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By Robert Darden, Mary Landon Darden, Martha Hopkins, Kevin Tankersley & Kathleen McKinney

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CLUBSANDWICH If I had to pick a Critic’s Top Pick for 2010, the food from ClubSandwich would steal the show. Baylor grad Young Dae Moon has a micro menu with only four items: a lemongrass-marinated roasted pork banh mi, a Korean street taco made with braised short ribs or chicken bulgogi, a cinnamon and anise-scented pho and the ever-ubiquitous fried rice. Young Dae’s banh mi is not good because it’s the only banh mi you can find in this town. It’s good because it’s, well, good. Very good. Ditto for the rest of the menu. Order the sandwiches and tacos for your next working lunch — he’ll even deliver. (Jakarta Mud Hut in the Waco Outreach Foundation building at 400 South 4th Street; 254/297-7814) — MH

HERE THEY ARE — THE RESULTS OF OUR FIFTH ANNUAL HUNT FOR SOME OF WACO’S BEST RESTAURANTS. WE’VE FOUND SOME NEW PLACES, RETURNED TO A FEW OLD ONES AND SLYLY THROWN IN A CHAIN OR TWO. AS ALWAYS, WE APPRECIATE YOUR COMMENTS (AND SUGGESTIONS)

CRITICS’

PICKS

2010 Photographs by Matt Tolbert & Kathleen McKinney

May 2010 } Wacoan.com 127


Everyone knows about the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana. It’s leg-

production. Most order their Liplockers with Oriental fries, an imposing haystack of

endary for its fruitcakes and old-school bakery. The Waco incarnation also features

matchstick-thin vegetables dipped in tempura batter and deep-fried.” For the

a bright and airy deli to go with the deservedly famous bakery items. Our

money, it’s the best meal in Waco. (1815 North 18th Street; 754-1801) — KT

favorites? The praline cookies and the best apricot ginger scones this side of Devonshire. (701 North I-35, exit 338A; 799-5824) — RD & MLD

The rest of the civilized world has tiny shops selling lamb gyros on every street corner. They’re as important to the culture of a town as cathedrals and sidewalk

Night after night, Mi Tequila’s kitchen continues to produce high quality

cafés. Waco took one more step towards joining civilization when D’s

Mexican dishes, some rarely found elsewhere (including quail). But when we’re

Mediterranean Grill (also known as D’s Chicken Delight) opened a few years

really, really hungry, we go for the Pig Rock, a bubbling stone caldron filled with

ago. All of their Lebanese dishes are authentic, freshly made and delicious. But we

our favorite Mexican ingredients. Great beans a la charra, too. (1200 North Valley

still return time and again to the lamb gyros. (1503 Colcord Avenue; 754-6709) —

Mills Drive; 741-1151) — RD & MLD

RD & MLD

Yep, it’s a chain, but goshdarnit, Chuy’s tortilla soup hits that warm spot in

OK, so the Shaved Prime Rib Nachos at Diamond Back’s (1) aren’t what you

the tummy so perfectly that we just had to include it. Gone is the funky chicken so

expect when you think “nacho.” No tortilla chips or cheese in sight. But hey, tradi-

often found in chain restaurants. Banished is the bland broth. In its place is fresh-

tional nachos or not, this appetizer is one of my favorites. Beautiful pink slices of

ly-roasted corn cut directly off the cob, slivers of Anaheim peppers, scoops of avoca-

prime rib on crispy wonton chips topped with fresh pico de gallo and a delicious

do, the necessary trifecta of

saffron sauce — yum! (214

celery, onions and carrots and

South 3rd Street; 757-2871) —

chunks of chicken breast meat

KM

poached in a rich, flavorful The Epicurean Chef,

chicken stock and topped with a summertime garnish of

Han Ashley, introduced

cilantro and lime. (5501

healthful dishes to Waco a few

Legend Lake Parkway in

years back with her

Legends Crossing off Highway

EpicureanChef.com take-out

6; 420-4242) — MH

offerings and weekly buffets of good-for-you whole grains and

La Fiesta does a lot of

clean proteins. Do not miss

things well. Today we’re cele-

her creamy kale, made with

brating their carnitas fajitas —

one of the most nutritious

succulent pork, marinated

leaves around and ground

overnight and grilled with onions. Best enjoyed on Thursday nights when there’s free live music. (3815 Franklin Avenue at Valley Mills Drive; 756-4701) — RD & MLD

cashews for a rich mouthful. Oooh-wee! Love me some buttermilk pie — especially the one from Amelia’s on the Avenue inside Sironia. This classic dessert works every season of the year, and the quality of this creamy, custardy delight from Amelia’s never falters. A slice will curb your sweet tooth, but you’ll make the entire family happy if you bring home a whole pie. They’ll never guess it’s not homemade. (1509 Austin Avenue inside Sironia; 714-1229) — MH

Even meat-eaters swear by her vegan tamales made with sweet potatoes, carrots, black beans and corn, all flavored with chipotle, guajillo and ancho chiles and surrounded

When it comes to burritos,

by a millet-polenta meal.

I’m fiercely loyal to Leal’s in Woodway. It’s got great food and a great atmosphere.

(Jakarta Mud Hut in the Waco Outreach Foundation building at 400 South 4th

The owners always make you feel like a long-time friend. Delicious tortillas are

Street; 254/315-6167) — MH

jam-packed with ingredients, and I try to stop in for one of their large burritos at least once a week. Build your own — I like mine with meat, potatoes, Mexican rice

Brazos Valley Cheese at Homestead Heritage. Remember back in the day

and cheese. But anyone who knows will also tell you to try the Chili Topper, a beef,

when Homestead Heritage just made farmer’s cheese? They were still in the learn-

potato and cheese burrito covered with Leal’s chili sauce — thank you, Cesar Leal,

ing phase of the cheese-making department, and it wasn’t always a success. All

for this tasty creation. (9000 Panther Drive; 772-8140) — KM

this trial and error has resulted in some outstandingly good cheese — they’re up to 22 varieties now! — including smoked gouda, blue, cheddar, havarti and brie. It’s

I’ve had discussions with numerous friends about the best burger in town. While others may argue passionately about their favorites — Tom’s, Cupp’s, Dubl R,

way past time for a tasting. (608 Dry Creek Road off FM 933, towards Whitney; 754-9600) — MH

George’s or World Cup Café — my vote still goes to Kitok’s (2). William Grimes, New York Times food writer, wrote in a 1998 article that “[C]ustomers come from as far as Dallas or Austin for the double-meat Liplocker with cheese, a no-nonsense

128 Wacoan { Waco’s City Magazine™

I’m not usually a fan of mojitos — they usually taste like toothpaste — but the mojitos at the Elite Circle Grille are not the usual. Served in a cool antique


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mason jar with fresh mint, fresh limes, cane sugar, a

packed with Baylor students — and for good reason.

splash of soda and Bacardi Limón Rum, this is a

These people know how to cook tasty, healthy food!

refreshing cocktail with just the right amount of

Our favorite is the combination vegetarian pizza with

sweet and tart. (On the Circle — 2132 South Valley

extra basil and feta cheese. Oh my, my … (1121

Mills Drive; 754-4941) — KM

Speight Avenue; 753-3998) — RD & MLD

That’s right — another chain. But have you had

What’s the most serene spot in town? You’d cer-

the slow-cooked, steel-cut organic oatmeal at

tainly have to consider Clay Pot, a lovely, welcom-

Jamba Juice? For you health-conscious folks, that

ing coffee shop and restaurant near the Baylor cam-

translates into low-glycemic carbs that give you good,

pus. Here’s another restaurant that does a lot of

steady energy for several hours straight. It’s cooked

things well. They are justly famous for their fragrant

with soymilk, so it has a gently sweet taste that’s

restorative pho (Vietnamese herbal soup), but let’s

absolutely perfect plain. (300 West Waco Drive; 751-

also give a little love to their steaming rice bowls

1689) — MH

(and the meat of your choice) served in — you guessed it — clay pots. (920 South I-35, on the access

Terry & Jo’s Food for Thought (3) is always

road at 10th Street; 756-2721) — RD & MLD

3 May 2010 } Wacoan.com 129

2010 Critics' Picks  

Here they are — the results of our fifth annual hunt for some of Waco’s best restaurants. We’ve found some new places, returned to a few old...

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