Denton, TX City Guide

Today’s Denton, TX, City Guide comes from Carli Baylor, a student at the University of North Texas working on her Master’s of Journalism in Strategic Communications. She enjoys dabbling in the arts and entertainment realm of journalism and has done social media, grant writing and public relations work for several independently owned businesses. Today she takes us on a tour of this college town. Thanks, Carli, for sharing your city with us! — Stephanie

Read the full guide after the jump . . .

A place where young and old peacefully cohabitate, Denton is not only home to UNT, one of the largest public universities in the state of Texas, but it’s also one of the best places for folks to settle down and pack it in for peace, rest and a post-career lifestyle. Full of mom-and-pop stops, groovy tunes and artsy vibes, this town offers up-and-coming musicians, innovative ideas and a growing sea of cultural diversity. Local stores proudly sell I Heart Denton decals, donating proceeds to community efforts, and the Saturday market offers Dentonites a chance to promote their homemade goods and produce. From holiday and seasonal events like Wassail Fest and the Arts and Jazz Festival to yummy bites at restaurant favorites, including Mr. Chopsticks and El Guapos, this place is sure to tickle your suburban fancy.

The city has been a home away from home for many well-known public figures: Mean” Joe Greene, Dr. Phil McGraw, Norah Jones, Bowling for Soup and the Eli Young Band. Often, you can also find undeclared “celebrities” about town, including The Angry Friar fish and chips bus and the massive group of cyclists who meet late in the evening for a leisurely ride through town. (You can hear people cheering them on as they wiz past the bars down by Fry Street, glasses clinking and all.)

Denton is within reasonable driving distance from both Dallas and Fort Worth and just recently opened several A-train stations that connect to the main DART system in Dallas. Easy to navigate once you memorize its one-way streets, it is broken into several major sections that make up one giant, geographical square: Downtown Denton, UNT campus, I-35 and University Drive.

So take a peak around and enjoy Denton, Texas, the home of the mean, green and artistic dream.

Check out the below listings on this Google Map.


Eats and Drinks

Beth Marie’s Ice Cream — This is without a doubt the best ice cream in town. An old-fashioned dessert parlor, its main location is off the square, but the store has also branched out to several other local spots, including the UNT campus and the Unicorn Lake shopping strip. The company has even started selling their delicious concoctions at markets across the state. Some of their most luscious flavors are Banana Cream Pie, Maurice’s Muddy Mess and Cupcake, just to name a few. If you have a pup, you might want to grab some of their homemade doggie treats. They come fresh out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Denton County Independent Hamburger Company — No onions? No problem. This local dig has been serving the Denton community for over 30 years. Just hop into the express line for the chance to make your very own dream burger.

Denton Square Donuts — It’s hip to be square — Denton Square, that is. This charming, pastel pastry shop sells the most delicious baked donuts. Popular picks are usually the Oreo and the Lemon². Remember to be on the lookout for their weekly promotional deals, and if you ever need a place to study or chat it up, you can always rent out their upstairs.

El Guapos — You’ll know you’ve come to the right Mexican restaurant when you see the “bald guy” logo. This eatery makes its own fresh tortillas and serves some of the best guacamole in town. Need someone to cater your graduation or birthday party? They’ve got you covered, and you’ll have yummy fajita leftovers for days. It’s reasonably priced and just plain ‘ole scrumptious.

Giuseppe’s — Located in a beautiful Victorian home off Locust Street, this restaurant has been serving fine Italian delights since 1996. The owner, Giuseppe Brownell, is originally from Italy.

Greenhouse — One of the best places to take a date, Greenhouse has a dreamy patio perfect for wining and dining on a pleasant evening. They also rent out their back room for private parties and occasions. Some of their best options to choose from include their spinach and artichoke dip and their parmesan tilapia.

Hannah’s — Known as the local fine dining experience, this restaurant is in a building that used to house a blacksmith business. Stop in for dinner or enjoy their high-quality brunch.

J & J’s Pizza — Located right on the square, this place is known for its unique pizza sauce. They also host live music sets.

Jupiter House — Enjoy a Jet Tea or Cosmic Smoothie while you gander at artwork and chat with friends. Jupiter House’s original location is right off the square, but this coffee spot has also recently extended business to a location by University Drive.

Rooster’s Roadhouse — In Texas, BBQ is a must. Owned by three locals, this dig offers a laid-back feel and downright delicious chow. They have happy hour every day from 3–7 pm, and one of their most unique dishes has to be their Red Neck Sushi, a mix of cheese, brisket and pickles all wrapped in one.

Siam — Owned by a lovely married couple, this is a quaint and cozy Thai restaurant suited for intimate gatherings and friendly conversations. It’s open Monday through Saturday to the general public and closed Sundays for private events. The best part about this dining experience is the BYOB policy. Bring a bottle of your favorite wine to sip on while you chow down on their delicious Pad Thai.

The Abbey Inn — Enjoy a night of authentic English cuisine. Try the Bangers and Mash or the Full English Breakfast.

Vigne Wine Shop — Named after the owner’s European ancestors, this stop offers wine tastings every Friday from 6–8 pm. You should also try one of their kosher hot dogs, a soup and salad or a sandwich named after an American president.


Andy’s — With multiple levels and an extended bar on the 3rd floor, this is the oldest music venue in Denton. Right off the square, it’s one of the best places to listen to live music, and the Paschall bar offers a more relaxed lounge and detailed drink menu.

Dusty’s Bar and Grill — Grab some grub, shoot some pool, play some darts and try your luck at Live Trivia.

Hailey’s — Combining a bar, nightlife and live music, this dance club offers groovy tunes and cheap drinks. They often book traveling bands and musicians, and 90s night takes place every Tuesday. They’ve also been known to throw a killer Halloween bash.

Hooligans — This place has some delectable fried pickles. They also call an 1899 building their home.

Loophole — Enjoy weekly food and drink specials at this downtown courthouse pub and grill. They always have their retail merchandise for sale.

Sweetwater — Good food, fun times and a patio wait for you at Sweetwater. Try their infamous guacamole burger.


2nd Street — A proud supporter of music and fashion, this shop sells locally made artwork, handmade jewelry and recycled, vintage clothing.

Atomic Candy — Sail back in time at this retro candy store. Giving new meaning to the term “old school,” they sell everything from old-fashioned soda pop to beautifully wrapped chocolate bars and mints with sassy sayings.

Circa77 — This is a vintage treasure trove of wonder owned by a mother/daughter duo who sell and rent clothes from every decade including the 40s, 50s and, yes, even the 60s. Janie and Christina will cater to your every fashion need. If you want a dress hemmed or a shirt dyed, they’ll do that, too, and don’t forget to check out their sidewalk sale for some major fashion steals.

Mad World Records — Need to find a new tune? Are you old school and still listening to vinyl records? Either way, this music store caters to all kinds of musical tastes. From the hottest hits to the classic beats, you’ll take a gander at their gigantic CD collection for hours.

Recycled Books — Need a place to sell some of those books you haven’t touched in eons? Located in a pretty, purple building, Recycled Books has been in operation for over 25 years, and they buy books, movies and music for resale. You’ll get lost among their diverse collection.

Rhinestone Boutique — Run by a mother-and-daughter team, this boutique will take care of all your fashion needs. They have a unique jewelry collection and also sell a line of delicious smelling candles. You can also follow the owners online as they travel to various fashion events.

Sleeping Lizzards — Owned by two artists, Beth Klein and Roxane Clark, who show and sell all sorts of handmade masterpieces, including furniture, jewelry, mixed media and clothing. Its unique name comes from Beth’s daughter, who named the boutique when she was 3.

The Cupboard — This should be considered the Grocery Store of Wonder. They sell all-natural and organic foods and have a built-in café. If you recycle, you can drop off paper and plastic products at their recycle center in the back parking lot.

Vegan Freak — Keeping up Denton’s local vegan lifestyle, this is a black and neon-colored shack that sells all sorts of natural delights. Try the vegan cookies.

See and Do

Banter — One of the best coffee shops in town, Banter has a weekly Open Mic Night every Thursday starting at 8pm.

Arts and Jazz Festival — This is one of Denton’s most well-known events. It takes place every spring, usually in April, and offers some of the best music and artwork from states across the country, including Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Arkansas and Oregon.

Denton Community Market — Taking place every Saturday from May to October, this market is the best event to support local growers, enjoy fresh produce and check out handmade crafts.

Denton Community Theatre — Founded in 1969, this company has been entertaining local dwellers for years. Producing everything from classic musicals to fairytales, the company is located in the old Campus Theatre in downtown Denton and just recently opened the Black Box Theatre to offer more intimate showings and a rehearsal space for productions.

Denton County Museums — If you’re a history buff, you might be interested in visiting one of the museums. Check out the Courthouse-on-the-Square, The Bayless-Selby House and the Denton County African American Museum. Scheduled group tours are only $1 per person.

Etsy Denton — If you’re searching for a place to connect with local artists and craft lovers, check out this local branch of Etsy. This business hosts events and functions throughout the year, including seasonal bazaars at the Center for Visual Arts. Shop unique and shop local.

TACC Support — If you ever need a quick fix for your computer, these guys have you covered. Their services include computer repair, data recovery and IT consulting.

UNT Art Gallery — In association with the university, this gallery offers various showcases and artistic events. Stop in during a stroll on the square to see what’s on display.

The Yoga Hut — The building alone is worth taking a trip to see. The Yoga Hut offers all sorts of meditation and relaxation classes.

Wassail Fest — Although you can only catch this one weekend in December, if you’re around for the holidays, you can’t miss the Denton Holiday Tree Lighting. Known to locals as the Wassail Fest, this traditional celebration invites everyone out for some tunes, holiday cheer and a chance to determine which business has the best wassail recipe in town.


The Heritage Inn — This intimate bed and breakfast is actually on the same street as Giuseppe’s. Reviewed by the likes of Dallas Morning News and Texas Living Magazine, it has been fully restored to suit all your relaxation needs.


Eats and Drinks

Art Six Coffee — Resting in an old house off Bryan Street, this coffee shop was founded by a group of former UNT art students. Locals love to come and work on homework, conduct business meetings and gaze at artwork for sale. Their chicken salad bagel is to die for, and don’t leave without trying a Steaming Dr. Pepper or a Better Than Sex Latte.

Big Mike’s — This hangout is open 24 hours a day. Right next to the UNT campus, most students stop in for a quick caffeine fix or study session. If you’re there on the right night, the barista behind the counter might even “draw” you an artsy syrup design in your cup of joe.

Central Grill — This little dig will conquer any large appetite. They’ve got their entire eating area decked out in local sports-team gear and offer a discount to students. If you need a hamburger fix or even a savory chicken wrap, this is the place to be. Don’t forget to add fries and a drink to your order.

Crooked Crust — This is the late-night grub stop for all bar hoppers, and you won’t be able to find a better deal. Order two large slices of pizza with all the toppings you want, drink included, for only $6. You can even order at the street window and take your food into one of the nearby bars. Best pizza toppings: mushrooms, tomatoes, pineapple and spinach.

Cups and Crepes — Sit on the front lawn and enjoy a healthy glass of orange juice and a delicious crepe. Within walking distance from UNT campus, this breakfast house offers special deals throughout the week.

Mr. Chopsticks — This has been a local favorite since the 80s. Whipping up everything from sushi rolls to rice and noodles, this restaurant has both a drive-thru window for takeout and a patio for a sit down lunch or dinner.

Naranja Cafe — Enjoy a unique kind of sweet treat with Naranja Café’s milk and bubble teas. Some of the best flavors to try are chocolate coconut and watermelon.

Oriental Garden — A great place to grab oriental food, the OG has some unique desserts, including homemade ice cream, fried banana spring rolls and sweet sticky rice with mango.

The Angry Friar — Who would’ve thought that eating from a double-decker bus could be so good? Parked by the bars near Fry Street, this European delight sells authentic fish and chips to all hungry patrons. They even recycle the oil from their friars and reuse it as fuel for the bus and generator.


Cool Beans — No, it’s not a coffee shop, but Cool Beans does have some amazing drink specials. They’re also known for their nightly trivia games and rooftop music showcases, bar included.

Lucky Lou’s — There’s always something fun and exciting going down here, and if you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can try your best at making it onto one of the Around the World plaques, or attend Keep the Pint Night on Tuesdays. You can also try your luck with their jumbo Connect Four and Jenga sets.

Public House — A luncheon place by day and a dance club by night, Public House has upscale food, good tunes and an upstairs lounge dedicated to playing pool.

Riprocks — Play Plinko on your 21st birthday here. They’ve also been known to host ping pong tournaments.

The Garage — This place has an open mic night twice a month every other Monday. Stop in, enjoy a few drink specials and show them what you got.

Zera’s — Run by volunteers and staff members of the Denton Freedom House, Zera’s is the perfect place to grab a couch and read a good book while you sip a cup of their rich hot chocolate. They also offer free WiFi.


Voertman’s — If you’re looking for some UNT swag, this is the place to be. A supplier for all things Mean Green, this store sells everything from textbooks to sweatshirts and blankets. It’s also a great place to shop for art supplies.

See and Do

The One O’clock Lab Band — You can’t visit one of the best music schools in the country without listening to one of its bands. The One O’clock Lab Band is a jazz ensemble that performs Monday through Thursday in — you guessed it — the One O’clock Lounge in the UNT union. An internationally known music group, the band has toured France, Germany, Thailand and Japan throughout its many years of existence.

University of North Texas — With over 36,000 students, UNT has one of the best music programs in the country and just opened Apogee Stadium in 2011. Home to the Mean Green, it’s the leading university in the DFW area and offers 225 degree plans.


Eats and Drinks

Candy Haven — Candy Haven is a sweet treat and a heaven for cake lovers. They sell all sorts of baked goods, and you can even stop in during the week to see if they have any leftover cupcakes for sale.

Frosty’s — When they say they have the best root beer, the owners aren’t kidding. Ask them about their special seasoning for their French fries, and sit outside on a nice day while you enjoy your food.

La Milpa — Tucked away by I-35, this eatery is a surprising delight. They offer $2 margaritas on Tuesdays and 99-cent tacos on Thursdays.


Rose Costumes — Their famous saying is, “Watcha Wanna Be?” The best place to rent a Halloween outfit, this company has every dress-up idea known to man. They also have a great selection of vintage finds.

See and Do

Frenchy’s Lawn Service — You’ll know it’s Frenchy when you see a bright orange truck out and about town keeping things neat and tidy. If you’re looking to make a statement, they also sell ads for display on their trucks.


The Wildwood Inn — A private and luxurious hotel, this inn offers 24-hour staff service, a 4-star restaurant and 14 different bedrooms decorated in European décor.


Eats and Drinks

I Heart Sushi — This is a cute little eatery with a massive menu. They have regular lunch and dinner specials, as well. Try their Hawaiian or Pretty Woman Roll.

Thai Ocha — Thai Ocha is a tiny and intimate restaurant that has delicious curry, Thai iced tea and coconut juice. Their staff is also very friendly.

Yummy’s — Enjoy traditional Greek food at Yummy’s.


Ruth’s Room — This is a non-profit association that sells everything from furniture and house appliances to clothing. All proceeds are donated to Habitat for Humanity.

See and Do

Texas Woman’s University — TWU is the largest university in the nation that focuses primarily on women, although men are still welcome to attend school here. With an enrollment close to 15,000, this university has an excellent nursing program and conducts research on childhood obesity and diabetes. It is also apparently a popular place for couples to get married. The campus is beautiful.

  1. Anna('90) says:

    Fry Street fair, The sammies, Kerr hall, Voertmans, the tomato(?), El Matador… The square, TWU, one way streets, The Piggly Wiggly, wow. Takes me back to 1987… Always thought Denton was where old hippies went to die. Funny it is a tourist attraction. Somehow I don’t want it to be bottled and sold for profit. Holds a special place in my memory.

  2. Jade says:

    Really weird that Jupiter House isn’t even mentioned, while Zera makes the cocktails list? I second the vote to put Rasoi and where the heck is Loco Cafe? This least seems typical for someone who hasn’t been in Denton long enough. So glad for the shout out, but I wish it would have been a more complete list!!

  3. Susantx says:

    Ugh. Clearly NOT a local’s view of Denton. Home to 2 universities, for starters…el Guapos is the WORST food ever…Cups and Crepes mediocre at best…you need a serious rewrite of this article. Call me.

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      if you want to write an update, please email us at submissions at designsponge dot com, we always welcome different takes on a city.


  4. Doc says:

    The list holds up pretty well, but there’s always more fun things to see and do in Denton.

    If you like history and ghost stories, DENTON HAUNTS offers an entertaining tour of the downtown Courthouse Square!

    WE DENTON DO IT is a cool culture blog with weekly top-picks and profiles of local grooviness.

    HOOCHIE’S OYSTER HOUSE offers fantastic seafood fare, MORE FUN COMICS & GAMES has mountains of cool dorky merch, and besides the fine cocktails at PASCHALL’S BAR there is also OAK STREET DRAFT HOUSE serving up an epic selection of craft beers. Let’s also not forget one of the best places to eat, Denton’s best kept secret KEIICHI SUSHI.

  5. Jani K says:

    I was amazed that a journalist could really encourage us to “take a peak” around any place…regardless, Denton is a wonderful town, and deserves all the kudos. Thanks for featuring the best hometown in Texas!


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