Dallas: Sugarbacon in McKinney Just Made Our “A” List

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Sugarbacon is McKinney's newest haute-spot.
Sugarbacon is McKinney’s newest haute-spot.

Photo Credit: Sugarbacon Proper Kitchen

The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has grown to envelope bordering small towns that once seemed like they were miles away. Towns like McKinney orbit DFW providing the area with everything from quick weekend getaways and unique shopping experiences to winery tours and fine dining. One of our newest discoveries is Sugarbacon Proper Kitchen, located in the heart of McKinney’s historic downtown.

Sugarbacon is located in a remodeled gas station with the original gas pumps still outside but it’s not what you’d expect given that description. Smooth cement floors, exposed brick, and unique lighting fixtures give the space an urban-meets-steampunk-then-goes-west look that is both elegant and welcoming without the pretentiousness of some of the area’s comparative eateries. The seating is comfortable and tables are far enough apart to allow for private conversation — an important detail as far as we are concerned. You might think that the hard surfaces surrounding you would make the room feel cold and utilitarian but you’d be wrong. Warm colors and plenty of reclaimed wood keep things friendly.

The pork belly appetizer is glazed with an ancho barbecue sauce.
The pork belly appetizer is glazed with an ancho barbecue sauce.

Photo Credit: Sugarbacon Proper Kitchen

However, even if Sugarbacon was located in a dismal dungeon we would still go as often as possible and stand in line as long as we needed to just for the food. Chef Jon Thompson, formerly heading up Stephan Pyles’ Stampede 66 kitchen, brings it with a menu that is described as New American. We’re not sure that we agree with that classification — the menu is definitely Southern comfort food in all of it’s buttery glory. We imagine that if Aunt Bee spent a year in a Parisian culinary school the dishes she would serve the good folks of Mayberry RFD would look an awful lot like the dishes at Sugarbacon Proper Kitchen. Perhaps Southern Nouveau is a better term for it.

Pork belly is the current darling of the culinary world and Sugarbacon has pork belly on the menu that is not only delicious, it is unique. The appetizer is deceptively simple looking — just four cubes of meat stacked on baguette slices with pickles served  on a rectangular plate. Beautifully simple. Deceptively flavorful. The pork belly is, first of all, from heritage Berkshire pork that has been house smoked. It is bathed in an ancho glaze and is crispy on the outside and butter tender within. The pickles are spicy bread and butter pickles which enhance the sweet – hot  character of the dish. The housemade tater tots were covered in tender pulled pork and housemade pimento cheese and vied with the pork belly for first place in our hearts.

The burger is crafted from local Waygu beef topped with slices of sugarbacon, aged cheddar, garlic mayo, and the signature bread and butter pickles. Served with a generous amount of fries, it is one of the best burgers in DFW. We also tried the jalapeno mac and cheese which was gooey, cheesy, creamy perfection with a pop of heat from the peppers. We greedily eyed other dishes as they passed the table on their way to other diners and can tell you that this is a menu that you probably can’t go wrong with.

The butterscotch banana pudding is served in a jelly jar and made with whipped mascarpone.
The butterscotch banana pudding is served in a jelly jar and made with whipped mascarpone.

Photo Credit: Sugarbacon Proper Kitchen

The gooey, white chocolate blondie served with vanilla ice cream was very sweet, very rich, and probably something that you’ll want to share because after a few bites you absolutely need a cup of strong, black coffee. We preferred the butterscotch banana pudding that was served in a jelly jar. The bananas foster and use of mascarpone kept it from being cloyingly sweet while the shortbread added a bit of crunch.

We enjoyed the Maple Whiskey Smash as well as the Bee Sting, although the latter was our favorite. It’s made with tequila, cointreau, grapefruit juice, lime, agave, and muddled jalapeno and is refreshing without being either too tart or too sweet. Our only disappointment was the lack of Texas wines that we found on the menu. Sugarbacon uses so many local ingredients we hoped to see a few of our favorite Texas wines on the menu. They do have eight local craft beers on tap, however.

New American, Upscale Texas, or Nouveau Southern — whatever you want to call it is fine. Just go before the rest of the Metroplex discovers it’s there and you need reservations six months in advance. It’s bound to happen — don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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