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Moving to Tyler, where do we eat?

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Help, moving from the DFW area to Tyler and trying not to panic about the restaurant selection. We like virtually all ethnic food (Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, little taquerias especially). We don't need fancy; in fact we'd rather eat at a (clean) dump with good food than a shiny new bland middle-of-the-road place. Oh, yeah, and barbecue is one of the few things I don't much care for.

Most locals seem to mention all the chains, which are OK in a pinch or when we're taking the kiddo, but what else is there?

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  1. Most of the restaurants in Tyler seem to be on or around Loop 323. I'm sure there's other hot spots, but that's what I usually see when I'm passing through there several times a year, heading from DFW to Lake Charles, LA. Believe it or not, my favorite rest stop is a drive thru chicken shack off 69 and Front St. called Southern Classic Fried Chicken. I know this isn't the droids you are looking for -- but, thought I'd just plug 'em cuz they're outstanding!

    I grew up near Mineola, but things have changed in Tyler since I was a kid. My folks and I used to make a monthly trip over to Longview to eat at Johnny Cace's. It's rather legendary, featuring New Orleans style seafood and steaks. It's worth the trek over there if you're in the mood for something out of the ordinary. They've got a cool piano bar and the place reeks of history, if not my own personal family history! That's my $0.02.

    1. Though not directly in Tyler, it always reminds me of Coffee Landing, several miles southwest on route 155 on the other side of Lake Palestine. I think they have one of the best seafood buffets in the area. Crawfish, snowcrab, shrimp, cathfish, etc. Their oysters are good too. Definitely recommend it.

      Address: 8386 State Highway 155, Frankston, TX 75763

      2 Replies
      1. re: BentoBox

        Unfortunately, Coffee Landing was destroyed by a fire in April...

        1. re: ChristieP

          Well, shoot. Too bad as I really liked that place.
          Certainly appreciate the update.

      2. Just go ahead and panic.

        Seriously, I live 60 miles away in an even smaller town, but you are destined to go through severe restaurant withdrawal. One place you need to find, however, is Country Tavern. It's a rib joint about half way between Tyler and Kilgore on Tex. 31. Just tell them you want the large rib plate and enjoy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Mike C. Miller

          I second this recommendation. Country Tavern has the best pork ribs in Texas--pretty much the only pork ribs that I actively enjoy here (I'm a Southern boy at heart).

        2. We were just in Tyler over the holidays and ate at a mexican restaurant in the town square that was not only good but so cheap!

          1 Reply
          1. re: mom2kec

            Don Juan's (I prefer the one on the square) is a good place for Mexican (I don't like El Charro, but I know that I'm in the minority). I also agree that you can't go wrong with Stanley's. Bernard's is very good IMO. Bruno's has the best pizza in Tyler, and is family friendly. Good ladies-who-lunch places (or good places for lunch!): Potpourri House (good salad bar; try to overlook the kitschy atmosphere, although it does have its own charm), the Eatery on 8th Street (next to the former Amy B's), and Chez Bazan (good lunch specials; the only place to get anything approaching *real* French bread in Tyler). The Village Bakery has good old-school baked goods. Julian's (Asian fushion) is hit or miss, but when it's good it is really good. Cimarron specializes in *little plates* and is worth a try. Liang's has cheap lunch specials and is refreshingly NOT a Chinese buffet. For old-school American-style Italian, I recommend Joe's (a total dive BTW). Jucy's has excellent burgers. There is an Indian grocery store/restaurant on 5th Street that is ok, but nothing great. There is a Cajun restaurant (Fat Cats?) across from Potpourri house that's not bad. It is possible to avoid eating at chains in Tyler--and really the *restaurant-scape* isn't as desolate as it might initially appear. :)

          2. Tyler isn't a great restaurant town by any stretch of the imagination, but there are a few places (mom n pops) that are worth going out for. The big joke answer to your question would be, "My house."

            For something nicer, you should try Bernard's or Currents or drive a few minutes out to Kiepersol Estates. I saw the chef of Mansion on the Hill buying Select beef at the local grocery store a few months ago... sorry, that's the kiss o death if you ask me.

            For a quick weeknight, Little Italy (Broadway), Don Juan's (west Erwin)(the old one, no bar, alas, better atmosphere for kids, however), Peking (5th St.), all great, family friendly and cheap. For lunch, Jersey Mike's makes a fine Yankee-style grinder sandwich. Shogun's sushi is fine, the waitress is a battleax and there's smoking at the bar (yuck) but the Lobster roll is to die for. The fellow who mentioned Southern Classic didn't really do them justice, it's really slap your mama good fried chicken, just get chicken and fries, it's what they do best, they don't make biscuits or very good sides, but their yardbird is fab. And one more really great lunch place is El Lugar, up on Gentry Parkway, the old one, I ate at the two new ones recently and was seriously disappointed. They don't take credit cards.

            I know you said no bbq, but Stanley's BBQ (Beckham) is owned by nice folks who book bands sometimes and they have a damn fine fish taco.

            Let me be the first to say, Welcome to Tyler.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lee Ashwood

              Mansion on the Hill is no more. The location is now a Mexican place I think.

              I agree with El Lugar -- the old one is on Hwy. 271, not Gentry. We have had a couple of good meals at No. 2 as well. It's in the Southeast Crossing shopping center on Troup Highway just inside Loop 323.

              Margarita's Cafe on East Front Street is good for casual Tex-Mex and some conventional Mexican.

            2. Thanks, y'all! We already had found Don Juan's... the original... and thought their tacos were pretty good indeed, but most of the others I hadn't yet heard of; they will go on the list! (Yes, I'm a dork, I keep a list of places to eat.) Thanks and I will share any finds I make as well.

              2 Replies
              1. re: fowo

                Go to Bernard's-not Currents, Go to Los Guerros-Not El Lugar. Los Guerros has more sauce selections and less grease....best Taqueria in Tyler on Palace Street.

                Villa Montez is where Mansion on Hill used to be...we have been 1x/wk for last 2 months and other than a couple of slips with service it is really good....not Tex-Mex but fresh latin menu.

                The old El Charro's on Erwin is only place we eat Tex-Mex...stay away from Mercado's....too cheesy (both food and atmosphere).

                Also on Palace just down from Los Guerros is Bruno's...great pizza/sandwiches/salads.

                The fish tacos at Stanley's are greatness. The downtown Don Juan's sells margaritas so we go there instead of Erwin. Happy hunting.....

                1. re: hhhill

                  I'll second or third Bernard's. They have a wonderful way with fish. My sister and I eat there every time we're in the area. Also, I adore the Keippersol Estates. Gorgeous dining room; very expensive and very good. They have a "wall of wine" that is a joy; also, they are now bottling their own wines. I received a gift of two '05 or '06 reds they're proud of and the wine was lush.

              2. Market Street in Colleyville

                1. Don't panic. DFW is only two hours away. For ethnic, go to Julian's and the Thai place downtown on the square. Neither is great but they will tide you over. I also like the fried rice at Ming's but that is strictly a guilty pleasure. As is Jucy's. Best burger in town. Unless you really like Sushi, don't go to Shogun. It is like a 70s Benihanna where you will pay $20 per head for ten small shrimp and some rice. The grocery store (main Brookshire's) has made on the premises sushi. For Mexican you should try Pico de Gallo. Do not believe the locals when it comes to Gilbert's El Charro. You will not like unless you like scarcely tasteful velveta on flour tortillas style "Mexican food." And don't go on your own, eventually you will have to go there for some reason. Bernard's is just great and Jake's, downtown, is pretty nice, rich people cocktails kind of place. There are lots of tacquerias around, other than El Lugar, I haven't really been. St. Louis Rib Factory is worth a try. You might like. It is like the antirestaurant. Bad location, odd exultation of St. Louis in Texas, odd idea that you would want food, especially ribs, from a factory. Ribs are fine anywhere, Stanley's, Rudy's, Spring Creek. Eventually you will have to go to the Country Tavern for ribs, but you won't be able to figure out what the fuss is about. Kiepersol is a good place for a nice dinner out. Welcome.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: haskell1

                    Thai place on the square is no more. Jucy's does have the best burger by far in Tyler. El Charro (the original #1 on Erwin Street) is a Tyler institution and rightly so. Great Tex-Mex and, believe it or not, a killer chicken fried steak. They use NO velveeta cheese by the way. Villa Montez is good and getting better. Bernard is the best restaurant in town in my opinion. Dakota's is also good, especially their soft shell crab on angel hair pasta. Don Juan's on the square is very good. Country Tavern is good but, alas, not as good as it once was. I agree that Julian's has the best Chinese food in town. The soul food buffet at Loggin's is always packed and for good reason--the food is great. I would post more but you say you don't want "fancy."

                  2. You're getting mostly good information from the replies. I can't find anything I like more than Don Juan's (E. Erwin) #14 Emoletas (sp) chicken mole enchiladas. Their chips are the best I've had anywhere - Period. (They're probably cooked in lard?) Juicy's has Tyler's best burger but East Texas' best burger is in Frankston on 155 across from the High School - Country Kitchen. They also have an understatedly great buffet. Chicken fried steak, fried chicken, fried okra, mashed potatoes, baked beans, corn bread etc.etc. The bread pudding is way above average and if it was ever made with whiskey could be fantastic. BTW 6 miles south of Frankston is my favorite golf course on earth - 4.5 star from Golf Digest. It's truly the Field of Dreams for Golfers.

                    Ricks and Jakes downtown on the square are WAY above average but pricey. Jakes menu is recently new and on the upscale side of dining. If you were blind folded and plopped there from New York, San Francisco or Chicago you might still feel right at home.

                    If you find any Belgian or Craft beer in Tyler, please let me know.

                    1. Is Red Ackers still around? This used to be THE go to place for catfish 20 years ago. I understand they moved closer to Tyler, but used to be out on Lake Palestine somewhere.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Spencer

                        Red Acker's burned down six or seven years ago.

                      2. East Texas Hamburger Company in Mineola , which is 20 mins away . Great burgers and , perhaps more important , hand cut fresh french fries.......enjoy .

                        1. Keipersol Estates is as close to the dining you're used to in DFW....pricey, but the winery is a nice backdrop, and the local grapes don't disappoint.

                          BTW, Bruno's is currently building on the old Petrofac location on south FM 2493 (Old Jacksonville Hwy)...great pizza, and the meatballs aren't bad either...not sure if this is a second location, or they're moving from the way-too-small place they already have.

                          Sadly, Tyler seems to attract more 'chain' restaurants than unique dining experiences...and there are very few places to get a quality breakfast (my favorite meal on weekends). Welcome to East Texas!

                          1. What about The Shed at Edom?

                            Great little home-cooking cafe and pie place. It's just a few miles west of the Tyler airport.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: buck

                              The Shed isn't the same. Not only has the quality of the menu gone down, thanks to a new owner, so has the attitude. You'll find the most hateful, rude waitresses around. All the locals are across the street at the Edom Bakery.

                              1. re: chellibell

                                We enjoyed that buttermilk pie...... Teenage waitresses were useless, have to agree on that.

                            2. It is a bit out of the way, just off the interstate to the north is a little BBQ joint called the Bodacious BBQ. Great ribs, brisket, etc. Just good Ol' Texas meat products with a sprinkling of excellent coleslaw.