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A plate holds a cuban sandwich with a small dish holding a salad next it it, which is covered with green apples, crumbled goat cheese, and dried cranberries. In the background are a water glass with a drink that holds smashed blackberries and a small plate of burrata, tomatoes, and bread.
Cuban with a Lacy salad at Barley & Board on the Square in Denton.
Courtney E. Smith

The 12 Essential Restaurants in Denton

Burgers and pizza? Of course! Fancy steakhouses and sushi? Denton’s got that too

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Cuban with a Lacy salad at Barley & Board on the Square in Denton.
| Courtney E. Smith

Denton, Dallas’s way more relaxed cousin to the North, is the home of the University of North Texas, Texas Women’s University, and an awful lot of quality restaurants. Some of them are spots for broke college students and others are more suited to the alumni and parents who’ve settled in little D. You don’t have to leave town to find upscale cuisine or just a great burger.

Ahead are some of the best places in town, whichever end of the spectrum one falls on.

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Thai Ocha

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Any hankerings for pad thai or noodle soup in town can be satiated at Thai Ocha. It’s yellow curry and tom kha soup earn raves, as do the Thai dumplings made with ground pork and shrimp. It is BYOB, so grab a bottle of wine and go.

Osteria il Muro

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This family-owned Italian restaurant, which is inside a remodeled home, serves house-made food, including it’s freshly made pasta, focaccia, and gelato. The menu changes daily, with a focus on what’s fresh, local, and in-season. It’s not unlike the way Italians in small towns run their family restaurants — hidden gems full of farm fresh and handmade bites.

Barley & Board

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Those seeking brunch or a good charcuterie board to pair with an excellent selection of beers are well advised to visit this gastropub. The burger earns raves, but go for the Cuban with its mix of roast pork and ham. Build your own meat and cheese board. And finish it all off with a cookie board.

940’s Kitchen & Cocktails

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Comfort and bar food get a stylized edge at this rustic-meets-maximalism spot off the Square. There’s nary a beer on tap — it’s all cocktails. Drop in for brunch and try the Memphis French toast with banana, peanut butter, and bacon, or during lunch and dinner try one of the many flatbreads. The fried eggplant fries are also a must-try.

Cartwright's Ranch House

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Breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner? Cartwright’s is the answer. This is the place to go in Denton for chicken fried steak, but the fried catfish meal and fried chicken with mac and cheese are gratifying comfort food orders as well. Looking for a fab plate of pancakes? This is the spot.

Komodo Loco

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This Asian fusion restaurant is Denton’s go-to for sushi and ramen. The combination of Asian and Latin flavors shows up all over —  in the Loco Eggroll (a chorizo, pineapple, kimchi, and cream cheese filled eggroll), the Southern Smoke ramen (smoked pork combined with adobo chili broth), and Yo’s Poke Tostadas (all the tuna poke bowl elements you expect on a tostada). Sushi can be straightforward, great cuts of fish or fusion speciality rolls, including the beef fajita and Cow-A-Bunga. It’s funky, and it’s just the right fit for this town.

Queenie's Steakhouse

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Chef Tim Love puts his stamp on Denton at this steakhouse, which specializes in surf and turf. It’s signature is Texas-raised beef, and lots of Love’s signature game dishes are here too, including elk and foie gras sliders, rabbit and rattlesnake sausage, and chicken fried quail. For the late night crowd, it also serves doughnuts in Easy Dough starting at 10 p.m.

Hoochies

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Get a taste of this college town at Hoochie’s — it’s Cajun and Creole-forward seafood in a funky, unpolished atmosphere. Looking for plate of oysters (raw or fried) and a beer to pass the afternoon? Go here. And while one can get almost any kind of fried seafood and French fries plate that can be imagined, the shrimp cocktail and ceviche are excellent and worth trying.

La Tortilleria Sabrocita

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If the day begs for a taco stop, this is the place to be. The Denton outpost of this Texas-based taco shop (which started in Carrollton) is all about traditional tacos — barbacoa, chicken al pastor, chicharron, and lengua are the go-tos.

Boka Feliz Mexican Kitchen

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This family owned and operated Mexican restaurant is a delight in the Golden Triangle Mall Food Court. It’s house-made corn tortillas are all over the menu, including the tacos, birria, huarache. And the Mexican comfort foods, from carne asada loaded fries to a mega-torta, will do an insatiable appetite right.

RG Burgers and Grill

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Knowing where to find a good burger is a must. In South Denton, this burger joint serves ‘em up on red and white checkered paper in a basket — and the burgers get a little wild. Just the standard issue cheese burger is massive — at a half pound of meat, they all are. But the options here also include Tex-Mex Chili, the Paris burger (with bleu cheese and grilled onions), a Greek burger, and a cheesy cheese burger that has truly all the cheese anyone could handle.

Pizza Capri's

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If pizza is what the heart wants, then it wants to order from Pizza Capri’s. It slings New York style pies, with hand tossed thin crusts that makes for oversized slices. This spot sticks to the classics, with a few modern pizzas thrown in — and if those don’t do it, there is an option to build from the full menu of options. The fried cheese is worth adding to an order.

Thai Ocha

Any hankerings for pad thai or noodle soup in town can be satiated at Thai Ocha. It’s yellow curry and tom kha soup earn raves, as do the Thai dumplings made with ground pork and shrimp. It is BYOB, so grab a bottle of wine and go.

Osteria il Muro

This family-owned Italian restaurant, which is inside a remodeled home, serves house-made food, including it’s freshly made pasta, focaccia, and gelato. The menu changes daily, with a focus on what’s fresh, local, and in-season. It’s not unlike the way Italians in small towns run their family restaurants — hidden gems full of farm fresh and handmade bites.

Barley & Board

Those seeking brunch or a good charcuterie board to pair with an excellent selection of beers are well advised to visit this gastropub. The burger earns raves, but go for the Cuban with its mix of roast pork and ham. Build your own meat and cheese board. And finish it all off with a cookie board.

940’s Kitchen & Cocktails

Comfort and bar food get a stylized edge at this rustic-meets-maximalism spot off the Square. There’s nary a beer on tap — it’s all cocktails. Drop in for brunch and try the Memphis French toast with banana, peanut butter, and bacon, or during lunch and dinner try one of the many flatbreads. The fried eggplant fries are also a must-try.

Cartwright's Ranch House

Breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner? Cartwright’s is the answer. This is the place to go in Denton for chicken fried steak, but the fried catfish meal and fried chicken with mac and cheese are gratifying comfort food orders as well. Looking for a fab plate of pancakes? This is the spot.

Komodo Loco

This Asian fusion restaurant is Denton’s go-to for sushi and ramen. The combination of Asian and Latin flavors shows up all over —  in the Loco Eggroll (a chorizo, pineapple, kimchi, and cream cheese filled eggroll), the Southern Smoke ramen (smoked pork combined with adobo chili broth), and Yo’s Poke Tostadas (all the tuna poke bowl elements you expect on a tostada). Sushi can be straightforward, great cuts of fish or fusion speciality rolls, including the beef fajita and Cow-A-Bunga. It’s funky, and it’s just the right fit for this town.

Queenie's Steakhouse

Chef Tim Love puts his stamp on Denton at this steakhouse, which specializes in surf and turf. It’s signature is Texas-raised beef, and lots of Love’s signature game dishes are here too, including elk and foie gras sliders, rabbit and rattlesnake sausage, and chicken fried quail. For the late night crowd, it also serves doughnuts in Easy Dough starting at 10 p.m.

Hoochies

Get a taste of this college town at Hoochie’s — it’s Cajun and Creole-forward seafood in a funky, unpolished atmosphere. Looking for plate of oysters (raw or fried) and a beer to pass the afternoon? Go here. And while one can get almost any kind of fried seafood and French fries plate that can be imagined, the shrimp cocktail and ceviche are excellent and worth trying.

La Tortilleria Sabrocita

If the day begs for a taco stop, this is the place to be. The Denton outpost of this Texas-based taco shop (which started in Carrollton) is all about traditional tacos — barbacoa, chicken al pastor, chicharron, and lengua are the go-tos.

Boka Feliz Mexican Kitchen

This family owned and operated Mexican restaurant is a delight in the Golden Triangle Mall Food Court. It’s house-made corn tortillas are all over the menu, including the tacos, birria, huarache. And the Mexican comfort foods, from carne asada loaded fries to a mega-torta, will do an insatiable appetite right.

RG Burgers and Grill

Knowing where to find a good burger is a must. In South Denton, this burger joint serves ‘em up on red and white checkered paper in a basket — and the burgers get a little wild. Just the standard issue cheese burger is massive — at a half pound of meat, they all are. But the options here also include Tex-Mex Chili, the Paris burger (with bleu cheese and grilled onions), a Greek burger, and a cheesy cheese burger that has truly all the cheese anyone could handle.

Pizza Capri's

If pizza is what the heart wants, then it wants to order from Pizza Capri’s. It slings New York style pies, with hand tossed thin crusts that makes for oversized slices. This spot sticks to the classics, with a few modern pizzas thrown in — and if those don’t do it, there is an option to build from the full menu of options. The fried cheese is worth adding to an order.

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