Hotels donâ€™t usually hit the top of lists when it comes to looking for a great place to eat. However, tucked away in the NYLO Hotel in Plano is a chic little spot complete with spacious indoor seating, a nice covered patio, courtyard and heated pool â€“ theÂ LOCL Bar & Restaurant.
LOCL features specialty cocktails, small plates and entrees that can rival some of the best boutique restaurants. (And spacious, luxurious rooms if you have one too many of their delicious drinks.) But one of the things that makes this a â€œnot your average hotel bar and restaurantâ€ is the seasonal, fresh and local menu arranged by its creative culinary team.
What better way to start out a locally sourced dinner than with locally sourced spirits in cocktails. Two popular Texas spirits (for various delicious reasons) that LOCL uses in their drinks include Deep Eddy Ruby Red and Titoâ€™s, both created in Austin. LOCL uses these in craft cocktails like the Grapefruitini (Ruby Red, Countreau, and more fresh grapefruit juice) and the signature NYLO Martini (Titoâ€™s pomegranate liqueur, triple sec, pineapple juice, and prosecco), providing a refreshing way to enjoy happy hour or start dinner.
Plates To Share
If youâ€™re just feeling nibblish, LOCL has some great little share plates that you probably wonâ€™t want to share after a few bites.
Green Apple Guacamole
Iâ€™m a big fan of guacamole. Iâ€™m Mexican, and I was born and raised in Texas which means I pretty much have to love it. But what made this guacamole wasnâ€™t so much what was in it, but what you ate it with. Green apples. Sure, sure, you can laugh or scrunch your nose. But youâ€™ll only do so until you get to the LOCL and try it for yourself.
Ode to Acapulco Shrimp Cocktail
If everything in Acapulco tastes this good, then I want to be there. This light appetizer was zesty with just the right amount of heat.
Other great apps included a fantastic cheese board with five farmstead cheeses, dried fruit, nut bread and local honey (including a honeycomb which paired fantastically with the soft cheeses and nut bread) and tasty shrimp spring rolls served with a cashew-cucumber sauce.
Leafy greens, in my opinion, can and should be eaten any time of day. Thatâ€™s because the key to great greens are the fresh ingredients you put on top.
Toasted Halloumi Salad
Halloumi cheese is a semi-hard cheese with a high melting point making it perfect for a grilling or frying. If you’ve never had it before, you’re missing out. In this salad, the cheese balanced well with the spicy arugula, the sweet vine-ripened tomatoes and a fresh hint of mint.
Other great salads we tried included the Chop Chop, featuring the ever-so-popular kale, crunchy vegetables, and boiled egg all tossed in a light vinaigrette and the NYLOÂ Caesar topped with parmesan-crusted artichoke hearts.
Entrees & Sides
The entrees at LOCL take you around the globe with flavors inspired from various cuisines. Among the entrees, there were definitely a couple of standout dishes.Â (Iâ€™m a huge seafood fan, so these shouldnâ€™t be that much of a surprise.)
Market White Fish
This flaky, moist fish was steamed in a banana leaf with Asian aromatics and melted in your mouth. I love fish steamed in banana leaves because it’s like opening a present for dinner.
Crab Fried Rice
I don’t think I’ve met many people who say they don’t like fried rice. If I did meet one, I’d tell them to try this fried riceâ€“Â made withÂ big chunks of gulf crab, jasmine rice and fresh basil â€“ and it would change their mind.
Wicked Garlic-ky Chicken
A close third, and a great option if poultry is more your style, was the Wicked Garlic-ky Chicken, grilled and served with a feta tzatziki sauce and warm pita. If you get the Texas Beer Battered Zucchini Sticks, you can also dip them in this amazing tzatziki sauce, or the spicy romesco dipping sauce (a Spanish-inspired dip made with various types of nuts, tomato, garlic, red pepper, and spices all ground together).
Steaks, burgers and fries
And thereâ€™s plenty for the beef lovers, too. Try the Peppered Flank Steak, thatâ€™s grilled and served with umami-bursting sherried mushrooms and a side of simply cooked broccolini. Or the Dragon Breath Burger (trying to refrain from obscure Game of Thrown references) made to order with white cheddar, hot horseradish, and house-made mustard. Do yourself a favor and order the Yuca Fries, with garlic and fresh lime juice â€“ the Mother of Dragons would approve (I tried).
No meal would be complete without a little bit of sweet. To finish off this delicious evening, we had two classics: a seasonal berry crumble that was sweet with just a bit of tartness from the blueberries and topped with vanilla ice cream and a to-die-for chocolate mousse.
Hats off to the NYLO for creating such a great restaurant like the LOCL in your hotel, because after eats like this, the only thing you need is sleep. And theyâ€™ve got you covered for the night.
The LOCL is located in NYLO Plano/Legacy at 8201 Preston Rd, Plano, TX.
(Disclaimer: Dinner was complementary, and as always, thoughts and quips are my own.)