Grapevine, Texas, a community-sized town with a cool historic downtown that’s located between Dallas and Fort Worth, is renowned as the Christmas Capital of Texas. But what may not be so well known is that this town is also a foodie’s delight. With more than 200 restaurants in the downtown and outlying areas, including several resort-style hotels, this is a place to go to eat. That’s exactly what RFT Editor Anne Weaver and I did recently on a four-day journey to this Christmas land.
During our short visit, we were able to sample only a tiny fraction of the many food and beverage options in Grapevine. Here are a few of our favorites:
Gotta Get Steak. Texas is famous for beefsteak and, unless you’re vegan or vegetarian, a good steak should be on your must-eat list. Dino’s Steaks and Claw House, located in the center of historic downtown, is a great choice.
This steak and seafood house was hopping the night we visited. We started with a crab cube appetizer (lump crab cakes cut into squares and served with tarter); rich, creamy lobster bisque; and a chunky blue cheese wedge salad. Then it was onto my 18-ounce, bone-in ribeye served with mashed potatoes and carrots and zucchini spears. The steak, which was peppery and slightly smoky, was perfectly cooked to medium-rare and uber-juicy.
Another good place for steaks is family-owned Ferrari’s Italian Villa & Chop House.
We started with crispy, bubbly flatbread baked in their flaming hot brick oven. I ordered a delectable salad of greens, grilled pears, and caramelized pecans lightly dressed in vinaigrette. Their Prime steaks are Certified Angus Beef (C.A.B.) and are locally sourced and raised with no hormones or antibiotics. My 18-ounce, bone-in Cowboy ribeye was leaner than the one at Dino’s and featured a big beefy flavor. My steak came with a cheesy, creamy polenta. And, since this place makes their own pasta, I had to order a side of ricotta ravioli, which came with a light tomato sauce with tasty red wine notes.
Go for Burgers. If burgers are more your style, check out lively Jakes Burgers and Beer in the center of downtown. Since 1985, this burger joint has specialized in 100% beef, double patty cheeseburgers. They offer 24 different selections from Jake’s Special (cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Thousand Island dressing) to burgers with chili, jalapenos, bacon, mushrooms, blue cheese, and more. And don’t miss out on their crazy sides from the traditional hand-cut or loaded fries to fried pickles, cheesy Tater Tots, fried onions with chipotle ranch and sriracha ketchup, and more.
Sip Christmas Cocoa. Hot chocolate is the traditional Christmas drink and, in Grapevine, it’s served everywhere during the holidays. I sampled build-your-own hot chocolate at Bingham Family Vineyards downtown tasting room with whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate peppermint, and chocolate shavings. Delish!
For a gourmet twist on cocoa, check out Dr. Sue’s Chocolate. Their hot chocolate is made with dark European chocolate and whole milk and it’s delicious. You can customize your cocoa with whipped cream and toppings like chili, peppermint, cinnamon, marshmallows, pumpkin pie spice, or even more chocolate.
Dr. Sue’s also offers chocolate barks, bars, and candies all made with 54% cacao dark chocolate and healthful additions like cranberries and hazelnuts.
Winning Wines. During November and December, Christmas reigns supreme in Grapevine, but wine is a star year round. Many venues specialize in Texas wines (the state is the fifth largest producer of wine in the U.S.), while others offer fine wines from around the nation and the world. Bingham Family Vineyards tasting room downtown features their own Texas wines. You can sample reds like Merlot, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Franc; whites such as Chardonnay, Trebbiano, and Cloudburst (blend of Trebbiano, Vermentiro, Roussanne, Viognier and Chardonnay); as well as rosés and semi-sweet wines. They also carry lovely Texas cheeses.
For an even more intense wine experience, take a Christmas Wine Train. It includes a relaxing train ride, Christmas carols, and plenty of wine. Or book a Grapevine Wine Tour on a special wine bus that’ll take you to several area wineries for wine tasting.
Tex-Mex is Tasty. Texas is famous for Tex-Mex food, a tasty combination of Texas and Mexican flavors. You can’t go wrong at Esparzas Restaurante Mexicano in the historic downtown district. They slow cook their own brisket and the brisket quesadilla and brisket enchiladas are both fabulous. Another standout is the crispy, creamy fried avocado, a whole avocado stuffed with chicken or beef and cheese and deep-fried.
Frito Pie, a crazy combination of Frito chips, chili, and cheese, is a Texas favorite and you can get a terrific one at Texan Station Sports Bar & Grill in the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center. Enjoy your Frito pie while watching sports on the amazing 52-foot flat-panel TV.
Big on breakfast. A great choice for breakfast is the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Riverwalk Cantina at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center. They offer everything from pastries and bagels and lox to scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon and sausage to pancakes and waffles and made-to-order omelets. Coffee, teas, and juices are bottomless and the ambiance, with tables situated right next to the resort’s indoor river and under the soaring glass atrium, is terrific. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor; Photos by Anne Weaver, RFT Editor