Summer brings new restaurants to Waco

The strip at 721 S. Fourth St. will house Chipotle Mexican Grill, Steel City Pops, Pie Five Pizza Co., Smoothie King and Wok Box Fresh Asian Kitchen. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

There are many new restaurants coming to Waco. Some offer a brand new dining experience, while others are already familiar but are coming to a location more convenient for Baylor students. Over the coming summer and fall semesters, Waco expects to see many additions to its restaurant repertoire.


Hayashi Japanese Steakhouse and Lounge

Fuji Steakhouse owner Sean Lin will expand his business over the next few months by opening the Hayashi Japanese Steakhouse and Lounge. The business will open on the 800 block of Austin Ave., replacing the New York Clothiers & Loan, which has relocated to a building farther along the street.

Hayashi Steakhouse’s Facebook page said the restaurant will serve traditional Japanese cuisine, such as sushi, robata, stone-grilled steak and seafood. It will also have a lounge area.

Chipotle Mexican Grill

A new Chipotle location is coming to Waco at 721 S. 4th St. behind the Abbey Glenn Apartment complex. Driftwood sophomore Matthew Spradlin, who is a resident at Abbey Glenn, said there has been an extensive amount of development in the area over the last year.

“When I signed, there was nothing even backing up to Abbey Glenn,” Spradlin said. “Now we have the CVS, In-N-Out and those four other businesses including Chipotle. I decided to live there because it was cheap and nice despite it being in a poor location, but now I feel like it’s one of the better locations to live around Baylor—probably because I like food so much.”

According to its website, the create-your-own burrito, taco or taco bowl restaurant is known for using all-natural ingredients and only non-GMO products. Although there is already a Chipotle at Valley Mills Drive and Lake Air Drive, this location will be much closer to the Baylor campus.


Panera Bread

Panera Bread is opening a new location at 8th Street and Interstate 35, right next to Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. The new location is significantly closer to campus than the original, which is at Highway 6 and Interstate 35. Nathan Reed, a manager at Panera, said he thinks it will be a worthwhile addition.

“I think it’s going to be great for Baylor students, especially ones that don’t have vehicles,” Reed said. “They can just walk across campus and go across the interstate on that overpass and study, drink coffee and congregate with their friends at Panera.”

Reed said the chain hopes to have the new location open by the start of next semester.

Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom

With over a hundred locations nationwide and 30 years of experience, according to its website, Boulder, Colo., based Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom is finally settling down in Waco. The restaurant offers a variety of specialty pizzas and calzones, like the applewood spiced barbecue chicken pizza and the Italian grinder pizza. It serves an assortment of pastas, salads, burgers and sandwiches.

According to the City of Waco permits office, the chain has purchased a building permit for 4639 South Jack Kultgen Expressway, which is located in the Central Texas Marketplace at Highway 6 and I-35.

Stone Hearth Indian Cafe

A new Indian food restaurant in coming to town, courtesy of Thakor Eclectic Food Concepts LLC in Dallas. The new restaurant, called the Stone Hearth Indian Cafe, will be located next to Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits on Austin Avenue. The building, which has since fallen into disrepair, used to house Hub Clothiers, a menswear store that shut down in 2008.

The utter lack of Indian food in Waco was somewhat alleviated last semester when Johnny Bhojwanit and Naresh Thadani opened the Tandoori Trailer food truck, which sits at the corner of Franklin Avenue and University Parks Drive.

This new restaurant will offer traditional Indian food cooked in tandoori ovens, the website said.

Pie Five Pizza Co.

Pie Five Pizza Co. is a build-your-own pizza experience that will be located on 5th Street past the Torchy’s Tacos, the restaurant’s website said.

The pizza-ordering process at Pie Five is similar to a Subway. There are 28 toppings, seven sauces and four made-from-scratch crusts to choose from. The employees make the pizza in five minutes in front of customers. The restaurant also has a menu of specialty pizzas, like the Maui Wowwi, a mixture of bacon, pineapples, red onions and barbecue sauce sprinkled with cilantro. Because of its ingredients, the Maui Wowwi is only available in five states, including Texas, according to the company’s website.

Customers pay the same price for any pizza they choose to build, the only exception being the gluten free crust, for an extra charge.