You can find great food in suburban Frisco, just a 25-minute drive from Dallas.

Frisco, Texas (PROMO IMAGE)
Classic tortilla soup is garnished with queso fresco and fresh avocado at Tres Méridas.
| Credit: Art Meripol

We feel that independent restaurants--those mom-and-pop venues with fresh food at reasonable prices--make for the best meals while on vacation. It's important to seek them out, but it's not always easy. Visitors to vibrant Frisco, Texas, could easily get caught up dining on fast food, but those who do so miss some of the best flavors in Texas. Here are our favorites.

Everything that comes out of the Tres Méridas kitchen, which is run by chef Cecilia Hinojosa, is a bite of heaven. This Mexico City native cooked at the prestigious Ritz-Carlton Chicago before gracing Texas with her talents. The menu reads like a culinary journey through Latin America--arepas (stuffed corn cakes), seviche, flautas, enchiladas, cochinita pibil (slow-cooked pork shoulder).

Tender hand-pulled pork nestled in fresh corn masa will become the tamale with which you'll compare all future tamales. Classic tortilla soup is vibrant in color and bold in flavor, and at $4 a bowl, how can you go wrong? Every dish is beautifully presented. One of my favorites is the tostones, fried plantains mashed and topped with ground beef, herb aïoli, homemade salsas, and fresh cheese. The tres leches (three-milk) cake is cold and sweet--a perfect finish to Ritz cuisine at strip mall prices. 2809 Preston Road, Suite 1200; (972) 334-0937. Soups and salads: $3-$9, entrées: $10-$22.

Double-Dip Frozen Custard
This family-friendly eatery definitely brightens up the town. Candy-colored walls and sliding garage doors draw you in for the not-to-be-missed old-fashioned double-dip custard. Ask owners Lloyd and Nancy Sheets for recommendations, and they'll tell you everything is good. And they're right. Among the most popular choices are the Grasshopper Sundae (fresh custard, creamy mint topping, and a scoop of Oreos), strawberry shortcake, and Caliche's (blend of chocolate or vanilla custard with a choice of toppings from caramel and peaches to toasted coconut and cookie dough).

If you want to start with something savory, try one of the famous all-beef hot dogs, which comes split down the middle and served on a wheat bun. I also liked the Frito Pie--fresh corn chips topped with homestyle chili and cheese served in a plastic foam container. Sip on a cool fresh-squeezed limeade or an old-fashioned soda. 7511 Main Street; (972) 377-8668. Sundaes and Caliche's: $4.25-$5.85; hot dogs: $3-$3.25; quart of custard: $6.85.

Randy White's Hall of Fame BBQ
Texans love their cowboys and their barbecue. At Randy White's you get two in one. Grab a tray, and choose from the Hall of Flame Smoked Meats. The ribs and hot link sausage are perfect with a side of spicy jalapeño pinto beans. There's also brisket (sliced or chopped) and pulled pork. Most can be served on sandwiches. For the non-carnivores, they serve a mess of cornmeal battered catfish fillets (deep-fried, of course) with a side of hush puppies. For tailgating parties, pick up one of their paks, which feed a multitude of hungry fans. 8999 Main Street; (972) 377-0540 or Barbecue: $10.54 per pound, all-you-can-eat: $15.54.

This article is from the September 2004 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.