Maegan Brown, aka Dallas food blogger the Baker Mama, knows baked goods — and her 700,000+ followers on social media feel like they know her, thanks to the stories in her recipe posts and the way she shares what her family loves in the kitchen. But they don’t know where this food blogger loves to eat in Big D.

On the release of her latest cookbook, Brilliant Bites: 75 Small Bites for Any Occasion, Brown pulled together a list of her favorite family-friendly spots in town, as well as some date-night places for two and, naturally, a few favorite bakeries. Many are familiar haunts in the Park Cities and Lower Greenville area, while a few dark horses snuck in. And some are spots parents may not have thought of taking their kids — but they should.

Royal China

“We’re obsessed with the xiao long bao, which is the soup dumplings — our kids love them. We lived close to it, so it was our place to go as a family. They are so welcoming to kids. It was awesome to see our kids be more adventurous with [eating] the cuisine.”

Afra Mediterranean

“Again, very family-friendly. The kids eat it so well, and it never disappoints us. We started going there every weekend for lunch when they were in the old, smaller location. Guy Fieri went there at some point, and it just boomed. It made us mad because it became so popular! But they built a huge place next door. We still go there regularly and know exactly what we’ll get each time — the chicken shawarma platter with the Greek salad and fattoush salad, falafel, an akkawi pie, which is this amazing Mediterranean cheese pizza, and we fight over the last piece. And a lot of pitas and hummus. There’s not one bite left over.”

Zaap Kitchen Lao & Thai Street Eats

“We love the wings, and the crispy rice salad with cured pork [nam khao] is so delicious. We like all the noodle dishes and curries. We started our kids on curries with no spices, and now we’re on one or two spices. We try to encourage trying the green or red curries, but my daughter sometimes won’t eat them and opts for wings and crispy rice instead. And we always get spring rolls.”

Street’s Fine Chicken

“They have the best fried chicken in town, and we love that you can get a whole bird for $20. It’s perfect for a family. We’ll get one or two whole birds plus all our favorite sides: collared greens, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and french fries. We’ll go there or do it as a Sunday supper if we haven’t had time to cook. It’s a great place we can easily get in and out of between basketball games or have a fun outing as a family.”

Yummy Donuts

“This is our favorite doughnut shop. We’ve bonded with [owner] Rena Kim and her family over the years. They have the best apple fritter in town. I hate saying that because they sell out every time I post about it — they only make so many. If I don’t get there early enough on the weekends, they’re gone. They’re fresh, fried, and full of apples. We also love their fun doughnuts that are seasonal. Sometimes, they’ll hand you a bag of doughnut holes in addition to your order. And they have my cookbooks on display, which is sweet.”

Carte Blanche

“We adore the bakery at Carte Blanche. I think it’s a hidden gem — actually, it may not be hidden. I’m sure the Lakewood and Lower Greenville communities flock there, but it’s a bit of a trek for us. The sea salt chocolate chip cookie is just incredible, as is the quality of the ingredients. I have to stock up on them for my oldest son because they’re his favorite. Amy La Rue, the pastry chef, is the wife of Casey, the restaurant’s owner/chef. And it’s one of our favorite special occasion restaurants.”

Bresnan Bread and Pastry

“This bakery is up on the square in McKinney, but you can also find them at the St. Michael’s Farmer’s Market [in the Park Cities], one of our favorite activities on Saturday mornings. It’s less busy than the Dallas Farmer’s Market as far as getting there and parking. There are amazing pastries and chocolate croissants from this bakery. They have an orange cardamom pastry that is incredible. We fell in love with this bakery during Covid, when they did some pop-ups in the Design District. I feel thankful they came to Dallas. If you follow people with these great businesses, there’s usually an opportunity to find them here.”

Botolino Gelato Artigianale

“This place has the best flavors. There are other places that are great, but this one is perfect. The pistachio and chocolate hazelnut are better than some we’ve had in Italy. We’re so proud this is in Dallas. For a dinner party, you can get a container of several flavors. So if I go to someone’s house on a whim or haven’t had time to make dessert, I’ll go by and get one with four or six flavors.”

Pie Tap Pizza Workshop

“Going there is fun for the kids because it has a variety of foods and not just pizza. You can get appetizers, salads, and sandwiches. And they give the kids dough and have a kid-friendly menu. We go there for brunch a lot. It’s nice on the patio, where we can have cocktails and the kids can play with the pizza dough. Kids can get individual pizzas or smaller portions of the food. We love the actual pizza dough; it’s really good. It doesn’t travel as great to the house, we prefer to eat there.”


“This is another place that’s best fresh, but it comes to our house quickly, so we order it sometimes. They use high-quality ingredients; you can tell the dough is [special]. They have a cacio e pepe pizza that’s so good, with ricotta and tons of pepper. And the way the pepperoni and salami crisp up on these pizzas — I think we’ve tried them all.”


“As far as a special occasion date night, my husband and I love this place. We love the whole [Duro] restaurant group. The waiters are amazing, as are the cocktails and wine selection. Every item on the menu, I love how fresh and thoughtful it is. I eat a lot there, and we share plates, but we never leave feeling miserable from overeating. The Charles was our favorite for the longest time, and then Sister came along. It wins us over every time. But we will go back to the Charles, and we’ve also been to El Carlos Elegante, their other restaurant.”


“This sushi place is so special and good. Every bite [my husband and I] take there makes us look at each other and go, “Oooh.” They are so nice and thoughtful. The sommelier does a great job recommending wine or cocktails to pair with what we’ve ordered, and we love to let them take it away when we’re not in a rush. We also love their omakase service or special dinners with a cutting of [seasonal] fish or Champagne.”

Drake’s Hollywood

“When it first opened, we thought it was a little too much. Then we started venturing there because many things close in the Park Cities at 9 or 10 p.m. We’re late-night people, and we like that Drake’s is open later. They have pizza, so if we can only commit to staying a short time, we can sit at the bar and soak up the vibe. The Caesar salad is also incredible. It has cornbread croutons in it. If you’re up for some late-night food, they have a curly fries nacho situation that is the perfect nightcap.”

Montlake Cut

“This one is a hidden gem because you don’t hear about it that often. It’s seafood, and the russet frites french fries are some of the best in town. The bartenders are so fun and nice. It’s a vibe. Everything we’ve had here is amazing. We love their mussels, and the bartenders know I want them with a side of fries when I come. The smash cocktails are refreshing and pair well with the fish on the menu. We’ve become regulars in the last six months, and it hasn’t disappointed. We will also take our family there, and I had a party of 10 there recently. It was great.”

2023-09-25T13:44:38Z dg43tfdfdgfd