If you had told me that Waco, Texas, USA was going to be a hit tourist destination when I moved there at the beginning of my freshman year at Baylor University, I would have laughed in your face. But by the time I graduated four years later, the city was hopping every day with visitors, many coming because of American network HGTV’s show Fixer Upper.
Before the boom, road trippers would bypass Waco for nearby cities like Dallas and Austin, places that boasted an endless amount of activities, from food to museums to nightlife.
Whenever I could take a break from my busy college life and get out of the campus bubble, I found that there was plenty to do in Waco, and most importantly, plenty of yummy food to eat. Fast food may be cheap and convenient, but there’s nothing like sitting around the dinner table with a bunch of friends over a steaming plate of edibles, lovingly prepared in a local kitchen.
A popular hashtag in Waco is #wacoisawonderland, and I believe that applies to my beloved college town in more ways than one. Waco is not a locale to be underestimated, starting with the food. Eating your weight in delicious has never been so easy.
Here’s how to eat your way through Waco.
Across the river from downtown Waco, Lula Jane’s is a cozy place, boasting an ever-changing menu and a heavenly array of made-from-scratch baked goods and inviting guests to enjoy the simpler things in life. They also have the loveliest little garden.
Located at Magnolia Market, the building looks like a Pinterest-worthy little cabin, and the high-caliber crepes match that look. Co-Town offers a variety, from sweet, fruity crepes, to savories filled with chicken, bacon, and avocado. Ask for the homemade whipped cream!
This downtown eatery boasts pancakes larger than my face and an impressive drink menu of hot coffees and teas. Cafe Capp is a common spot where students bring their parents when they visit; you get a lot of food for the price. Come hungry!
Schmaltz’s Sandwich Shop
The best sandwiches around, Schmaltz’s has been a Waco staple since 1975, and it has two locations. Better than Subway, Schmaltz’s bread is baked fresh every day and their sandwiches are filling and delicious.
My favorite food truck in Waco, Club Sandwich doesn’t have sandwiches at all. Surprise! The cuisine is an Asian Fusion, putting your choice of meat, veggies, and sauces over rice. Also located at Magnolia Market, it provides a great break from a heavy morning of shopping.
Part of Homestead Heritage, a community dedicated to simple living and high craftsmanship, Cafe Homestead carries those values over to the table. Breakfast is served all day, although there some other lunch options, like burgers and sandwiches. All the food is local, and the cafe is well known for their ice cream, homemade, of course.
A Baylor campus favorite, CG is bustling with students and visitors alike. Their quirky little building is comfortable but eclectic, and they have a fenced-in outdoor space where regular concerts and open mic nights occur. My drink of choice is the White Fang, a vanilla caramel chai that can be served iced or hot.
Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits
This coffee shop/bar is located downtown, in the heart of Waco. Tucked into an old storefront, it is the perfect juxtaposition between modern and vintage. Their rooftop deck has a view of the town and is a chill place to sit and catch up with friends. While they have excellent coffees and teas, my favorite is the hot chocolate.
The only coffee shop I can think of that is in an old elevator shaft, Bru has a simple but delicious fare. Located in the Praetorian Building downtown, the atmosphere is cozy and is a quiet place to sip some freshly brewed coffee or iced tea.
My favorite pizza stop in Waco has two locations, the other in nearby Hewitt. Rollo’s has been around since 1964 and has only gotten more delicious with age. Their pizza is to die for, and can be made into a personal pan, or split with friends. The barbeque chicken is my favorite!
This Vietnamese restaurant used to be nearby Baylor’s campus but relocated to downtown Waco. That hasn’t changed the food though. Serving piping hot pho and meats over rice cooked in actual clay pots, if you’re a fan of Asian food, stopping by is a must.
One of Waco’s best, George’s tends to fill to the brim with students and their families. Their chicken fried steak is massive and is well-paired with their famous “Big O,” 18 ounces of cold beer. George’s has been around since 1930, and their large menu has been beloved since!
Barnett’s Public House
A pub located right next to Clay Pot, Barnett’s carries a large variety of craft beer, wine, and whiskey along with some scrumptious eats. They buy local farm to table ingredients, and many of their craft beers on tap are from local Texas breweries.
Nearby Barnett’s is Truelove Bar, a spunky bar with karaoke nights and live music. Its chill vibe makes it the perfect stop for a fun hangout, especially on the weekends. The drinks are affordable, so this makes it a popular student stop.
Trojan Cork & Keg
My favorite bar is located in a little alcove underneath the shops at Spice Village. While there’s not a lot of seating, the atmosphere is fun, and on Fridays, they have a deal called “Fishbowl Friday,” where you get a giant cocktail served in a fishbowl. Share it with some friends!
That’s only the beginning of all the cuisine Waco has to offer. Talent has been flourishing in Waco, especially when it comes to the food. So after a long day of exploring and shopping in this wonderland of a town, take a moment to enjoy and experience a little of Waco’s culinary side.