If you're a local concertgoer or comedy fan, you've likely heard of Toyota Music Factory by now.
The $200 million project located near the Irving Convention Center is anchored by a live entertainment venue, which opened in September with a christening performance by ZZ Top. But those who made it to that first concert didn't get to see all the complex has to offer. In addition to the convertible music venue, which can seat as few as 2,500 people or as many as 8,000, Toyota Music Factory is home to a number of restaurants and bars that are gradually opening.
Here's where to dine and drink if you're headed that way for a show.
Thirsty Lion Gastropub and Grill
With a menu of sandwiches, salads, soups, burgers, steaks, tacos, fish and more, Thristy Lion likely has something for everyone. The restaurant, which began as a British pub in Portland in 2006, opened its ninth location in an 8,000-square-foot space at Toyota Music Factory with 24 draft taps for beer and cider. Almost everything here is made from scratch, according to owners, from the dressings and soups to the sausages and other meats that are roasted in house. Specialties include bacon-wrapped barbecue prawns that come served with coleslaw, and the Gastropub Burger featuring a cheese-stuffed patty topped with maple-pepper bacon, caramelized onions, arugula and horseradish cream.
On a nice day, you'll want to take a seat on one of three patios and sip a house cocktail, such as the grapefruit and basil martini, a mix of Deep Eddy Ruby Red vodka, St. Germain, grapefruit juice, basil, bitters and lime.
If you've been to one of Bar Louie's other locations in Dallas-Fort Worth, you know what to expect here: dependable bar food with a stiff drink on the side. The same menu of flatbreads, burgers, and appetizers is served in Irving, as are the martinis. Grab a classic recipe like the Rat Pack (Grey Goose vodka, Bombay Sapphire gin, dry vermouth, an olive) or a one with a modern twist like the Clover (Maker's Mark whiskey, Courvoisier, agave nectar, lemon and orange juice) and head to one of two patios to soak in the sun. Occasionally, the bar also hosts live musicians outside, too.
Bar Louie is a great spot to hit after a weekend concert since it's open until 2 a.m. That means you can chill with a nightcap and let the post-show traffic die down before getting a safe ride home.
Say you work in Irving and are just looking for a quick lunch. Freshii is a healthy, fast-casual joint that specializes in salads, wraps, bowls and burritos. The Teriyaki Twist bowl, for example, includes brown rice, edamame, wontons, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, green onions and sesame seeds in a teriyaki sauce. The Tex Mex burrito wraps up brown rice, avocado, cheddar cheese, black beans, corn, salsa fresca and Greek yogurt in a tortilla with your choice of protein (falafel, tofu, chicken or steak).
Diners can also treat themselves to a frozen yogurt, juice or smoothie at Freshii. The restaurant also lists each food item's nutritional facts on its website.
Lots more to look forward to
Many more restaurants and venues are expected to open at Toyota Music Factory in late 2017 and early 2018. Here's a rundown:
- Alamo Drafthouse dine-in movie theater
- Bar Manzanilla, a taqueria and tequila bar that plans to host DJs
- Boi Na Braza Brazilian Steakhouse featuring meat, meat, meat
- Burgerim, a mini-burger joint with Chipotle-style options for buns, patties and toppings
- Gloria's Latin Cuisine, which specializes in Salvadorian, Mexican and Tex-Mex food
- Gramaldi's Coal Brick Oven Pizzeria, 'nuff said
- Highway 61 South, which will offer burgers, barbecue and blues music under one roof
- Kabuki Japanese Restaurant with sushi, poke, noodles and more
- Kitchen 101, a fast-casual concept (no cuisine type specified)
- Martini Ranch, a bar and dance club promising DJ performances
- Nosh and Bottle, a Mediterranean- and New York-style deli
- Pop Factory, which will sell popsicles
- TCBY frozen yogurt spot
- Texas C-Bar, a watering hole promising extensive wine and Scotch collections
- Texas Jam House, a 24-hour eatery expected to host live country acts
- Top Round Roast Beef, a fast-food joint with sandwiches
- Uncle Gino's Cucina Italiana featuring Italian cuisine
- Violet Room, an upscale restaurant and bar with seasonal menus and live music
- Yard House, a well-known craft beer bar chain
Depending on when you go, the parking experience at Toyota Music Factory can vary widely. During the day, there are several street lots outside of the restaurants for visitors. However, on show nights, most drivers are forced to park in paid garages -- and you can expect there to be traffic. The Thirsty Lion has said it will offer valet.