Words and images by Alyssa Stevenson
It's an age old story... two friends meet in the sandbox, dream big, grow up and accomplish their goals. Well, kind of. Chefs Cristal Barnard and Cassie Ballard met at the Art Institute of Dallas and became fast friends with big dreams. They both moved off and accomplished great things in the culinary world under some pretty impressive world famous chefs in some pretty infamous restaurants. After some time away they finally brought their talents and experience right back here to Denton. Thank goodness for that. These two whip up culinary delights ensuring only the freshest ingredients. You won't even find a jar of Smuckers in their kitchen. Everything, from the top to the bottom, is made fresh by-hand in-house.
This little breakfast and lunch spot quickly gained favor in our hearts. The first time we went in we tried a plethora of breakfast tacos. We tried several and were pleased with all of them including the California, New Yorker, South of the Border and the Farmers - but we especially loved the Touchdown Taco. It is a flour tortilla wrapped around freshly scrambled eggs over a jalapeño popper and cheddar cheese. We thought we'd try it simply because it sounded 'fun'. We didn't know we'd fall in love. We also tried the Sunshine Breakfast and Chef's Favorite Omelette which were both totally worth getting up early for. But really, how could an omelette stuffed with smoked brisket and goat cheese not be a thing of beauty?
Alongside a schmorgasboard of tacos we made sure to sample plenty of breakfast breads because that's just the type of people we are. The coffee cake, banana white chocolate muffins, and cinnamon rolls were like little gifts from above and something we'd readily order in bulk to impress for an office meeting or brunch with friends. The cinnamon rolls have little raisins that have been soaking in something to make them plump and delectable and then topped with a generous dollop of cream cheese.
When we went back for lunch we kept it simple with a few salads, sandwiches and soup. The salads are massive and awesome. They come in giant bowls loaded with incredibly fresh greens and topped with a veritable bevy of tasty toppings. we totally recommend trying out the Signature Chicken Salad Salad, the Strawberry Spinach Salad (which comes with house candied pecans) and the Autumn Pear Salad. Seriously though. We're so pleased with the great dressings and awesome combinations that we'd try anything they have for a daily special. The sandwiches we grabbed on a chilly day, so we made sure to get something toasted and hot with a side of tomato basil. The soup does not disappoint and neither did the grilled cheese that was oozing flavor or the spicy pimento cheese - which will now go into our ranking of local pimento cheeses.
All in all, we feel we must urge y'all to get out of the square and head over to Lillian Miller Parkway to poke your head in and try Crickles out. Don't let the fact that it's on the South side of the highway deter you. Wake up early and meet your bestie for a breakfast taco, bring some into work for bonus points with the co-workers, whatever you need to do to try out what we think is one of the best kept secrets in Denton.