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Romance is in the Air (& Stomach) Again

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Make Some Different Plans for a Day of Love

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and that means – wait, let’s guess, cards, flowers, and candy. There’s nothing wrong with that, I mean who doesn’t love roses and chocolate. But if you are thinking about spending the day doing something a little different, we’d like to make a few suggestions for dialing up the romance, sizzle, and sweetness that this holiday is all about.

The Fancy

A night on the town sometimes involves a fancy dinner. Tyler has an abundance of excellent restaurants offering everything from seafood to steaks. Reservations are highly recommended.

Texas de Brazil – 2376 Dueling Oaks, Ste. 100, Tyler

For the love of meat! Be sure to try the newest fine dining in town. Texas de Brazil is a Brazilian Steak House located just off of Old Jacksonville in Tyler. For one set price, they’ve got an endless amount of food to serve. To start, there is a wide selection salad bar – included in the price of the meal – and an all you can eat main course. The best part is, you never have to leave your seat, for the main course that is. If you are interested in this new fine dining experience, be sure to check it out.

Dakota’s – 4803 Old Bullard Rd., Tyler

Dakota’s is an intimate restaurant with a nice patio for more casual dining and drinks with an exceptional menu. From oysters Rockefeller to the steak and prime rib, and seafood main courses, the options on their menu are endless. Open for lunch and dinner, Dakota’s has little alcoves for some roomy tables which are romantically cozy and private. Susan Dent said, “Dakotas is our ‘go to’ place for any special occasion. We go for every Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, most birthdays, and sometimes ‘just because.’ The food is consistently delicious. Service is always great. It’s pretty and it’s quiet and intimate and such a nice change from so many other restaurants. It’s a perfect place for a romantic evening.”

Kiepersol Restaurant – 1508 Merlot Ln., Bullard

It is always first class food and service at Kiepersol. I have no doubt that you and your Valentine will enjoy dinner at this quaint, quiet, and overall incredible restaurant. From Duck cigars with crunchy relish and plum sauce to heavenly lobster bisque, steaks, and crab crusted Sea Bass, their menu features a wonderful selection. Wines, of course, are from Kiepersol’s on-site vineyard; they are a highlight. Bananas Foster and Cherries Jubilee are prepared tableside and is a show to behold.

Bernard’s Mediterranean Restaurant – 212 Old Grande Blvd., Tyler

Bernard’s has long been a go-to spot for people with special occasions. The intimate setting creates a very romantic and special dinner. Mediterranean-themed cuisine features everything from stuffed trout to rack of lamb and everything in between. What they have available sometimes varies, and they have daily specials. The Blanc De Poulet Campagnard, Sea Bass, and Lamb Chops are fantastic. There’s nothing not to love about this quiet upscale restaurant with excellent food, good wine, and perfect service.

Jack Ryan’s Steak & Chophouse – 102 N. College Ave., Tyler

The 1930’s Deco bank building is beyond beautiful. You step back in time when you enter, and the exceptional food is simply icing on the cake. When you first enter the foyer and see the grandeur of the staircase that leads up to the restaurant, you begin to realize you are in for a special experience. You are greeted at the grand front desk and with reservations made weeks in advance, immediately taken to your table. From an excellent wine list to a Tenderloin that will melt in your mouth, Jack Ryan’s will not disappoint. The Lobster Mac-N-Cheese appetizer is divine. The Chicago/San Francisco/Dallas and Cordon Bleu-trained chefs serve up brilliant sous vide meat perfectly seared and plated.

The Grove – 3500 Old Jacksonville Hwy, Tyler

If you have been to The Grove for lunch or to the Smoke Shack, this Cupid’s Day, try out the inside dining room for dinner. The menu hosts crab claws, Center Cut Filet, Center Cut Ribeye, Prime Bone In Ribeye, Jidori Chicken, Chilean Sea Bass, Beef Wellington, Pecan Crusted Salmon, Maple Roasted Duck, and much more. Lamb Lollipops and the famous Cap’n Crunch Shrimp are great starters. The Grove Kitchen and Gardens is a unique property and features chef-crafted menus set on a sprawling, beautiful piece of land in the heart of Tyler. The main restaurant is a beautiful indoor dining area, a covered patio dining as well as an open patio. All dining areas all look on to a beautiful courtyard area that has music performers most weekends. The Grove is a great place to take a date – it’s the perfect choice for treating special people on special occasions!

Something Different

If you want to do something a little different this year, here are a few suggestions:

Roast Social Kitchen – 1125 E. 5th St., Tyler

Roast is a unique restaurant located in midtown Tyler. It is an eclectic restaurant with an industrial-chic vibe offering uniquely-created dishes by their excellent new Chef Thomas Mattson. There are different specials each week and depending on popularity, these new dishes will be added to the menu. The Shrimp & Grits (pictured) are to die for – amazingly fresh wild caught shrimp straight out of the Gulf into a savory Lone Star “beer blanc” sauce atop a roasted poblano and aged cheddar grit cake. Watch their Facebook page for daily creations. We love the Warmed Olive Bowl for a starter, the Grilled Hangar Steak is Texas Akaushi beef, Argentinian Chimichurri, roasted carrots. It’s hard to beat the famous Bee’s Knees pizza with roasted garlic, 4-cheese blend, soppressata, Italian sausage, Mike’s Hot Honey, thyme, and fresh orange. Roast has a great bar menu with the best Barrel Aged Old Fashioned around. Roast is where the truly cool go to hang out, whether for lunch, cocktails or dinner!

Daniel Boone’s Grill & Tavern – 1920 E SE Loop 323, Tyler

Come out and get your spurs on for hearty American eats amid Western decor and a menu full of fun slang and humor! Boone’s offers reliable fast, friendly service, big portions, tasty comfort food, and neat decor, plus free beans, chili beans, and ice cream with your meal. They also have an amazing bar with good drink prices. The Bucket of Bird is a favorite as well as the huge Chicken Fried “Stake.” The Big Boonie Burger is always freshly made, and the “Basskit, Bakin Lettice&Mator” sandwich served on Texas toast is excellent. This is a very casual restaurant, sure to make you laugh and enjoy the meal.

Villa Montez – 3324 Old Henderson Hwy., Tyler

From their website, “Villa Montez offers Latin-style seafood and meat dishes, plus comfort classics, presented in a swanky hilltop mansion.” Yes, you read that right – hilltop mansion! Villa Montez has awesome food and an old world rustic charm atmosphere. It has been consistently decorated with art and furniture that create a unique “Mediterranean Mexican” atmosphere. There is a downstairs cellar, two upper rooms for private gatherings, three dining rooms, and an expansive patio. Overall, the menu has very interesting dishes with a South American twist. We love the sea bass and the margarita shrimp, they’re both delicious. Kristi Arms said, “Villa Montez never disappoints. This is a go-to for special occasions or just a delicious meal in a beautiful setting. My favorite is the Chimichurri Steak and the salad with the chimichurri steak on it. I can never seem to get out of there without getting a huge slice of their fabulous chocolate cake! They say it is for sharing…which I will usually do if I am asked nicely.”

A Lively Night Out

Stanley’s Famous BBQ – 525 S. Beckham, Tyler

If you are in the mood to do something fun this Valentine’s Day, Stanley’s is the place to be. This place is lauded for several reasons, best known for its award-winning barbecue, but also for their heated and enclosed patio this time of year. It is a wonderfully, casually comfortable place to eat with family, friends, or your special someone. We think it would be romantic to split their famous Mother Clucker – Cadillac edition with candied bacon and avocado – seriously, what says “I love you” better than sharing this delicious creation? Ok, maybe sharing the ribs would be even better! Stanley’s will satisfy both your romantic side and a desire to have some fun. Stanley’s offers a nice selection of craft beers and bourbons, too.

El Charro’s on the Ridge – 6899 Oak Hill Blvd, Tyler

I remember eating at the old El Charros as a kid in the 1970’s. This El Charros has preserved a number of the old recipes from the original restaurant and has added a few new favorites. Our favorites are the famous house margaritas, the Combination Plate, and Tony’s Tacos. The lively atmosphere creates a fun environment, full of tradition and memories. Ask for the “special hot sauce” – it is yummy and definitely very special. The orange sauce…what can we say. We love the stuff. We went thru three baskets of chips, it was so good!

Mario’s Italian Restaurant – 7916 S. Broadway Ave., Tyler

Diner Jack Wilson said, “We love the ambiance of Mario’s. It’s our favorite Italian restaurant. We love the classic old style of the place. When you walk in, you are greeted like family. The main dining room is so charming. Mo and his incredible staff make sure you leave with a happy heart and a full belly. The food is always impeccable and being serenaded while you dine is delightful. You can even dance! I highly recommend this treasure.”

We couldn’t agree more. 

Mario’s atmosphere is very romantic in itself, and the entertainer playing big band music on weekend evenings really sets the stage for the fun Rat-Pack style atmosphere with the walls packed full of iconic movie posters and photos of famous stars from Hollywood’s golden years. The menu offers classic Italian favorites including lasagna, spaghetti with meatballs, veal picatta, Roman Platter, Veal Parmigiana, and shrimp scampi. The cannoli is definitely worth saving room for. “Mario’s is one of my husband’s and my favorite date night restaurants. Mario’s oozes romance!”

Kawa’s Hibachi Grill & Lounge – 1024 WSW Loop 323, Tyler

This is a perfect restaurant to show off – from everything including the modern designed décor and ambiance which is both beautiful and appealing, to impressive Japanese favorites, sashimi, and sushi, Kawa’s offers a date-worthy evening of entertainment and food. You will love the hibachi show cooked right in front of you, and you will absolutely adore the food. Lauren Brooks said, “We ordered Rainbow Rolls to start, then scallops (that were cooked to perfection), steak (melts in your mouth) and Chicken/Shrimp with Fried Rice and then sat back to watch the chef do his thing – which was not only an exhibition of skill at the grill but also entertaining. The food was so good! It was a very impressive evening.” Overall, Kawa’s would be a wonderful experience for Valentine’s Day date. There is the option of general seating or hibachi.

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Around East Texas

Rose City Farmers Market Downtown This Weekend

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By Barbara Greenbauer

Everything is blooming, growing, and flourishing in East Texas and it’s time to head back to the market!

Your Saturday mornings can be stupendous with by stopping downtown at the new Rose City Farmers Market location. Opening April 7th and running through the first weekend in November, the market is a neat, unique experience for the whole family.

Located just a block from the Square – in the Unclaimed Furniture parking lot in Tyler (236 S. Broadway),  the market is the place to be bright and early Saturday mornings from 8am-12 noon. Your senses will go wild with the atmosphere of the Rose City Farmers Market.

As part of the Food and Farm Coalition, their goal is to work toward a sustainable food system that meets the needs of both producers and consumers.

The market brings all that’s fresh straight to you: fruits, vegetables, and herbs all grown within 75 miles of Tyler. That includes pasture-raised beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and turkey, free-range/non GMO eggs, and goat cheeses.

Jessica Bullock, Director of the Farmers Market, says “We are excited about the opportunity to connect people with locally grown food in a great community gathering place Downtown.”

The move to downtown makes the market “easily accessible to everyone, which is extremely important to our mission,” explained Jessica. All items sold at market are 100% produced or grown by the vendors. “Everything you’ll see at the market has been grown, baked, or made by the vendors themselves, which may be a surprise to some,” said Jessica.

Eating seasonally is what the market is all about, and when you eat food grown locally, it’s is always harvested at the peak of its season. Local food is also not stored in shipping containers, so it doesn’t spoil or lose health benefits on its way.

Buying food at its peak season also benefits our local farmers because it costs less for producers to harvest and transport and those savings get passed down to you…it’s a huge win/win for everybody!

With the Market opening in April 7th and running through November 17th, every week will be a brand new adventure as the seasons change and different produce are featured. In April, a trip to the market will fill your senses with treasures from East Texas fields like arugula, carrots, kohlrabi, radishes, beets, turnips, strawberries, new potatoes, mustard greens, kale, lettuce, cilantro, onions, swiss chard and parsley.

The market is all about community, so you’ll find something for everyone from fresh bread to flowers, coffee, jams and jellies, and baked goods. Vendors also showcase Texas olive oil, handcrafted art, and Texas fruit wines.

And that’s not all you’ll get to see at the Market. Local musicians will be showcased every Saturday, plus a new exciting addition of rotating food trucks. “We are proud to serve as a venue to some of Tyler’s most talented musicians,” said Jessica. Bring a lawn chair and enjoy the perfect blend of food and music and great weather.

Vendors or members must meet certain goals including being located within 75 miles of the market, providing safe and fair working conditions for all farm workers, organic or natural methods, humanely raised animal products, beef and other grass-eating animals are grass fed, and dairy is rGHB-free. Find out more about becoming a member/vendor at foodcoalition.org.

The market depends on volunteers to set up and break down, help with displays, banners, and lots of behind the scenes work. What a great way to give back to the community! People interested in helping can contact rosecityfarmersmarket@gmail.com.

“We are thrilled to be part of the Downtown scene and to be able to partner with the great small businesses that are part of this growing culture,” said Jessica. “The new location is a perfect fit for the Market and the thriving downtown community.” “We would like to thank Bill & Cecilia Bush of Unclaimed Furniture for the space and the support.”

Bring the family and spend Saturday mornings at the Rose City Farmers Market, located at 302 S. Broadway in Downtown Tyler.

Visit them on Facebook at rosecityfamersmarket.com and foodcoalition.org.

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Food

Warm Weather and a Full Stomach…What’s Better? Fav Patios

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Spring and Outdoor Patios Go Hand in Hand:

Where to Eat & Drink Al Fresco This Spring

It’s that time of year – time to celebrate patio season by sitting outside and enjoying a patio. From garden atmospheres to cocktail bars and restaurants with expansive outdoor spaces, these establishments offer al fresco drinking and dining along with the opportunity to soak up some vitamin D.

Whether you are about grabbing a drink or just enjoying a meal and the cool spring atmosphere, Tyler has something for your tastes.

If you are seeking breakfast, brunch, afternoon cocktails, or a nice relaxing dinner, a local patio is a great place to spend the cooler springtime. Before it gets too hot, check out some of our reader’s favorite fun patios in Tyler.

Chuy’s Mexican Eatery (5935 S. Broadway, Tyler (903)509-2489) – Serving “big as yo’ face” burritos and other Tex-Mex dishes, Chuy’s is a great place to unwind after work. The Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken is to die for. Happy hour specials include drinks and food as well as a free chip bar inside in the bar area. The patio is covered by a palapa and has wind windows and fans which makes it nice year round. Also, large groups can easily sit outside on the patio. Inside is a fun, kitschy, Elvis-heavy setting.

The Catch (1714 S. Beckham, Tyler, (903)596-8226) – The cajun-inspired menu at The Catch brings locals and tourist in by droves and the outdoor patio is a great place to stretch out and enjoy a huge pan of boiled crawfish. This no frills, laid-back seafood restaurant’s covered patio has picnic style tables, ceiling fans and will protect you from the wind and sun. The Admiral’s Platter is great to share family-style at the table. All of the dishes come with huge portions with the plates are piled high. The shrimp po’boy rivals New Orleans with large fresh fried shrimp and remoulade sauce all combo’d to make a great sandwich.

Dakota’s Chophouse (4803 Old Bullard Rd., Tyler, (903)581-6700) – Dakota’s offers choice steaks, seafood and global wines served in sophisticated but never stuffy setting inside, but if you are wanting something more casual, we suggest sitting outside on the lovely patio. Live music makes for an overall enjoyable experience. It doesn’t get better than relaxing at Dakota’s on the patio on a Saturday night. Oysters Rockefeller are some of the best we had.

ETX Brewing Co. & The Porch (221 S. Broadway, Downtown Tyler, (903)630-7720) – ETX Brewery has been open for a while offering craft beers, tables inside, picnic tables outside, and a wonderful atmosphere reminiscent of the Austin vibe. When it’s warm outside, they will open the garage doors to combo the two spaces, making it expansive and open. Now, The Porch, located next door to ETX Brewery is open serving food with a unique menu to accompany ETX’s Brewing’s locally-made craft beers. The menu has classics like build-your-own burgers as well as original creations like the Mac ‘n Cheese Fries (add bacon), Fried Cheese Curds, and The Kitchen Sink: a sandwich on a hoagie with a choice of three meats, two cheeses and sides. The on-site brews are often seasonal so try them all with a “Flight.” We love the Brickstreet Blonde (a classic American blonde ale that is light, crisp, and lightly hopped with a mild maltiness), the Downtown Cherry Brown (a brown ale bearing notes of tart cherry), Hitching Post (a mellow amber ale with a faint caramel influence), and the rich Coffee City Stout (a dark beer made with a little locally roasted coffee and Belgian chocolate).

FRESH by Brookshire’s (6991 Old Jacksonville Hwy., Tyler, freshbybrookshires.com) – FRESH is so much more than an excellent grocery store. Offering a huge patio, live music, an amazing view of the east Texas skyline, plus The FRESH Grill + Patio, FRESH has something for everyone. Live music is every Friday and Saturday starting at 6pm. With the food, drinks, live music, and a great atmosphere, it has become a hangout for foodies and music lovers. It’s a great place to meet friends or bring the family for a relaxing evening. Menu items include gourmet salads, fish tacos, burgers, fries and a kids menu for little Freshies. We love the J’Ville Burger and the Asian Shrimp Tacos. Beer and wine are available for the adults.

The Grove Kitchen & Gardens (3500 Old Jacksonville Hwy., Tyler, (903)939-0209) – “Where all ages can come to play outdoors!” You can dine outside, in the main dining area, or try their barbeque in its own building, The Smoke Shack. Upon entering, you’ll see a large fire pit, lots of trees, and tables of all sizes located all around – some in the shade, some under umbrellas and even some in the sun. There’s comfortable cushioned couch-style seating as well. Most nights there are musicians performing. All of this creates a nice isolated outdoors feeling even though you are still in town. There is also a gated roomy, kid-friendly lawn area for your kids to run off some of that energy.

Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ (525 S. Beckham, Tyler, (903)593-0311) – Where all the cool kids go! This unpretentious barbecue joint and bar offers open outdoor seating, excellent barbecue, live music, and happy hour Monday-Friday and all day on Wednesdays. The menu has beef brisket, ribs, chicken, turkey and sausage, as well as stuffed potatoes and Frito pie. The famous Mother Clucker (smoked chicken thigh meat with spicy mayo, cheddar and fried egg on jalapeno cheese sourdough) as well as the morning specialty, the Breakfast Brother-in-Law (a grilled hot link with cheese and scrambled eggs on a bun) are good choices. There’s live music six days a week, a list of delicious cocktails, and it is best enjoyed at a picnic table outside in the sun. Stanley’s patio is covered with sunshades to help keep things cool.

Strada Caffe – (302 E. Front St., Tyler, (903)944-7744) – This coffee shop has expanded to evening hours and with that, they are now offering small plates, wine, and craft beers. In the mornings, an Espresso plus a breakfast taquito and the outside patio equal a great combo. In the afternoons, the patio is quite roomy and a good place to unwind after a long day of work. Strada offers breakfast, lunch and small plates at dinnertime, live music sometimes, Sunday brunches, and local art in the caffe. Extra parking is available across the street.

Republic Icehouse (3807 University Blvd., Tyler, (903)504-5860) – This bar and restaurant has a large patio which accommodates both small and large groups with picnic tables and quaint small cafe-style tables. Most nights they have live music inside. There are TV’s everywhere if you are wanting to catch a game. Outside is more quiet and intimate. Republic’s pizzas are great, their burgers are on point, and the beer is always cold.

Rick’s on the Square (104 W. Erwin St., Downtown Tyler, (903)531-2415) – Rick’s features southern seafood and steaks in a vintage, brick-walled space with a patio and live music on weekends. Happy hour daily.

Roast Social Kitchen (1125 E. 5th St., Tyler (903)202-0295) – The eclectic atmosphere and the yummy brick-oven pizzas, chef-inspired specials, small plates, and a full bar is always a great time. Inside the atmosphere is industrial-chic with a touch of cool. Happy hour drinks and food are offered. Roast has a brick oven that produces exceptional pizza, the super-thin variety made from handcrafted dough and fresh ingredients roasted on-site. Outside, the sidewalk cafe-style patio atmosphere is a nice place to sit after dark. This is a great way to spend a spring evening with a cocktail in hand. Our favorite pizza, along with thousands of other’s, is the Bee’s Knees, topped with roasted garlic, a variety of cheeses, sopressata, Italian sausage, local spicy honey and fresh thyme. In the bar, find wine, beer and cocktails on tap, including a favorite, Rose’s Night Out, vodka with rose syrup and lemon for a light effect.

Villa Montez (3324 Old Henderson Hwy., Tyler, (903)592-9696) – The Latin-inspired menu offers seafood and meat dishes, plus comfort classics, all presented in the swanky old-world charm atmosphere of a hilltop mansion. The huge deck is a great place to have a casual meal outside among the treetops. You will not have a care in the world when you leave this expansive balcony style outdoor area. The Chimichurri Steak, sea bass, and margarita shrimp are delicious.

Zoe’s Kitchen – (8926 S. Broadway, Tyler, (903)939-0925) – The great Mediterranean salads, shrimp or beef kabobs, chicken salad sandwiches, lentil soup, Mediterranean chicken plate, and the chocolate cake are always perfect at Zoe’s and sitting outside on the patio is quite lovely this time of year. Be sure to try the fried potato salad, too. The food is always freshly prepared. This hip little place has a cool atmosphere and reasonable prices for delicious healthy food. They have a vegan and vegetarian menu.

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