Foodie Friday: Building a Culinary Destination in Waco

by Daniel B Ramirez on October 27, 2023 in Food+Drink,

Milo and Corey McEntyre are Changing Central Texas Dining & Hospitality.

The culinary centers of Texas are well-established. White linen tablecloths at steakhouses call Dallas and Houston home. The culinary renegades start their gastronomical fusion experiments in Austin, and the foundational flavors that define the rich culinary heritage of the Lone Star State are well represented in San Antonio and El Paso.

But, after a visit to Corey McEntyre’s Milo, talking about the niche his restaurant has carved out and the plans he and others have for the future, the question on the tongue of the culinarily curious in Texas is: What is going on in Waco?

A Milo is Born

Turn the clock back a little over five years and you’ll witness the birth of Milo. Waco, for decades considered little more than a gas stop between Austin and Dallas, began forging an identity as a destination city. A certain Silo operation began, drawing visitors from major metropolitan areas, with their appetites for more than fast food fare. Into this developing scene comes McEntyre and Milo, first in a food truck, then in a sleek brick-and-mortar that offered the most extravagant mezcal selection alongside signature Southern fare that included the best biscuits one didn’t need to board a flight to find.

Milo’s Deviled Eggs spice things up with smoked paprika and microgreens. Courtesy photo.

Admittedly, the mezcal library was ahead of its time and gave way to a more standard bar, but the food and, specifically, the hospitality that McEntyre and the Milo staff made a staple quickly earned a sterling reputation. And, with both hospitality and innovation as foundational elements of McEntyre’s ethos, he and his team are poised to bring a host of new experiences to Waco.

Over a few dishes to preview the fall menu at Milo – an elegant roast chicken, a fall salad, deviled eggs, and the most extravagant sweet potatoes – all of which hint at the bright future to come, McEntyre shared his next vision for Waco: Herringbone.

We will dream of these decadent sweet potatoes from Milo for a very long time. Courtesy photo.

The Evolution of a Vision

Herringbone promises to be an elite boutique hotel in the heart of Waco. Transforming a much-celebrated shipping-container-turned-mid-rise building, Herringbone will have 21 rooms and serve as home to not one, but three dining experiences.

The featured dining option will feature a raw bar, and McEntyre is toying with calling it Red Herring. Raw bars are commonplace in metropolises, but rare in Central Texas, and McEntyre wants the restaurant to be true to the big city standard so much that he’s already invited an Austin chef from the famed Tatsu-ya group to lead it.

The other dining iterations will be Jardiniere, a wine and cheese bar in the hotel’s plaza, and a rooftop beer bar he is casually referring to as Lucky Buck, where snacks and ales flow in harmony. Each of these expressions will differ from McEntyre’s landmark first endeavor.

“Milo remains casual, a place you go three or four times a week,” he continues. “Herringbone will be a little more buttoned-up.”

Ever the host, Corey McEntyre makes sure, personally, that the salad is properly dressed. Courtesy photo.

Southern Hospitality

Beyond the culinary options, it’s Corey’s insatiable drive to be the consummate host that has driven him from hit restaurant to boutique hotel venture. (It’s worth noting that McEntyre, mid-interview, moves a couple struggling with the late afternoon Waco glare to a more comfortable seat.) Milo is an expression of that hospitality, and he’s got more than enough for a second expression.

“It’s about learning what people want, and then learning to be creative in that space,” he proclaims.

Slated to open its doors in early 2024, Herringbone may soon add more to the case for Waco as a destination itself, rather than a mere point between them.


 Cover Photo: Two murals adorn the outer wall of the Herringbone site, currently under construction. Courtesy photo

Daniel Ramirez is a native Texan who has written about the life, leisure and legends of the Lone Star State. From music to food to film, he is always looking to remind the world that the cultural epicenter of the U.S. is just as rooted in Texas as it is on either coast. With his own roots firmly established in Houston, Austin and Central Texas, his nomadic pursuits are always grounded in a familiar mantra – Texas Forever.