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Leo’s Asian Bistro: A Much Needed Niche in the Dining Scene

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leos tyler tx eguideWritten and Photographed by Barbara King

Let’s discuss a hidden gem in Lindale that’s like no other. A tribute to the best Asian cuisine added to the ambience of upscale dining, and you have Leo’s…a dining experience of unparalleled excellence.

Leo’s Asian Bistro is the epitome of a family affair, and this is evident in everything from the décor, to the food, to the exceptional service. The Crist family, formerly of Julian’s, bring their painstaking attention to detail, their love of family, and great food to their passion about their restaurant.

leos-tyler-tx-eguide-5They are pioneers in the concept and design of an open kitchen where you can sit right next to the sushi chef, have a drink and soak up the atmosphere. This is definitely a destination for fine dining with the flair and the exotic feel of the big city.

Carey Crist is the effervescent “front man” of the business and he explains, “We want to bring a new and exciting option to dining that highlights the best of us. This is a dream and vision that we all share, and we are extremely proud of how it has evolved.”

Brother and Chef Lonnie is the soft-spoken creative genius behind the spectacular dishes on the menu. “We utilize only fresh ingredients in all our dining options and offer healthy bowls and numerous gluten-free entrées as well.” It is truly a labor of love in the kitchen, with sauces prepared every day and with 95% of ingredients fresh, not frozen. Friday and Saturday nights feature spectacular sushi, surf-n-turf rolls, spicy and crunch rolls, lobster crunch and California favorites. More adventurous types can feast on tuna, salmon, and escolar sashimi or try the same options with Nigiri.

leos-tyler-tx-eguide-7You’re probably wondering where the moniker Leo’s comes from? The brothers love to recount the story from their childhood, when they teasingly referred to each other as “Leo.” “Now the nickname represents and symbolizes a partnership that we can’t walk away from,” explains Carey. Even their logo epitomizes the four branches of their business, the ‘o’ in Leo is a four cornered square, representing the two brothers and their wives.

Service and relationship building is key to success, and one thing that is sure, you will be well taken care of during your dining experience. Carey and Stacey’s daughter Hayley will greet you with a great smile, and returning customers are remembered and called by name. The beautifully stocked bar is front and center, and guests are surprised to see wine on tap. The restaurant has already made a name for itself with specialty drinks like the fired up wok line martini, Leo’s Long Island and a plethora of Asian beers to choose from.

leos-tyler-tx-eguide3Lindale’s Mayor Pro-Tem, Jeff Daugherty, was enjoying a father-daughter dinner date, with his daughter Regan Hutchinson. “We come here often,” Daugherty said. “It is a much welcomed addition to Lindale and fills a much needed niche in the dining scene.” Regan raved about the lettuce wraps and spring rolls they were sharing for appetizers, followed by teriyaki beef and orange chicken. “Not only is the food excellent,” she said, “the service and attention to detail make it a great special evening.”

The menu is extensive and Executive Chef Lonnie takes pride in both the taste and presentation. Appetizers run the gamut from crispy wonton strips to baby-bang shrimp and chicken (a gluten-free choice). Start your meal with an incredible soup like hot and sour, creamy cilantro or Thai coconut and lemongrass.

leos-tyler-tx-eguide-2Then make a salad choice, from mango shrimp, Leo’s spicy chicken or Thai steak. Leo’s bowls are legendary, including health bowls (carrots, onions, broccoli, ginger, mushroom with beef, chicken or shrimp), teriyaki chicken, Thaiphoon bowl (filet mignon wok seared with onions, mushrooms, cilantro, mint, basil, garlic, chili paste and soy sauce), Pad Thai noodle bowl, or a shrimp bowl.

Entrées include all kinds of scrumptious chicken choices, including orange chicken, coconut curry chicken, sweet and sour, Leo’s own spicy chicken, Kung Pao, honey seared and sesame chicken.

Of course there’s beef… Hibachi steak and lobster, mango beef, Kung Pao, pepper steak and sesame beef.

leos-tyler-tx-eguide-6Knowing the Crist family means that they value your family too, so there is a Lil’ Leo’s just for kids menu featuring vegetable fried rice, chicken bites with broccoli, and chicken and beef bowls.

You can also call ahead and find out about the lunch specials and they will have your order ready for pickup. Additionally, Leo’s can cater an out of this world menu for your wedding, corporate event, family reunion and other special events.

The Crist family lives in Lindale and supports the east Texas community. Tyler artist Amanda Slaughter’s vibrant art lines the walls, while the decadent cheesecakes come from local baker Bryan Méndez.

“We have been humbled and blessed to be able to live and thrive in this community,” said Jennifer Crist, Chef Lonnie’s wife. Together with Carey’s wife, Stacey, these four dynamic and very different personalities have created a labor of love that is a strong balance of love, family, and great food.

leos-tyler-tx-eguide-7“We make decisions together as a team, and Carey and Lonnie are strong leaders,” Jennifer said. We have the same goals: to build relationships, provide great food and service, and to make it a unique and special experience for everyone who comes through our doors.” “We have fun and get it done,” adds Stacey, “and as anyone who runs a small business knows, at the end of the day you have to love each other and love what you do.”

As the night winds down, Lonnie and Jennifer’s daughter Skyla, 7 years old, gets a hug from dad and some specially made sushi as she shares her love of Leo’s, proudly telling of serving water and the after hours “dance off” she leads as everyone unwinds after a busy Saturday night.

Join the Crist family and make Leo’s your next destination for an unforgettable adventure in dining!

Leo’s Asian Bistro is located at 2808 South Main in Lindale in the Sherwin Williams Shopping Center. Hours are Tuesday-Thursday from 11am to 9pm, Friday and Saturday 11am to 10pm.

Leo’s is closed Sunday and Monday. Call (903)882-5367 or www.leosasianbistro.com or on Facebook leosasianbistro.


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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  JacksonvilleTexas.com/Tomato-Fest or Facebook.com/JacksonvilleChamber.

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Fitness

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 ihm.life.

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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 info@m6winery.com, or on Facebook at M6Winery.

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