What to Eat (And Drink) in Denton During Oaktopia Festival

Nearly 100 bands will entertain Denton at Oaktopia this weekend. In between the nonstop assault of music, art and culture, you're probably going to get hungry. Chances are you'll get pretty thirsty, too. Man can't live on beer alone (we know, we tried), and if you don't know your way around Denton, you might lose valuable time — and even more valuable money — seeking out sustenance instead of enjoying the festivities. With such a killer music line-up, it'd be a shame to miss a set because you're waiting around for mediocre eats in a town that's flush with great food. Let us be your guide to dining around Little D with this list of our favorite things to eat and drink around the square. These spots are both quality eateries and conveniently located in walking distance from fest venues. 

A Fried Chicken Biscuit
940’s Kitchen and Cocktails, 219 W. Oak St., Denton
Hypnotic Donuts & Biscuits, 235 W. Hickory St., Denton

There are few things more simple and satisfying than a fried chicken and biscuit breakfast, nor anything quite as traditional; southerners have been pairing fried chicken with varying forms of quick breads for centuries. Fortunately for us, Denton does not lack in chicken biscuit options. Our favorite lives at 940's Kitchen and Cocktails and only exists on the weekend brunch menu. A massive boneless chicken breast, breaded and deep-fried, is served atop a flaky peppered biscuit and smothered with chipotle bourbon queso and a sunny-side up egg. Pair that bad boy with a peppered bloody mary for an indulgent brunch.  

Hypnotic Donuts also serves multiple iterations of the chicken biscuit, from the traditional to what can only be described as “eclectic stoner-inspired chicken biscuit mash-up.” The Olivia is your classic chicken biscuit with honey, larger than your standard fast-food sandwich but still compact enough to hold in your hand while driving. The Jim is a sweet and spicy Franken-breakfast with breaded chicken served on a sliced, inverted glazed doughnut with optional sriracha. The glaze melts off the doughnut and onto the hot chicken. What it lacks in portability it makes up for in calories.

Brekkies in Bed
Brekkies, (delivery out of Seven Mile Cafe) 529 Bolivar St., Denton
Brunch is awesome — but it's even better when you can have it delivered straight to your door. If you're massively hungry but too hungover to move, it's Brekkies to the rescue. Operating out of Seven Mile Cafe, this delivery-only venture fulfills a much-needed service in a city that still struggles to expand its delivery food options beyond pizza. Menu options will feel familiar to Seven Mile regulars, but keep in mind these dishes are purpose-built to survive their 10-minute delivery window. In place of fragile poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, you'll find pulled pork tacos served inside buttermilk pancake wraps with scrambled eggs and a bourbon cherry coulis. The Aloha chicken sandwich is a giant fried chicken breast on an oversized biscuit with candied bacon and a sweet and smoky adobo pineapple salsa. For the time being, orders can only be placed online through ChowNow.

A Massive Meat Plate
Barley & Board, 100 W. Oak St., Denton
Rooster's Roadhouse, 113 Industrial St., Denton

Denton may be a small university town but we’re still Texans, so when it comes to meat, we still say go big or go home hungry. The Sweet Pig and Angry Bird at Barley & Board is a half rack of barbecued pork ribs topped with their famous brazen quail, a full deboned bird coated in brown sugar and cayenne pepper and fried to a devilish crunch. Served on a board with creamy coleslaw and their signature house-made pickles, this is your classic barbecue dish dressed in a tuxedo. Barley & Board also touts a great selection of sharable small plates, an impressive selection of craft cocktails and beers on tap, and killer burgers.

If you're looking for more of a blue collar experience, head on down the street to Rooster’s Roadhouse. Their Pit Sandwich is an all-in-one barbecue sampler platter. It comes piled high with sliced brisket, pulled pork and smoked sausage, all smothered with barbecue sauce and a smoky pico on Texas toast. Can you say "meat coma" with your mouth full?

Queso from a Hidden Taco Truck
Coup D'etaco, 331 E Hickory St. (inside Harvest House), Denton
Oaktopia is bringing boatloads of taco trucks to our neck of the woods, but those in search of the best queso in town must seek out the hidden taco truck of cheesy destiny. Coup D’etaco is Harvest House’s resident food truck, serving Asian fusion tacos from their permanent porch spot inside the bar’s patio area. Though their tacos are adventurous (think twice-cooked pork belly with ginger slaw), their queso is rustic and spicy, not the Velveeta crockpot mess you’d get at a predictable Tex-Mex joint. It’s served with a decent portion of thick, crunchy tortilla chips, hefty enough to withstand intense queso/salsa piling. Speaking of salsa, theirs is pretty good, so order both and double up on your chip bounty. If meat isn’t your thing, Coup D’etaco also has vegetarian-friendly options like a fried avocado taco and a sweet potato quinoa taco that wanders towards the spicy side.

Secret Oaktopia-Themed Donuts
Back Dough at Queenie's Steakhouse, 115 E. Hickory St. (around the side of the building), Denton
After enjoying a bowl full of secret queso, head over to the side door of Queenie’s steakhouse for secret doughnuts from the Back Dough. On Friday and Saturday nights, from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. (or until they sell out), Chef Tony Neglia serves gourmet doughnuts straight from the kitchen door after dinner service ends. Each week features a handful of sweet and savory options from a seemingly endless parade of fried flavor-creations, each one is treated to the same epicurean presentation one would expect from Denton’s high-end steakhouse. The Elvis is crammed full of peanut butter cream and topped with fresno chile cream and a brûlée'd banana. The luxurious chocolate mousse doughnut is topped with luxardo cherries, and there’s a candied lemon slice atop the blackberry lemon curd doughnut. To celebrate Oaktopia, Chef Tony Neglia will feature a surprise festival-themed doughnut for this weekend only. Make sure to show up early; the line can grow to about 20-deep, depending on the time. And bring cash — doughnuts are $4 a piece and Back Dough accepts actual dough only.

Caffeinated Beverages
Jupiter House Coffee, 106 N. Locust St., Denton
West Oak Coffee Bar, 114 W. Oak St., Denton

If you're looking for a caffeinated pick-me-up, there are two convenient options on the square to choose from, each with their own ambiance. Jupiter House is a long-standing local favorite, and probably your best bet if you're short on time or money. In addition to standard coffee options, Jupiter House also offers traditional and vegan baked goods, fresh-pressed juices, smoothies and bagels. It's an affordable, approachable coffee house with a solid undergraduate art student vibe.

Around the corner, West Oak Coffee bar is Jupiter House's older, more distinguished sibling with a grad degree in literature and a well-groomed beard. In addition to an expertly made latte, West Oak has a full kitchen, serving a solid breakfast/brunch/lunch menu until 3 p.m., along with an impressive selection of in-house made pies and cookies all day. West Oak Coffee Bar pours a mean latte, but if high-octane caffeine isn't your thing, try the new taro latte, a caffeine-free concoction of steamed milk and bright purple taro powder. Taro is a naturally sweet, potato-like root vegetable that serves as a cooking staple in many tropical areas of the world. Its slightly sweet, nutty flavor and purplish hue make for an exotic yet soothing nightcap. 

Jupiter House has more seating and better Wi-Fi, but West Oak has a warmer, well-curated craftsman-inspired dining room and slick patio seating. Jupiter House sources their coffee locally from Distant Lands in Tyler, Texas; West Oak brews only Arkansas' Onyx Coffee Lab. Both make excellent coffee and are staffed by friendly, competent Dentonites — which shop you prefer just depends on what you're looking for in a coffee house. 

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