Gone to McKinney, Be Back Later
By: Marye Audet
Marye Audet, a devoted wife, mother of many, and Texasliving writer, recently spent a weekend away in this “unique by nature” town, found just north of Dallas in Collin County. Here, she recounts her weekend getaway in McKinney. A special thanks is in order for the McKinney Convention and Visitors Bureau, for their help and guidance.
An hour or so outside of Dallas, Texas, McKinney is a growing area with a small-town feel, its downtown still the perfect place for a weekend getaway. When you have a big family, a weekend away sometimes feels like a luxury. Whether it serves to rejuvenate a relationship, to escape junior high angst, or as a quiet respite from sibling quibbling, some quick time away, even if only for one night, can often be just what is needed.
When my husband and I pulled up to the Red Gate Inn, which stands a little over a mile from downtown, I felt like we were in a different country. It helped that I also had my phone already on silent.
We met innkeepers Gary and Debbie Roper, and headed upstairs to the Yellow Rose Room where we would be staying the first night. The claw foot tub in the attached bathroom beckoned at my heart, but sadly, there was no time for a relaxing bath for me because we were off to lunch at Squareburger.
Squareburger is situated on a corner with huge windows wrapping the building on two sides. This gives diners the ability to people-watch while eating, and there is plenty of both to be done. Like many of the restaurants in McKinney, Squareburger uses as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible. The grass-fed beef and other meat comes from nearby Local Yocal and is delivered daily. The Parmigiana Burger was absolutely perfect, from the toasted ciabatta roll to the pesto. There is an entire wall of taps for the local and craft beers.
Next, we decided to spend some time shopping. There is probably every kind of store you can imagine here, from haute couture to handmade garden décor. What I loved the most, though, were the antique shops. Most of the stores downtown have large display windows that make window shopping practically an Olympic sport. Walking from shop to shop was exactly what we needed to help us feel less stuffed before our Segway tour.
The question that was skipping around my mind was whether or not I could actually stay upright on the glorified lawnmower in front of me. I eyed it suspiciously hoping that it could not smell fear nor somehow realize that I am one of the least graceful people in the known universe. Ken, our tour guide with McKinney Segway Tours, informed me that I really could do this, and I would not be the first person in the history of Segway to do a triple toe loop on the machine. I was skeptical, but with encouragement from both Ken and my husband, I was able to make the wily machine obey my every command as we zipped through the historic district, stopping occasionally to learn about a building. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I was totally enjoying myself.
After the excitement of the Segway, and dismounting without a hitch, we headed to Harvest Seasonal Kitchen for dinner. I am not one to go crazy over deviled eggs, but these were piquant with mustard seed, pickled onions, and a candied pecan. In other words, there are absolutely a must-try. I ordered the flat iron steak and my husband had the chicken fried steak (because this is still Texas, after all) and then we looked at the bar menu. There is an entire section of nothing but Texas whiskeys that are so beautifully complex that I refused to allow my spouse to add Coke to his. The heavenly chocolate tart, oozing with gooey beer caramel, was unforgettable.
The next morning, we enjoyed a beautifully prepared breakfast before we said our goodbyes and headed out for the day, promising ourselves that we would visit regularly.
It was a beautiful day and we were looking forward to our tour of Chestnut Square, an area of town where a variety of historic homes and other buildings have been relocated in lieu of being torn down. The charming old church and garden area are available for weddings and receptions, which immediately resulted in my mentally planning a vow renewal to my husband. It was fascinating to see the furnishings and to learn a little more about life in McKinney during the 1800s.
Lunchtime rolled around and we had reservations at Rye Craft Food and Drink. Although we were still a bit full from breakfast, we were determined to find enough space to fit lunch. I enjoyed the pork belly Bahn Mi, a perfect balance of sweet, sour, crispy, buttery goodness. One sip of the McKinney Mule ruined me for any other similar cocktail ever. Housemade ginger beer made this particularly spicy and refreshing.
We spent the afternoon at Spa Esoteric. The spa is situated in a vintage home near the downtown area and has a wonderful, peaceful ambiance. I would have been perfectly happy just to stay and sleep where I was, but we had a little more shopping time before dinner. The only reason that there are any antiques left in town at all is that I did not have enough trunk space to fit it all in!
By the time we arrives at Bien Salsa, we were ravenous! While many Mexican restaurants in the Lone Star State serve Tex-Mex, a menu and style that has evolved through the years but is closely associated with Texas, this restaurant dares to be different. Their menu features options from all over Mexico, indicated on their menu by region. There seems to be no wrong choice, here either. Every dish that came out of the kitchen was gorgeous! I ordered the Brochetas de Carne, which is flamed table-side. It was as dramatic as it was delicious.
Vicki and Wayne Hill welcomed us warmly to McKinney Bed and Breakfast, our lodging for the second night. Our room was the “Sweet” which was the entire upstairs with sitting area, bathroom, and gorgeous bedroom straight off the pages of a magazine! In the suite is a reading nook that would be the perfect spot to spend a rainy afternoon should you be lucky enough to get one. Breakfast is served on your schedule, but a little while before breakfast is ready, you will hear a little rustle outside your door. When you peek out to investigate, you will find a little pre-breakfast tray with coffee, tea, or hot cocoa, and a treat like the unforgettable red velvet biscotti.
There is so much to see and do that it is impossible to do it all in a weekend or share it all in one place. Bring your appetite, because so many of the restaurants are amazing. Another favorite is SugarBacon, but we did not have time to visit on this particular trip. Brewery tours are available at Franconia Brewery where you will enjoy the talented storytelling of brewmaster and owner Dennis Wehrman. Franconia is an environmentally friendly brewery with 100% recycling as well as other green programs.
McKinney has something for everyone and, like potato chips, you cannot experience it just once. You will certainly be back, and they will have a spot on the porch swing saved for you with a cold glass of sweet tea.