A Massively Multiplayer Eating Experience
It’s all fun and games at this new Frisco eatery – except, of course, in the kitchen. A pretty unique concept here in North Texas, @Nerdvana Food + Spirits was designed for adults to get in touch with their inner child and let their nerd lights shine bright, all while enjoying spectacular, chef-driven bites.
The @Nerdvana team brings two complementary concepts to the booming Dallas exurbs: @Nerdvana Food + Spirits and @Nerdvana Coffee + Shop. Nestled side-by-side on the bottom floor of Gearbox Software’s headquarters on Main Street in Frisco Square, the two eateries serve as perfect bookends to a truly one-of-a-kind culinary experience.
Opened in mid-2016, @Nerdvana Coffee + Shop answers the call for serious coffee in the Frisco area. A large collection of board games is the centerpiece of the coffee shop, where you can challenge your friends to a spirited game of Settlers of Catan or Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Try out one of the artisanal Texas Toast creations (sweet or savory) or sip on one of the decadent Drinking Chocolates, which are only available at the coffee shop.
While the coffee shop may satisfy your cravings for board games and caffeine, @Nerdvana Food + Spirits will appeal to your video game-loving and epicurean side. Owned by Kristy Pitchford (the wife of Gearbox CEO, Randy), @Nerdvana’s kitchen is headed up by Executive Chef and Director of Operations (and Kristy’s brother), Mike Junio, who resides in Plano with his family. Chef Mike brings serious talent to this newly opened contemporary American restaurant, overseeing the culinary programs at both the restaurant and coffee shop, which add up to over 10,600 square feet of sheer (you guessed it) nerdvana.
The interior of @Nerdvana Restaurant + Bar is what you may expect if you crossed a spaceship and an arcade with Mos Eisley Cantina. Boasting free video game consoles for patrons at many of the booths and the bar, the restaurant allows you to take control of both modern and throwback video games while enjoying your meal. If Mario Kart, Street Fighter or Goldeneye 007 are more your speed, you’ll instantly be transported back to childhood when the only thing that mattered in the world was beating your high score.
While the @Nerdvana restaurant is obviously a mecca for gamers, the elevated dining and large craft cocktail menu appeal even to those who aren’t gamers. “@Nerdvana is a place where people can feel comfortable letting their nerd out. We specialize in catering to the food, drink, and video game nerds, while maintaining accessibility to anyone who loves the finer things in life,” explains chef Mike.
When you’re ready to give your thumbs a rest, you’ll find that the food is truly the main event. I’m not sure what I expected from a restaurant flanked by gaming systems and whimsical decor, but the cuisine at @Nerdvana Food + Spirits completely took me by surprise. Creativity abounds in chef Mike’s kitchen, and each dish is an exciting adventure.
Take the Gumbo Deconstruction, for instance. You’re expecting a bowl of liquid, right? Here they’ve done something really outside the box. Each component of the deconstructed gumbo is battered in a manner that complements the individual piece: Grilled chicken, shrimp, fried okra, fried green tomatoes and griddled rice cakes all sit on a plate with a small bowl of creole gumbo for dipping or sipping.
The Chicken Melt eats sort of like a Cubano sandwich, but with fried chicken. If you’re looking for a side of fries with your handheld, you won’t find them here! Every sandwich comes with a side salad, instead. Before chef Mike opened the restaurant, someone told him that every good Texas restaurant must have fries, ketchup, ranch and bbq sauce. He offers none of those on the menu…just another way @Nerdvana is outside the norm. If you’re really missing the bottled ketchup, ask for one of the 27 house made sauces instead.
It’s hard to pin down the exact genre of food you can find here; there are options that feel deeply Southern and others with international flair.
The menu headings can be a little confusing if you’re not a gamer, so here is a quick primer: If you’re looking for appetizers, you’ll find them under a section titled Multiplayer, salads under Expansions and sandwiches under Handhelds. The Campaign section is where you’ll find chef Mike’s substantial and delicious entrees, and – perhaps the best of all – you’ll find their tempting desserts under the heading Cheats.
Almost every dish name on the menu seems to have a cool – and nerdy – backstory. The Hadouken Beef (a spicy and tender starter) is named after a special attack in the Street Fighter video game series, and the Shrimp Diablo was coined after an action role-playing hack and slash video game. Even the drink menu is peppered with creative names like the XP Grind and the Critical Hit.
Enjoy half-priced drinks by the glass during happy hour every Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. @Nerdvana also presents a special “8-bit Menu” from 10 p.m. to close on Fridays and Saturdays, featuring eight late-night bites from the regular menu.
While @Nerdvana Food + Spirits is usually only open for dinner, it is now serving brunch on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. From benedicts to breakfast skillets and French toasts to sandwich melts, the restaurant presents a hearty menu to satisfy Collin County’s growing brunch appetite. My personal favorite is the Game Over, which is made up of two housemade biscuits, perfectly fried steak medallions and poached eggs topped with sausage thyme pan gravy.
Game. So. Over.
You can unleash that inner child of yours at the official grand opening of @Nerdvana.food+spirits, featuring drinks specials and giveaways, on Friday, Jan. 27 and Saturday, Jan. 28.@Nerdvana Frisco >