Springtime for Dallas and Plano with Tequila and Chili at Red's Patio Grill

Spring's awakening. The city returns to life after winter's long slumber. Of course, March means college basketball and St. Patrick's Day, but it also means the start of patio season, the all-too-brief time when we can dine alfresco between snow and scorch. There are plenty of patios to take advantage of perfect weather, but some are simply better than others, offering more space and better views.

Thus, my lovely wife and I often repair to Red's Patio Grill, which boasts a large, spacious outdoor spot overlooking a small lake with swans. A far better choice for us than the tiny porches you often get, too close to the street where it is too easy to sample noxious exhaust fumes.

When you enter Red's, you would swear you were in New Braunfels: Gorgeous Hill Country stone everywhere. Dark woods. Plenty of room on the patio where, most likely, you will see kids gawking at the swans and other birds and trying to get their attention. My wife and I were seated immediately, and given copies of the menu and extensive list of drinks.

One of the first rules of Red's is that you should take plenty of time studying the drink menu, particularly if you are a fan of tequilas. Red's features one of the largest selections in town, including ten different tequila flights, and lots of specialty margaritas. My companion chose El Don, made with Don Eduardo 100% blue agave anejo tequila, and laced with Cointreau. Bracing, not sweet, which is how we prefer it. My own selection was a tribute to the Red Rocker himself: The Caborita, made with Cabo Wabo (Sammy Hagar's tequila enterprise) blue agave and Cointreau. Also bracing, although this time it was made a little sweeter than usual.  Specialty margaritas here are pricey but truly worth it.

Foodwise, Red's seems to have settled on a formula that works: Keep the signature dishes, and periodically test the waters with newcomers like mango quesadillas. My wife loves quesadillas and considered the mango version, but decided to go with fire-roasted chicken instead. Like many places these days, Red's uses a wood-fired rotisserie oven, and I was really able to taste the flame on the hand-seasoned chicken, which blended well with the manchego cheese, tomatoes and chiles. They were served with a good avocado cream sauce, but I would have preferred a chunkier guacamole instead.

I selected an appetizer as well, Double Cheese Potato Cakes, paired with a bowl of Red's Signature Chili. The Yukon Gold potato cakes were laced with parmesan and cheddar cheeses and jalapenos and were both crunchy and fluffy, so good that I would heartily recommend choosing them as one of your sides when ordering a burger or sandwich.

​Red's chili is pure old-school Texan, mostly shredded beef and spices, and served with sides of cheddar cheese, diced red onions, fresh jalapenos, and a lunchbox-size bag of Fritos so you can make your own Frito Pie if you wish. Thoroughly satisfying, particularly with the salty bite and the lime from the Caborita, and reminiscent of chili guru Frank X Tolbert.

Service is always pleasant, but on this occasion our waiter did not check back with us until well after we had finished eating. No matter, it just means more time to watch swans cavorting in the lake and to ponder spring's awakening anew.

Red's Patio Grill
4005 Preston Rd, Ste 512
Plano, TX 75093
469 229-0098

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Chris Meesey