Editors’ Picks 2022

By Gretchen Eichenberg, Anna Mitchael, Jennifer Pisarcik, Kathleen Seaman, Kevin Tankersley, Abby Tankersley, Trilby Trayler and Wacoan editorial staff.

An insider look at the best our city has to offer

Celebrate with us as we bring you an insider look at all the best our city has to offer. Fun, food and more, our readers voted for Best of Waco, but Editors’ Picks are even more special. Our staff gathers submissions from our team and contributors. Then, we curate those to bring you all the things we think you should check out (if you haven’t already). From hidden gems to tried-and-true staples, read on for an enlightening look at Waco’s best from our team of experts.

Join us in congratulating the following for taking home the title of 2022 Editors’ Picks!

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Breakfast Tacos – El Norteño

Potato, Egg and Cheese Burrito

I’m a simple person when it comes to my breakfast burrito – potato, egg and cheese – and no one does it better than El Norteño. Located just off of Highway 6 in Woodway, you can easily spot the restaurant by the overflowing parking lot. With salsa that packs just the right punch, a creamy green sauce that can scorch your tongue and tortillas that are as warm as the friendly staff, it’s the best breakfast burrito you’ll find in Waco. If you happen to stop by for lunch, you can start your meal with a basket of fresh tortilla chips and two types of salsa. – EO

Business Lunch – Sirona

Greek Salad and Fresh Fruit

The freshness of the fruit is hands down, no question the best in town! They go to the store in the morning and take pride in this. The grilled chicken (gluten free by the way) in the Greek Salad is heavy portioned. Filled with cucumbers, feta cheese, kalamata olives, pepperperoncinci peppers, tomato and greek dressing. The light and tanginess of the dressing tossed with the flavors of the cheese and peppers fills just makes for the perfect combination. It seems like every time I go the guest eating with me ends up reordering or gets it next time we go in – MGJ

Breakfast – Lolitas

Friends & Coffee

Where somebody knows your name, your preferred taco filling and your morning beverage of choice. One of my happiest pandemic memories is sitting on their open-air porch with friends, making migas and coffees last absolutely as long as we could because it had suddenly become so crystal clear that these were the moments we wanted most. Now that we eat indoors again, I’m doing my best to hold onto that realization. When I forget, their chorizo always pulls me back and reminds me again. Long live Lolita’s. – AM

Appetizers – Moroso Wood Fired Pizzeria

Bruschetta

While you’re waiting for one of Moroso’s delicious pizzas, start with any of their yummy appetizers. My favorite is the bruschetta. Whipped ricotta spread on the toasted crostini and topped with tomato, but the best part is the balsamic drizzle. The first bite takes me right back to Italy. You’ll find yourself scooping up every drop of balsamic with the overflowing tomatoes to savor every single bite. – EO

Burger – Barnett’s Public House

Smokehouse Burger

When I’m in the mood for a good burger, Barnett’s is my go-to spot. Made with angus beef, crispy onions, gouda cheese, barbecue sauce and roasted garlic aioli.
– JP

Mexican Food – Bombones

Enchiladas con Crema

You’ve had creamy chicken enchiladas before, but these are a next level Mexican culinary experience. Three freshly made corn tortillas are filled with savory shredded chicken and finished with a house made sour cream sauce, served with rice and beans. Don’t expect a big bowl of chips and salsa while you wait, it’s not that kind of Tex-Mex joint and you’ll want to save your appetite for these entrees. But definitely order one of their delicious aguas frescas! – GE

Cheap Eats – El Pollo Palenque

Cubana Torta & Asada Fries

We’ve been fans of El Pollo Palenque for years now. But, until recently, the only thing we’ve tried at this permanent taco truck at 1400 LaSalle Ave. is the taco special: three tacos, usually with marinated pork, and rice and beans. If you find something you like, why bother changing? On a Tuesday night when we didn’t feel like cooking, we stretched our wings. The Cubana torta – a sandwich with ham, sausage and cheese – was just as good as the tacos, and it was big enough to easily feed two people. I paired that with the Asada Fries – curly fries topped with pork, cheese, avocado, tomato, jalapenos and sour cream. My goodness, they were tasty, and, again, the order was big enough for two or three folks to share. – KT & AT

Wine Bar – Oak & Ivy Wine Bar Bistro

Charcuterie Board & Pizzolato Italian Rosé

If you’ve never tried a pickled grape, that’s just one reason to start dinner at Oak & Ivy with this savory meat and cheese platter. Enjoy several kinds of meats and your choice of cheeses, along with grilled artisan sourdough bread and the aforementioned pickled grapes, which cannot be accurately described. For a light pre-dinner drink, I recommend a glass of Pizzolato Italian rosé. It’s bright, bubbly and made with organic grapes which give it a crisp, clean finish. – GE

Pizza- Slow Rise Slice House

Gluten Free Margarita Pizza

Mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette: it is such a simple combination, but when it is fired and warmed all together on cauliflower dough, yes I said it, yumminess hits your mouth! For all of you gluten-free folks out there you have to try this. It sure does make nights with a teenager go by way faster at Slow Rise. – MGJ

Specialty Cocktail – One Day Bar

Espresso Martini

The whole atmosphere at One Day makes it one of my favorite spots. If you want a spirited little pick me up, try the Espresso Martini. It can be made with bourbon or vodka depending on your preference. The mix of rich flavors, topped sprinkles of cinnamon is perfect for cooler weather ahead. – JNG

Cocktail Bar – Sloane’s

Birthday Cake

Conversations always feel special and intimate at Sloane’s, a cozy galley bar on 25th Street. A rotation of ‘80s movies play in 15-minute segments. Bowls of Goldfish crackers are served instead of pretzels or nuts. And every cocktail is insta-worthy. We love to go for after-work drinks when it’s less busy and easy to find a seat. If you go later into the evening, be prepared to sit back, relax and wait while your complex cocktail is made on-demand – but it’s worth it! Sloane’s, named for Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend, puts their spin on the classics, like margaritas, old-fashioneds, and cosmos, but they also have an eclectic menu of signature drinks. My favorite is actually a limited-edition cocktail called the Birthday Cake (maybe if enough people ask about it, it’ll become a permanent fixture). It’s made from clarified milk punch, Ukrainian vodka, hazelnut liqueur, Grand Marnier, lemon, sugar, cream earl grey tea, vanilla syrup, heavy whipping cream and sprinkles. If it’s your special day, or even if it’s not, it’s the perfect way to celebrate. – KS

Asian Food – The Blasian Asian

Chicken Jakak

From its original food truck to its current booth in Union Hall, Blasian Asian has always been a go-to lunch spot for my co-workers and I. Everything is delicious — the Blasian lets you sample a little bit of everything — but when I want something a lighter, I opt for just a few of the lemongrass chicken jakak skewers al la carte. Those plus a side of garlic fried rice will fill me up but won’t send me into nap mode when I have to head back to work. – KS

Vendor at Union Hall – Curry Up & Wok This Way

Panang Curry

Of all the Thai curries, panang is my favorite. It’s a thick red-orange sauce of curry, coconut milk, and lot of delicious spices and chilies. It’s served with your choice of protein and steamed rice, which you mix with the curry – a little bit at a time or just dump the whole scoop in. Curry Up’s has a bit more coconut milk than others I’ve tried, and that extra hint of sweetness is a really nice balance to the heat. Be warned, when it comes to their curry, even their “mild” can be too spicy for some palates. I personally get mine medium, which gives me the full flavor I want but doesn’t kill my taste buds. If you’re looking to clear up your sinuses, ask for yours “Thai Spicy.” – KS

Food Truck – Yaki at Pinewood

It’s not always open, but when it is—what a score. Yaki takes what was already a good thing —good music, good space to hang out alone or with others, what we all know to be the awesomeness of Pinewood — and somehow gets it to the next level. – AM

Hotel Bar –Aloft Waco

Agave Rose

So pretty I almost didn’t wanna drink it! And it sparkles not as in a bubbly way, but it actually glitters. It was almost too pretty to drink. On a way-too-cold-for-Texas February evening earlier this year, I opted to stay in town. I did a quick search for hotels and stumbled upon Aloft Waco. It looked clean, cute and fairly priced. It was bitterly cold and starting to sleet.
But the moment I walked in, I couldn’t help but smile. It has a bright, sleek, modern funky vibe. A roaring fireplace, people scattered throughout in small groups talking, eating, drinking and laughing, a group played pool near the bar. Yes, that’s correct, it has a full bar with specialty cocktails — the WXYZ bar. I wasn’t driving anywhere so I tried a couple and talked with the bartender, Christian Warrick. He’s a mixologist who is super dedicated to his craft. He even let me try something new he was working on. – JNG

Mural – Southern Roots

Welcome to Waco

This art packs a lot of Waco staples into one place. The ALICO building, the silos, Baylor Bears and more. All there! There’s also a section dedicated to Southern Roots Brewing itself and their amazing local brews. There’s a reason this place served over 70,000 pints of beer last year. Last but not least, the wall also shows Waco’s pride with the Baylor Champs of the NCAA. Sic ’Em Bears! – JP

Girls’ Night Out – Twisted Sisters Patio Bar

Hanging Around

This hangout is definitely becoming one of the most popular night scenes in Waco. Need a fun girls night? This is the place. Uniquely made with swings for seating, yes swings! This bar offers swings of all different colors and sizes. So fun! Both indoors and out, selfie and picture opportunities are not in short supply. Find all types of beer as well as an extensive list of cocktails and frozen drinks that are delicious. Also karaoke nights and live music at least three days a week. Come and check out this fun spot downtown! – JP

Take Visitors – Cameron Park

They are always so shocked and surprised. “But it’s so big… and so lush… and why haven’t we ever heard about this side of Waco?” One part of me always feels protective of the trails, like I want to keep them a secret just for us locals. But then I remember how big the gem of Cameron Park is, of course there is enough to go around. – AM

Coffee – Dichotomy

Iced Honey Latte

Dichotomy’s atmosphere is like no other. The coffee shop and bar is a prime date spot, whether you’re in the mood for coffee or drinks. My go-to is an iced honey latte with oat milk. It’s perfect for days when the temperature is high, and it can easily be made hot for cooler weather. Their baked goods selection is always amazing. My favorite (so far) is the banana bread. It pairs perfectly with the honey latte. – KP

Brunch – Waffle Chic

Brunch Babe

If you haven’t tried this brunch favorite, I don’t know what you’re waiting for! This female owned business is one of the very best spots in town. My personal favorite is called “Brunch Babe.” Perfect waffle, savory breaded chicken tenders, crunchy bacon, buttery fried egg and slices of green avocado. Top it off with the delicious syrup and you have a breakfast made in heaven. Yum! There are other options from traditional to bananas, strawberries and chocolate. Any way you prefer your waffle, you won’t be disappointed. Also something that makes the experience one-of-a-kind is Shamica Evans, the owner and chef. Such a sweet smile, laugh and personality to really add that special something to your day. There is no one more kind or more of a boss babe. Brunch date anyone? – JP

Cookies – Dough Re Mi

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

When I was little my grandmother would let me sneak a few spoonsful of dough while we made cookies together. I can still see her hands making the dough and feel the happiness as she handed me the spoon. Some days I drop by Dough Re Mi to grab some cookie dough just so I can feel all the warm feelings and reminisce about cooking with grandma. True comfort food! – TT

Dessert – Di Campli’s

Key Lime Cheesecake

I don’t know about you, but I am always beyond stuffed after a meal at Di Campli’s, and yet, there’s always room for dessert. I love that their menu offers a little bit of everything — chocolate, gelato, custard, fresh fruit — but my favorite dessert gives me two of my favorites in one: key lime and cheesecake. It’s the perfect combo of tart, sweet, and creamy. – KS

Hotel – Pivovar

Distinctly Waco Experience

Pivovar is one of those unique places that leaves a lasting impression on people, it’s truly a distinctly Waco experience. Incredible furnishings, beautiful views and even a beer spa! The rooms are cozy and somehow feel both like home and an upscale getaway. The restaurant has a warm, modern-meets-traditional ambience with a backdrop of copper brewing tanks and signature green custom furnishings. Then there’s the food. The menu is a fusion of Texas, European, and Czech flavors. While I try to branch out and try new things, I always find myself unable to resist the Braised Short Rib Goulash, which is a thick stew served with creamy mashed potatoes and sour cream. – KS

Outdoor Activity – Woodway Park

Sunsets at the Old Tree

The old fallen tree at Woodway park has not only provided me with amazing pictures for clients, but it’s also been a place I’ve found myself sitting, collecting my thoughts and thanking God for giving us our many blessings — including the breathtaking artwork in the sky. – TT


Photos by Jennifer Pisarcik, icometotheephotography.com; Trilby Trayler, twentytoesphotography.com; Wacoan staff – Emily Ober & Jennifer Naylor Gesick. Other photos courtesy Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits.

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