This article was producer in partnership with Visit Irving, Texas.
Airplane peanuts only go so far, so once you land in Irving, you’re probably starved. And once you’re in the airport, you’re going to smell the delicious scent of tacos. Nothing has ever smelled quite as good as tacos when you’re starved — we know the feeling.
But hold out for El Famoso in Irving’s Las Colinas community. It’s worth it. First and foremost, order the Compuesto Queso — queso dip topped with ground beef, guacamole and pico de gallo. It is everything you want and probably more, because it was amazing.
The entire restaurant, which sits just inside one of the Las Colinas developments and overlooks a beautiful green common space often filled with families and dogs, is the perfect way to kick off your vacation in Irving. On a nice day, which most are here, find the garage-style doors all the way up; blue, yellow and green metal tables perched on the deck; and families, couples and business people laughing and enjoying themselves. It’s just a happy place, and can be made even happier with one of their cucumber jalapeño margaritas or a frozen hibiscus marg.
Then delve into the tacos. Sure, they have the other Tex-Mex staples on the menu - burritos, chimichangas, fajitas - but the tacos are where it’s at. Try the pulled pork with mango puree and tomatillo crema or the guajillo shrimp tacos with sizable shrimp grilled to perfection and roasted corn and creamy avocado.
Take your time here and enjoy the blue and white tiled bar, the views from the patio and the overall joyful atmosphere that exists in Irving.
Another local delight is breakfast tacos! And Nosh and Bottle, in the Toyota Music Factory a few blocks away, has the best. The adorable local market and eatery has gourmet cheeses, a wide selection of wine and beer - some of it local - snacks, a full breakfast and lunch menu, and the aforementioned life-changing breakfast tacos. The Texican tacos, full of fluffy eggs, tons of melt-in-your mouth pulled pork and enough green chile to give it a small kick, was enough to keep you full through lunch. It’s just a shame they can’t be shipped across the country for your every craving.
Nosh and Bottle also serves up sandwiches and salads that looked fantastic, too, but the tacos were something special. It also doesn’t hurt when the staff is just as lovely as the food. They were warm and inviting, chatty without intruding in your meal, and just overall a pleasure to interact with every time we ventured in over the weekend, which was quite a few.
Despite the love for tacos, Irving has a plethora of other dining options, so many we’re already planning a trip back. But a dinner must-try is Mr. Max, a Japanese restaurant with traditional seating and bar seating. They don’t take reservations for fewer than three people, so make it a group affair or plan to wait. In our case, the hour-and-a-half long wait was more than worth it. If you have any doubt, cast it away. The cozy little restaurant is brimming with happy patrons enjoying an assortment of Japanese fare.
Our recommendation: Order numerous dishes and share! Our spread included fried oysters, Yaki Udon, beef skewers and edamame, and there wasn’t a thing we wouldn’t order again. There were, however, lots of other plates that would be on the rotation next time around.
If you’re a smaller party, definitely take a seat at the bar and watch the chefs make magic. They, like everyone else we encountered in Irving, couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. And everyone who has had a poor dining experience knows that the people can be the deciding factor on a second visit.
For some higher-end dining, maybe before a show at the Toyota Music Factory, make a reservation at the Brazilian steakhouse Boi na Braza. They can accommodate large or more intimate parties, and their range of items will leave you wishing you could take a doggie bag with you, especially the pão de queijo, cheese filled bread.
For starters, the salad bar is elaborate. They have olive selections, enough cheese you think you’re in heaven and so many salad options. But don’t fill up yet, because their specialty is the meat. Turn the card on your table to “green,” and the waiters literally bring perfectly cooked meat to your table on command. It’s a wonderful experience. The top sirloin and filet mignon cuts are spectacular, tender and juicy, and they’re constantly bringing out different cuts of meat. It’s truly a meat lover's paradise.
If somehow, you’ve reserved room for dessert, and it’s impressive if that’s the case, the dessert cart is incredible. Think creme brûlée, key lime pie, flan, chocolate mousse cake and more. Good luck rolling yourself home.
Now comes the real question, how you feel about second dinner. We support it. The Ranch, a restaurant and bar that does everything from breakfast and brunch to late-night snacks with live music. You can’t go wrong here with any meal at any time. The Ranch offers a large dining space, including a large patio perfect for a late-night drink or sharing a dessert.
We got the chance to experience Easter Brunch at The Ranch, and wow. They had numerous buffet stations, one just devoted to various breads and a waffle bar that had homemade whipped cream (the stuff of dreams) marshmallow fluff, sprinkles, peanut butter pieces, and candy galore. Everything had a bit of Texas flair, too, like the jalapeño-sausage gravy for the homemade biscuits or the thick-cut peppered bacon.
After your much-needed food-induced nap, you might awake needing a snack, and Empa Mundo - World of Empanadas satisfies that craving. Offering both sweet and savory options, Empa Mundo is the perfect stop for the whole family because they really do have something for everyone in their casual little dining space.