“Knock it off Napoleon and make yourself a dang quesadilla-uh!” The name of Plano eatery Dillas (pronounced dill-uhs) might remind you of that famed quotation from the cult-fave movie “Napoleon Dynamite,” and you wouldn’t be wrong in your recollection. Back in his UT Austin days, Dillas founder and owner Kyle Gordon, along with his college buddies, was also a big Napoleon fan.
“It was a house catchphrase in college when any of us were hungry. And we would put anything and everything in our ‘dillas. It was a sort of no-holds-barred, whatever’s on the counter and in the fridge, put it in the ‘dilla,” Kyle remembers. Combine that culinary experimental period with a college student who was less committed to his major and more focused on creating an original restaurant concept, and you get some primo quesadillas with an American twist.
The twist comes in the scratch-made sauces, the house-smoked meats (which makes the whole place smell like you’ve just walked up the front porch steps, through the screen door, and right into a Texas smokehouse), grilled-to-order fresh veggies and just the right amount of gooey, melted cheese piled high in combinations that deliver more flavor and freshness than your average quesadilla.
With options like Hot Hatch, Buffalo Bacon (my favorite), Oinker and Bluebonnet on the menu, you’ll not only have a hard time choosing just one, you’ll know at first bite that these dill-uhs are way beyond the classic cheese and meat melts. Start with the Bluebonnet — where else can you walk up or drive-thru and order a quesadilla with perfectly grilled portobello mushrooms, zucchini, roasted peppers, onions and spinach, topped with a creamy ‘churri sauce? Umm, nowhere.
They’ve even taken the classic ground beef quesadilla and stuffed it with crumbled bacon, pico de gallo and french fries, all melted together with queso and topped with jalapeño ranch to give you the mouth-watering, belly-busting, perfectly-sinful Gordo. Not only is it appropriately titled, it’s Kyle’s favorite (perhaps based on the skinny-as-a-rail owner’s college nickname).
Oh, and the sides! Choose from signature-seasoned French fries, citrus corn salad, cilantro lime black beans, house fried tortilla chips dipped in their famous Hatch chili queso or the Gorilla fries (don’t ask, just get ‘em). And keep a look out for their mascot, Dilla the Gorilla. He’s been known to pop up around the place, and even at nearby Plano schools from time to time.
Kyle’s business partner, wife and recipe co-conspirator (they wrote some of their favorite Dillas recipes on the back of a furniture store receipt while road-tripping back to Austin), Maggie Gordon is also the Dillas PR/Media Team, the Accountant, HR and IT support. In other words, Kyle dreams it up and she’s the get-it-done gal in the back office. Kyle and Maggie are both completely hands-on in the business, all the while raising their two young children, Parker and Grace.
General Manager Leo Spann runs the daily operations and manages a back-of-the-house team that looks more like a kitchen full of your favorite summer camp counselors on opening day. Leo also played a vital role in building and refining the processes, operations and recipes prior to the restaurant’s grand opening in early 2014. See the colorful painting in the Dillas dining room of a gorilla wearing headphones and hightops? Leo also painted that.
The rest of the Dillas team is one big happy family. And that’s not just something they say to sound all warm and fuzzy and make you think this is a great place to work. This team is so upbeat and jovial, it’s easy to wonder how they get any work done. But they do. Kyle calls it “controlled chaos” and says that the staff and customers are truly his favorite part of the restaurant business.
The Gordons’ passion for relationship-building reaches out into the community they serve. Whether Dillas is sponsoring a local high school band, youth sports league, or one of the surrounding churches, Kyle and Maggie believe that giving back to the community of Plano is key to their continued success.
Since opening, they’ve remained committed to their mission. If you deliver the goods–good food, good people, and good times–then the rest will fall into place. It would seem they’re right; they’re already scheduled to break ground on a second Dillas location in Frisco this fall.Dillas Website>