Skip the grease pit: Explore Waco’s local eateries

By Sarah Gallaher | Staff Writer

When it comes to eating out as a college student, convenience and cost often outweigh taste, health and sustainability. With a variety of fast food options at our fingertips, it’s easy to overlook local food options when treating yourself to a meal out.

However, Waco has lots of affordable, healthy and delicious food options within a few miles of campus.

Fast food is sometimes a viable option, but supporting local eateries in Waco stimulates the economy and gives you more overall satisfaction. When eating the same type of cuisine, I always feel more refreshed after eating a freshly made meal, whereas fast food leaves me feeling bloated and uneasy.

I’m not here to say that all fast food is bad. I enjoy many places in the grease pit, but I also make a conscious effort to support local restaurants. This diversifies my eating habits and causes me to eat more fresh food that is often absent from my regular diet. Additionally, it makes me feel better about splurging on a meal out, as I know it will benefit the Waco community as a whole.

At the start of my freshman year, I usually resorted to tried-and-true chain restaurants. As an out-of-state student, it left me feeling homesick and out of place in Waco. By trying new places, I feel like I have gotten to know Waco better and appreciate it more than I did before.

Ultimately, what you eat is up to you, but I encourage you to try a new restaurant as summer approaches.

That being said, here are a few of my favorite places to eat in Waco.

J-Petal and Poke

With locations in Waco and Hewitt, J-Petal is my second-favorite poke stop of all time. Trust me, I’ve been to Hawaii multiple times and used to work on a Hawaiian barbecue food truck, so I eat poke a lot. While I usually prefer traditional shoyu-style ahi poke, J-Petal’s build-your-own setup is amazing. It has a variety of proteins and toppings to choose from and offers large portion sizes that usually amount to two meals. By the way, J-Petal also serves sweet and savory crepes, as well as rolled ice cream. This is my go-to place, and my boyfriend insists on going here every time he visits.

Alpha Omega Grill & Bakery

Don’t let the unassuming exterior fool you — Alpha Omega is one of the best eateries in Waco. I didn’t try it until earlier this year, and I feel like I missed out for so long. It sells fresh baked goods and traditional Greek food with a modern twist. Its gyros are huge, and most cost under $7. The homemade pita and hummus are also must-haves, along with the variety of sweet treats available. It’s a great balance between the comfort of a homecooked meal and a reasonable cost for a meal out.

Huaco Eatery

Located in Union Hall, Huaco Eatery specializes in Latin American classics like empanadas, flautas and pozole. Personally, my go-to order is the grilled chicken quesadilla, which comes with sides of rice and beans. Huaco Eatery also serves churros and a variety of specialty drinks. It’s a little bit on the pricier side, but it’s 100% worth it.