As the sun began to set on a recent Saturday evening in Frisco, my husband and I made our way to the northwest corner of Gaylord Parkway and Preston Road to try the new Kelly’s Craft Tavern that arrived on the scene here in Frisco in late February 2019. We were hard-pressed to find a parking spot and considered ourselves lucky when we did!
Standing in the place of the Texas Land & Cattle Steak House that served Frisco in this location for 18 years, Kelly’s Craft Tavern looked almost identical, except for the new sign. But, we were in for a surprise.
Dusk’s hues had cast a quiet glow across the parking lot, with the exception of the ambient road noise from Preston Road. So, it was a bit of a shock to pass through the double doors and meet a bright, hopping scene.
The first thing we noticed was how packed the restaurant was. It was apparent Kelly’s Craft Tavern has a lot of local fans! A t-shaped bar created a runway of barstools that enshrined an exposed brick wall, 52 beer taps, open shelves of spirits and three large televisions — all of which were displaying a live Dallas Stars play-off game. Surrounding that, high bar tables added additional sprinkles of seating. Every stool was occupied and many people were standing. Collective exclamations would erupt as The Dallas Stars would take shots on a goal. In between cheers, the symphony of conversations and laughter created an upbeat and vibrant atmosphere. Apparently, this was the place to be on a Saturday night!
We edged our way to the hostess stand and put our name on the wait list. A space freed up on the small bench to the right of the doorway, but we chose to stand and join the others in watching the game. Surprisingly, we did not have to wait too long, or perhaps time just flew by while we watched the fast-paced action.
As our hostess ushered us to our table, we took in the rest of the scene. Natural wood floors, exposed air ducts and rough brick walls contrasted with the leather booths, mirrored walls and crystal chandeliers. Yet, it all seemed to blend in with the casual party atmosphere, while date night goers and families alike were sharing in the fun.
To the left of the bar, two green barn doors were rolled back to reveal a private dining room that can seat about 50 people, and on the opposite side of the restaurant, a wall of glass partitioned off another semi-private dining area.
We had not been seated long before our server greeted us with a smile. When asked, she gave her recommendations for drink selections. She said the house margaritas were excellent, the “Trash Can” Punch was a misnomer and was actually really good, and for sweet drinks, she recommended either the Adult Cherry Limeade or a Malibu Spring Special called “Sweet Boo.” Prices on the drink menu ranged from $8-$14.
My husband opted for the Kelly’s Margarita, which consisted of Herradura Silver Tequila, Cointreau, agave nectar, lime and a splash of orange juice. Let’s just say he had no trouble consuming it! I opted for the Malibu Coconut Rum mixed with passion fruit and lemongrass, otherwise known as the “Sweet Boo.” It was delightfully sweet with a little hint of lemongrass.
The favorite drink recommended for a summer night would be the Adult Cherry Limeade with Absolut® Lime Vodka, Smirnoff Cherry® vodka, muddled limes, lemon-lime soda and simple syrup. This light and bubbly drink will be great to enjoy once the patio addition for Kelly’s Craft Tavern is completed!
For appetizers, we pondered over our extensive options of Chips and Queso, Sliders, Wings, Fried Pickles, Fried Mushrooms, Jalapeno Bottle Caps, Quesadillas, Shrimp, Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Crab Meat, Onion Rings, Bacon Poblano Waffle Cheese Fries and Brisket Chips. The latter two came highly-recommended, so we selected the Brisket Chips, which were labeled as hand-cut potato chips topped with smoked brisket, queso and green onions.
What arrived were little sombreros of thinly-cut potato chips that somehow held the weight of the smoked brisket, which was drizzled with queso and green onions. It was an unexpected display and fun to eat!
From there, picking our entrees became much more difficult. The menu at Kelly’s Craft Tavern ranges from soups, salads, sandwiches, seafood and burgers to Tex-Mex, pasta, steak and waffles. Dinner entrees range in price from $11-$33, and there seemed to be something for everyone on the menu. Our server recommended the Atlantic Salmon and the Eastside Burger.
After much debating and last-minute waffling, I finally landed on the BBQ Plate with pulled pork, turkey and sides of Fried Okra and Smoked Gouda Mac n’ Cheese. And before you judge, house specials, like the BBQ Plate, come with two sides, so I was required to pick two!
Besides, my husband’s choice of Shrimp and Grits did not come with any additional sides, so we could easily share. At least those could have been my intentions! In reality, however, the Fried Okra disappeared in a blur before we finally got around to sharing the wonderfully flavorful Smoked Gouda Mac n’ Cheese. My husband’s attention was focused on the beautiful presentation of six shrimp flipping their blackened tails at the pool of hot, cheesy grits.
And before I forget to mention it, the BBQ Plate came with a lovely surprise not listed on the menu: a mini loaf of warm Jalapeno Cornbread. Tasting like it was straight out of the oven, that little morsel of mouthwatering cornbread did not have a chance — and neither did I! Not one little crumb remained.
For the record, though, we did get to-go boxes for our other items, like the massive portions of meat on the BBQ Plate and the scrumptious Mac n’ Cheese, so we could muster up some room for dessert. Yes, we took one for the team and made the “difficult” decision to forge ahead into the sweet temptation of sugary goodness. And it was well worth the sacrifice!
With seven desserts on the menu, ranging from a Root Beer Float to Carrot Cake, our decision was a little easier. My husband immediately selected the Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie, which must have been good, because our server delivered the sad news that they were sold out. So, he opted for the Hot Fudge Molten Chocolate Cake instead. I, on the other hand, won the lottery on the dessert wheel, when I selected their Ooey Gooey Butter Cake. I only wish I had saved more room for that sweet buttery slice of heaven. As phenomenal as it was, I just could not polish it off, but it was way too good to leave even a few bites behind. So, it joined in with the other to-go boxes for an encore on another day.
And all of that just describes dinner. Kelly’s Craft Tavern has a lunch menu, Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., where they offer $8.50 lunch items and $9.50 daily specials like brisket or pulled pork sandwiches, brisket or chicken quesadillas and any burger on the menu. On Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m.-2p.m., Kelly’s Craft Tavern serves a scratch brunch.
Kelly’s Craft Tavern is primarily a scratch kitchen. The restaurant smokes its own meats, makes hand-cut French fries and prepares almost all of their own dressings and sauces that go with dishes. The cool custom-made beer tap system looks like an engine from a muscle car in the 1960s. The restaurant is unique and offers a lot to its patrons!
While the outside of Kelly’s Craft Tavern may still look like it did when Texas Land & Cattle Steak House occupied the building, the inside of the restaurant could not be more different. All you have to do is open the door to find out!
You can check out the menu for Kelly’s Craft Tavern, located at 3191 Preston Road, at kellyscrafttavernfrisco.com. Cheers!
Frisco STYLE Magazine dining reviews are not scheduled with or paid for by the featured restaurant. All reviews are completed for the purpose of helping readers know and enjoy local dining options.