One of my first desserts after arriving here was the Islander Crêpe from Crêpes 4 U, a small but locally loved crêperie inside the Jusgo Supermarket. Just as famous as his desserts is the owner who all customers endearingly call Mr. Paul. He is the crêpe-creating Mr. Rogers of the East Plano neighborhood, effortlessly connecting with customers with inviting and funny conversation. When I introduced myself as a new Texas resident, Mr. Paul remarked that he arrived in Texas in the mid-80s with the food scene so barren, he lost 10 pounds. My experience was the opposite as I arrived in 2019 with the North Texas restaurant scene percolating, and soon after gained 10 pounds.
Full disclosure: I am one of those recent transplants from California who arrived excited about the opportunities ahead – my first house, a new job, new places to explore and less time spent in traffic. Prior to my move to Texas, I was worried food experiences in my new state would be drastically different than the melting pot of cultures and cuisines I’d enjoyed in Los Angeles. However, I have found the Plano food scene is not so different. My list of places to dine is constantly growing, and with each item I check off, I miss the L.A. food whirl less and less.
I share my food journey on Instagram as @eatdrinkplano. My inspiration is the late, great Jonathan Gold, the renowned food writer of The Los Angeles Times. He famously made a goal to eat at all the restaurants along Pico Boulevard, a 15-mile-long street spanning Downtown L.A. and Santa Monica.
Attempting to discover my new city, I made a similar goal that was feasible during my lunch hour – to eat my way through town. Initially dining in Legacy West restaurants perfect for corporate lunches, date nights and IG-worthy weekend brunch, I expanded south, then made my way east. In my two years here, I’ve probably covered a fifth of the approximately 1,000 restaurants in Plano.
I have found myself discovering and enjoying smaller, lesser known and no-frills restaurants. I also love getting recommendations from my followers on social media.
My favorite hidden gems in Plano:
Freshly made noodles in Korean dishes, both traditional and contemporary, can be found at Kooksoo. A customer favorite is the signature king rib Jjampong (spicy noodle soup), served with two large ribs and seafood such as shrimp and mussels. Its stir-fried noodles with beef can almost be described as a pasta dish with Korean spice and funky elements topped with shredded cheese. This new restaurant, located at the Mitsuwa Marketplace shopping plaza, has a welcoming and friendly staff, and a simple, clean and modern atmosphere.
100 Legacy Dr Suite 103
This European-style bakery offers a great variety of café items, including sandwiches, soups and baked goods. Many customers come in for a loaf of Millstone’s freshly baked bread, made with quality ingredients and offered in different varieties including multigrain, ciabatta and a rotating flavor of the month. Waffle Weekends are celebrated on the last weekend of each month, during which are served authentic Belgian waffles with cream and fresh fruit. Looking for a sweet treat to end the meal? The éclairs are excellent, covered with real Belgian chocolate.
3020 Legacy Dr Suite 150
This is a true mom-and-pop, cash-only operation serving a variety of Taiwanese breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes since its opening in 2001. Many people come to Taiwan Café for the three-item lunch special served cafeteria-style, which is a quick and easy way to try a variety of dishes such as Kung Pao chicken and mapo tofu. The real deal is the $8 dinner special, which comes with generous portions of rice, green beans, Chinese broccoli, fried egg and diner’s choice of a grilled protein topped with a black pepper sauce that comes sizzling to the table. The restaurant is simple, dimly lit, showing its age and fairly quiet, but provides a relaxed setting to enjoy a meal.
(no website available)
2747 W 15th St
Tortilleria La Sabrosa
East Plano is the place to find traditional tacos, and they are all good. Tortilleria La Sabrosa is one of our favorites, recommended by a friend who I connected with online over food. In this simple yet spacious restaurant, there are three counters to order from. The first counter serves family packs such as grilled chicken and pork; the middle counter serves a wide variety of desserts; and the last is where customers order a meal. If dining in, warm red, chunky salsa with freshly fried tortilla chips starts the meal. I recommend the taco plate with meats that include fajita, pastor, barbacoa and lengua, which are simple yet delicious.
(no website available)
1160 E Park Blvd
Fadia’s Bakery and Deli
If you’ve never had a Lebanese pie, Fadia’s in Central Plano is a tremendous bakery to try your first. It also offers other delicious Lebanese food. A favorite is the spinach pie, with spinach, onion and lemon juice folded into baked pita dough. A more unique pie is the akawi cheese and soujuk pie, with the latter being a spicy, fermented beef sausage. Fadia’s Bakery and Deli includes a large dining area as well as a market offering Middle Eastern goods. Be sure to also try the desserts, including baklava and knafeh.
910 W Parker Rd Suite 100D
There is a plethora of tea drink shops to choose from, but none that serves simple fruit tea drinks quite like Momo Cha. Customer favorites include grapefruit, orange and kiwi teas, all made with fresh fruit, which definitely makes a difference. For a small snack, a popular dish is the fries sprinkled with spicy Cajun seasoning. Andrew Tran, the owner, always has a smile and treats everyone like an old friend while operating the small East Plano cafe.
6900 Alma Dr Suite 220
Dubs Tea N Eats
Marvelous iced teas and stuffed pretzels are offered in this Central Plano shop. Teas are self-serve and include a wide number of flavors such as watermelon and ginger peach, as well as seasonal flavors. Stuffed pretzels are made to order, with the customer favorites being pizza, chicken with pepperjack and brisket with cheddar. Hankering for a sandwich? Dubs Tea N Eats’ ham and cheese served on a pretzel bun is an excellent option. Make sure to swing by and meet Lance and his friendly staff at their small, casual café where board games are always available for free play.
3131 Custer Rd Suite 178
Food Court on Legacy
Not to be mistaken with Legacy Hall in West Plano, this food court just west of Legacy Drive and Central Expressway is a simple, no-frills spot showcasing a variety of Asian cuisines. It’s difficult to pick just one eatery, but you are sure to find something to enjoy. Favorites include the Chinese Street Food at LJ Kitchen, Xi’an Spicy Oil Splashing Noodle at Morefan, Poke Bowl and Gyudon Beef Bento Box at Sushi Spot, Korean Jajangmyeon (black bean noodles) at Mansasung, Strawberry Milk Tea at FULLL, Hakkanese Pork Belly Bowl at Hakka Express and Korean Kalbi (Short Ribs) at Tofu House. After eating, walk over and pay a visit to Mr. Paul.
(no website available)
240 Legacy Dr Suite 308
You might guess that tenants at Granite Park love walking out to The Boardwalk often for lunch. But many are actually ordering the rotating daily special from Paesano’s Cafe, a small cafeteria-style café hidden in one of the office buildings. Wednesdays are celebrated among tenants as Quesadilla Day at Paesano’s, a righteous passage to the second half of the week. Customers line up out the door to get quesadillas made to order with almost every item one could want: chicken, beef, pico de gallo, guacamole, shredded cheese and queso, to name just a few. Served with rice and beans, you can even ask for extra queso to be smothered all over the plate – surprisingly, a popular request.
5800 Granite Pkwy Suite 190
Sugar Pine Creamery
This soft-serve shop offers unique flavors: soursop passion fruit, elderflower lemon, pandan crème brûlée and citrus basil, among others. Top off the soft serve with additions like vanilla cookie crumbles, black lava salt or crushed potato chips. Those curious about a flavor should be quick to visit as the menu rotates every two weeks, but happily always features a dairy-free option or two. Even if you miss your chance, you are likely to find an equally exciting flavor in the next lineup. Not interested in soft-serve ice cream? Sugar Pine Creamery also offers delicious fruit and milk teas.
6832 Coit Rd Suite 270B
Sourdough Bread Deli
Freshly baked sourdough bread can be found in this casual and no-frills deli shop. The friendly owner, Cyrus, takes pride in using quality flour to make the wonderful sourdough bread and fresh ingredients in sandwiches. Sourdough Bread Deli’s menu includes subs, salads and soups, with the highlight being hot sandwiches. The signature sandwich is the Rescue, filled with salami, turkey, ham and various cheeses and veggies; it is accompanied with a side of potato salad.
4120 W 15th St Suite #102
Oppa Treats look like mini-muffins, but don’t expect a crumbly, cake-like texture. The muffies, as they are called, are baked with a crispy and buttery crust that encompasses the entire treat. One bite reveals a soft and chewy texture. Fun flavors include ube, black sesame, coconut pandan and crème brûlée; mix and match your order if wanted. Order ahead online and pick up at the commercial kitchen in Plano, or ask for delivery if you are local. Pro tip: share a dozen muffies with a friend, or do what I do and just don’t share any of them because they are so addicting.
2963 W 15th St Suite 2979
My favorite hidden gems around/near Plano:
This local Indian grocer offers wonderful Indian cuisine in the to-go counter just in front of the store. A regular favorite is the $5 lunch special, which includes two items – choose from a rotating menu of two vegetarian-based and two meat-based entrees – and a bed of rice. If an entrée is preferred, the biryanis and curries, such as butter chicken and Manchurian shrimp, are flavorful and hearty. Insider note: Spice Mart is located on Main Street in Allen, about a one-mile stretch in a sleepy part of East Allen, yet home to a small but growing number of excellent under-the-radar eateries, including Argentinian, Mediterranean and Korean.
1201 E Main St Suite 200 Allen, TX 75002
Cookie’s Mexican Food
Just outside Downtown McKinney, find Cookie’s Mexican Food, a small but mighty restaurant serving authentic Mexican cuisine. Many customers come for breakfast with popular items such as chilaquiles in a spicy green sauce, breakfast burritos and huevos a la Mexicana served with a choice of meat – the barbacoa is recommended. Saturday mornings tend to be busy, but the staff makes sure to process all orders efficiently and greet everyone with genuine smiles.
(no website available)
330 E Louisiana St McKinney, TX 75069
Kelly Family Farms Burger Stand
Burgers for lunch on a farm – it’s quite picturesque. Located in nearby Parker, Kelly Family Farms serves simple and wonderfully made burgers that may be customized with fixings that include avocado, bacon, sauteed mushrooms and BBQ sauce. Order at the truck parked along the street, pick up a choice of chips and drink from the nearby ice chest and have a seat at one of its large round tables. Come for the delicious burgers, stay for the beautiful and peaceful scenery.
1989 W Lucas Rd Parker, Texas 75002
Community BBQ Grill
The only time I eat barbecue is when I help an out-of-town visitor mark “Texas BBQ” off a bucket list. That was the case until my husband and I discovered Community BBQ Grill, and found ourselves regularly dining in its spacious and charming Sachse restaurant. The meat sampler plate is a generous way of trying all meats, with ribs being our favorite. Sides deliciously compliment main dishes, including fried panko onion rings, hush puppies and BBQ brisket beans. A signature dish and customer favorite is the “meateor bites,” which is rib meat formed into balls dipped in batter and deep fried to perfection. If there’s still room for dessert, the cinnamon chocolate cake is a fine way to end a meal. As the name implies, it gives back to the community, providing meals to local families, veterans and first responders.
7010 TX-78 Sachse, TX 75048