When I moved to Prosper, Texas, in October of 2020 during the raging pandemic, it was difficult to connect with isolated neighbors or make new friends.
One of the first neighbors I was lucky to encounter suggested checking out The Cotton Gin, Prosper's oldest diner located downtown.
Founded in 2001, The Gin, as locals call it, was a much-needed oasis for the less than 3,000 residents to eat, gather, meet, greet and hold community events.
That's a far cry from the 31,700 people estimated to live in Prosper as of 2021.
The Gin Is A Traditional Small-Town Diner
Texas is famous for its small-town diners, which uphold a culinary tradition of comfort food extending all the way back to the state's cattle-driving chuckwagon origins.
“A poet could write volumes about diners, because they're so beautiful. They're brightly lit, with chrome and booths and Naugahyde and great waitresses. Now, it might not be so great in the health department, but I think diner food is really worth experiencing periodically.”
― David Lynch
During my first visit, I was excited to discover that the small-town Texas diner sits in the shadows of Prosper's original cotton gins.
As I entered The Gin's street-front building, I immediately felt at home. The people were friendly, and the exposed brick walls of the front dining room were lined with large comfy wooden booths.
Classic Texas Diner Breakfasts
The menu offers classic diner food. If you arrive before 11:00 am, you can indulge in a wide selection of traditional hearty breakfast favorites.
The Gin Breakfast includes eggs, hash browns, a choice of meats, and toast. Chicken fried steak with eggs proudly resides on the breakfast menu.
After 11:00 am, you can still request the Breakfast 4 Dinner option. If you're starving, you can add pancakes, French toast, or a side of old-fashioned grits.
My evil twin is a sucker for the blueberry pancakes, but my good twin enjoys the avocado toast.
The lunch and dinner menu offers traditional selections, including Waygu burgers, sandwiches, and the Wagyu Chicken Fried Steak, complete with country mashed potatoes, cream gravy, and a choice of corn or slaw.
No Texas diner would be worth their weight in gold without at least one chicken fried steak offering.
Famed Texan Larry McMurty wisely noted: Only a rank degenerate would drive 1,500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken fried steak.
Weekly Specials Light Up The Already Great Menu
One of my favorite weekly specials is The Gin's French Dip sandwich. Generous slices of tender, juicy roast beef are layered with Provolone Cheese on a French Baguette. The Au Jus dipping sauce is plentiful and piping hot.
The sandwich comes with your options of sides include traditional crinkle or waffle fries or a range of veggies. My favorite side is traditional fried Okra with a bit of Ranch on the side. Other yummy sides also beckon.
Whenever the French Dip is the daily special, I immediately push away favorites like the Waygu Cheeseburger or the turkey club. The Gin also has pizza offerings, appetizers, and desserts.
A Full-Service Restaurant
Besides a full menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Gin offers a fully stocked bar and an outdoor patio with live entertainment on specific nights.
As you nestle in for a lovely stay at The Gin, always be on your best behavior. You never know when you'll bump into a neighbor or two stopping by for some home cooking, a cold brew, or some foot-stomping tunes.
Tips: The Cotton Gin is located at 204 S Broadway St. in downtown Prosper. The Gin is not open on Sundays. For additional hours of operation or any additional information, visit the Gin's website.