and found a table to wait for our assigned name to be called.  You get a slip of paper with a celebrity name on it.  Michael Jackson!!!!

The tall ceiling building is a large open space that was formerly a theater. A large bar dominates the center of the room with various types of seating all around.  The interior is mostly concrete with several large projection TVs showing both live sports and taped music videos.  This is probably great for an evening at a bar but is a bit loud for a casual lunch.  Conversation was difficult.

About 20 minutes later, our two burgers were ready for pickup.  The meat was a little over cooked and dry.  I had bacon, tomatoes, a nice smear of goat cheese and a bit of chipotle on mine.  The side of onion rings were OK.

Plenty of nice condiments on the table although our ketchup was empty.  I quickly tried to swap with another empty table and scored on my third try.  For a $25 lunch, it would have been nice to eat on something other than a paper tray. We invested almost a full hour inside Twisted Root not counting the drive too and from.  Although it was not that crowded, the wait was a bit too long for a one hour lunch.

I took a look at their fountain and found Huh? Mr. Pibb.  This is Waco, Texas the home of a world famous soft drink beloved by a large % of the population. I can't imagine why. Surely this was some kind of oversight.  A clever sales ploy by the Coke supplier?  A product offered at a substantial discount?  A ISIS plot?  This needs to change before my next visit.

In short: Burgers OK; Sides OK; Service too slow; Atmosphere aggressive; Non Alcohol selection embarrassing!

Friday, January 09, 2015

 Best Bets in Waco 2015

2014 has come and gone as have a lot of Waco restaurants.  It is time to update this list of the best places to eat in Waco, Texas.  

 Dining in Waco is like the soft drink industry.  You can eat with relative certainty with the big guy chain restaurants or you can look for something distinctively different and out of the ordinary.   

All of the listed information is subject to change.  Be sure to call and check for hours of operation.  

Best Overall  Non-chain
135 Prime
Stadium Club

Top Chains Restaurants (not BBQ or Mexican)
B.J's Brewhouse 
Longhorn Steakhouse
Panera Bread Company
Pei Wei

Top Barbeque  

Uncle Dan's

Bangkok Royal (Thai) 
Pei Wei  

Top Burgers
Kitok Restaurant
Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Top Tex/Mex
Don Carlos

Sandwich Shops
Jason's Deli
Jimmy John's

Top Italian
Papa Rollo's

Dickey's Rides Again

If their was ever a worst time to open a barbeque restaurant in town, I can't remember it. We already have plenty of good choices for smokey meat.  Vitek's is on a roll.  Rudy's is never empty.  Uncle Dan's and Michna's survive.  Why would Dickey's choose now to roll back into Waco?  A market where it crashed and burned a few years ago seems like a poor choice.  With beef prices through the roof, how do they plan to be competitive?  

I visited there new location on Bosque near Valley Mills and discovered the answer - they don't!  

I strolled into the new location which is smaller that the earlier facility.  After a quick review of the menu, I selected a BIG sandwich of sliced brisket with 2 sides - coleslaw and baked potato casserole.  The sandwich came on a very sturdy bun. Much appreciated.  Some of Dickey's competition have soft bun issues that render the meat and sauce into a soggy mess.  I asked for  some of the blackened brisket exterior on my sandwich.  I was rewarded by the meat man with a new brisket from the drawer below the counter.  As he placed it on the block and began removing the plastic wrap(!), I began to question my selection.  The texture of the beef was as you might expect of something that had spent some hours being smoked and then placed in a warmer for a longer period of time.  The meat was well past tender and had moved on to mushy. Wrapping brisket in plastic usually indicates that the product has been removed from the pit or smoker for a undetermined amount of time.

The previous Dickey's had allowed self service on the side dishes.  The new Dickey's portion controls the heck out of their sides.  Two to maybe three tablespoons of bland coleslaw and the same of the baked potato casserole.  I could find no evidence of a baked potato in the little tub that it came in.  There was potato but it seemed mashed or instant.  They scattered a few green onion pieces and some cheese on top. Not even a micro piece of baked potato peel was found.

I ordered a Big Yellow Cup soft drink for $2.50 and paid for my $12.50 lunch.  Moved on the the side bar and searched for Diet Dr Pepper (no luck) and a little sweet pickle relish (no chance). Only the three sauce choices were worthy of note.  The spicy is spicy, the original is very good and the sweet is just that.  

I can't imagine how this second generation franchise of a Dallas barbeque original will survive.