A Creative Concept Close to Home

Some days, it can be a challenge to decide where and what you want to eat. With such a huge variety of dining destinations throughout the metroplex, even narrowing it down to a certain genre of food can be difficult! Other times, it seems like you know what you are hungry for from the first time your stomach growls in the morning. This is especially true if there is a specific, beloved restaurant menu weighing heavy on your mind.

A few weeks ago, barbecue seemed like an unbeatable option for a (somewhat warm) winter day here in Texas. Sometimes, it is good to shake things up a bit and indulge in some home-style cooking with a little zest and a lot of flair! I met a couple of my friends at Hickory in Plano, and we truly enjoyed our relaxing and delicious dinner! (Important side note for anyone who may be trying to plan their Valentine’s Day: Hickory would make a great date night destination. Hint! Hint!) The restaurant does not take reservations, so plan ahead or get there early.

I had heard great things about Hickory from several people, so I decided I needed to check it out for myself in order to give my two cents about the new restaurant. As it turns out, the rumors were true! Sometimes it pays off to listen to news traveling through the grapevine. Hickory was everything I had anticipated. It did not take long for my friends and I to decide that it was going to become a new, regular hang out spot for us.

The concept for Hickory came from celebrity chef Kent Rathbun. Mr. Rathbun is an “Iron Chef America” winner who came up with an uncommon menu featuring delicious dishes and an impressive drink list. Unique is the name of the game at Hickory, and the culinary team has outdone themselves.

Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted and seated immediately. Due to the time of year, the restaurant was decked-out in white holiday lights that brought attention to the rustic-looking décor. The restaurant is very open and spacious, with tall bar tables to the left and regular tables to the right. The bar, complete with a plethora of spirits and a very knowledgeable bartender, is stationed in the middle of the room. There is also a patio (equipped with all you need to have a great time) attached to the side of the building.

First things first! The drink menu features classic favorites, mules and Texas-themed cocktails, beer on draft (or by the bottle), a lengthy list of white and red wines, whiskey, scotch, bourbon and so much more. You could spend all day trying to choose something new to try! I went with the Cactus Juice ($9). The name of the cocktail was what initially caught my attention. This drink featured a refreshing blend of Avion Reposado Tequila, triple sec, prickly pear nectar and lime. While ordering drinks, we were informed that beers on tap are local Texas craft beers and domestic beers are offered in the bottle, served with a nice chilled glass.

After some girl talk and catching up, it was time to focus on the task at hand: dinner! We decided, without hesitation, to order something off of the starter menu. You cannot find Shiner Bock Burnt Ends Chili ($5) on just any restaurant’s appetizer list. Did I mention the Smoked Sausage Fondue ($10)? After one glance at the variety of items offered, it was easy to tell how much thought and creativity went into the meal designs. Another appetizer menu rarity that can be found at Hickory is the Fried Green Tomatoes ($7). We decided this would be a fun and unique item to taste test. Hickory’s version of the delicious delicacy features charred jalapeno ranch for an extra kick of flavor. Overall, it was an absolutely extraordinary (and colorful) dish. We also had an order of the Hickory Waffle Fries ($7) that were lathered in blue cheese, bacon and chives. The bacon on the fries was unreal! It was thick and full of flavor. This dish quickly got an A+ rating from our group.

If you are a fan of smokehouse meats, you may be effortlessly tempted by the St. Louis Style Pork Spare Ribs ($18 for a half rack and $34 for a full rack). Carved meats, such as the Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast ($9) or the Smoked Pepper Crusted USDA Prime Brisket ($12), are served by the 1/3 pound. I am not sure how they do it, but the meats here are incredible. Everyone ordered something different, but each person loved the diverse kinds of meat featured in their meal.

Guests can also choose to take the Tex-Mex route and order the Trompo Taco or the Chef’s Choice Tacos ($7) that are served with tortillas, charred tomato garlic or charred tomatillo serrano salsa. Yum! The evening we were there, the taco meat of choice included lamb and ground beef. We had to try one, and immediately after sampling the taco, we could not stop raving about how great it was! Follow up tacos were ordered.

After much deliberation between menu choices, I decided on the Commanche Buffalo Burger ($12). The meat was to die for. The burger featured seared onions and blue cheese. I can honestly say, this is one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. The juicy and flavorful burger is served with the perfect amount of waffle fries. Our table also got a side of the Texas Cheddar Mac & Cheese ($7), complete with onions and meat, buried beneath the gooey chesses and cornbread crumbs. It was absolutely perfect.

To be honest with you, we should have been cut off from ordering any more food right then and there, but what is a night out without dessert, right? The moment our waitress started explaining the ingredients and various desserts offered, I voted on Maw Maw’s Buttermilk Pie ($7). The presentation was so unique and it reminded me of something my grandmother would have made for a birthday or holiday. If you are more of a chocolate fan, the Texas Size Chocolate Cupcake ($5) might be most appealing to you.

The experience, food and ambience at Hickory stand out among other restaurants in the area. The welcoming staff was so friendly and they had their timing down to an art. We never waited long for anything we ordered and we never felt rushed at all. It was very easy to spend an entre evening hanging out at this place!

Make 2016 the year that you and your family try some of the new dining destinations in the area. There is no excuse not to enjoy all of the exquisite culinary options located throughout the metroplex and close to home. Hickory is open for lunch on Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dinner is served on Monday through Thursday from 4-9 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 4-10 p.m. Happy hour is from 4-7 p.m. daily, and the restaurant is the perfect spot to cheer on your favorite team during Monday night football games.

Hickory is located at 8100 Dallas Parkway #115 in Plano. Visit hickoryplano.com for more information or to see a sample menu. Warning: If you are hungry while you are browsing the website, do not look at the photos of the featured dishes served at the restaurant … they will only make your stomach growl with more intensity!