Metro offers New York flavor in downtown Waco

Metro Bar & Restaurant is located at 719 Austin Ave. across the street from the Waco Hippodrome. The restaurant offers authentic New York style cuisine seven days a week.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Molly Dunn
Assistant City Editor

There’s one type of food Waco has yet to see, and that is authentic New York cuisine. Metro Restaurant & Bar on Austin Avenue in downtown Waco offers an authentic New York menu for affordable prices.

Partners Jimmy Imeri and Juan Martinez opened Metro nearly three weeks ago and have already seen their business flourish.

Imeri and his family started the Baris restaurants in Waco and the surrounding area after moving to Texas from New York 15 years ago.

“We’ve been in the restaurant business for years,” Imeri said. “Juan, my partner, he’s my best friend from New York City, came to Texas to help us out.”

After living in Queens and Brooklyn for most of their lives, Imeri and Martinez decided to work together and create a restaurant that could bring New York to Waco.

“We wanted to do something different and try to get a little bit of every single part of New York City, the five boroughs,” Imeri said. “We figured the way we’d bring it together is the Metro train system. That’s why we got the name Metro because it will take you to all over New York.”

The five boroughs of New York are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island.

Imeri and Martinez based the entire menu off of cuisine found in each of these areas to fully encompass New York dining.

“If you look at our menu, it’s [Jackson Heights Salchipapas] named after Jackson Heights. That’s a place in Queens, New York where the population is a big population of Peruvians,” Martinez said. “We’ve got the Arthur Avenue; that’s in the Bronx where the population majority is Italians. So basically, those names you can go back to New York and find them in that neighborhood.”

New York is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures, so providing a menu with an array of cuisine from Greek gyros to penne ala pesto to a Philly cheesesteak seemed like the best way to bring New York food to Texas.

“We grew up in a culture with a lot of different cultures,” Imeri said. “You can get everything you want out there. It’s kind of like we’re Metro and we’re taking you to all of New York City.”

Throughout the day, Metro offers appetizers like “Washington Heights Tostones,” a Dominican-inspired dish of fried plantains and queso fresco, various sandwiches such as a Cuban sandwich, chicken and lamb gyros and of course authentic New York hot dogs.

Jessie Jefferis, Metro’s bartender, said he loves the restaurant’s concept of having New York cuisine in a state where Tex-Mex dominates the restaurant scene. The Broadway Hot Dog is his favorite item.

“The menu is amazing,” Jefferis said. “I’ve had to try other things just because I’ve eaten it so many times. It’s really good.”

Although the restaurant opened only three weeks ago, the owners already have plans to expand the menu with more specials as soon as business picks up.

“In a month, we’re going to get a hot dog cart,” Imeri said. “So at nighttime people can eat a hot dog, kind of like Austin downtown; more fun and a livelier atmosphere.”

After 5 p.m., the restaurant begins to serve dinner entrees, specifically steaks and fish.

“We’ve got this Night in Manhattan menu where it’s under $15,” Martinez said. “I have a pistachio-crusted salmon that people look at and think they should be paying $25 for.”

Imeri said Metro was designed to cater to everyone: families, children, college students and adults.

“We’re keeping it inexpensive because we do have a lot of Baylor following with Baris, so we want to keep it affordable for them too,” Imeri said. “We don’t want to be upscale; we just want to be a place you want to go eat without being broke.”

Not only can customers expect to pay less than an average steakhouse for a New York Strip, but everything on the menu is prepared to order.

“We cut everything fresh,” Imeri said. “We slice the meat fresh. We make our own provolone. Everything is completely fresh.”

Throughout the day, Metro serves lunch and dinner, but after 10 p.m., the restaurant offers karaoke, live music and televised games.

Open space and a projector make the restaurant suitable for a party or event. Imeri said Metro does not charge for parties and that a business recently held a presentation during lunch hours, making use of the projector.

Catering is also available.

“We just keep it going on all day,” he said. “Kind of like a New York thing. Restaurants turn into night clubs and bars, so we thought let’s try something like that down here. Downtown Waco needs something different.”

Metro Restaurant & Bar is located on 719 Austin Ave. and is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Emilly Martinez also contributed to this article.