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Tacos: The New Cool Food and There are Lots of Options

stretford tyler tx

Tacos are the new “cool thing” and east Texas has an abundance of options for every appetite. Below is a guide to some of the best in the area – both traditional and out of the ordinary.

juls-2Juls

7212 Old Jacksonville Hwy, Tyler, (903)581-5857, juls903.com

Juls’ offers two options of tacos, both labeled as street tacos.

Oaxacan Braised Brisket Tacos are marinated for 24 hours in Juls’ signature Oaxacan rub, then the brisket is slow roasted and soaked in a tequila tomato based sauce. These tacos come garnished with salsa verde, onion, and cilantro, and are served with pork belly black beans over jasmine rice. These are an excellent choice and boast a nice taste.

Chicken Tinga Tacos (pictured) features a slowly-braised chicken breast, marinated in a smoky and spicy chipotle adobo sauce, and served with caramelized onion and smoked Chili de Arbol. These are served in locally handmade corn tortillas and comes with jasmine rice topped with pork belly black beans, and Pico de Gallo.

Get a side of Jul’s famous Guacamole with Charred Salsa which is made fresh daily, or their Tobacco Onion Rings for a perfect meal.

villa-montez-lobster-tacosVilla Montez Latin Kitchen

3324 Old Henderson Hwy., Tyler, (903)592-9696, villamontez.com

From their website, “Villa Montez is a unique casual family dining restaurant that offers the best of the ‘Cocina Latina’ (Latin Kitchen).” We feel that their unique creation of Lobster Tacos fits the description perfectly.

Yes, you read that right – lobster tacos! Lobster Tacos come with a lobster tail and is served with a side of avocado cream, black bean puree, chile de arbol, mango salsa, and tortillas. They are served with rice and black beans. The combination of flavors is delicious.

Rosarito Fish Tacos are a classic dish but at Villa Montez they come with a little flair. The hand-battered fried fish filet is topped with mango salsa and Mexican coleslaw, and comes served on a corn tortilla. It is served with rice and black beans.

Villa Montez’s menu is a mix of Tex-Mex and Mexican favorites with a definite South American influence. There are some unique appetizers also, including the Queso Fondido, ceviche, Chino Latino rolls, Mazatlan Aji Azado (seared tuna), and tableside-made guacamole.

Villa Montez grows their own fresh herbs as well as some of their vegetables when in season.

curbside-tacosCurbside Taco

Have you been missing Curbside Taco around Tyler? Well, you can find them regularly in Jacksonville at east Texas’ only food court, Charcoal Alley, 217 South Main St., Jacksonville, 11am-2pm or until they sell out.

Their menu is simple with only three options – beef, pork, or chicken tacos. Our favorite is the Carne Asada, which is seared and grilled beef ribeye served with cilantro, onion, and a lime wedge. The pork option, Al Pastor taco, is served diced and marinated and cooked in their homemade adobo sauce using chipotle peppers. They come garnished with cilantro and onions.

The last menu item is the Mexico City Chicken tacos (pictured) which are chicken fajita-style meat loaded with all the standard toppings.

All tacos are delicious and served on warm corn tortillas freshly made to order. The best part though is the price – Curbside’s tacos are $2.25 each or three for $6. Sodas and water are available.

Curbside Taco accepts cash only. Curbside does still move around so check their calendar at curbsidetaco.com for locations. Also, check their Facebook page (facebook.com/curbsidetaco) where they announce daily if they are open by saying, “windows up” or “windows down,” depending on the weather. Charcoal Alley offers a ton of picnic tables, umbrellas and often, live music.

Catering is always an option by calling (903)316-9967.

ricks-steak-tacos-tyler-txRick’s on the Square

104 W. Erwin St., Tyler, (903)531-2415, rix.com

Rick’s Big Street Tacos have gotten our attention lately. Rick’s menu is always changing and we find the variety that is offered refreshing. From their famous Bread Pudding to oysters, Rick’s has something for every appetite.

On the taco front, you can choose from juicy grilled-to-perfection tenderloin, smoked pork, or Voodoo Chicken tacos. These are good-sized tacos, served one per order, and come served with tobacco onions, cheddar, cilantro, and jalapeno honey sauce. The tenderloin variety is tender, flavorful, and simply put, delicious -and our favorite. Trust us, two are a full meal.

Also, Rick’s offers Redfish Tacos if you are wanting a more traditional fish taco. Grilled shrimp tacos have recently been added to the menu and come with shredded cabbage, and sriracha-tarter sauce.

The appetizer, Voodoo Nachos, is a great accompaniment, served with a spicy-sweet mango pico.

Rick’s is located in historic downtown Tyler and offers fresh food, live bands every Friday and Saturday evenings and soon, The Black Pearl Oyster Bar.

el-charrosEl Charro’s on the Ridge

 6899 Oak Hill Blvd., Tyler, (903)617-6022, elcharroontheridge.com

If you are missing El Charro’s famous Old Fashioned Tacos, you are in luck because El Charro’s on the Ridge offers this long-time favorite menu item. Mr. Gilbert, the founder of the original El Charro’s, created the recipe and since then, these handmade tacos have become legend. They are built using beef, refried beans, and a few secret ingredients, then fried – making a taco-pocket of goodness. These are served loaded with lettuce and cheese.

Tony’s Tacos (pictured) have also been a long time favorite. These soft corn tortillas are filled with chopped fajita beef or grilled chicken and served with your choice of lettuce and tomato, or cabbage and cilantro, with a side of guacamole and pico de gallo. You can get a half (2)or full order (4). You can add grilled onions and bell peppers for a little extra. Lunch and dinner portions are available.

Pechuga Tacos are quite yummy, served with sliced marinated chicken in a soft flour tortilla. These are available in a half or full order.

If the weather is pretty, El Charro’s on the Ridge offers a wonderful patio with a breathtaking view of east Texas slow sloping hills and treetops.

Fuzzys-Argyle-meal-2Fuzzy’s Taco Shop

1871 Troup Hwy., Tyler, (903)597-3899, fuzzytacoshop.com

If variety is what you are seeking, Fuzzy’s offers over 30 varieties of crispy and soft tacos, including our favorite, their California Heat Taco (grilled or tempura fried) with shrimp, bacon, avocado, feta, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, and sriracha-lime sauce served on a soft corn tortilla.

Classic tacos are available and include the Beef Fajita Taco and Tempura Fish Taco with lightly battered and fried fish, served on a soft corn tortilla, and topped with garlic sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, cilantro, and feta.

The Vegetarian Taco is very good, hosting a mix of shredded zucchini, squash, and carrots, served on a soft corn tortilla and topped with garlic sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, cilantro, and feta. The Cilantro-Lime rice is a great side.

Breakfast Tacos are a huge hit, with combination options that include bacon, chorizo, egg, cheese, potato, and even shrimp. You can also make your own with Fuzzy’s delicious Migas or Chilaquiles. Fuzzy’s Breakfast Taco plate (pictured) comes with your choice of two breakfast tacos, served with Latin-fried potatoes and refried beans.

Download their free “Fuzzy’s Friends with Benefits” app to make ordering easy and earn points towards free food and merchandise.

breakersBreakers – A Seafood Joint

5106 Old Bullard Rd., Tyler, (903)534-0161, breakerstyler.com

“From oysters on the half shell to our world famous ceviche, Breakers brings top quality seafood with a fun, west coast twist.” But have you tried their Baja Tacos? During lunch, you can choose from fried fish, shrimp, or grilled or crispy chicken. These tacos come cooked and seasoned to perfection, topped with fresh pico, avocado, lettuce, and cheese in a crunchy or soft corn tortilla. There are two to an order so feel free to try two different kinds.

Get a side of Robin Hood Brian’s World Famous Seafood Gumbo, a secret recipe given to Breakers by Robin Hood Studios in Tyler. This wonderful gumbo is a great addition to any meal.

Breakers has a large menu full of variety for seafood lovers as well as those who are not huge fans, including steaks, lobster, oysters, shrimp, burgers, and tons more.

Live music is offered on most weekends 8-10pm.

Torchy’s TacosTorchy’s Tacos

426 ESE Loop 323, Tyler, (903)581-3716, torchystacos.com

A newcomer on the taco scene for Tyler is Austin-based Torchy’s Tacos. Known for variety and their creative menu item titles, we have found their breakfast tacos to be outstanding. The Monk Special, eggs, bacon, green chilis, and cheese comes atop either a corn or flour tortilla. The Wrangler, another stand out on the breakfast menu, is scrambled eggs and potatoes topped with smoked beef brisket and jack cheese with a side of tomatillo sauce.

On the lunch and dinner side, the Green Chili Pork Taco is most awesome, as well as The Republican, grilled jalapeno sausage, shredded cheese, and pico, served with poblano sauce. Spicy goodness in taco form, life doesn’t get much better!

For something a little different, try the Mr. Orange, which is blackened salmon topped with grilled corn and black bean relish, queso fresco, cilantro, all drizzled with avocado salsa, served on a corn tortilla. The Mr. Pink fits the “something a little different” bill as well, with “guajillo (pronounced gua-hee-yo) seared Ahi tuna, cabbage, cilantro, and queso fresco.

Classic-style tacos are available in ground beef, beef or chicken fajita options.

Heat up your holiday shopping with Torchy’s Tacos through December 24th. Purchase a $25 Torchy’s Tacos Gift Card, and you can receive a bottle of Torchy’s Diablo Hot Sauce at no additional cost. “Get sauced today!”

stanleys-texas-tacoStanley’s Famous Bar-B-Q

525 S. Beckham, Tyler, (903)593-0311, stanleysfamous.com

“Stanley’s is the oldest operating Mom & Pop BBQ Joint in Tyler, Texas serving up true, pit smoked BBQ for over 50 years. Come try our perfect brisket, baby back ribs, turkey, chicken, fresh made sausage, and even pulled pork.”

Stanley’s is legendary for this, but we bet you didn’t realize that Stanley’s has some of the best vegetarian tacos in the city. Filled with guacamole, cheddar, cabbage, organic greens, onions, jalapenos, and cilantro – all piled high on a warm grilled flour tortilla. Ask for the jalapenos on the side if you don’t like spicy.

Stanley’s famous Mother Clucker sandwich comes in a taco version, the Cluckin’ Taco, which is almost as good as the sandwich. We say ‘almost’ because it is super hard to top the “most-perfect sandwich” but the taco version comes as close as it gets. The Cluckin’ Taco comes with the same stuff as the sandwich – smoked chicken thigh, cheddar, guacamole, cabbage, pico, cilantro, and spicy bbq mayo, but it is served on a flour tortilla (and no egg). You can upgrade it with candied bacon – thick cut bacon dredged in Stanley’s rib rub and then smoked until it caramelizes.

One last stand-out on the taco menu is the Texas Taco, hosting Stanley’s delicious tender chopped brisket (pictured), plus cheddar, beans, cabbage, onions, jalapenos, cilantro, and bbq sauce served on a flour tortilla.

Whether you are craving a “classic-style” taco or something a little different, Tyler has something for everyone’s appetite. We hope you enjoy a taco or four this holiday season.

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Around East Texas

Rose City Farmers Market Downtown This Weekend

stretford tyler tx

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

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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