Summer is a great time for road trips. We love Denton, but even we need to get outta dodge every now and then. Sometimes it's Dallas or Fort Worth, but we're surrounded by so many small, Texas towns that have tons of little treasures. Sometimes it's fun to pay 'em a visit and grab a bite to eat. We've included a few of our favorites that we like to stop by and some other info about 'em in the post below. Let us know your favorite nearby small town restaurants in the comments section below. (Note: this post was updated in July of 2016.)
The Spot: Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes
Location: The Decatur Square
Distance: About 25 miles away
The Food: Sweetie Pie's is another restaurant from the minds behind Babe's, but this time instead of fried chicken, we're focused on steak. More specifically, ribeyes. We visited their location on the beautiful Decatur square recently and had a blast. It's very..."Babe's-like" on the inside, and the food is great. How can you go wrong with chicken fried ribeye anyway? The steaks are cooked pretty well, too. Broccoli cheese soup is an unlimited side and is a meal unto itself. We also loved the rolls, but missed the mashed potatoes and biscuits that Babe's always has ready for ya.
The Spot: Earl's 377 Pizza
Location: 377 in Argyle
Distance: About 9 miles
The Food: The new spot from some of the folk that brought ya LSA and Barley and Board expanded into Argyle and the world of pizza at the same time. The space is perfect for a night out with friends, family, or just to satiate your pizza cravings. What was once an old fire station has been transformed into a beautiful family-friendly restaurant with interesting details at every turn. And the food doesn't disappoint either. The pizzas may be the best in Denton County (top three at least). Not only are they cheesy and crisp, but they're fresh with made from scratch dough and fired in the high temp pizza ovens just like classic pizza should be. Also, Alyssa loves the hoagie and meatballs and talks about that a lot.
The Spot: Bebo's and Kathy's Cafe
Location: 377 in Pilot Point
Distance: About 14 miles
The Food: Keep going on 428 past the water park in Denton and you'll eventually come across a few restaurants worth checking out. You'll read about Mom's on Main further down and we'll talk about Upper Park (which just opened another restaurant on the Denton store) later, but a little further down the road is Bebo's and Kathy's Cafe. Bebo's serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is currently slinging out some of the best diner food in Denton County. Check this place out if you're interested delicious fried catfish, fried green tomatoes, chicken fried steak, and burgers that are four patties deep. Oh, yeah and live music and/or Elvis is there sometimes.
The Spot: The Table
Location: Flower Mound
Distance: About 14 miles
The Food: Highland Village may have a few of the nicer chains that are afraid of coming to Denton (we didn't want you anyway, Gloria's), but they also have a local gem in The Table. This modern American restaurant with global influences is located on 407 across from The Shops at Highland Village. The restaurant serves handmade pastas, locally made cheeses, and more. Also, the cocktails are kinda killer.
The Spot: Clark's Outpost (NOTE: Clark's is currently closed due to a fire, but they are working on reopening soon. Stay tuned to our social media accounts for info on their reopening.)
Location: 377 in Tioga
Distance: About 25 miles away
The Food: This is a short drive up 377. You'll get a good view of the close country-side, too. Clark's is North Texas BBQ done classic-style. This isn't the Central Texas, thick-cut brisket you'll find at Bet the House, but Clark's is well-vetted and fun to visit. The corn on the cob with horseshoe nails stuck on the end as holders are plenty of fun. We love the ribs, and the sides are all pretty danged good. Just watch out for naked Randy Travises while you're up there.
The Spot: Ranchman's Steakhouse
Distance: About 13 miles away
The Food: This place has a hunk of bleu cheese on the appetizer menu. Just a hunk of bleu cheese. Also, there are "calf fries" (AKA fried cow testicles with ranch) and you can also ‘add a quail’ to your order for $5. Aside from that, their pan-fried steaks are pretty damned good and worth the drive all on their own.
The Spot: The Bear's Den
Location: Pilot Point
Distance: About 19 miles away
The Food: If you're the type of person who likes eating pizza with bears in captivity, this is the place for you. The Bear's Den serves old school brick oven pizza, but the interesting thing about this place is definitely the two 400lb. rescued black bears they have on property. Which may or may not be your thing, but definitely makes this place immediately more interesting than your average bear... we mean pizzeria.
The Spot: Mom's on Main
Distance: About 12 miles away
The Food: Mom's on Main is pretty regular diner fare, but in an awesomely photogenic old building in Aubrey. Also, you get free cake on your first visit, so it's worth at least one trip. The drive is also one of the prettier ones you'll find in Denton County.
The Spot: Go Go Gumbo
Distance: About 35 miles away
The Food: This seafood facility has some of the best cajun food around for miles. They sell out quite often so if you're going, get there early. Also, they have cooking classes that are about $50 bucks that also include dinner. We recommend the "TV Dinner" which is kinda like a Japanese bento box and is a good introduction to this place. Go Go Gumbo is BYOB and we recommend getting there early as there is often a wait.
The Spot: Ancient Ovens
Location: St. Jo
Distance: About 59 miles away
The Food: Ancient Ovens is definitely the furthest away on our list at 50+ miles, but it's well worth it. We recommend going with a large group unless you are the type who enjoys sitting with people you don't know. They have fixed menu so don't expect a large menu to chose from, but don't worry because pretty much anything you get is delicious. Reservations are a must and they're often booked up, so plan ahead. The view is also awesome if you go at the right time of year. Also, there are a few local wineries nearby, so if you give yourself an extra half hour, you can pick up a bottle and bring it to this outrageously good BYOB facility.