Trying to find the best places to eat in Waco can be overwhelming, but don’t worry – there are PLENTY of great places to eat in Waco! Like most cities, some places to eat in Waco are better than others, which is why it’s helpful to get some insights from a local Wacoan – like myself – when searching for the absolute best Waco food joints.
And even though Texas is the state that is most associated with incredible barbeque restaurants (bbq really IS better in Texas…), I’ve already covered the best BBQ in Waco in another article where I could elaborate on the fantastic barbecue spots around the city.
This article is focused on the local restaurant landscape in Waco that is remarkably diverse, above and beyond barbecue.
Fun Fact: Did you know that one of the boutiques in Waco also features an onsite restaurant?
And if you’re like me, you appreciate diversity in your food choices!
Not only are the places to eat in Waco incredibly diverse, but there are also an impressive number of local Waco restaurants to visit as well.
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This article will focus solely on the local Waco restaurant experience. The restaurants discussed here are also what I consider the best places to eat in Waco as of 2023.
Note: This article also excludes the best Waco food truckswhich also are all locally owned and operated restaurants.
First up, let’s cover the most famous places first!
Famous local places to eat in Waco
Whether you are looking for a full-blown meal, or just a dessert or snack to munch on between meals, the most famous places to eat in Waco are great options! The reason they are famous places is because they are owned and operated by Chip & Joanna Gaines (aka the Magnolia business empire).
Magnolia Table Restaurant
The first and most well-known place to eat in Waco is the Magnolia Table Restaurant. Even though it is well-known because it’s connected to the Magnolia business empire, it is absolutely a beautiful restaurant that serves great food at decent prices.
Even if it did not have any connections to the Gaines family, I would still list the Magnolia Table Restaurant as one of the best places to eat in Waco.
As you approach the Magnolia Table restaurant, you can already appreciate the architectural designs of the building and the way that the exterior space has been carefully crafted to immediately give you a sense that your experience is going to be a quality one.
You will also appreciate that the exterior design took hot Texas summers into account. The covered seating and waiting areas outside are beautifully designed.
Once you are inside, the interior is just as delightful.
It’s beautifully designed with simple, clean-cut lines and therapeutic farmhouse colors and decor that feel like you have walked into one of Joanna Gaines recent dining room renovations.
If you like Cracker Barrel, then you’ll like Magnolia Table’s menu options. It’s full of traditional farm-style breakfast options such as eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, grits, etc.
The portions are more than fair; depending on how hungry you are, you will probably finish your meal but not feel like you over-ate.
Everything that we have ever ordered has been cooked to perfection, so I would encourage you to order with confidence! If it sounds yummy on the menu – it probably is!
Even though Magnolia Table is probably the most famous place to eat in Waco, it’s also one of the best places to eat in Waco especially if you’re looking for a good breakfast or lunch spot near downtown.
Magnolia Table Food Truck
A recent addition to The Silo’s at Magnolia is the Magnolia Table food truck.
If you do not want to make the short trek over to the full-size restaurant for the full dining experience, you can get a taste of Magnolia Table at their new food truck.
While the full menu is not available at the Magnolia Table food truck, you can still order some of their staple menu items. There is no interior space at the food truck, but there is a decent amount of covered outdoor seating right next to the Magnolia food truck (you just won’t have the benefits of a waiter or waitress).
The “concession stand” by the baseball field also features Magnolia Table food. However, being a concession stand, most of the options are “finger food” options rather than plated menu items that you might expect at their actual restaurant or food truck.
Places to eat in Waco for Breakfast & Brunch
We don’t tend to go out for breakfast that much (unless it’s to get some local coffee), but when we do, we certainly like to try local restaurants that we are not familiar with yet and try new foods.
If you’re looking for some of the best breakfast restaurants in Waco, here are a few we can recommend.
Our Breakfast Place
Ok – Our Breakfast Place isn’t well-known because of the people it’s associated with. It’s well-known in the Waco area because they just serve up some fantastic breakfast entrees all day long. The 5-star reviews you’ll find on Google Maps are definitely accurate.
It’s common to encounter a wait time here (like Cracker Barrel and Magnolia Table), so definitely set aside a good hour or two if you plan to get breakfast at Our Breakfast Place.
Despite the wait – it’s worth it! It’s absolutely one of the best places to eat in Waco!
Our Breakfast Place is located across from the Walmart located just off Franklin Ave. And honestly, it just looks like a plain building in a strip-mall type of setting that doesn’t give it any distinctive characteristics other than the colorful “Our Breakfast Place” sign out front.
The restaurant isn’t necessarily flashy, or beautifully designed farmhouse decor (looking at you Magnolia….), but it is still tastefully done, and well-kept. And besides, what does the decor matter if the food isn’t good?! When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by wait-staff who will take you to your table to begin your dine-in experience.
The food is delicious. We ordered all kinds of beautifully made dishes and everything we ordered was cooked to perfection. Even better, every table has a couple bottles of some of the best hot sauce for pouring all over your breakfast food – and if you’re in Texas, you have to try it at least once!
If you’re looking for gluten and/or dairy free breakfast places to eat in Waco, then you’re in luck with the Waffle Chic!
Trust me when I say that it is totally worth rolling into work late every now and then if your reason for doing so is because you stopped by the Waffle Chic on your way in. And by ‘every now and then’, I mean every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning.
I’m not even a chicken waffle kind of guy, but Waffle Chic converted me to chicken and waffles in less than 15 minutes which was the precise amount of time that it took from the time that I ordered, to the time that she handed me the plate with the chicken waffle on it.
The order was actually for my wife, but as soon as I saw it – I knew that it was a divine appointment taking place. The waffle goddess had spoken and I was a believer.
Yes, it was that dramatic. And yes, only half of the plate made it back to my wife’s office – the other half wasn’t so lucky.
This is now one of my top favorite breakfast places to eat in Waco.
Side Note: EVEN THE EGG WAS FRIED IN A WAFFLE IRON! The Waffle Chic ain’t playin around.
My kids got the strawberry banana Nutella waffle which was promptly demolished in record time. Never have my kids devoured something on a plate as quickly as that waffle disappeared. It was like they became master magicians in the time it took to cook up a waffle. It was by pure luck that I managed to snap a photo before the disappearing act began.
Color me impressed.
Clearly, it’s one of my kids’ favorite places to eat in Waco, too!
Here’s a snapshot of the Waffle Chic menu – I was told that while they may occasionally add new waffles to the menu, they rarely (if ever) take anything away. The Waffle Chic truly had me falling in love at first bite, and frankly, I’m so wafflestruck that I’d eat whatever gets put on this menu:
The menu is perfectly divided up by savory or sweet options, which makes the decision-making process surprisingly simple based on whichever mood your palette is in at that given moment. My only regret after my first visit here was that I couldn’t try every single item on their menu.
Pro Tip: If you’re in Waco for a short time and this is your only shot with the Waffle Chic, then order the “Split Decision” and go buck wild. Sweet and savory can dance together in beautiful harmony – don’t let anybody tell you anything different. Pour that syrup on EVERYTHING!
Here’s my final take on Waffle Chic:
Don’t miss her. Plan your trip into Waco around the Waffle Chic’s schedule.
Don’t keep her waiting. It’s the first place that you should go eat breakfast in Waco.
Don’t waste time – split your decision and let sweet and savory do their thing.
While Waffle Chick still does special events with their food truck(s), they’re now permanently located inside the gates at Magnolia at The Silos!
Startup Origin: Waffle Chic originally started in their humble food trailer in the parking lot of Pinewood Coffee shop, which is one of my favorite coffee shops in Waco.
2022-2023 Update: The Waffle Chic has a second food truck now and it’s BEAUTIFUL! They are frequently featured as one of the food trucks inside Magnolia at The Silos now, so stop by and check them out!
So now you can typically find this local Waco food truck in two places at any given time. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Waffle Chic is one of my absolute favorite local places to eat in Waco.
Places to eat in Waco for Lunch & Dinner
If you’re looking for places to eat in Waco for lunch or dinner, don’t worry. Waco has a ton of local restaurants that serve up lunch and dinner all week long. In fact, the first place on our list is a “dining hall” where you can try dozens of local restaurants all in one spot!
Union Hall is one of the best places in Waco to taste new and exciting foods created by local restaurants based right here in Waco, Texas.
It is a single building located in downtown Waco (and just a few blocks away from Magnolia at The Silos) that features a dozen or more locally owned and operated restaurants; a “dining hall” of sorts.
Union Hall was designed to be an “eatery” of sorts that acts as an incubator for new, local restaurant owners to test out new restaurant concepts, foods, etc. at an affordable location without needing to spend a ton on a marketing budget.
The building is a newly constructed building, so the exterior is modern with large windows. It has a nice exterior area with tables and chairs which really helps to ensure that you always have a place to sit and eat your food.
The inside of Union Hall is spacious, and open. The floors are concrete, and the tables are mostly picnic-style tables with chairs, and tv’s are scattered throughout the dining hall. No matter which direction you walk in, there are plenty of local restaurants you can choose from.
There is no wait-staff here; just go to the restaurants you want to order from and most of them will give you a buzzer that will let you know when you can come pick up your food. They do have a cleaning crew that keeps the place nice and tidy.
You’ll find everything from authentic Mexican food (no, it’s not TexMex) to classic burgers, wings, soups, coffee, pastry shops and much more. If you want to eat out at local Waco restaurants, this is absolutely one of the best places to do that.
When we go here (we are frequent visitors), each of us tends to try something new from multiple restaurants in the building and we’ve yet to be disappointed.
Pro Tip: There is a large upstairs dining room area few people know about, so there’s hardly ever anybody up there. If Union Hall is super busy and you can’t find a seat on the main floor – find the stairs.
Slow Rise is a fantastic place to grab lunch or dinner in Waco. If you are a fan of pizza, chicken wings, or even salads, funnel fries or regular french fries, then this is the place you want to eat at.
And fortunately, Slow Rise has two locations in Waco now:
Slow Rise Slice House
Located in the Woodway area, this location shares a building with Common Grounds Waco, a well-known Waco-based coffee shop chain.
There is a ton of indoor and outdoor seating, including a small space outside for the kids to play on some giant tractor-size tires. And for some reason, kids LOVE playing on the giant tractor tires!
You can order pizza by the slice, or by the pie, as well as a bunch of other options such as chicken wings, salads, and even some delicious beignet fries (basically like funnel fries!).
The pizza has always been baked to perfection with MASSIVE slices. It’s definitely one of our favorite pizza places in Waco.
Slow Rise on The Brazos
Slow Rise recently expanded to a second location and this spot is UH-MAZING. Slow Rise on The Brazos is located in a building that sits right on the riverside in East Waco, just across the river from downtown. The space is HUGE and features a ton of outdoor seating on a multi-level covered deck that overlooks the river.
Pro Tip: The parking lot is already pretty big, but due to the popularity of this restaurant, you may have difficulty finding a parking spot on super busy nights like Friday and Saturday evening. Lunch time is your best bet for getting in and out quickly.
If you have a boat or kayak, you can even pull up to the dock below, and walk up to get your food, then head back out on the river.
OAK & IVY WINE BAR BISTRO
There’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and you’ll find it at Oak & Ivy Wine Bar Bistro.
I’m kidding, of course. But it is magical, and the food is absolutely heavenly. Oak & Ivy is, hands down, one of the best places to eat in Waco. Regardless of whether you’re in the mood for brunch, lunch or dinner – Oak & Ivy is a great choice.
And I’m pretty sure that the person who came up with the story about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow had Oak & Ivy Wine Bar Bistro in mind when they wrote it 💁♂️.
In all seriousness, Oak & Ivy is a beautiful space with divine food. I mean, even their Saturday brunch menu is outrageously delicious. Take a look at this thing!
If you’re easily tempted by scrumptious looking food, then you probably shouldn’t follow their Instagram… So, I’ll just show it to you:
Ok, now you can follow them on Instagram.
Here are some highlights about Oak & Ivy Wine Bar Bistro:
Farm To Table Menu
Fantastic Wine Options (+ Whiskey & Other Beverages)
Upscale & Friendly Ambience
Reservations Accepted (and encouraged)
Great Value (price to quality ratio is more than fair)
Directions to Oak & Ivy Bar Wine Bistro:
Just keep in mind that, being one of the best places to eat in Waco, sometimes Oak & Ivy is open on a unique schedule and it can be extremely busy and difficult to get in. Reservations are highly encouraged. You can book reservations on their website in advance.
Revival Eastside Eatery
When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by a huge open dining room space, as well as a bar with a floor-to-ceiling brick wall as the backdrop. Massive glass window walls face the front, and an open ceiling showing off wood rafters hangs out above.
There wasn’t anything on the big screen when I was there, but I imagine that the projector plays movies, shows, or maybe even live sporting events on certain days.
Revival Eastside Eatery is located right on historic Elm Ave. It’s one of the areas of downtown Waco that’s quickly become revitalized as new business has gradually begun to open up in the neighborhood.
We ordered quite a few things from Revival Eastside Eateries menu, but my favorite was the Golden Calf burger, which I improvised and had a fried egg added to it.
This burger single-handedly ensured that this restaurant would make it onto my list of best places to eat in Waco because it was simply fantastic. The hamburger was cooked to perfection, the egg was done exactly as I asked.
The fresh crisp and flavor of the arugula mixed with the creamy lemon garlic aioli on the brioche bun was everything I could have asked for and more. The generous side of fries was a nice touch.
Other places of interest in East Waco are the Eastside riverfront (it features the riverwalk with multiple memorials and murals along the way), the recently completed Bridge Street Plaza, Brotherwell Brewing (they host a fantastic farmer/vendor market), 310’s Kitchen, Tru Jamaica, and Tony DeMaria’s BBQ.
This is a taco place that opened in 2021. We went there the week it opened and have been back quite a few times since. I’d definitely recommend checking them out if you’re a fan of tacos or TexMex food in general.
Wako Taco is located in a brand-new, modern white, brick building. It features a nice, covered patio with plenty of seating, and a xeriscape space around the perimeter.
Best of all, it has a drive-through. But just keep in mind; this isn’t Taco Bell. The food is made fresh, so it may take a minute for your order to be done.
The inside of Wako Taco is pretty small, and though it is spacious enough to have bathrooms, it only has space for a few tables for dining in.
If you’re going to dine-in, you may want to step outside to the covered seating area.
Rain or shine, hot or cold, it’s a great place to dine.
Ok, the food is delicious. I like their chicken tacos, and my wife and kids love their chicken quesadillas.
I should try other stuff on their menu, but wow… those chicken tacos are delish!
Again… keep in mind that this food is made fresh. So, if you’re going through the drive-through, it could take a minute to get your order.
If you heard of a local restaurant in Waco named “Health Camp”, you might be led to believe that they serve up healthy, nutritious smoothies, salads, and sub sandwiches. And you would be wrong.
What originally started out as a mobile canteen (serving ice cream and burgers to military personnel after World War 2) quickly became so popular and successful that the mobile canteen was retired, and a permanent restaurant was opened.
Health Camp is on the list of places to eat in Waco because it has earned its place as one of the top local burger restaurants in the city. In fact, it’s been in operation since 1949 – in the same building that it’s located in today.
So not only is it a fantastic local place to eat, it’s also a historic local restaurant located on the “Waco Traffic Circle” (aka round-a-bout), a historical landmark in Waco, TX.
The exterior of Health Camp looks exactly as I would imagine that it looked in 1949. I don’t think they’ve changed the exterior one bit since it opened 70+ years ago.
And that’s part of what makes the experience so unique.
The interior has likely seen a few new coats of paint, sheetrock repairs, etc., but quite frankly, it looks exactly as I would imagine a 1950’s burger cafe looked like.
The bright, vibrant, and clashing colors that don’t seem to match, the black and white checkered floor, and the tiny cafe-style kitchen with an exterior walk-up window at this locally owned, historic restaurant, really give you the impression that you’ve stepped back in time.
Well, the food is simply delicious. My wife and I both ordered burgers; I had the #1 combo and she had the #4 combo (burger w/ bacon).
This isn’t McDonald’s, so be prepared to wait a few minutes for your food; it’s grilled to perfection in the tiny 1950’s cafe-style kitchen.
The fries and the onion rings were nice and crispy, served with some packets of ketchup.
Pro Tip: You don’t order inside (even though you can eat inside). You need to walk up to the window just to the right of the entry door and order from there. When your order is ready, they’ll call your name out over loudspeaker. You’ll go inside to the counter (pictured above to the left of the door) to pick up your order and eat either inside or outside on the patio area.
If you like tacos, fair-style food (e.g. chili cheese hot dogs), sea food, and burgers all in one place, then Route 77 is one of the best places to eat in Waco. Why? Because they have ALL of that!
Route 77 is a small food truck park located on the East side of Waco, and is by far the nicest, most modern food truck park in the city. It features artificial green space with outdoor games (e.g. cornhole), covered outdoor seating, live music (typically on weekends), and an on-site bar.
I’ve ordered from all of the food trucks at Route 77 and have loved every dish I’ve ordered.
2023 UPDATE: Sadly, there was a fire at Tru Jamaica and they were temporarily closed the last time this article was updated. You can click on the links in the section below to get the latest updates from their social media on the re-opening status of their restaurant.
One of the best places to eat in Waco is a local restaurant called Tru Jamaica. It’s a local, family-owned restaurant in East Waco that serves delicious plates of Jamaican food.
Now, keep in mind, the family who owns this restaurant is actually from Jamaica, so it’s a pretty authentic Jamaican restaurant. If you’re looking for an American version of it, you probably won’t find it here.
If you’re all about Jamaican cuisine, and you want to experience an authentic locally owned restaurant experience in Waco, then this place is definitely for you!
It’s a great place to stop for lunch, or dinner, so no matter what time of the day you fit it into your Waco schedule, Tru Jamaica will fit just perfectly into your schedule.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Jerk Chicken meal. I’ve also never really been a fan of plantains, but even that was tasty!
You can get to Tru Jamaica pretty easily from downtown Waco by crossing over one of the numerous bridges. You’ll probably also want to spend some time exploring East Waco after you eat some delicious Jamaican food at Tru Jamaica.
Fuego Tortilla Grill
Fuego Tortilla Grill was first opened in College Station, TX which is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Waco. They now operate three locations (all in Texas) and one of them is in Waco, right near Baylor University, directly off the I-35 feeder road.
Fuego Tortilla Grill kind of blends in with about every other fast-food building with a drive-through. The design is identical to a traditional fast-food restaurant.
In fact, the building it’s located at may have even been a prior fast-food joint of some kind.
But Fuego Tortilla Grill isn’t what I would call a fast-food restaurant. I would define it as more of a fast-casual spot.
In fact, even in the drive-through, it’s common to have to wait a while for your food, and when you get it – it’s HOT and DELICIOUS!
The interior is kind of what you would expect the interior of a fast-casual spot to look like. You go up and order your food, then get your drink from the fountain soda dispenser and pick your seat.
If it’s super busy, it can be a little loud inside, too. All in all, it’s a nice, spacious place to go and eat if you want to dine in, but don’t want the full dine-in experience.
There is no wait-staff here; you simply walk up and place your order, then find your seat until your food is ready.
Ok, so the tacos are massive. This isn’t Taco Bell.
It’s rare that I am able to eat more than one taco from Fuego Tortilla Grill, especially if I order any additional sides such as chips and queso.
And even if you aren’t an El Presidente or The Hippie type of person, you can order everything from soups and salads to sides, bowls, vegetarian foods and more.
Di Campli’s Italian Ristorante
One of the best places to eat in Waco was started right in the middle of the madness that was 2020. Somehow it made it through that. Today, Di Campli’s is an extremely popular restaurant in Waco.
In fact, when I did an (unofficial) survey of local Wacoans, Di Campli’s Italian Ristorante was one of the most recommended places to eat in Waco.
Di Campli’s Story
Di Campli’s was started by Massimo and Kristen Di Campli. Massimo was born in Abruzzo, Italy, and helped his family run an Italian restaurant as a youngster living in Italy. Italian cuisine is embedded in his DNA and Di Campli’s is an extension of that.
Di Campli’s Menu Options
This local Waco restaurant is an Italian masterpiece. It features all of the traditional Italian foods that one would expect from an Italian restaurant including, but not limited to:
And a whole lot more!
Di Campli’s is open for lunch and dinner and offers a wide variety of drinks, appetizers and desserts no matter the time of day you go.
For dessert, you might indulge in Gelato, Creme Brulee, Semifreddo, or even Tiramisu.
There’s also a healthy number of drinks (alcoholic and non) to choose from.
Inside Di Campli’s Italian Ristorante
The interior of Di Campli’s is well-designed and you could certainly dress up for dinner when going out for a night of Italian, but don’t let that stop you from bringing the kids. In fact, they have a menu specifically for kids!
Likewise, just because they have a kids menu doesn’t mean it’s not a great spot for a date night. It is absolutely a great place for date night, family night, or even just a solo night out if you’re looking for a great dinner place in Waco and Italian food is on your mind.
Ok, I personally am not a fan of the name, but there IS a good reason for it. The owner, Justin Blalock, earned the nickname “worm” as a kid because he was constantly able to wiggle worm his way in and out of trouble. His friends crowned him with the honor of the nickname “worm”.
As he has grown older, that nickname has stuck around and his nieces and nephews have also adopted use of the term, and lovingly refer to him as “Uncle Worm”.
So, Uncle Worm’s it is!
Needless to say, the food that Justin makes is off-the-charts good.
There’s a reason that Uncle Worm’s is on this list of best places to eat in Waco. In fact, he’s so good at what he does that he could probably make worms taste delicious 😂
While his specialty has long been BBQ and smoked foods, he has diversified over the years and now offers experiences in cuisine beyond the walls of BBQ and smoked food. Today, Uncle Worms restaurant offers a wide-range of “Texas Cuisine” including seafood, Texan-Italian food blends, and yes, he still makes incredible BBQ and smoked foods.
Previously, you had to be invited to a special event where he would be the featured caterer. But now you can enjoy his county-wide famous foods at his brick n’ mortar restaurant, or at his food truck at any number of locations throughout the year in Waco and the surrounding area.
Despite the fact that it’s listed last on this list, Cafe Homestead is one of the best places to eat in Waco. I had wanted to list it almost two years ago, but right when I went to add it to this article – it went up in flames. Literally.
But, nearly 18 months to the day, the community rebuilt Cafe Homestead from the ground up in a new and improved version from what it used to be.
The Original Cafe Homestead Before The Fire
There are still some elements of the old building that were incorporated into the new building, but in general, it’s a larger, more efficient space than what it was before.
That’s good, because with the old building, the wait time could get pretty long. They built the new Cafe Homestead restaurant in a way that increases the amount of tables and seating, and hopefully streamlines operations to improve overall service.
Cafe Homestead currently offers their original lunch and dinner menu, but they also have plans in the near future to expand that as well.
For lunch, you have options that range from quesadilla’s, to corn fritters to salads, steak, chicken, burgers and tacos.
For dinner, they offer Chef specials that change from time to time, along with filet mignon, trout fillet, dumpling pie and much more.
In the reconstruction of the restaurant, they took apart a historic farmhouse in Maryland, and transported the old wood down to Waco, TX and used it to create the new space. Nearly everything in the restaurant, including the chairs, upholstery, tables, etc., are all handmade.
Cafe Homestead isn’t just one of the best places to eat in Waco, it’s also one of the most unique and rewarding dining experiences you can find in the area.