Updated: Nov 7
As the pandemic crawls slowly away and we restore our normalcies, one city in Parker County made the decision years ago that expansion is unavoidable. They used the pandemic as an opportunity to establish this growth and bring in some heavy hitters to take over Foodie Capital of Parker County. How many big hitters will call Hudson Oaks home?
ALREADY home of the 2022 Best Restaurant in Parker County, Boo Ray's of New Orleans, Hudson Oaks is becoming a combination of old-school, consistent eateries, and new, exciting, trendy establishments. La Playa Maya, Big Burger, R&K, and the previously mentioned Boo Ray's are all heavy hitters in the local service industry. These establishments anchor an amazing lineup of possibilities in the Hudson Oaks corridor of Fort Worth Highway and have allowed Hudson Oaks to take chances that other Parker County areas refuse to jump at. The anchoring establishments have been around long enough for locals to consider them staples, while also provoking newcomers to flock to them in order to see what Parker County has to offer. Throw in Blue Jasmine, Mama's Pizza, and the infamous fast-food king known as Chik-Fil-A, and you have yourself a bonified smorgasbord of eating options, all within a stone's throw of each other. All of this and Hudson Oaks was just getting started...
The former foodie capital of Parker County would have to have been the Weatherford Downtown Square. Fire Oak Grill, Downtown Cantina, Antebellum Ale House, Shep's, and Zeno's are all big time players in the local service industry and could stand on their own in a head-to-head battle of the best. What lacks from the area is a bit of enthusiasm and need from young locals to venture there. The Weatherford square has always been rich in heritage, history, and tradition. Locals hold it in their heart as the place they have always known and that hasn't changed in a world that seems to change faster and faster as we age. That might also be it's downfall...
Nowadays, when choosing a place to eat, the menu is no longer the only thing to consider. Atmosphere, staff, and consistency have always been important as well.
But, the newest version of, "Where do we eat?" has become, "What do we do while eating?" It seems that our minds want not only great food, but great happenings while we're eating said food. Trivia? Bring it on. How about a movie or a live local musician strumming up some familiar tunes? Yep! Guests want a bit of fun mixed in with their food and while there is a ton of fun to be had throughout Parker County, Hudson Oaks seems to know how to capitalize on this trend.
Weatherford is now in the "modernizing" phase and has made adjustments by adding new places like Edgewise 8 Brewing (temporarily), Northside Remedy, and even more food truck access around the square. There still seems to be a little something missing however. Gen Z wants games, action, room to roam, and the Weatherford downtown square has a hard time accommodating that with so many antique shops and historical outlets. Approaching this issue and handling it will be the ultimate determining factor for how Weatherford will pull themselves out of the antique era and make an imprint on the destination era.
Hudson Oaks however is thriving. The announcement of Heim Barbecue came not only as a sign of their place in the county, but also a landmark moment of acquiring a big name from the big city to come West. Acquiring a name like Heim Barbecue certifies your legitimacy as a foodie destination and will only provide the possibility of more amazing businesses agreeing to settle down in Hudson Oaks. The addition of places like Pathfinder Brewing, Bourbon-n-Branch Brewing, and Bahama Buck's also solidifies their hold on foodie fame. These locally-owned small businesses will not only thrive once the newest additions are complete, but will also have the opportunity to learn, team, and coexist with some of the biggest names in DFW. Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen might be a corporate entity, but their presence will also inspire other business owners to make their imprint and join in on the action.
It isn't easy to bwcome a hotspot. Growth pisses off the locals, picking the proper ratio of businesses is impossible, and we all know how everyone feels about any place that opens in Parker County with chicken on the menu... (For those that don't, locals are under the belief that we are to chicken establishments what Portland is to Starbucks... THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!!!) With that being said, Hudson Oaks seems to have found something in their planning. A little BBQ here, some breweries there, add in some Thai and Mexican, and you have yourself a resemblance of a Restaurant Row if you will.
Other areas have tried this in Parker County and it seems to just not get put together as planned. You have to create a harmony of businesses and a lot of times the competition and lack of community can make it hard to have so many restaurants exist in a single area. The I-20 portion of 51 in Weatherford comes to mind, as well as the Shops in Willow Park, as both areas that have great options but not an overall feel that each place is a hit.
Congratulations to Hudson Oaks on becoming the new up-and-comer in the fastest growing county in America. Cheers to you and those in charge of figuring out how to land huge names while also keeping your sense of tradition. You have firmly solidified yourself as the Foodie Capital of Parker County. A title that looks to hang around for qute some time.