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Celina, Texas Restaurants -My Top 4 List 2024

Updated: Jan 30

Celina, Texas restaurants are very popular for several reasons: first, there is a large lunch crowd that is related to the fast growth of Celina, TX. and second, due to the large numbers of Celina, TX. families that love to eat out for dinner. The good news is that there are so many places to eat in Celina now. But which ones should you grace with your presence and your appetite? Let us help you with that.

As a Celina, Texas Realtor who also happens to LIVE in Celina (yep, there are some so called Celina, Texas "real estate specialists" that DON'T live in Celina) I am very aware of the different Celina, Texas restaurants and all that they have to offer! Now understand this, my list is in no particular order; it is simply four of my favorite restaurants in Celina, Texas. Period. My hopes are that you will use this "Celina, Texas Restaurants" Top Four List as a sort of guide, if you will. And, I'd love to hear from you too. Have you already eaten at some of my top four? Comment and let me know. Or, do you know about another restaurant that I need to try? Tell me about that in the comments as well!

Now, let's get started.

Celina, Texas Restaurants: Tender Smokehouse

224 W, Pecan, Celina, 469-202-3000

I'm a very traditional guy. I like my meat and potatoes and not much more. Perhaps that is why Tender Smokehouse is one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Celina, Texas. Started in 2017 by a group of five restauranteurs, this place is absolutely one of the top barbecue restaurants in DFW. What makes it so great? Well, I could write a book on that, but here's the basic list:

  1. Recipes & techniques that yield some of the best tasting Texas BBQ, brisket and sausage I've ever tasted. And, I've traveled many states in the south testing southern barbecue, all the way from The Salt Lick in Driftwood Texas to the best Nashville, Tennessee has to offer and everything in-between.

  2. There are places that "claim" to have a small town feel and then there "are" the places that have a small town feel. Tender Smokehouse in Celina, Texas has the authentic, small town feel.

  3. Of course the meats served at Tender Smokehouse are excellent. But, the sides? Just get ready for something that will make your face smile and your tastebuds dance. Billed as "from scratch" sides, they alone would be reason enough to go to Tender Smokehouse and eat there.

  4. The mindset of the ownership. They have a 5, Five, Cinco mission that means, five owners, no more than five ingredients in anything they serve and five primary meats. I love it.

There was a time when the small building that Tender Smokehouse calls home was a small diner called the Bobcat Cafe where all the old-timers used to hang out. I love that because the building itself has history. So many mornings I would see all of the old men from Celina gather there, swap stories and drink their coffee. Now, I get to go there with my family and have some of the best meals around. To think that the old Bobcat Cafe building would one day be one of the best barbecue joints in the country (second best in the country according to Yelp) is amazing. Personally, I think Yelp was off by one. But, that's me and I'm slightly biased!

Now, let's talk food. In the past, and at other local-to-the-area barbecue places, the meats are of variable quality. On some days the meat is perfectly good and others, not so much. This phenomena is not one that I have experienced at Tender Smokehouse. In fact, the food is always the same: excellent.

My personal favorites are the chopped beef sandwich (not the lean version, but I can't make myself type the "M" word) or the spare ribs or the jalapeño cheddar sausage. My favorite sides are the Mac and cheese and the potato salad. Im sure there are other things on the menu, and I'm sure they are as amazing as my favorites, BUT, I just can't get past these go-to choices of mine.

What about atmosphere? I mean, that is important too, right? Yes, it is. And at Tender Smokehouse you will absolutely love the atmosphere. There is a small patio area complete with corn hole games, picnic tables, a "ring and hook" game as well as some piggy artwork to look at.

Inside, the ordering area is fast and efficient with the menu posted on chalkboard type signs. After ordering, taking a seat in the dining room will net you a cozy experience with a real small town feel to it. Of course, the sweet tea is self served so that you can help yourself to as much as you want to go with your meal.

Yes, Tender Smokehouse is one of my favorite places to eat in Celina and although they have other locations in Frisco and Aubrey, I prefer the Celina location for all of it's originality, deliciousness and atmosphere. I think YOU will love it just as much as I do.


Celina, Texas Restaurants: Lucy's On The Square

127 N. Ohio, Celina, 972-382-1212

As many people know, I started working in Celina, Texas as a police officer. That was a long time ago, in the early 90's. Back then, there was a restaurant on the square called Bill Y Bobs. I really liked that place and went there often. Today, the same space is still a restaurant but now it's called Lucy's On The Square.

The fact is, I love me some Lucy's On The Square. The menu at Lucy's On The Square is what many people call "comfort food" but to me, it's what I grew up eating. You can find everything from fried green tomatoes to chicken fried steak. There are salads, breakfast items, brunch, even a little Tex-Mex if you want it. For me, it's the Punk's Meatloaf every time. Named after Punk Carter, a local Celina, Texas legend, this bacon wrapped meatloaf is excellent. Of course, I ask for two sides of mashed potatoes to go with it. Ya, two. Don't judge me.

Just want a quick drink and appetizers? No problemo! There is a small, cozy bar area in Lucy's On The Square where they can whip up just about any drink you want and then match it with something from the appetizers menu that includes either fried: pickles, paperback cheese, mushrooms or green tomatoes, or chips and salsa, I've had each of their appetizer choices and they are all fantastic.

If you choose to do breakfast at Lucy's On The Square, you'll find all of the traditional favorites from eggs (any style), bacon, sausage, chicken and waffles, French toast, pancakes and more. And yes, I've been to Lucy's for breakfast and had the pancakes with bacon and eggs. Yep, it's GOOD.

How about atmosphere at Lucy's On The Square? Suffice it to say that it is very "Texas." What I mean is that the place is decorated with all sorts of local things from street signs to old farm equipment to old Coke bottles, Texas themed stars and more. In my experience, this is what a small town diner is supposed to be like. The waitstaff is super friendly, the environment is relaxed and the food is good!

I would encourage you to try Lucy's On The Square and if you like meatloaf, give Punk's Meatloaf a try. As for a double side of mashed potatoes, well, that's up to you. Ill bet there is nothing on the menu that you won't like!


Celina, Texas Restaurants: Toasted Walnut

304 W. Walnut, Celina, 469-202-3110

One of my favorite places to go for a date dinner or when I am having a business meeting at a Celina, Texas restaurant is the Toasted Walnut. Technically, it's the Toasted Walnut Table And Market, but I prefer to just call it the Toasted Walnut. Mind you, there is also a small retail area in the front of the restaurant, but that's not what I go there for. It's the hot pimento cheese -but, more on that in a bit.

Chef Joey as he is known is the talent behind the taste. Bringing such dishes as Hot Pimento Cheese Dip, Elote Style Corn Dip and house made hummus to the appetizer selection, Chef Joey shows us early on that he knows what he is doing. And you would do well to stop right there, but, you won't be able to. The all day menu is so good that you'll be jumping straight into lunch or dinner with passion.

When you do get into the regular menu, you'll discover options such as the "four cheese grilled cheese" or brisket tacos or perhaps the "Nashville hot chicken sandwich." Sounds absolutely wonderful, right? Well, guess what? The list goes on. There's options such as a Wagyu burger, The Italian sandwich and even one called "Turkey On Steroids."

But what about dinner options. Well, how about Lasagna or Rigatoni? Maybe you'd prefer an amazing ribeye or breaded French cut pork chop? Yes, now I think you can see why the Toasted Walnut is one of my go-to places when the meeting is important or romantic. Needless to say, the delicious options served up by Chef Joey are incredible.

When you eat at the Toasted Walnut, you will find semi-private booths from which to enjoy your lunch or dinner. Semi-private because they are somewhat divided from the other booths by small walls that give you a real sense of privacy while dining. Personally, I like it. It's a very subtle way of making your experience just a bit more special. I guess it's the true definition of "upscale casual."

But remember when I sad that the actual name of this restaurant is Toasted Walnut Table And Market? Well, let's not forget the "market" part. In the front of the restaurant you will find an assortment of fun and interesting things that would serve well as small gifts or "spur of the moment fun to grab" things that you'll want for yourself. On my last visit I found some really awesome leather bracelets that I had to have. And by "had to have" I mean, "wanted."

When you want something special, head over to the Toasted Walnut and grab you some of the hot pimento cheese. It's literally excellent -I promise.


Celina, Texas Restaurants: Celina Star Cafe

211 E. Pecan, Celina, 469-202-3040 709 E. Pecan, Celina, TX 75009

In every town the size of Celina, Texas, there needs to be a "go to" breakfast place. The Celina Star Cafe is just that place. Whether you are wanting a traditional breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon or something more rebellious like crepes with fruit and powdered sugar, The Celina Star Cafe can accommodate.

Commonly used as a meeting place, the wait staff gets to know your face and name and will treat you as a regular. This is so nice because in most fast paced breakfast places, you are just another order. Another really cool thing about The Celina Star Cafe is that there isn't a ton of employee turnover so not only does the staff get to know you, but you also get to know them! It's small town Texas breakfast greatness.

Adding to the authenticity of The Celina Star Cafe is the basic, real deal diner decor. Thats right, no high end stuff here, which is EXACTLY how it should be. So if you are one of those folks who want a super comfy seat and high end silverware, you won't find it here. But, if you want some of the friendliest people in a very relaxed, down home environment with great food to match, this is it!

The Celina Star Cafe also offers brunch and lunch items as well and they are all wonderful. Personally, I really like the cheeseburger and fries if Im doing lunch. But, that's super rare for me as I almost ALWAYS want breakfast at The Star.

Check it out and let me know what you think! It truly is a great place to grab breakfast or have an informal breakfast meeting!

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