The ongoing population explosion in Williamson County presents great opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to seize a large slice of the pie – the restaurant revenue pie, that is. And this is music to the ears of residents of Williamson County. These new kids on the block are competing with national chains to win your loyalty and patronage.

As restaurants continue to pop up in their communities, residents and visitors are presented with an array of diverse dining options. With so many eateries to choose from, there’s no longer a need to join in the congested parade of vehicles on I-35 to Austin in search of great food and a pleasant atmosphere.

Since they are only a stone’s throw away, why make the drive when you don’t need to? And if you wish to celebrate a special occasion that requires hiring a sitter, you can shave one hour off of the time clock.

Residents in the communities of Williamson Country come from a diverse background. If you are craving chicken fried steak, pizza and burgers, you are in luck. Even if you are on a disciplined quest to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet, nearly all of these restaurants offer fresh vegetable plates or an entrée salad. And if your appetite is for anything from sushi to a savory homestyle prepared meal, we’ve got you covered; you are only a short jaunt away from a feast that will satisfy your taste buds and quench your thirst. Want a place to connect with

friends after work? There are plenty of watering holes in the valley where you can enjoy a cocktail, glass of wine, margarita, or an ice-cold beer.

Each of the restaurants have invested time not only in perfecting their menus, but they are also committed to ensuring that the memorabilia and decorations reflect their fare. Appearances, ambiance, and atmosphere are just as important to creating a memorable dining experience as anything at the bar or in the kitchen. Eating barbecue from a wooden table and sitting on a solid wood chair is part of the charm.

Rare and Well Done in Cedar Park

In Cedar Park you have a wide variety of restaurant options nearby that provide a dynamic combination of genuine value and delicious food. As much as you may enjoy fajitas or barbecue, there are times you may have an appetite for something international. We can save you the expense of an airline ticket by recommending you visit local restau- rants that have managed to capture the essence of savory meals that originated in foreign lands.

Saving a Tex-Mex Seat for You

This is another entrepreneurial success story that will make you want to give a tip of your sombrero to those at Dos Salsas Tex-Mex restaurant. In 1999, a 17-year-old young man arrived in the Lone Star State all alone. Eager to earn his own way, he took a job in Austin at a popular restaurant as a dishwasher, busboy and cook. Over the years, he learned valuable tricks of the restaurant trade. His professionalism and skills eventually landed him the job as kitchen manager. There were still rungs on that ladder for him to climb – and he did. The young man was later promoted to quality control director and was responsible for more than 25 restaurants in Texas.

After acquiring so many essential skills, he left to launch out on his own. With the support of his loving family, he opened Dos Salsas, first in Georgetown and then in Cedar Park.

Stop by Monday through Friday for lunch and enjoy the amazing Dos Salsas flautas, crispy or soft tacos, tostadas, pork tamales, enchiladas and more. In the evenings, you can taste for yourself how the kitchen chefs have mastered taquitos, tortilla soup, stuffed jalapenos, Guacamole dip, or queso flameados – melted Monterey Jack cheese served flaming at your table. No need to worry if you are looking for something low carb on the menu. Their grilled chicken breasts or tilapia are just two items that can be low in carbs yet incredibly delicious.

Sushi Heaven

If you are still in the mood for Asian food, there’s the incredible Takara Sushi and Asian Bistro restaurant. For an appetizer, you can begin with their seven spice calamari or edamame. Or you can sample the master chef’s specialty appetizers such as a Q-blossom – a thin slice of refreshing cucumber wrapped around crab kanikama and avocado in a lime-infused cream essence. Moving along to the main course you can select from freshwater eel, flying fish caviar, octopus, squid, Japanese sea urchin or albacore tuna. The specialty rolls include ingredients such as snow crab, seared scallop, panko-crusted soft shell crab, bluefin fatty tuna, avocado, cucumber, oven-baked eel and a host of others that must be tasted to be believed. And to quench your thirst, you can select from their 200 wines on hand.

The Best of Moonie’s

The history of Moonie’s Burger House is one of those feel-good success stories about an entrepreneur who had a dream and worked diligently to make it happen. The establishment began as a single venue in 2007 with a goal of serving the best burgers in Cedar Park. Once word got out about the juicy flavor in each bite, patrons began to come in droves. In the past decade, Moonie’s has emerged into a gourmet burger haven, and they now have three locations.

Hill Country News has presented Moonie’s Burger House with nine consecutive annual awards for the best burger. They have expanded their menu to include shakes and new sides. The philosophy is to encourage patrons to “dine in,” and they even offer coupons to that effect. The reasoning is because it gives patrons a warm sense of community. And if customers are at their tables, Moonie’s friendly wait staff can give them top-notch service. After some renovation, Moonie’s now offers outdoor seating, a kid’s play space complete with arcade games, as well as free table games.

Georgetown Eateries

Monument Café

Round up a group of friends and head over to the Monument Café for lunch, a roadside joint for lunch where you can saunter up to the counter and order a Texas-sized glass of cold iced tea. Or sample some of their freshly squeezed juices. No matter which homestyle item you choose from their menu, you can be guaranteed it will be made from scratch using fresh vegetables – never frozen.

Many are organically grown. Their eggs are hand-gathered straight from a farm, and their meats are all natural. Their emphasis is serving their patrons flavorful and unprocessed food, which is why everything they serve is cooked in their own kitchen. Their current structure was designed to resemble an early-twentieth-century small-town café. And in a casual atmosphere where the wait staff is friendly, they want you to leave happy. Since their prices are so reasonable, that’s almost guaranteed.

Uptown Social

Many people consider pizza to be its own special food group. And some believe it should be elevated to the top of the food pyramid. If you want to sample some stellar pizza loaded with everything from olives to oregano, then you should consider making a pilgrimage to Uptown Social. You can create your own New York-style thin crust pizza and load it with some of their many available toppings: meats, veggies, cheeses and their own specialty toppings. The Uptown Social chefs create their own unique dough and tomato sauce from scratch and bake their pizza pies in stone deck ovens.

This classy retreat is located on the top floor of Tamiro Plaza near downtown Georgetown Square. Some of the amenities you will enjoy are a full bar, live music, gluten free ingredients and outdoor seating. And when you live in Texas, you can enjoy the view from the terrace most days of the year. The patio encompasses 4,000 square feet of space for you to mingle in, which also provides you with unbeatable 360-degree views of the Historic Courthouse Square and the rolling San Gabriel River.

If you prefer the indoors, the sweeping lounge area has eight flat-screen televisions and ample bar seating. Additionally, a private dining room is available for use for meetings or events.

Wildfire Restaurant

Wildfire Restaurant in the heart of historic Georgetown raises the bar in fine dining. They offer a taste of sophistication, impec- cable service and tantalizing food. It’s so scrumptious that even Southern Living is impressed. They said, “Wildfire puts spice in dining.” And Time magazine states is an article that Wildfire grill is a reason to move to Georgetown. If you haven’t yet had a chance to treat your taste buds to some of Wildfire’s savory food, perhaps you should add it to your bucket list.

Even before the food meets your lips, you will find amusement in their creatively written menu. Seafood is categorized as “From the Waters.” And their wines, including top shelf, are listed under “End of the Trail.”

Lights, Camera, Action in Hutto

Once upon a time in the West – actually it was in the city of Hutto – Hollywood came calling. TV producers were looking for the perfect saloon-type scene for a recurring role in episodes of “From Dusk till Dawn” starring Don Johnson. Once they eyed The Texan Café, they stopped dead in their tracks. After all, if you are looking for an authentic yet inexpensive place to stage a production, then Hutto fits the bill.

Pies are supposed to be reserved for an after-dinner delight. But once you sink your teeth into a legendary slice of one of their masterpieces, you may decide to dine in reverse order. And who could blame you? There’s a chocolate covered cherry pie, lemon drop pie, Oreo cookie pie, S’more pie, turtle pie, chocolate fudge pie, German chocolate pie and a peppermint patty pie. The specialty? Brandy apple pie a la mode served on a cast iron skillet. Drooling is appropriate.

Still working backward with the menu, you can select a juicy grilled breast of chicken smothered with sautéed mushrooms and shrimp. Or you may be in the mood for a smokehouse special of sausage and pork ribs and two sides. Then there’s the down-home delight of grilled pork chops. And since Hutto is fairly close to the Gulf of Mexico, you can be sure they have a large catch of catfish and shrimp on hand.

Pass the BBQ Sauce in Leander

Farm to Fork

The name of this restaurant tells you a great deal about their philosophy. The chefs acquire natural, locally grown organic and non-GMO produce from farmers after harvesting. They believe sustainable crops provide the best food for our health, and their patronage also keeps local farms flourishing. These natural ingredients are whipped up to provide patrons with a Texas southern homestyle cuisine with a dash of a French flare. Since some crops are only seasonal, their menu items are subject to change.

Some of the items on their menu include grilled Portobello mushroom panini, beef tenderloin sandwich, Reuben, a turkey BLT wrap and more. Farm to Fork is also proud to offer Central Texas brewed beer, such as Messina Hof.

Mouton Southern Bistro – Leander

Louisiana may be known for its classic Cajun food, but Mouton’s Southern Bistro is breathing down their neck. For the past five years, they have been appealing to more and more customers with their friendly social atmosphere and menu items that sizzle with a hint of French Creole. They prepare every item on their menu in their own kitchen. Many recipes have been handed down for the past few generations. They are appreciative that their loyal customer base enjoys their culture of family, fellowship and great food.

Some of these items that rank high as crowd pleasers are their Cajun specialties: shrimp jambalaya, burgers and po-boys. There’s also their smoked prime rib dinners, soups and salads, grits, pasta and chicken fried steak. To prove they are family-friendly, kids can eat free all day on Monday.

Smokey Mo’s BBQ

No matter how you slice it, Smokey Mo’s BBQ is a cut above the rest. As a family owned and operated restaurant, they are dedicated to serving up lean brisket, tender chicken and flavorful sausage. Those who have chosen Smokey Mo’s as a dining destination say it’s a rich blend of generous plates of tasty food and a family-friendly, casual atmosphere.

Smokey Mo’s serves the early crowd heaping breakfast tacos and wraps along with piping-hot coffee or fresh juice. Then there’s the lunch crowd. If you use your imagination, you can almost envision them riding up on their horses, saddling them to the hitching post then wiping their feet at the door. The menu items include large barbeque plates of brisket or pork ribs. If you are hosting a gathering at your own saloon, you can carry-out a meal by the pound. Or if you are short on time, a friendly Smokey Mo’s team member will gladly cater to those within the vicinity. And if you desire a mile-high sandwich piled with luscious slices of sliced beef that’s dripping with barbeque sauce, the staff at Smokey Mo’s are at your service. And don’t forget about their delicious baked potatoes or chopped bakers.

Pull up a Chair in Round Rock

While Texas is a mecca for Mexican cuisine, other venues dot the landscape. Regardless of which type of food you are craving, you are sure to find a delicious meal to satisfy your appetite.

Those who are infatuated with chips and chili con queso can select from Chuy’s, Morelia’s or Torchy’s Tacos. The friendly wait staff will deliver generous platters of onion-sautéed sizzling fajitas to your table, with sides of guacamole and sour cream. Steaming fresh flour tortillas are just waiting to be filled with shredded cheese and some of the best beef and chicken and authentic pico de gallo in Texas.

Margaritas are a specialty in Tex-Mex establishments, or there are plenty of other beverages on hand, including freshly brewed iced tea. But every evening, it’s common to see happy, smiling patrons with a cold beer or a cocktail from their well-stocked bars.

Cover 3

Cover 3 is a quaint place known for three things: dining, spirits and sports. Austin already has two locations, and they’ve been so successful that management decided to invest in a venue in Round Rock.

Cover 3 caters to fans who want delicious food, a social atmosphere and enough space to cozy up to a bar for a cold drink. Be advised, this is not your typical sports bar where food is almost an afterthought. The appetizers are shareable bar bites such as calamari and batter fried shrimp and oysters. Top off your culinary experience with a slice of luscious Key lime pie or cheesecake. Patrons can sink into comfortable leather chairs and watch their favorite games on huge flat-screen TVs.

Chandeliers overhead add an extra touch of class. Hospitality is the name of the game, and Cover 3’s got you covered!

Dining in Jack Allen’s Kitchen

If you are in the mood for more refined, southwestern-inspired cuisine, you can’t go wrong at Jack Allen’s Kitchen. This restaurant redefines dining. Jack Gilmore, the owner and chef, and his team are culinary whizzes who can always whip

up a flavorful plate for you, whether it’s a New York Strip Steak or a mouthwatering grilled ruby trout. They are personally involved in acquiring the best produce from local farms to ensure that only the best reaches your table.

Patron’s will have their thirsts quenched by Jack’s exquisite blend of cocktails that are destined to complement your meal. Hopefully you can manage to save room for one of their stunning desserts. Jack Allen’s Kitchen is the perfect setting to satisfy your cravings.

Rockin’ Donuts and Cakes

We would be remiss without presenting information for those with a sweet tooth. Or two. Round Rock Donuts isn’t just a place that can delight your senses in the morning; they also prepare some of the most beautiful cakes in the Lone Star State. This bakery has changed hands many times since 1926. The current proprietors purchased it in 1978. They believe the secret sauce, so to speak, is in the yeast. While owners have transferred the deed on six occasions, the recipe remains the same. According to the owners, the donuts originate from a bread-like dough. And these yeast donuts are not machine made; the dough must be hand rolled, cut and fried. And then, those blissful toppings are added to the marvel- ously rich icing. Round Rock Donuts has the capacity to hand-produce 200 dozen of these heavenly donuts daily.