WORDS BY ALYSSA STEVENSON, IMAGES BY WILL MILNE
A couple of weeks ago a few of us got together to check out the new menu at Cool Beans. The whole kitchen has sort of hit the 'reset button' recently and we were eager to taste all that they had to offer. Cool Beans has been an integral part of the Fry Street bar scene since the 90's and is often considered 'the last man standing' amongst the new retail and housing along Hickory. Whether you're there every Friday night or haven't been in years, Cool Beans holds a special place in many of our hearts.
Read on to find out what we think of their newest burger and take a walk down memory lane with us. Have a favorite dish that we missed? Share with us in the comments below!
Like many of you, I too remember when Cool Beans was flanked by the likes of the Flying Tomato and Mr. Chopsticks and that random cereal bar. I very vividly remember my first week at UNT - walking over to Fry Street for the first time since I had visited the campus. I bought a vintage tee, went into Naranja Cafe, and sipped my first ever boba tea. I walked along and peeked into all of the windows of the bars I wasn’t old enough for yet. Over time Cool Beans became known as ‘that bar over there with the really great black bean burger.’ I eventually got old enough to grab a drink there, or a burger and beer on Fridays after class. I spent a summer sharing pitchers of beer and noshing on cheese fries at Trivia Night every week. While many things have changed since my first year in college at UNT, one thing hasn’t. Cool Beans remains the last man standing over on a side of Hickory and Fry that was once a point of much contention and protest. But much like the house from “Up” - Cool Beans weathers on.
Luckily for us, Cool Beans hasn’t just stayed strong, they’ve grown up a little - and have created a niche in the bar scene that we continue to appreciate. Among a row of bars filled with college kids, 21st birthday crawls, and Long Island iced teas, Cool Beans remains true to its roots. On any given day you’ll see a crowd ranging in age from 21 to 60, with plenty of long time regulars hanging around or playing darts. One person you shouldn’t miss though is Bud. A tall strawberry blonde with a beard and a mane of hair generally plastered behind a red bandana, Bud is one local cook that we just can’t get enough of. After time spent at Fuzzy’s, Love Shack and Queenie’s, Bud has managed to find his way into the Cool Beans kitchen, and man are we glad he did. After Bud and manager Becky Lovell put their heads together, practically a whole new menu was ready to roll out.
Once known for ‘that really great black bean burger,’ I believe Cool Beans will soon become known for far better things. Don’t worry, you’re tried and true favorite are still on the menu; cheese fries (still the best), onion rings, bottle caps, quesadillas and yes - the infamous black bean burger. You see, now, the beef burgers are hand formed, house seasoned, never frozen and exactly what you want when you’re sitting outside and enjoying a pitcher with friends. Served up with crunchy battered onion rings, seasoned fries, or house made mac’n’cheese these burgers are no joke.
Better yet, do your tastebuds a favor and go straight for the Mac & Cheese Burger, a monster of house made cheesy noodle goodness atop a griddle loved patty. A close second is the Bacon Blues Burger, topped with blue cheese and a generous dash of wing sauce. Feeling chicken? I don’t mean scared - I mean ready for some chicken drumsticks that have been marinating overnight, hand breaded and fried. Top those bad boys with a dash of hot sauce and call it a day. Did we mention that the majority of the menu is below $5 and nothing is more than $7.50? You could seriously grab dinner and drinks and be out of there with nothing more than a twenty in your pocket.
Really and truly - what I love most about the menu at Cool Beans is the honesty that’s served up with it. They aren’t trying to be ‘fancy’ or overwrought or make you eat themed food on flatbread topped with aioli. They just make some seriously good bar food. This is the food that you actually want to dig into when you’ve put back a few with friends, sipped a few $2 wells and margaritas and need to sink your teeth into something really honestly good.
We’ve taken a gander at the brunch menu and look forward to getting ourselves out there the next time the sun is shining and we’ve got a free afternoon for Bloody Mary's and naps. They’ve got a burger with Hypnotic Donuts as the buns and and a ‘Pigs in a Blanket’ that marinates sausages in 512 Pecan Porter then wraps those bad boys in a blueberry pancake topped with Jim Beam spiked syrup. I don’t know about you, but I think that sounds awesome. Possibly as awesome as a taco wrapped in a pizza wrapped in a pancake and topped with chili.
The decor hasn’t changed, the building hasn’t been ‘made over,’ they've still got 80 taps to fill your pint glass with, and the crowd is still full of great Denton folk. So the next time you feel Denton nostalgic, find yourself around Fry Street, or just want a basket of cheese fries, head back on in to Cool Beans.
Cool Beans is located at 1210 W Hickory St, Denton, TX 76201 and is open from 11am - 2am all week long.