When I first came to Waco, I only knew of three things: Magnolia, Baylor and Dr Pepper. Having lived in a big city all my life, I was shell-shocked. What was there to do? What was there to see? What was there to eat? Like many others, I immediately casted Waco off as a tiny, central Texas city that had little more than Tex-Mex and barbecue. However, imagine my surprise when I moved here and found that nestled deep in the heart of Texas is a city full of international flavors and cuisines, all of which serve as a testament to the ever-changing identity of Waco. If you’re someone who wants to branch out and elevate your taste buds, here are eight amazing dishes from around the world that can be found in Waco.
Fish and Chips—Fish City Grill
While fried fish is a common delicacy here in the southern United States, in Waco, you can find a different kind at Fish City Grill — Fish and Chips. The modern fish-and-chip plate, also popularized on social media as a “chippy”, is comprised of beautifully fried pieces of fish, typically cod or haddock, with thick-cut chips, or large potato pieces similar to the steak-cut fries that we find here in the U.S. The fish and chip plate at Fish City Grill is as close to the River Thames as you can get. Located at 5401 Crosslake Pkwy., Fish City Grill has been serving fresh seafood for over 28 years at each of its 20 locations across the United States. Their commitment to consistency and flavor plays a huge part in their amazing take on this classic British dish. The crispy, seasoned fries paired with the slightly sweet flavor of the hush puppies are an explosion of flavor. The three pieces of beer-battered cod are golden and flaky, and the acidity from the tartar sauce cuts through the fried breading nicely. It’s fresh, it’s delicious and it’s a piece of England here in Waco.
Jamaican Oxtail—Tru Jamacia
If you’re wanting a taste of the Caribbean, then Tru Jamaica’s Oxtail plate won’t disappoint. Tru Jamaica is an eatery that offers authentic Caribbean cuisine to the Waco population, acting as the premier spot for Jamaican authenticity and unforgettable service. Although Oxtail is not a meat that is typically eaten in most American households, it is a protein that is seen in the cuisine of various countries and regions, like in Sokkoritang in South Korea, or the Sop Buntut found in Indonesia. Tru Jamaica’s oxtail is slowly and gingerly stewed on the bone with herbs and butter beans and is served on a bed of savory Jamaican rice and peas — a side dish typically consisting of coconut rice mixed with red beans. It also comes with a side of fresh vegetables and fried plantains, a starchier type of banana that is a staple in African, Caribbean and Latino cuisines. Overall, the meal is pure succulence on a plate. The restaurant is currently temporarily closed due to a fire, but you can still get this dish, and many others, at their food truck. Follow on social media to see where they’ll be next.
For all those on the hunt for Korean-American fusion, and the best oriental fries in town, Kitok Restaurant, located at 1815 N 18th St., is your spot. A local legend in its own right, Kitok has grown from a small diner to a local institution and has been serving the Waco public for over 40 years. Beef bulgogi is a classic Korean dish. The word bulgogi translates to “fire meat” in Korean, and utilizes thin slices of tender beef, most commonly from cuts of ribeye, sirloin or brisket. This Beef bulgogi plate consists of tender beef, marinated and seared to perfection and served along a bed of fried rice that contains mixed vegetables and meat with a side of sauce. The dish comes with a chicken-potato soup — a side dish of shredded chicken mixed with well-seasoned boiled potatoes blended with broth to create a creamy, thick soup — and house salad. It’s sweet, smokey and slightly tangy, and a must-have if you’re in Waco.
Chicken Gyro and Feta Fries—Alpha Omega Grill & Bakery
Taking a trip to the Mediterranean just got easier thanks to Alpha Omega Grill & Bakery. Located at 929 Franklin Ave., Alpha Omega is a Mediterranean grill and bakery that utilizes fresh ingredients to bring delicious Greek cuisine to the heart of Texas. Their authentic chicken gyros are definitely worth trying. They first take chicken and marinate it in buttermilk and spices, then grill them. They then stuff it into their house-made pita breads, which are baked in their ovens, making it so that they’re crispy on the outside, yet light and airy on the inside. The gyro is completed with tzatziki, tomatoes and onion. While there are various sides to choose from, the Greek feta fries are a must. The fries are crispy and well-seasoned, then topped with feta cheese and herbs — a perfect concoction.
Yellow Noodle Dish—The Blasian Asian
If you find yourself craving authentic Cambodian flavors, then The Blasian Asian is where you should go. With locations at both Union Hall on 720 Franklin Ave. and 506 Austin Ave., The Blasian Asian has grown from a small food trailer and a dream to the top spot in Waco for Cambodian cuisine. Their yellow noodle dish is both delicious and versatile. The dish features cooked noodles that are grilled with an assortment of broccoli and cabbage and doused with their sweet and tangy yakisoba sauce. It also comes with a choice of chicken, pork, beef, tofu and shrimp for protein if you want. They have a spice level chart that ranges from 0–15, with 0 being the lowest and 15 being their highest spice level, so whether you’re a spice fanatic or spice intolerant, The Blasian Asian will accommodate. Their great food and their passion for service can’t be beat.
Ravioli—Di Campli’s Italian Ristorante
Ravioli is a popular Italian pasta dish that is a staple in numerous restaurants and households throughout the world. These little pockets of egg pasta are versatile and can be filled with various ingredients, ranging from meat to vegetables and cheese. Whether homemade or store-bought, this pasta dish is an essential part of the Italian culinary tradition. For great ravioli here in Waco, look no further than Di Campli’s. Located at 6500 Woodway Dr., Suite 121, Di Campli’s Italian Ristorante is an upscale Italian eatery that is committed to providing authentic cuisine filled with fresh ingredients, all while providing exceptional service. Their house-made ravioli is stuffed with creamy, sweet ricotta, caramelized onion and artichokes, drizzled with a brown butter sauce and topped with even more artichokes and crispy pancetta. All-in-all, this is a dish that Italian nonna’s everywhere would approve of.
If you’re wanting a taste of unique and authentic Czechan food here in Waco, then Pivovar, located at 320 S 8th St., should be your first stop. Pivovar provides luxury experiences in a Czech environment through an all-encompassing location downtown that offers a hotel, spa, biergarten, bar, brewery, events venue and restaurant. The restaurant itself provides an immersive experience for all patrons by blending European and Texan flavors to create a unique, one-of-a-kind tasting experience. The Czexan schnitzel meal consists of a boneless cut of pork that is pounded thin and coated in their seasoned breading and fried until crispy and golden. The schnitzel is laid on top of creamy mashed potatoes and topped with lemon and parsley. This comforting dish will have you leaving Pivovar satisfied, and in need of a nap.
Chili Relleno—El Norteño
Craving delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine? Then head over to El Norteño. Located at 7896 N State Hwy 6, Woodway, Texas, El Norteño offers delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine that is always served fresh, and offers items such as tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, gorditas and what they are most known for, their burritos. However, what many may not know is that their chili relleno dish rivals most on their amazing menu. The chili relleno is a dish in Mexican cuisine that originates in the city of Puebla. At El Norteño, the dish comes with a large poblano pepper —a mild green chili pepper — that is roasted, peeled, cut open and stuffed with seasoned ground beef and cheese. The stuffed pepper is then lightly battered and pan-fried until golden and crispy. The dish is served with warm, fluffy Mexican rice and a cup of charro beans cooked with bacon. It’s delicious, filling and perfect for any occasion.