Let’s face it—Lubbock is not exactly a dining destination. It is, however, a college town, and savvy restaurants know their audience. Here you’ll find gallons of craft beer; Chiltons in every size, shape, and flavor; and plenty of totally satisfying pizza and fried food. But there are culinary surprises all over, and here are some of our favorites.

Burklee Hill Bistro & Tasting Room

There’s pedigree galore in this enterprise, and the food is good to boot. The elegant, high-ceilinged bistro is located on Broadway, in the restored 1932 Kress Building, a Mission/Spanish Revival beauty listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Kress was a national chain of department stores). And the family that owns it has grown grapes and made wines on the High Plains for two decades. In keeping with the sophistication of the building, the decor is understated, featuring honey-toned wood floors, cream-colored paint, and dramatic golden-starburst light fixtures. Dinner offerings include bouillabaisse and steak frites, and brunch brings Benedicts with perfectly poached eggs and wonderfully messy breakfast sandwiches. An order of cheesy grits is a must. 1109 Broadway, 806-993-1195, burkleehillvineyards.com

Claraboya Scratch Kitchen + Bar

It’s pretty hard to forget that you’re eating in the lobby of a DoubleTree hotel, but what this two-year-old spot lacks in ambience it makes up for in the creativity of its food. A menu that wanders from Mexico to Japan to Italy to the American South is often a dubious proposition, but the far-flung flavors coaxed out of local ingredients meld delightfully, as in a ramen bowl with roasted corn and fried rice-paper-wrapped shrimp and the duck birria tacos, the slow-braised meat mingling with melty queso Oaxaca and avocado crema and served with a cup of warm consommé. 505 Avenue Q, 806-516-0400, claraboyalbk.com

Dirk’s Chicken

With accents of black and white and stainless steel, this spare downtown spot would be about as sparse as a government building lunchroom if not for the plethora of art by Dirk West, grandfather of owner Cameron West, former Lubbock mayor, and famed editorial cartoonist. But everyone comes here not for interior design but for chicken: bone-in and tenders, crunchy, salty, and offered with an array of savory sauces such as gochujang, smoky ketchup, and honey mustard. Gulf oysters, shrimp and Cheddar grits, and a nice mix of sides (whole fried okra pods, brussels sprouts, collard greens) round out the menu. 1636 Thirteenth, 806-368-3915, dirkslbk.com

Good Line Beer Co.
Good Line Beer Co.Photograph by Wynn Myers

Good Line Beer Company

Lubbock doesn’t lack for craft beer, and Good Line (“Beer from the Dust Coast”) is a local favorite. Food vendors set up shop a few times a week, but you can also bring over a pizza from Capital, right across the street. The dive-y pizza tavern serves pillowy-crusted pies with fun toppings—try the Jalapeño Popper, with properly hot chiles and tangy goat cheese. 2611 Boston Avenue, 806-701-1971, goodlinebeer.com

Midnight Shift

Old Annie may be “slipping around in the middle of the night” in the Buddy Holly song that gives this place its name, but good times can be had all day here. Outside, a narrow patio overlooks the sunny courtyard and pool of the Cotton Court Hotel, while the cozy interior, with shiny concrete floors and a gabled ceiling of Douglas fir, gives off mountain-lodge vibes. The menu is eclectic—pizzas and sandwiches share space with a head-scratching assortment of dishes that include poutine, salmon samosas, and flash-fried chicharrones—but well executed. On an aluminum tray lined with butcher paper arrived a perfectly composed grilled chicken sandwich with red tomato and crunchy green lettuce; golden fries sprinkled with salt and pepper came alongside. The Shift Salad was a bowl of impeccably fresh mixed greens lightly dressed and tossed with candied pecans and grilled pears (to which we added a crispy-skinned hunk of grilled salmon). Cocktails suit the locale, including a variety of Chiltons, a Guns Up Margarita, and the Prickly Pincher, with tequila, prickly pear syrup, and jalapeños. 1610 Broadway, 806-758-5800, midnightshiftrestaurant.com

Monomyth Coffee

This cheerful, butter-colored shop with bold red accents will wake you right up. Laptop-toting students and toddler-toting parents line up from the counter to the door for the usual hot and cold coffee drinks, as well as breakfast items such as churro morning buns, bacon-onion quiche, and pumpkin “Pop-Tarts” made by Brûlée Bakery. 2024 Broadway, 806-368-8183, monomythcoffee.com

Neighborhood F+B

From the folks behind Dirk’s and West Table, this new eatery has an airy, capacious, not-entirely-cozy vibe, with Saltillo tile floors, white walls, a black ceiling, and the occasional green plant. The food is competent and satisfying, if a bit heavy-handed, like the too-piquant shrimp pasta with lemon, capers, and Parmesan; dense fried green tomatoes; a hunk of deep-fried lasagna. What stands out here are the cocktails, which despite their silly names are both clever and well-made, such as the fuchsia Beet-a-Rita Sour, with tequila, cachaça, red beets, and egg white; and the Banana Nut Ol’ Fash, an amber-hued mix of whiskey, demerara syrup, and black walnut bitters, topped with a chunk of brûléed banana. 9806 Quaker Avenue, 806-553-9500

Agnolotti with cauliflower and sherry mimolette cream, quinoa, and epazote.
Agnolotti with cauliflower and sherry mimolette cream, quinoa, and epazote from the Nicolett.Photograph by Wynn Myers

The Nicolett

There’s plenty of fine food in Lubbock, but the Nicolett sets the standard for culinary art. Named for the 1880s-era hotel built when Lubbock was a wee village of less than one hundred people, it’s housed in a 1920s-era building that was once a car repair shop and later an artist’s studio. Within earshot of passing trains, you enter through a romantic courtyard outfitted with desert plants and decorative iron gates, past a former greenhouse that serves as a private dining room, its multicolored windowpanes rescued from a disused school. The rough-hewn beauty continues inside, with a stone fireplace, terra-cotta masonry, and a slightly open kitchen, where Finn Walter, a James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Texas, creates the kinds of dishes that landed the Nicolett on Bon Appétit’s list of best new restaurants for 2022. Melding high style with regional ingredients are such delicacies as elk tartare, sweet peekytoe crab tucked into nopales and served with xoconostle (sour prickly pear fruit), and “desert gumbo” with local guinea fowl and masa harina. 511 Broadway, 806-993-0144, nicolettrestaurant.com

Two Docs Brewing Co.

At this funky taproom adjacent to busy railroad tracks, the brews draw you in, and the outside beer garden makes you want to linger—and take photos of the mural depicting prairie dogs freaking out about an approaching spaceship. 502 Texas Avenue, 806-412-4888, twodocsbrewing.com