Moving to Tyler, where do we eat?
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?
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.
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
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.
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. :)
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.
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.