In a “foodie” city dominated by steaks, barbeque, burgers, chicken fingers and Tex-Mex, healthy dining options in Frisco are what some might call “limited.” Today, given the current global pandemic, the ongoing quarantine and what many are labeling their “COVID-19” weight gain, people throughout our fair city are searching high and low for healthier locally-sourced food options. Given 2020 just ended – what some might call a dumpster fire of a year – we are beginning a new outlook in 2021, and what better way to create a fresh start than by trying a new ‘healthified’ eatery? Enter in Up Inspired Kitchen, Frisco’s chef-driven, fast-casual restaurant and coffee bar, designed to make it easy to live fully and eat well in the North Texas area. Located on the southwest corner of Lebanon and the Tollway in the Shops of Starwood, Up Inspired Kitchen established their vision in 2017, inspiring patrons to feel their best so they can be their best.
Owned by Mike and Rae Luther, Up Inspired Kitchen is their opportunity to share all the things they love in the world – great food that’s fast, a place to have fun with friends and a cafe that shares goodness with the world. Having both worked long hours in the restaurant industry for many years and immediately after the birth of their third child, they envisioned a new dining concept creating a place that people loved and could afford while allowing restaurant professionals a chance to simultaneously grow their careers and invest in their families. Ultimately, their goal was to create healthful, clean food in a dining experience among work/life balance; thus, Up Inspired Kitchen was born.
Craving a hearty yet healthy lunch, my hubby and I ventured out to Up Inspired Kitchen one Saturday afternoon. As we drove into the strip mall parking lot, their cheerful, bright yellow sign greeted us. Positioned between a Pilates studio and a home décor boutique, Up Inspired Kitchen provided a nice getaway for a day of lunching and shopping. The storefront was large and easy to find, and an expansive, pet-friendly patio with cute yellow chairs paired with grey wooden benches welcomed us. An adorable playhouse sat ready for children to amuse themselves and several groups and families were enjoying the lovely weather on this particular fall afternoon. Tables were appropriately spaced ensuring social distancing protocols were being followed. Several outdoor heaters were situated throughout the space, specifically designed for the onslaught of the expected coming cooler weather.
As we walked to the front door, a friendly greeter gave us an amiable hello and a kind smile. Everything appeared clean, tidy and polished. I observed several team members wiping down tables and picking up trash, hastily left by recently vacated patrons. The restaurant boasted fun and light-hearted yet captivating decor, giving off a cheerful vibe and a welcoming atmosphere. From the minute we walked into the café, I felt enveloped by warmth, kindness and thoughtfulness, as it seemed each area was thoughtfully planned and arranged. The bright yellow, gray and white color scheme was punctuated by bright pops of teal throughout the bistro, giving off a chic and modern yet cozy ambiance. Happy lemon-colored metal chairs were paired with dark wood tables and bright white spheres hung over each table. If one preferred comfortable lounge chairs, they offered those seating options as well, snuggled around bamboo-like round tables.
I commented to my husband on the cute color scheme as the scents of freshly baked goodies wafted in my direction. How delicious everything smelled (especially the freshly made coffee) but I focused myself, determinedly deciding what to order. Up Inspired Kitchen offers such unique, healthy options that completely intrigued my palette. The menu centers on healthy food choices, including eggs and toast-based breakfast items as well as a variety of salad bowls and wraps in addition to vegan and vegetarian choices. The menu also included their limitless coffee choices: brewed coffee, café mocha, chai tea latte, bullet brew and espresso, just to name a few. The ever-coveted ‘cheat day options’ on the menu caught my eye and a few compelling choices included the “Up Cakes” which are traditional pancakes with seasonal berries, crème fraiche and maple syrup, as well as their Short Rib Grilled Cheese (short ribs, cheddar cheese and pickled red onion, stacked on fluffy sourdough bread).
After oohing and aahing over the menu, we finally approached the ordering counter and spoke with a very kind and patient employee. I settled on the avocado toast and salmon salad paired with a cappuccino. My husband ordered the ‘Whistler Vedge Hash’ and some English breakfast tea. She rang our bill and we headed to a nearby table to begin enjoying our beverages.
The cappuccino was scrumptious, featuring incredible flavor, depth and texture. The bold coffee layered perfectly with a thick, velvety pillow of micro-foam, creating a tactile sensation. The swirled deliciousness was served in a large ceramic mug, accentuating the delicate nuances of the perfectly blended beverage and warmed me from the inside out. The cup of English tea was strong but not overly bitter, hot but not scorching and perfectly paired with a side of milk. As we sipped and chatted, our thirsts were quenched and we felt the stresses of life roll off as we settled in for some enjoyable conversation.
It was then that our food arrived. Despite its hype, avocado toast may well be the perfect appetizer. Creamy avocado spread onto well-toasted bread may be one of my favorite combinations and one of life’s simplest pleasures. The sourdough toast was browned and crisp, and the avocado was plentiful and smooth. The dish was topped with edamame, Fresno chili relish and a few slices of lime, adding a touch of heat and tartness for its finish.
We then dug into our entrees and we couldn’t have been more pleased. The salmon salad combined so many different flavors to offer a light yet filling lunch. The superbly seared and seasoned wild-caught Alaskan salmon fillet sat atop a mixed bed of arugula, romaine and kale along with crispy watermelon, juicy cherry tomatoes, crunchy sunflower seeds and tangy feta cheese. Paired with honey lemon vinaigrette, it was a salad nirvana. While some might consider it a smaller meal to eat, it was surprisingly satisfying and made for one delicious lunch.
The ‘Whistler Vedge Hash’ is a bowl comprised of all kinds of good, healthful foods. Starting with a foundation of quinoa, the dish then adds diced delicious veggies, including roasted sweet potato, carrots, onion, turnips and parsley, along with a mix of wilted greens and a poached cage-free egg. Topped with a single slice of nitrate-free Peterson’s bacon (from Austin), the dish boasts an earthy flavor, offering a comforting yet satisfying combination of tastes and essences. We traded bites off each other’s plates and both commented on how our healthy food was providing an absolute treat.
Before leaving, my husband and I promptly ordered their açaí bowl to-go for dessert. On the drive home I couldn’t hold off and dug into the sweet treat. Packed with fresh fruit, gluten-free granola and blended açaí, the combined bowl provided a tantalizing delicacy. Heralded for its array of health benefits, its strongest asset is definitely its taste. It looked like ice cream and almost tasted like ice cream; it basically acted as a really thick smoothie topped with the texture of fruit and granola, which definitely satisfied my sweet craving. This bowl was one I could eat over and over again and not feel guilty. I felt happy and full for hours and I would gladly get this every time I visited!
Easy to say, our experience at Up Inspired Kitchen blew away our expectations. The amazing selection of made-to-order healthy entrees combined with its warm and welcoming atmosphere was absolutely outstanding. Prepare your taste buds for a culinary delight when you visit. Located at 5285 Dallas Parkway, Suite 400 in Frisco at the corner of Lebanon and the Dallas Tollway, you will most definitely want to stop by. I know we sure will be visiting again soon!
‘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.