Tuesday, May 21, 2024 May 21, 2024
80° F Dallas, TX

Suburb to Watch: McKinney

Think historic squares are all antiques stores and sleepy tearooms? Reconsider Downtown McKinney, our cover model. This bustling square boasts a cosmopolitan flair without sacrificing its small-town charm.


The Book Gallery
As independent booksellers close one after another, there’s something quaint and special about this musty shop crowded with stacks of vintage and rare first-edition tomes. Choose from more than 10,000 volumes, with an emphasis on Texana, military, classic fiction, and history. 207 N. Tennessee St. 972-562-0533.

Cadillac Pizza Pub

The pizzas are first rate: crispy, chewy, and wood fired. But the Caddy really gets hopping in the evenings when local blues musicians take the stage, the good times spilling out onto the square. 112 S. Kentucky St. 972-547-3833.

The Grand Hotel
As it originally housed the Heard Opera House in the 1880s, “grand” is an appropriate name for this historic boutique hotel. Crystal chandeliers, pressed-tin ceilings, exposed brick, ornate four-poster beds, and old-world charm complete the trip back in time. 114 W. Louisiana St. 214-726-9250.


Owner Vicki Woods calls her shop “antiques for casual living”: a curated collection of found objects such as cornices, windows, tables, and the like. Minus the stuffy formality of restored antiques, these objects wear a faded patina that would mix well with any decor, particularly midcentury modern. 203-B E. Virginia St. 972-542-6191.

Loco Cowpoke Salsa Shop
This is picante paradise for those who like it hot, medium, or mild. Salsas from across Texas line two full walls. Most are available for tasting. Loco Cowpoke also sells hard-to-find Lone Star State relishes, jams, sauces, mixes, and spice rubs. Pickled watermelon rinds? Yes, please. 206 E. Louisiana St. 972-548-0630.

Main Street Magic & Fun Company

Pick a card, any card from one of Main Street Magic’s professional magicians as they confound and dazzle kids (and kids at heart) with their parlor tricks. Magical props, puzzles, novelties, and DVDs are all for sale. Classes are offered as well. 211 N. Tennessee St. 972-542-5010.

McKinney Performing Arts Center

Housed in the historic Collin County Courthouse, the MPAC anchors not only the square but also McKinney’s reputation as a serious arts hub for North Texas, featuring dance, dramas, musicals, and anything else that fits on a stage. Even Grammy and Tony winner Duncan Sheik performed at the MPAC last year. Yes, that Duncan Sheik. 111 N. Tennessee St. 214-544-4630.

The MOM and POPcorn Company

“Ooohhh, Pixy Stix!” squealed a carriage-pushing mom as she mainlined the sugary childhood memories and shuddered in delight. Whether your tastes run smooth and chocolaty (Valomilk marshmallow cups!) or tart and crunchy (Necco Wafers!), this old-fashioned candy and popcorn shop has a nostalgic sweet surprise around every turn. Oh, kids are welcome, too. 215 E. Louisiana St. 972-542-7605.

Plum Creek Primitives
For those who spell “country” with a K, this gingham-drenched shop is your cup of sweet Southern tea. But push through the scented cloud of potpourri and dig deeper. Owner Bonnie Shafto stocks her shop with first-rate folk art. The handcrafted quilts and rustic tableware alone are worth the visit. 200 E. Louisiana St. 972-542-8485.


One well-shod local boasted, “Neiman’s ain’t got nothing on Pumps.” We’re tempted to agree. Pumps carries designers such as BCBG MaxAzria, Nanette Lepore, Beverly Feldman, and Roberto Cavalli. 110 E. Louisiana St., Ste. B. 972-562-4555.

Rick’s Chophouse

Locals describe chef Paul Petersen as the “James Dean of the square.” His Texas-meets-steakhouse classics are as sexy and reckless as the legendary actor. Chili-glazed quail comes with honeyed pears and fried quail egg. Pork chops are stuffed with caramelized onion, bacon, and Texas goat cheese. Even the simple sirloin gets a mole rub and a side of charred poblano blue cheese cream. It’s all served within the vintage splendor of the Grand Hotel. 107 N. Kentucky St. 214-726-9251.

Spoons Cafe

This is where downtown McKinney meets to feast on home cooking, whether it be Belgian waffles for breakfast or Spoons’ signature meatloaf and King Ranch casserole for dinner. The picturesque corner patio is the best people-watching on the square. Don’t skip dessert. All pies are homemade. The coconut cream is unforgettable. 100 E. Louisiana St. 972-548-6900.