The staff at The Dive Bar & Grill work hard to cultivate a versatile, laid-back atmosphere, accommodating large parties of revelers and small, relaxed groups of friends. With a friendly, unrushed attitude, servers present the eatery’s duo of flexible menus—one for the bar and another for the restaurant. At the bar, diners pair beer and wine with chorizo-seasoned potato croquettes, seafood-stuffed quesadillas, and strawberry-studded salads served in portions designed for sharing with friends and gregarious diners at the next table. Meanwhile, The Dive Bar & Grill’s restaurant menu plays to a variety of tastes with a crispy pan-fried beet slider, glazed and grilled cuts of mahi mahi, and seafood pasta perfumed with precious saffron.
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.
Executive Chef Tommy Simpson pulls inspiration for his menu from 18 years of traveling the world—he's studied at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, bustled about kitchens in South America, and experimented with recipes in Europe. Today, he crafts innovative American dishes at One2One Restaurant and Bar, which took four bronzes, one silver, and one gold in Plano Profile's 2012 Best Eats Restaurant Survey. Simpson's creations include steaks topped with wasabi mash, blackened chicken sliders smeared with chipotle mayo, and rock shrimp paired with sriracha. He also stacks a wood-fired oven with crispy pizzas and brushetta breads that are speckled with gourmet toppings of lobster, prosciutto, and fig.
The kitchen looks out onto the restaurant’s cavernous dining hall, where light trickles down onto rows of black booths and stone-tiled walls. Blue lanterns surround the granite bar, spotlighting bartenders as they uncork bottles of fine wine and whip up cocktails. An awning stretches out over the outdoor patio, where diners can admire the front lawn’s fountain, which erupts with majestic streams of water and grants three wishes to those who’ve never cheated on a math test.