A white neon marquee burns an alligator into the night air, pointing the way toward Frilly's Seafood Bayou Kitchen in Denton. For more than a decade, this dim brick eatery has been an outlet for Cajun culture and cooking, which the kitchen describes as a swamp version of Creole cuisine notable for its creamy, full-flavored sauces. The alligator on the sign is not a red herring, as you can order it fried from the menu along with frog's legs and pickles, two other fried delicacies served in papered plastic baskets with Cajun mayo or bourbon sauce.
Gulf Coast seafood is the main event and is proudly on display in the crawfish trio and the house special, blackened catfish st. charles, which is topped with crawfish and crabmeat in an herb butter sauce. Po boys arrive on a hoagie roll rather than french bread, and entrees of fresh grouper or chicken and andouille jambalaya are spooned over dirty rice and can be washed down with gallon pitchers of iced tea. Aware that Cajun meals are social happenings, the catering staff can whip up a seasonal crawfish boil if your event falls within several weeks of the creature's Mardi Gras celebration. Live local acts, including Joe Tucker, create a multisensory immersion for diners.
Le Peep's focus on breakfast and lunch stems from a decision made more than 40 years ago, when Buddy and Rhoda Waldman opened The Village Pantry in Aspen, Colorado, and—not wanting to miss a half day of skiing—would close the kitchen each day before noon. The duo would continue to tinker with their concept, stare at it through a novelty-sized microscope, and change its name before it eventually migrated to Texas. Nowadays, the kitchen staff perpetuates the breakfast-crafting tradition by offering omelets, eggs benedict, skillets, and build-your-own pancake options that use ingredients such as walnuts, bacon, pineapple, and chocolate chips. Traditional dishes are augmented with unique twists, such as the Gooey Buns, english muffins broiled with brown sugar, cinnamon, and almonds and served with a signature side of Mom's Sassy Apples. During midday hours, a variety of salads, burgers, and sandwiches parades out of the kitchen accompanied by smoothies, juices, or Mother Parkers coffee. Le Peep's catering service delivers breakfast and lunch fare to homes, events, or filibustered neighborhood-watch meetings.
A full century before chefs toiled in the kitchen of Hannah’s Off the Square, the space was abuzz with the sounds of banging hammers as they forged rods of white-hot metal. The unique history of the space as a former blacksmith's shop and the artistic atmosphere of downtown Denton both play a part in the menu of revamped comfort food, which is built in equal part on chef Sheena Croft’s Southern roots. But, as its OpenTable “Fit for Foodies” award implies, Hannah’s is a step above the greasy burgers, fried chicken, and footie pajamas made out of ice cream that most associate with comfort food. Chef Croft integrates ingredients from the farmers and ranchers of the area into her seasonally changing dishes to add new twists and local flavor to the hearty classics. From full-sized entrées such as deviled trout with shrimp and lobster stuffing to tapas plates of house-made gorgonzola chips, she and her staff craft dishes that complement their succinct, but elite list of international wine.
At BoomerJack's Grill & Bar, diners feast on spicy and savory dishes, complemented by refreshing drinks and the frequent shouts of cheering sports fans. Appetizers include hand-battered and fried mushrooms, pickles, and the restaurant?s eponymous Boomer chips, freshly sliced jalape?os served with a homemade sauce. Chefs also sculpt a half pound of ground beef into a behemoth of a burger, adorned with aged cheddar or blue cheese crumbles. Lemon pepper or Cajun seasoning spices up a fillet of farm-raised catfish, while grilled peppers and onions top Ray?s sizzling sausage sandwich made from ground filet mignon and pork.
Dan Weinberger makes sure his sandwich-smiths are thoroughly trained to make subs, brats, and deli sandwiches the same way his father did when the original shop opened in Chicago in 1952. The italian beef upholds the legacy of sandwich artistry with a recipe that, like the lindy hop and disapproval of the lindy hop, hails from the 1920s. A spit turns beef and lamb meat roasting for gyros, and buns cradle all-beef hot dogs and sausages. The selection of subs is heavy on Italian deli meats such as hot capicola, mortadella, and genoa salami, but there's a special menu section for vegetarians, too.