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.
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 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.
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.
Rick’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 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.
Fuzzy’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.
Breakers – 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.
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!”
Stanley’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.