Restaurants / Lists

Hidden Mecca of International Restaurants Sits in Dallas’ Shadow

The Ultimate Guide to Irving's Global Food Scene

BY // 09.17.19

Did you know that one of Dallas’ suburbs is known for having one of the biggest international food scenes in all of North Texas? Irving is bursting with great global cuisine.

Belt Line Road is particularly packed with Asian, Argentinian and Nepalese restaurants. And nearby streets boast Mediterranean, Mexican and Indian options.

It took a recent visit to Hugo’s Invitados for me to realize just how incredible the food scene is and is still becoming in Irving. A new coffee shop next door to Hugo’s, Pax & Beneficia, is even serving Turkish coffee to contribute to the international vibe.

This is your guide to Irving’s Best International Restaurants:

Andalous Mediterranean Grill

6450 North MacArthur Boulevard

This popular Irving restaurant was founded by twin chefs Sam and Wassim Merched in 2012. The brothers spent years working for their family’s award winning restaurants until they decided to open up a Mediterranean spot of their own. Learning the traditions of countries around the Mediterranean Sea and cooking from their mother’s secret recipes, they created a new twist on old traditions. Andalous already has a second location in Arlington, with another on the way in North Dallas.

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Andalous Mediterranean Grill serves dips, handmade bread, charcoal cooked kababs, brick oven pies, salads and sandwiches. The restaurant’s most popular dishes include the broiled lamb shank, Andalous chicken, roasted cauliflower and Greek salad. Authentic dishes like spanakopita and fattoush come from Greece and Lebanon.

It’s also cafeteria-style so you can pick and choose what you wish to try.

Empa Mundo

3977 N. Belt Line Road

Since 2010, Empa Mundo has been serving Latin American and Argentine cuisine. It’s a fast-casual restaurant owned by Raul Gordon, a Buenos Aires native, and serves some of the best empanadas in town. Gordon coined the name Empa Mundo, which means “empanadas from around the world.”

There are 13 empanadas on the menu, ranging from sweet to savory. Carnivorous options include pulled pork, ham & cheese, cheesesteak, Texas brisket, chicken, Chilipanzinga (ham, cheese, onion, and peppers), chorizo, Criolla, and a ham & cheese Hawaiian. Sweet, some would say dessert, choices are banana & Nutella, Camote (sweet potato & marshmallow), Guava & cream cheese, and pumpkin. Lastly, there’s a tuna, spinach & cheese, onion & cheese, and Humita with corn, onions, cheese and white sauce. An empanada for every mood.

Hugo’s Invitados

5240 N. O’Connor Boulevard, Suite 160

Known as a “healthy Mexican food restaurant,” Hugo’s opened almost a year ago in Irving. Hugo Miranda opened the spot and will soon be opening another, flagship location of the restaurant in Uptown Dallas. Chef Natalio Charles uses all grass-fed meats and all-natural pork at Hugo’s.

Both natives of Mexico, Miranda and Charles know how to make authentic Mexican food, but in a healthy way.

Popular dishes to try here include the Mexican Avocado Toast with a corn masa patty, salsa roja botanera, avocado and queso fresco, and the Pork Belly Chicharron. There is also a Mexican Avocado Gazpacho, quinoa and rice bowls, and various vegan and vegetarian options. The Impossible Tacos are corn tortillas with plant-based meat, watercress, tomato, onion and avocado-serrano sauce. Even the cocktails are made organic with real fruit, fresh-squeezed.

Mr Max

3028 N. Belt Line Road

This well-known Japanese izakaya has become an Irving staple for sashimi, sushi and grilled squid. Mr Max had a brief closure in 2016 to remodel and bring in a slightly different menu. But it came back with its very popular Takoyaki and fish livers in a refreshed space.

Menu items tend to change to keep things interesting, but popular dishes include grilled beef tongue, salmon sashimi and ramen. Mr. Max also does a grilled Atka mackerel and Mazesoba noodles, but it is the grilled squid that’s a consistent hit. Bites come as small plates so you can mix and match for a delicious Japanese meal. And make sure to end with a scoop of green tea ice cream or homemade custard pudding.

Mr Max
The grilled squid at Mr Max is a unique addition Irving’s international food scene. Courtesy of Mr Max

Cafemandu Flavors of Nepal

3711 N. Belt Line Road

A contemporary dining concept for Nepalese cuisine, Cafemandu was created by Nepal-native Dipesh Acharya in 2018. Acharya attended school at Texas State University and quickly realized that Nepalese food wasn’t common in the state. He opened a stall at the Dallas Farmers Market in 2011 called Muda Flavors of Nepal. After success in the food truck business, he expanded to his own restaurant in Irving.

The Cafemandu menu consists of an extensive momo, hand-wrapped Nepali dumpling menu. First, you choose a filling such as veggie, chicken, or pork. Next, you pick a style ranging from steamed to deep fried to Jyanmara, the world’s spiciest momo. There are also chicken burgers, the Mandu bowl, a Nepali burrito, Chatamari and more.

Nalinh Market

1716 E. State Highway 356

This Laotian restaurant was just named dropped in Bon Appetit‘s 2019 Best Restaurant City of the Year story about Dallas. Along with Khao Noodle Shop (which was ranked the second best new restaurant in America), Nalinh was given kudos for its excellent Lao cuisine.

Menu items include the classic stir fry, noodles, soups, salads and more. One of the most popular dishes is the Gadoog Moo, which is fried pork riblets with fried garlic. The Thaam Tahd platter is another favorite with papaya salad, eggs, Lao sausage, clams, fried meatballs, pork loaf, vegetables, vermicelli noodles and pork rinds.

Nalinh Market
Nalinh Market was given a shout out by Bon Appetit in their Restaurant City of the Year article. Courtesy of Nalinh Market

Spices of India Kitchen

833 E. Shady Grove Road

Established in 2015, Spices of India Kitchen serves some of the best Indian food in North Texas. With a hole in the wall vibe, the space is very simple, but has a photo of the last supper taking up an entire wall. Anyway, about the food.

At Spices, the most popular dishes include Butter Chicken, Goat Curry, Beef Roast and Chicken Tikki Masala. Besides beef and chicken, the menu includes duck, prawns, fish and vegetable dishes. Spices of India also offers a few North Indian dishes like noodles and fried rice. Biriany, a mixed rice dish, comes in chicken, mutton, fish, or kappa variations.

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