Wiqar Qazi, known as “Uncle” to his regulars, has his office at a small table in the far corner of the Metroplex’s oldest Pakistani restaurant — it’s where he holds court over the diners. From that vantage point, he watches customers come through the glass door of his modest 26-top restaurant. He goes to the counter to welcome them and take their orders. Since Qazi opened Silver Spoon Restaurant 33 years ago in Allen, it has become known as a refuge for homesick South Asians.
The wall behind Qazi is filled with handwritten notes from regulars and photos documenting the restaurant’s history. One faded photo from 1990 shows Silver Spoon’s original location in Richardson, an expansion from its opening a year earlier. Another picture shows the bare-bones restaurant. In the foreground is Wiqar’s son, Ibaad, wearing bright red jogging pants when he was a boy. A young Ibaad grills seekh kebabs in another photo. Those spicy grilled meats are still on the Silver Spoon menu today. Now Wiqar’s son is in his 40s and runs the day-to-day operations alongside Qazi.
The Metroplex has grown and changed since Silver Spoon opened 33 years ago. The Pakistani community in the Metroplex has grown to become the fifth largest in the country. And, over the three decades since the restaurant opened, Qazi has seen the companies that employ his regulars move offices further north, away from the Richardson telecom corridor, which was the heart of the Dallas economic boom in the 90s. So he decided to move also, relocating to Allen in 2016. “When we opened, there were lines at the door,” Qazi tells Eater Dallas.
As Qazi’s son grew up with the restaurant, so did their regulars. They went from bachelors to newlyweds who brought their partners and children to share a meal. “Those children are now also grown, who also bring in their children,” Qazi says with a smile.
There are comforting foods served “just like mom’s” that Silver Spoon has become known for. It’s Lahori fish fry riffs on the famous dish from Lahore, Pakistan, with whole nuggets of fresh trout dredged in spiced flour and deep fried and served on fluffy long-grain rice. Also popular is its nihari, a slow-cooked stew of chicken or beef with full-bodied gravy that is dipped into with hot naan and served with slivers of fresh ginger, slices of jalapeno, sprigs of cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
The restaurant also serves South Asian dishes from India and Bangladesh, including samosas and tikka masala. “Our customers are not just Pakistani,” Qazi stresses. The inclusive menu includes vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options and Jain vegetarian, a diet anchored in the Jain religion that excludes all root vegetables.
The Qazis also donate their resources and time to their community. The father and son team donated meals to Ma’ruf Dallas. For more than a decade, this non-profit Muslim organization helps refugees to get settled in the community and provides resources for unhoused people.
Customers can donate any amount to help provide free meals to those in need through the Pay-It-Forward program at Silver Spoon. Come in hungry, and whether one can pay or not, ask for a meal and leave with a full belly.
On the restroom wall hallway hang two plaques from the Pakistan Society of North Texas, scratched and faded over the decades, recognizing the restaurant’s contributions to the community, and a certificate from the city of Richardson. But there has been little media splash nor fanfare over the years. “Never in my (33) years of business,” Qazi says about press inquiries.” It’s not important to me. What’s important is that my customers tell other people about us.”