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La Plazita Mexican Restaurant: A Gathering Place for Authentic Tastes

La Plazita mexican tyler tx eguide restaurants 2Written and Photographed By Barbara King

How can you tell that you’ve stumbled across an authentic Mexican restaurant? The first clue might be that La Plazita is family owned and operated, and that the Cornelio family originates from Mexico. The family opened their dream business nine years ago, on Highway 64 just before you get to the airport.

The name is unique and different too, and as daughter Mayra explains, “it means ‘center of town,’ or ‘gathering place’ in Spanish and describes just what we hope happens here. People come and visit, eat, mingle, and enjoy our food.”

Chances are you will be greeted, seated, and served by a member of the extended Cornelio family, be it a sister, brother-in-law, niece, or nephew. The restaurant, opened by Mario and his wife Del, is a testimony to years of hard work, a passion for food, and a love of people. The couple even reside next door, right next to the umbrella-laden patio for outside dining.

“My father learned about the restaurant business from years of working himself up from dishwasher, to bus boy, to chef,” explains Cornelio. “Our whole family knows how hard you have to work to be successful, because there are lots of different options when you go out to eat. We put our heart and soul into making our guests feel at home, and our reputation is really important, because it reflects our pride in our family.”

The bright and colorful dining room is a beehive of activity at lunchtime, and every table and booth is packed with customers. People can spot a good deal when they see one, and they often recognize the authenticity of the food and also the extravagant portions. Mayra laughs and says that she can spot a first-timer at the restaurant. “They have no idea how generous the portions are and will order, for example, three enchiladas and will always end up taking them home.”

What’s on the menu at La Plazita? Everything you could imagine when searching for authentic Mexican cuisine and a lot more. Begin your culinary journey with an appetizer, and there’s lots to choose from, Chile con queso, guacamole, pico de gallo, charro beans, or nachos.

Listed on their menu as favorites are Guerrero Enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas and Carne Asada. You can mix it up and get combos of tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, tamales, flautas and stuffed bell peppers. Lunch specials that are served alongside beans or a Mexican salad include cheese enchiladas, crispy tacos, smoked sausage tacos, or lunch fajitas. Chips and salsa are included with the purchase of any entrée.

Lunch entrées are served Monday-Saturday from 11am-3pm, ranging from $7.99-$8.99, and you’ll get your money’s worth if you order fajita wraps, vegetable quesadillas, or carne asada.

Dinner entrées will have your taste buds in an uproar. Specialties include Chicken Monterey, grilled pork chops, tamales, sour cream enchiladas, burritos, tacos, and three-colored enchiladas. The green sauce is spicy with a kick but highly recommended by pleased customers. Menudo (Mexican soup) with tortillas is the weekend featured special on Saturdays and Sundays.

La Plazita is most definitely a family environment, so bring the kids for their small size tacos, enchiladas, nachos, grilled cheese, chicken tenders, hamburger, cheeseburgers, or hot dogs.

For the less adventurous, they offer several American-style items such as salads like avocado, chef, and fiesta; sandwiches such as chicken salad, club, grilled ham and cheese, and BLTs; chicken-fried steak and hamburgers.

Don’t forget dessert! For $1.89, you can feast on a sopapilla, the warm Mexican pastry, drizzled with honey and dusted with cinnamon sugar, and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. Chocolate lovers get ready for a chocolate chimichanga, a flour tortilla stuffed with a snickers bar, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, and topped with chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a cherry.

Karen, a transplant to East Texas from southern California, was enjoying a late lunch and raved about the flavor. “Living in California, I was exposed to great Mexican food,” she said. “You tend to favor the things you grew up with, and I spent a lot of time looking for that authentic taste, and I found it here.”

Reservations are not required, but Cornelio encourages larger groups to call ahead because the dining room only holds about 100 guests. “My parents are so proud to see the business growing and growing,” she says, “and plans are underway to expand the dining room.” Catering is available for special events, but orders must be picked up from the restaurant.

What you will not see at La Plazita is glitzy signage, expensive menus, or fancy tablecloths, but you will get great authentic food, great service, and a comfortable atmosphere.

“We feel that what makes us different is the extra care we take in preparing everything fresh, from the enchiladas to the salsa to the beans,” says Cornelio. “We care that when you leave, you’ll come back and maybe bring more friends and family with you.”

Come visit the Cornelio family and join them for a meal at La Plazita, located at 11980 Highway 64W., Tyler, close to the Tyler Pounds Field Airport.

Restaurant hours are Monday-Thursday 7am to 9pm, Friday 7am to 10pm, Saturday 6:30am-10pm and Sunday 7am to 3pm.

For more information call (903)526-4193.

Around East Texas

Festival of Fruit: 34th Annual Tomato Fest Saturday, June 9th

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34th Annual Tomato Fest Saturday, June 9th

Welcome to Jacksonville – home of the best tasting fruit – tomatoes!

Local farmers are busy getting ready for the upcoming 34th Annual Tomato Fest in Jacksonville, Texas by planting acres of the best tastin’ tomatoes. Join the celebration Saturday, June 9th in downtown Jacksonville for a BIG day of activities that will be happening all day long. Over 200+ vendors and all kinds of festival food, including the famous fried green tomatoes, Farmers Market, $500 Got Talent Contest, Car Show, Motorcycle Show, Tennis Tournament, Soccer Tournament, Softball Tournament, Entertainment, Kidz Zone, and so much more will cover 5 blocks downtown. Tomato events include Salsa Contest, Tomato Eating and Peeling Contest, Tomato Archery, Tomato Shoot, Best Home Grown Tomato Contest, Tomato Packing Contest and tour the Tomato Shed. Saturday evening, Chili’s Street Dance will take place featuring Brian Chance Band and Lady Chazz and the Tramps. 

Activities kick off on Saturday, June 2nd with a 5k run sponsored by All Smiles. Monday, June 4th and Tuesday, June 5th is Family First Clinic’s corporate challenge Dodgeball Tournament. On Wednesday, June 6th, a Gospel Concert sponsored by Whataburger featuring, The Group, will perform at Central Baptist Church. New this year on Thursday, June 8th  is the Farm to Table dinner event that will take place at Castle on the Lake on beautiful Lake Jacksonville and will be catered by Rob Gowin, Sadler’s Kitchen & Catering. A 4 Man Scramble takes place at the Cherokee Ranch Golf Club on Friday, June 8th. The final Tomato Fest week celebration ends at Lake Jacksonville with a Ski Show on Sunday, June 10th.

Taste for yourself the best tomatoes and fun festival packed with lots to do for everyone.  For additional information, contact Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce at (903)586-2217, or go to or

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East Texans Learn to “Live Healthy”

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This Month at Integrative Health Matters:

Integrative Health Matters offers a healthy alternative to losing weight.

“Food is the real medicine. Through our innovative, hands-on programs, we aim to inspire healthy change through education. Diseases, chronic conditions, inflammation, and immune system disorders are often attributed to diet. Food is the medicine that can fix the problem. Integrative Health Matters is lifestyle medicine. It’s not about drugs and doctor’s appointments. It’s about how to eat right, how to think right, and to understand all the things we have to do to stay healthy,” said neurosurgeon Guy Danielson, medical director and founder of Integrative Health Matters. “This is root cause (medicine), not covering up symptoms with something from the pharmacy. The pharmacy is out in the garden.”

The public has opportunities to visit Integrative Health Matters at any of these classes:

  • Every Wednesday (12:15-1:15pm) – Mindful Movements ; (5:15-6:15pm) – “Just Breathe” Meditation
  • May 4th (10-11am) – Functional Food Friday: Detoxing
  • May 8th (6-7:30pm) – Kitchen Talk: Tabbouleh with Karol
  • May 11th (10-11am) – Functional Food Friday: Eating Seasonally
  • May 21st (6-7:30pm) – The Good News About Type 2 Diabetes
  • May 22nd (6-7:30pm) – Kitchen Talk: Raising Healthy Eaters
  • May 25th (10-11am) – Functional Food Friday: Eating Healthy on a Budget

Cooking classes offered twice monthly are in-depth health and cooking presentations. These “Kitchen Talks” invite the public into the IHM instructional kitchen to learn to cook tasty and nutritious meals and create a healthy home environment.

Integrative Health Matters is located at 419 WSW Loop 323 #400 in Tyler, next to La Madeleine. For information about Integrative Health Matters, contact (903)595-8077 or visit


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Around East Texas

Pure Bliss at M6 Winery

M6 Winery:

Celebrating Life & Good Things

Written and Photographed by Barbara Greenbauer

Take some time to wind down, breathe, and enjoy a superb glass of wine at M6 Winery & Tasting Room and Gift Shop in downtown Bullard. Owners Joe and Anne Moody set the pace as the charming and affable owners who greet you at the door and welcome you inside.

The atmosphere is palatable the minute you arrive, inside the front door is a Texas trove of hand-made one of a kind wood pieces that can either house your own wine collection or accent it. Move along into the inner room and you will feel right at home as you order wine, food, and listen to live music.

Joe Moody is in his element and passionate about his foray into the wine business. Relying on his business background and his interest in the wine-making industry, he has developed an inventory of his own, a grand selection of whites and reds that will be taste bud treats to either the wine connoisseur or novice.

“Wine is about celebrating life and the good things,” explains Moody. “Anne and I have traveled from California to Italy and experienced multitudes of vineyards and tasting rooms.  We were ready to bring all of our experiences to East Texas.” M6 derives its name from the Moody’s family of six, including the four grown children who were a piece of the business from its infancy. M6 Winery & Tasting Room is nestled on a corner of downtown Bullard, a piece of property Joe Moody has owned for over 20 years that has served as his office for both an oil/gas and real estate business over the years.

“Creating a good wine is an act of love and patience,” explains Moody. “Grapes cannot be rushed and in the process, you have to be aware of what you are looking for in a flavor profile. It takes a lot of planning and preparation; blending is like art with different aromas, colors, and flavors.”

The tasting room is an experience in itself, from the beautiful front and center bar fashioned from the ribs of wine barrels to the tin roof and rough cedar ceiling accents. Choose your wine and sit back while local musicians entertain.

There’s another great space outside that the Moody’s affectionately call The Vinery, a vine-covered patio with plenty of room and great furniture to sit on while you  enjoy the Texas weather.

Your palette will applaud you when you sample an M6 original wine. White wines include the Blue Norther, an aromatic semi-sweet Riesling with hints of apples and stone fruit. The Bluebonnet is an off-dry white blend, perfect for poultry, fish, and pasta dishes. Or try the Sweet TexAnne, named for Mrs. Moody, with sweet honeysuckle and strawberry overtones. This wine is perfect for summer salads and cheeses and is sweet enough to serve as a light dessert wine.

The Texas Viognier is an unoaked, medium to full-bodied dry wine, with notes of pears, honeysuckle, and tangerine. It pairs well with roasted poultry, orange chicken, seafood, apricots, fennel, capers, or pumpkin.

M6’s Rosé wines include the Blushing Texan, a semi-sweet Rosé wine blend with a light pink color. The appropriately monikered Tyler Rosé is a dry blend with a touch of High Plains Zinfandel. This blend was created especially for our local Tyler market and its famous association with roses.

If red is more your thing, there are lots to choose from. Friendship Red is made with the hearty Ruby Cabernet grape. It is a great compliment to all things pasta, as it goes great with all sauces, from marinara to Alfredo.

The Moodys very first Signature Blend is Vintner’s Touch, a bold red blend that pairs well with roasted meats. This blend is made from grapes grown both in Texas and California.

Red Texana is great with Texas BBQ or Tex-Mex dishes. It is full-bodied and made from the Ruby Cabernet grape. It has a spicy finish.

Feel free to pair your wine with meat, cheese, or combo plates, olive oil with bread and spices, or a slider plate. Paired flights include a chocolate or cheese, and of course, you can do a Tasting Flight of five different wines and keep the signature M6 tasting glass. M6 wines range from an affordable $18 to $28 a bottle.

Be part of the family and join the M6 Wine Club to experience the best of their offerings with five special wine shipments annually. When it’s time to get your selections, M6 offers a complimentary glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres to members at pickup parties.

M6 can host your private party and create personalized wine labels to commemorate any event from birthdays to anniversaries.

Joe has nothing but compliments for the wine-growing community in East Texas, saying “We are all very supportive of each other and share resources and information.”

Mark your calendars for the Piney Woods Wine Festival, running May 11th-12th and join M6 and the other 18 wineries on the trail for a spectacular weekend of music, art, and of course, lots of wine to taste.

Lauren and Bobby Grounds from Tyler wanted a new destination and searched the internet for wine and live music and found M6. “We love this venue,” said Lauren. “It’s very different and fun, and the wine is fantastic.” They were trying the Blue Norther and the Blushing Texan with a cheese plate and Billy said “We will definitely be back. We like the atmosphere here.  It’s very welcoming.”

Joe is thrilled that M6 wines are featured at favorite Tyler restaurants, including Rotolo’s, Dakotas, and the Grove. “Mention that you would like to try an M6 wine and you won’t be disappointed,” he said.

The Moodys welcome you to experience M6 Winery & Tasting Room. “We want everyone who visits us to feel like they are our honored guest,” said Joe Moody.

M6 is open Saturdays from 1-6:30pm and is located at 201 W. Main St., Bullard. They can be reached at (903)360-0369, by email at, or on Facebook at M6Winery.

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