6 best restaurants to try in Lubbock

6 best restaurants to try in Lubbock

Located in one of the flattest areas in North America, Lubbock, Texas, is an oasis of art, culture, wine production and exquisite food one might not expect in the western parts of Texas.

Texas is the fifth largest wine-producing state in the United States, and of all the grapes grown in Texas, nearly 90 percent are grown in and around Lubbock, which I learned on a recent host trip to Lubbock. (All opinions are my own.)

The High Plains of West Texas do the “dirty work” of growing the grapes, while Hill Country gets all the love. While Lubbock may be the unsung hero of wine in the Lone Star State, it is also a hot spot for art, with numerous art galleries, First Friday Art Trail and teaching and shows in the Lubbock Cultural District.

All of these cultural and progressive steps in Lubbock have also created a lively dining scene ranging from hearty and meaty Texas grills to fine dining that rivals any major city in North America with dozens of great restaurants to try in Lubbock, Texas.

While exploring the public art sculptures on the Texas Tech campus, learning about rock and roll legend Buddy Holly at the Buddy Holly Center, or sipping wines at McPherson Cellars and Llano Estacado Winery, you will whet your appetite.

Here are six amazing restaurants to try in Lubbock, Texas.

La Sirena Kitchen in Lubbock
Photo credit: Heide Brandes

1. The Mermaid

A local favorite located in the Cactus Alley Courtyard, Cochina La Sirena offers a unique selection of coastal cuisine spiced with Latin flair.

Led by Cat Traxler, culinary director and head chef Jessica Fultz, this humble and beautifully decorated restaurant excels in dishes such as poblano fries, pulled quail empanadas and the solid tequila-made pork chop, a double-boned chop served with fried potato, spicy fermented cabbage, hot pear and persimmon compote and crispy shallots.

I chose the Peruvian spicy chicken, a giant marinated chicken quarter nestled among duck fat, fried potatoes, vegetables and tomato with aji amarillo and aji verde dipsauce. The Latin delicacy, however, is not limited to meat dishes; The restaurant also has vegan options such as the vegan mushroom farro “risotto”, which offers grilled locally grown mushrooms, pea vines, sweet peas and more.

Of course you will feel like washing all the good spicy food down with a cocktail. La Sirena is famous for its cactus water made with Cimarron Blanco Tequila, Topo Chico and a large splash of fresh lime juice; or the many different tequila and mezcal flights to try.

The hibiscus berry margarita is also a popular cocktail, made with Cimarron Reposado Tequila, Naranja Liqueur, fresh lime juice, homemade hibiscus berry syrup and a salt and sugar edge.

Slice pie from Cast Iron Grill in Lubbock
Photo credit: Heide Brandes

2. Cast iron grill

If you’ve never indulged in a giant piece of Jack Daniels-infused pecan pie or coconut cream pie for breakfast, yes, partner, have you really lived? The cast iron grill is not only known for its western feel and larger breakfast dish, it is famous for its pie (which is usually sold out before the lunch rush).

Owner Teresa Stephens opened Cast Iron Grill in October 2007 with just 55 seats in an office building located on the 18th and K. After five years, the restaurant grew in popularity to 167 seats – and 24 workers worked on top of each other – and in 2012, “The Lord chose one “different journey to CIG. We moved the CIG and opened our doors on January 2, 2013, just four blocks away from the old location,” said Teresa.

Teresa, who had not been a baker before opening the restaurant, quickly searched through her grandmother’s recipes and began baking hundreds of pies for the restaurant herself. In 2011, she baked over 1,000 pies, and the selection continues to expand.

The restaurant offers a full menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads and entrees, but the breakfast is where the real magic shines. From country-fried steak and eggs to huevos rancheros, The Cast Iron Grill is a local hot spot for breakfast and lunch.

And then there are the pies. Made fresh every day, the pies range from your typical coconut cream and chocolate cream pies to Lubbock originals like Jack Daniels Pecan Pie, a Sawdust Pie (surprise yourself with this rich and sticky selection) and blueberry-banana split pies.

You will never feel so good about getting pie for breakfast.

Pro tip: Arrive early if you want pie. The choices change every day, but the pies are inevitably sold out late in the morning.

Bottles of wine at Burklee Hill in Lubbock
Photo credit: Heide Brandes

3. Burklee Hill

For lunch, enjoy a selection of food combinations with the subtle and bold taste of the Burklee Hill Vineyards wines at the Burklee Hill Bistro & Tasting Room in Lubbock city center.

Chace and Elizabeth Hill founded Burklee Hill Vineyards, and for our lunch we tried their delicious food menu paired with selections of their own wines. This popular lunch and brunch hot spot serves pizzas (small pizzas), fresh salads (I recommend the autumn salad made with mixed vegetables, feta, apples, shallots, cranberries, glazed pecans and creamy lemon vinaigrette), a variety of sandwiches, and wraps and shareables, like hummus, charcuterie and artichoke schmear (tastes far better than it sounds).

Highlights of the weekend’s dinner menu include a lamb hook with herb crust and a black Atlantic cod, while the brunch menu includes selections such as bananas that promote French toast, and shrimp and groats.

Most of all you will try the wines from Burklee Hill.

Pro tip: If you plan to visit for dinner or brunch, make an early reservation. This popular restaurant fills up pretty quickly.

Barbecue at Evie Mae's in Lubbock
Photo credit: Heide Brandes

4. Evie Mae’s

In June 2017 Texas monthly published its list of the 50 best barbecue places in Texas that no one should miss before they die, and Evie Mae’s Pit Barbecue in Lubbock came in as number 9.

It’s easy to see why. Founded by Arnis and Mallory Robbins, the wooden-floor, cow-decorated grill bar was actually born when Arnis was diagnosed with celiac disease. After grilling became mainstream in the Robbins family (Arnis even built his own smoker), the couple began getting requests for barbecue and smoked meats.

After gaining a rabid following after moving to Lubbock, the Robbins family broke ground at their brick and mortar building in Lubbock in January 2016, and the business has been smoking hot ever since.

Evie Mae’s serves traditional barbecue favorites such as pulled pork, brisket, smoked turkey, sausage and minced breast, but the sides are just as good as the tender meat. Try the jalapeno cornbread, green chile cheese grits, brisket chili or the green beans.

Oh, and come hungry. Evie Mae’s does not skimp on portion size, so put on your loose pants and skip breakfast – you will fill up on so much good Texas grill that you may not be able to move later.

Food offerings from Ninety-Two Bakery & Cafe
Photo credit: Heide Brandes

5. Ninety-To Bakery & Cafe

I have never had a croissant as delicate and scaly as the one at Ninety-Two Bakery & Cafe, one of Lubbock’s newest eateries, inspired by the French countryside.

General Manager Drew Warren took his love for the Lord and good food for Lubbock and imagined a bakery and coffee shop that would become a “third place”, a cozy and comforting place between your first place (home) or your second place (work ). In addition to freshly baked cakes and breads, barista-style coffee and simple French-style breakfasts, Ninety-Two Bakery & Cafe is a green draped, soothingly lit piece of French style on the High Plains.

I ate the simple French breakfast, a selection of the freshly baked breads with whipped butter, a selection of jams and even sweet butter. Other breakfast items that were too good to miss include Croque Madame, which consists of toasted sourdough topped with stone-ground mustard, black forest ham, gruyère cheese and a poached egg, covered in a creamy bechamel sauce. The ever-popular avocado toast is made with toasted sourdough bread topped with herbal ricotta, mashed avocado, watermelon radish, arugula and a locally fresh poached egg.

This French bistro also has lunch choices, including French onion soup, salads and a variety of sandwiches.

If nothing else, you should definitely try the croissant. It is so good that it brings tears to your eyes.

A dish at Nicolett's in Lubbock
Photo credit: Heide Brandes

6. Nicolett

Nicolett is a new gourmet destination in Lubbock from chef Finn Walter, and the elegant menu features ingredients that are natural to the region. With his training from his time in Paris, Austin, Napa Valley and Santa Fe, Walter Nicolett opened to pay homage to the history of the West Texas region and its unique ingredients.

We ate privately that evening in the outdoor greenhouse, a lush, wind-covered historic space that glowed with subtle string lighting and intimate candles. To be honest, it was a magical space in the open air, but the restaurant itself is located in an older home, so the whole place is intimate and lovely.

Let’s talk about the menu. With appetizers like elk tartare and dessert salad, the menu immediately draws in the flavor of West Texas. The menu changes seasonally, but a typical “fall menu” may include dishes like beef breast with Japanese pickles and black truffle, quail baked in brioche, or a triple-fried Denver steak.

The desserts are just as high-browed and delicious. Try the toasted white chocolate made with juniper berries and canned winter fruit or the black truffle-triple cream cheese Brillat-Savarin.

Nicolett also offers a brunch with crab bone dictation, french toast (French toast), and various latkes. As for cocktails, you will try Autumn Gimlet made with local Dripping Springs Artisan Gin (I am a gin fanatic), cranberry-rosemary syrup, blood orange and lime, or Desert Margarita made with Desert Door Sotol, Ancho Reyes, habanero bitters and lime.

If you have someone you want to impress, or just need a fancy night on the town, you want to book with Nicolett as soon as possible.

Pro tip: Nicolett offers a special cocktail hour from 4pm to 6pm Tuesday to Friday. No reservations are required and you can enjoy the house wine for $ 7 or draft beer for $ 5 along with charcuterie from Antonelli’s of Austin.

Many cities in Texas have noticed restaurants that deserve a visit. Consider:

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