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Ten “Must Try” Dishes in East Texas From A Foodaholic

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clear-SpringsBy Toni Bloom, Foodie

I find that eating has become a hobby for me these days. Not only do I plan my food, I seem to obsess about what I am going to eat next and when. I spend countless hours dreaming of “what was in that dish, and how can I manage to get more.” This new found hobby needed some funding, so I created this fun list of “My Ten Favorite Dishes in Tyler.”

Clear Springs Restaurant

From Clear Springs, located at 6519 S. Broadway Ave, Tyler, I have found that I love their Pan Seared Tilapia. If you are in the mood for some good fish that is not fishy, this is a must try. It is two generous sized fillets, seasoned, and quick seared. It is served with crawfish tails, fresh tomatoes, and Dijon peppercorn sauce. It was really delicious! Clear Springs offers many seafood dishes, Cajun dishes, as well as chicken and steaks and a friendly staff. If the weather is cooperating, you can sit on the outside patio. It is quite lovely in the evenings.

burger-grindBurger Grind

Burger Grind, located at 1700 SSE Loop 323, Tyler, has a burger for every taste. I love their Texan Burger. Burger Grind’s burgers are always juicy, and the bacon has a great flavor. The Texas Burger comes with a big pile of crunchy jalapeños and grilled onions. You can choose the type of bun – I like the Texas Burger on the Toasted Onion bun. The Turkey Burger is also a good one. It is made fresh daily and has a great flavor. If you are looking for freshly prepared burgers and not pre-made frozen patties, Burger Grind is the place to go. You will absolutely love them!

ricks-oysters-black-pearl-tyler-tx-9876The Black Pearl Oyster Bar

New to downtown, Rick Eltife’s latest venture is The Black Pearl Restaurant, located next door to Rick’s at 106 W. Erwin, downtown Tyler. This is a seafood place like nothing else in Tyler. Most of the menu is served fresh and cold, and is prepared right in front of you. Black Pearl has many different kinds of oysters like blue point, pink moon, and summer side oysters. They all have a different taste, and I am in love with trying them all. Judy Means said, “It was like sitting at a sushi bar watching all of the creations made right in front of you. [There is a] premier fresh oyster selection that shames putting with a cracker! Prices for quality is unmatched in this area.”

“I love oysters – I always have,” says Eltife. “I love the East Coast oysters and the West Coast oysters and the Gulf oysters and the Canadian oysters.” The Black Pearl has five or six varieties of oyster every day that are listed on the blackboard just inside the front door. They also have classic cocktails, ceviche, crab, lobster, shrimp, tartar, carpaccio, and more. Dishes are in the unique style of a classic New York Oyster Bar.

Roast-social-KitRoast Social Kitchen

Still fairly new to the restaurant scene is Nick and Jen Pencis’ Roast Social Kitchen, located at 1125 E. 5th St., Tyler. Everybody around town is talking about the Bee’s Knees pizza, so I had to try it. For me, a thin crust brick oven pizza is the best, and Roast delivered a perfect creation. The Bee’s Knees has roasted garlic, a special in-house blend of four kinds of cheese, soppressata (Italian dry salami), house made sausage, Mike’s Hot Honey, fresh thyme and fresh orange, all served up on a perfect crust. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about ‘honey on a pizza’ but it totally works and it is delicious. Now I know why everyone was talking about this pizza – it is fantastic.

Roast is open for lunch and dinner as well as late night on weekends, Fridays till 1am and Saturdays until 2am. Roast has wine on tap, craft beers, and signature cocktails. The Frequent Flyer is a favorite (Vodka, Elderflower Liqueur, blackberry puree, fresh lemon juice, and sage).

10388594_10203771263583827_217697730214841112_nAthena’s Greek Restaurant

Yeah, I eat out a lot, I say it’s for work, and I joke that I am supporting my habit but sometimes it’s just for fun. And I love food. Today I want you to branch out, and get out of your comfort zone and try something new and different. And that “something different” is Athena’s Greek Restaurant, located at 1601 WSW Loop 323, Tyler. There are tons of new and exciting places to try all over town, so how about a little Greek?

We absolutely loved the Gyro Platter and the warm friendly people at Athena’s. The Gyro Platter is a delicious blend of rotisserie beef and lamb slices, served with tzatziki sauce. The meat is always super tender and seasoned with lots of wonderful Greek flavor. It is served with warm pita bread that is perfect for this dish. It also comes with french fries and a Greek salad. We opted for the Greek oven potatoes instead of fries (remember something different). Go and enjoy a relaxed dinner with someone you love.

cork-chicken-and-waffles-tyler-txCork Food & Drink

In the mood to just “Brunch it up” with some great food and a cocktail or two on a weekend morning? Then Cork Food & Drink, located at 5201 S. Broadway Ave. in Tyler is the place to be.

I have had good chicken and I have had good waffles before, but when you put these two together it just makes you wanna dance (or it could have been the mimosa, I’m not sure). But as you can guess by now, I love Cork’s brunch Spicy Chicken and Waffles. The chicken is tender and moist on the inside and has a crunchy crust on the outside, which makes this chicken dish a hit. The waffle, oh the waffles are always light and fluffy, cooked golden brown and served with just a bit of fruit and some butter.

What better way to celebrate Saturday or Sunday mornings!

el-charro'sEl Charro on the Ridge

While at FRESH getting some Cotton Candy grapes, I decided to pop into one of my favorite Mexican food places, El Charro on the Ridge at 6899 Oak Hill Blvd., Tyler, and grab some dinner. We all have our “go to” items at our favorite places but that day, I strayed from my regular (Old Fashioned Tacos) and got the Steak Rellena. I have to admit that I thought this was steak stuffed in a pepper; well I had that backwards. That’s right folks – this is a Fajita steak stuffed “with” poblano peppers, red onions, and mushrooms, sautéed in a garlic butter and wine sauce. And it is heavenly, and my new favorite. It was fantastic; the meat was tender and the mixture inside was rich and full of flavor. This dish also comes with, you guessed it, rice and beans, pico de gallo, and sliced avocados.

The Ramirez family has been feeding my family for many years and will continue for years to come. The El Charro’s Sangria Swirl Margarita is legendary.

burger-grindDaniel Boone’s Grill & Tavern

Daniel Boone’s Grill & Tavern, located at 1920 ESE Loop 323, Tyler, is all about country, from the memorabilia on the wall to the food and the service – this restaurant will take you back to a time gone by. Many standard country-cooking items are on the menu like Country Fried Steak, Fried Catfish, pork chops, burgers and more, but have you tried Boone’s Deluxe Grilled Chicken Sandwich? This is a tender and juicy grilled chicken breast covered with melted Swiss cheese and crispy bacon, all piled on a warm toasted (ask for Texas toast) bun with honey mustard dressing. We also love the big stack of homemade onion rings and good old fashion sweet Texas tea – just like Grandma used to make!

At Boone’s you can “git ur grub on” country style!

stanleys-brother-in-law-tyler-tx-90u8Stanley’s Famous BBQ

Stanley’s Famous BBQ, what legends are made of! Stanley’s is located at 525 S. Beckham in Tyler and simply is an institution in my book. Although many have said that the Mother Clucker is their favorite, my favorite is the Jumbo Brother in Law on a jalapeno cheese sourdough bun. I eat this huge pile of heaven at least once a week. The Brother in Law has chopped brisket, sausage, and cheese. You will need a fork!

The Mother Clucker is a “spiked and smoked chicken thigh fillet with spicy bbq mayo, cheddar cheese, topped with an over-easy fried egg and served on toasted jalapeno cheese sourdough. Upgrade it to the Cadillac Clucker by adding house-made guacamole and candied bacon (thick cut bacon dredged in our rib rub and then smoked until it caramelizes).”

I say to myself every time that “I am going to get something different” and many swear by the Shrove – grilled ham, cheese, chopped brisket and sauce. So far, I have not succeeded in trying it.

wings republic ice house tyler txRepublic Ice House

It is starting, it’s football season and in this foodies’ book, that means it is time for wings! Republic Ice House, located at 3807 University Blvd. in Tyler, has both boneless and with the bone wings in about six flavors. I love the 666 Fire Sauce wings but be forewarned, these are not for the faint at heart. They will light you up! If you are a wimp, I mean don’t like your wings as spicy, the regular ones are quite tasty too. They come in Original, Lemon Pepper, Garlic Parmesan, and Honey BBQ.

There is a TV everywhere you look at Republic, as well as a gigantic (16 foot by 9 foot HD Projection screen) TV where football becomes larger than life! Wings, ice cold one in hand and a gigantic TV – welcome fall! It’s football time again! Republic has 19 HD TVs and the NFL Sunday Ticket.

For more dining favorites, go online to!

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Around East Texas

Rose City Farmers Market Downtown This Weekend

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

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

“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 and

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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, – 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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