Beyond Magnolia: The Carrots Guide to Waco

My family has lived in Waco a total of 9 years (5 in the college years and then 4 years since our return to Texas!). Since we first moved here in 2004, so much has changed. Waco has recovered from decades of struggle and grown by leaps and bounds during our time here. It has become a destination town!

I get asked all the time for recommendations of what to do during a trip to Waco and now with our Raspberry Cordial Gathering coming up next weekend, I’m finally taking the time to write it all out! I hope it’s helpful.

Beyond Magnolia

Everybody knows about the Fixer Upper stuff and the Magnolia Silos. To be perfectly honest, the Gaines’s Empire isn’t really my thing–although Chip and Joanna seem to be lovely folks. So this is a guide to the other stuff–the restaurants and must sees beyond Magnolia.

Good Food

Once upon a time, great food was scarce in Waco. Not so anymore! There are so many spots where you can get fabulous food. Here’s a few of my very favorites:

Milo All Day

Fantastic food. Milo is my first recommendation when people are in town. It’s southern cuisine at it’s finest and fanciest. On the pricey side!

Rufi’s Cocina

We live in walking distance to Rufi’s which is a mercy because if our car ever breaks down we can still get to the best Mexican food in town. Michoacan dishes, family-owned, hole-in-the-wall. Try the chilaquiles and plan to spend plenty of time because your meal is being tenderly crafted and it will be worth it.

Harvest on 25th

Fresh, delicious, locally-sourced food. A great option if you have food allergies. Lovely atmosphere.

Moroso

Craving Italian? Look no further than this wood fired pizzeria. The pizza is splendid and so is the pasta.

Lula Jane’s

A darling cafe/bakery with the best cakes in town. They also make my veggie burger of all time. Charming and located in the up and coming Elm Ave district.

Bangkok Royal

Delicious Thai food located in downtown Waco. Everything on the menu is good.

Helados la Azteca

Recently opened on Colcord Ave. Mexican ice cream, drinks, and treats.

World Cup Cafe

Great breakfast. Also houses a fair trade market.

Cafe Cappuccino

Great pancakes (and gluten-free pancakes available, too!) Decor in their downtown location looks like it’s straight out of the 1999 dELiA*s catalogue.

Heritage Creamery

Right by Baylor. Innovative and delicious ice cream flavors and charming aesthetic.

Guess Family BBQ

On the pricier end for BBQ but so good.

Tony de Maria’s BBQ

Classic Waco BBQ.

Krispy Chicken

Looking for casual? Like….doesn’t even have inside seating casual? We go here on dates when there’s a sleeping baby in the car and eat the most comforting fried chicken you can imagine. A true gem on Franklin Ave.

Clay Pot

Vietnamese fare. Great updated location since moving from their old space by Baylor.

Baked Bliss

Yummy pastries and treats with gluten-free options! Outside seating only. Best cinnamon rolls in town.

Cafe Homestead

Up for a little drive? Homestead Heritage in Gholson has great food and you can walk around to shop their pottery and woodworking.

The Olive Branch

Great brunch spot! Their harvest salad is a treasure. And I hear their Kouign Amann is great.

Coffee

Pinewood Roasters

Great coffee, fabulous atmosphere, and the perfect spot to study, read or work. Of all the Waco coffee spots, this is my favorite by a mile.

Common Grounds Coffee

Right next to Baylor and a Waco classic.

Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits

Downtown spot with a coffee bar and a cocktail bar. Go upstairs to the second floor and enjoy a great view of downtown!

Drinks

Barnett’s

Barnett’s Public House

Downton pub with great food.

The Dancing Bear Pub

A great haunt, walking distance from Baylor.

Pinewood Public House

Connected to the lovely Pinewood Roasters, Pinewood Pub has a great vibe in Uptown.

Brotherwell Brewing

Local Waco brewery on Elm Ave. They also have this cool street art of Victor Hugo.

Sights

Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market

If you’re in town on a Saturday morning, this is a must do! Food trucks galore, great vendors, a delight!

Suspension Bridge

Sadly, the bridge is closed for the next two year’s, but it’s a historic sight! For the time being can at least see all the cow statues (which you probably shouldn’t climb but…we did.)

Cameron Park

Cameron Park is the second largest municipal park in the country. Trails, playgrounds, and more to explore.

Miss Nellie’s Pretty Place is covered with wildflowers in the spring. Lover’s Leap is also a favorite spot.

If you’re up for a climb, try Jacob’s Ladder.

Cameron Park Zoo

If you’re traveling with kids (or not!), this zoo is perfect for a couple of hours of fun. It’s the biggest tourist destination in Waco after Magnolia!

Lake Waco

Perfect swimming spot in the summertime!

Balcones Distilling

Go on a tour of home of the original Texas whisky! Enjoy a cocktail in their tasting room!

St. Francis on the Brazos

Beautiful historic church built in the style of the Spanish mission churches.

St. Louis Catholic Church

This mid-century Catholic church is home to some of the most beautiful stained-glass you will ever see!

Baylor’s Armstrong-Browning Library

Speaking of stained glass, from what I understand, this stunning library has the most stained glass of any secular building. It is lovely! It houses artifacts from the lives of poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and there’s a rumor that one of the rooms inspired the ballroom in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

The Mayborn Museum

A great children’s museum featuring history and the natural sciences!

The Alico Building

If you’re downtown at all, you’ll notice it on the Waco skyline. Once the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, the Alico building survived the devastating tornado of 1952.

The Hippodrome

A historic movie theatre that has been beautifully restored. You can grab a movie and order a meal while you’re at it–but in my experience the management/service is lacking.

Shopping

Spice Village

60 specialty shops under one roof in downtown Waco.

Wildland Supply Co.

Beautiful selection of jewelry by Waco artist Ellen Mote.

Fabled Bookshop and Cafe

My number one recommendation for gifts in Waco. This treasure is a whimsical literary delight. Beautiful bookshop with a great cafe so you can grab a cup of coffee while you peruse the bookshelves. Their children’s section is a treasure and you enter it through a wardrobe door filled with fur coats.

Did I miss anything? Enjoy your time in Waco!

Beyond Magnolia: The Carrots Guide to Waco