Cork Food & Drink Restaurant

For those who do not know, Cork (a wine bar) has opened in the place of the old Cimarron in the Times Square shopping center. I went to Cork the other Sunday for brunch and it was amazing. I had a hard time deciding between chicken and waffles or the eggs benedict but chose the latter and it was delish. It had salmon and caviar on it and I subbed the hashbrowns? for sweet potato fries, nom nom nom. It all went perfect with a mimosa and some great friends to catch up with. I can’t vouch for their wine or sushi but their Sunday brunch was great!

Cork Food & Drink
5201 S Broadway Ave
Ste 162
Tyler, TX 75703
(903) 363-9197

Soju Sushi Bar & Asian Bistro

All the Wasabi fans out there will be very excited about the newest addition to their Asian cuisine serving restaurant family, Soju.  Walking into Soju is very similar to walking in Wasabi, same look and feel, even some of the same employees. The food is just as good as at Wasabi, and the prices are comparable.

Soju serves a broad selection of sushi rolls, specialty rolls and sashimi in addition to their entrees and noodle bowls.   Like Wasabi, Soju offers a nice variety of unique specialty drinks, extending way beyond the usual selections. Soju also has live music (Dustin Becker) on the weekends.

Located at the corner of Grande and Old Jacksonville, Soju occupies the location once home to Kung Pao before they closed their doors just months after opening. I have a pretty good feeling that Soju will enjoy much more success than the previous restaurant based on the positive buzz they are already generating.

Soju Sushi Bar & Asian Bistro
6361 Old Jacksonville Hwy
Tyler, TX 75703
(903) 939-1100

What About Kabob & His Gyros

Tyler has finally, finally gotten its first Greek restaurant!  Greek is one of my all-time favorite cuisines, so to learn that a good Greek place has opened up in my hometown is music to my ears, and to my tastebuds!  What About Kabob is located on the corner of Loop 323 and Kinsey Drive in that sparsely occupied strip center that’s been home to many unsuccessful business over the years.  Here’s to hoping that What About Kabob’s receives much more success after the raving reviews I’ve heard from fellow Tylerites who’ve dined there.  Word on the street is that their Gyro Nachos are to die for (be sure to stop in for Nacho Wednesday!), and their Original Gyros are large and tasty enough to feed even the hungriest of appetites.  I could survive for months on pita chips and hummus alone, and I hear their homemade pita chips are fabulous.

What About Kabob seems to have a great thing going… Tasty food, attentive and friendly staff, and a clean and tidy dining room with cool decor. I’ve heard not one bad thing about this place. Now the only question is – who’s available to meet me for lunch???

What About Kabob & His Gyros
713 WSW Loop 323
Tyler, TX 75703
(903) 581-7971

Villa Montez

Villa MontezVilla Montez is one of my absolute FAVORITE places to eat in Tyler.  A beautiful location, delicious food, and wonderful service all make Villa Montez one of Tyler’s most desirable dining establishments.  Tyler definitely has its fair share of Mexican restaurants, so if you’re like me you may be hesitant to try yet another one…  However, Villa Montez isn’t what you would expect at all.  Instead of identifying itself as strictly Mexican, Villa Montez boasts a Latin menu offering some traditional favorites as well as a few surprises.

Everything I’ve had a Villa Montez has been outstanding, but a few choices in particular have stood out.   Being a tuna lover, I absolutely love the sashimi grade Mazatlan Aji Azado appetizer.  Also, if you are feeling adventurous, I’d recommend sampling the Brazilian Coconut Soup.  For my entree, I adore the Yucatan Sweet Pork Salad.  What could be better than a fresh green salad with guacamole atop a layer of beans, rice and deliciously sweet and tender pork?  It’s perfection!  Villa Montez also offers an impressive selection of choice steaks, and I’ve heard the shrimp enchiladas are to die for.  Make sure to order one of their specialty margaritas with your dinner.  Just like the food, they are spectacular!

I seriously do not have enough wonderful things to say about Villa Montez.  I suggest that anyone who hasn’t tried it out yet to do as as soon as possible, and if you have been before go again!  The recently expanded patio makes the perfect back-drop for a romantic dinner or a night out with family and friends.

Villa Montez
3324 Old Henderson Hwy
Tyler, Texas 75707
(903) 592-9696

Chuy’s Mexican Food

While Tyler was definitely not hurting for another Mexican restaurant, that has not stopped Tylerites from flocking to the brand new Chuy’s on South Broadway. Parking spots are scarce and waiting lists are long, but the food is worth the wait if you’re willing to put up with the crowd.

I’ve always been a believer that, for the most part, restaurant style Mexican food is pretty much the same anywhere you go.  An enchilada is an enchilada, fajitas are fajitas and a quesadilla is a quesadilla.  Therefore, the biggest opportunity Mexican chains have to set themselves apart from the competition is their chips, salsa and margaritas.  Chuy’s obviously understands where I am coming from because their chips and salsa do not disappoint.  They make their salsa fresca fresh every hour, and their chips are always crispy with just the right amount of saltiness. And there’s the creamy jalapeno sauce aka crack dip.  It tastes like ranch on steroids.  Of course, I also have to mention their complimentary queso, beans, and taco meat station every happy hour… Can’t beat that!  I do think Chuy’s house margaritas leave something to be desired (there seems to be a funny, artificial lime flavor that I don’t care for in their mix) but the mojitos are so awesome they almost make up for the margaritas.
The food is pretty good, too.  The chicka-chicka boom-boom enchiladas have been the best thing I’ve ordered so far, with the appetizer platter coming in second.  If you haven’t been to Chuy’s yet (which can’t be very many of you), you definitely should give it a shot.  I’d recommend waiting until an off hour if you want to park remotely close and not wait an hour for a table, but all the hype is well deserved.  I give Chuy’s dos thumbs up!

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

BJ's Restaurant and BrewhouseI had the pleasure of attending BJ’s Brewhouse’s pre-opening event for lunch. Despite the limited menu offerings and somewhat confusing ordering instructions they had for today, BJ’s completely lived up to the hype that’s surrounded Tyler’s newest restaurant since they broke ground last year.

Upon arrival we were handed our menus and given instructions to select one entree or one pizza and either an appetizer or a dessert. It appeared as though each table was given a different menu to choose from, and I assume this was to give the staff experience serving and preparing each and every item they offer. The entrees that we had to choose from were the Field of Greens salad, Atlantic Salmon, the Calzone, or the Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich. Their full range of specialty pizzas were also available for us to choose from. Since we were instructed to order just one item per menu per table, our table of four ordered one salmon, one salad, one combination pizza, and one Pizookie sundae to finish things off. The Field of Greens salad was my chosen entree, and it was quite delicious. It came with red peppers, candied pecans, mandarin oranges, purple onion, and mixed greens and was tossed in a light dressing. Any of the items would have paired nicely with one of BJ’s specialty brews, but since this was a working lunch I stuck with water. I can’t wait to go back another time and sample their beer selection. The star of the show was the Pizookie cookie sundae topped with vanilla ice cream. It was definitely worth the indulgence and not quite as sinful when shared with three other people.

BJ's Restaurant and BrewhouseBJ’s officially opens for business on Monday, February 28 and I anticipate the lines here to be long for awhile. The extensive menu, courteous staff and intriguing yet comfortable atmosphere make BJ’s a welcome addition to Tyler’s restaurant selection.

hours: Sun – Thurs 11am-12am, Fri 11am-1am, Sat 10am-1am

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse
210 WSW Loop 323
Tyler, TX 75703
(903) 939-2840

BJ's Restaurant and Brewery BJ's Restaurant and Brewery

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse


TCBY The Country’s Best Yogurt

Smashburger’s newest location on South Broadway in Tyler next to the Courtyard by Marriott hotel has confirmed an opening date of December 15th!   The new restaurant will be the first in it’s building to open, soon to be followed by a new Wingstop and Subway.

The most recently confirmed tenant is TCBY Yogurt shop which is expected to open it’s doors early 2011.  The TCBY brand has been working hard to revamp their image, and my understanding is that we can expect a cool, modern, self-serve, atmosphere with the same great tasting, high quality frozen yogurt TCBY is known for, but hopefully with more flavor and topping options.   I can’t wait to see how this exciting new project unfolds!


Julian’s Asian Diner

Julian'sStepping in to Julian’s in the Time Square shopping center is like stepping out of Tyler and into a hip, big-city bistro. The eatery’s new owners pulled out the big guns to maximize not only the limited square footage, but they infinitely up’d the cool factor by utilizing cutting edge, modern furniture, eye catching art, and anything but traditional LCD projected wall displays.

The cocktail menu offers a great selection of specialty cocktails, wine, and beer, and the dinner menu features Julian’s favorites like the Spicy Chicken and the Cune Special. One thing I would love to see at Julian’s is more seafood! Some rotating dinner specials featuring fresh seafood would push Julian’s up to one of my top-Tyler restaurant picks instead of top pick for pre or post dinner drinks like it is now.
If for no other reason than to ogle the fantastic decor, Julian’s is a must for anyone in the mood for good food, great drinks, and awesome atmosphere.

Julian's Asian DinerJulian’s Asian Diner
5201 S Broadway Ave # 122
Tyler, TX 75703-3769
(903) 509-8833


Kung Pao Asian Diner

Kung Pao Asian DinerWhen I heard the announcement on the radio that the Kung Pao Asian Bistro restaurant on Old Jacksonville was open for business I didn’t hesitate to try it and ate lunch there that day. I pulled up to the restaurant just after noon and was a bit surprised to see there was no crowd to speak of despite Tyler’s love affair with new restaurants. Chalking it up to a lackluster advertising effort, I proceeded inside to see the goods.

The dining room is spacious and modern. You order in the back, take a seat, then the waitstaff delivers your food when it’s ready. Kung Pao serves a variety of Asian dishes from Thai noodle bowls to Korean spare ribs. I ordered the Basa bowl with steamed rice and my sister ordered the Kung Pao fried rice with chicken. I visited in the middle of a work day, but I mentally noted the stocked beer refrigerators for next time.

Our food arrived quickly and was steaming hot as the server set it on the table. My fish was good though much heavier than I expected as it was fried. I would have known this though had a read the menu instead of just glancing over the order board which lists titles only, no descriptions. The fried rice was a good, safe choice, nothing out of the ordinary, but good nonetheless.

The best thing about Kung Pao is the delivery service. Tyler restauranteurs… Follow their lead!  Tylerites like delivery!  Overall, Kung Pao is a good choice for a quick, hot lunch. Want it ever more quickly? Have it delivered!

Kung Pao Asian Diner
6163 Old Jacksonville Hwy
Tyler, TX 75703

Kung Pao menu

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches

Jimmy John'sJimmy John’s sandwich shop opened for business!   Jimmy John’s serves a variety of traditional and specialty sandwiches on deliciously soft, chewy, crave-worthy homemade French bread or thick sliced 7 grain wheat.  My favorite (well, and the only one of their sandwiches I have ever actually had) is the veggie sandwich which they load with provolone cheese, avocado spread, sprouts, tomato, cucumber and mayo.   I am not a vegetarian, but this sandwich leaves nothing to be desired in the protein department.

Despite my love for the Vegetarian sub, I think next time I visit I am going to try something different.  The Jimmy John’s B.L.T. sounds pretty good as does the Beach Club which appears to be about the same as the Vegetarian only with turkey.

Perhaps the best thing about Jimmy John’s is their delivery policy…  whether you order one sandwich or one dozen, they will deliver!   Tyler desperately needs more restaurants with such liberal delivery policies as this, so thank you Jimmy John’s for helping to fill that void.

Jimmy John’s is located on Troup Hwy, right next to Smoothie King in the Green Acres shopping center.

Jimmy John’s
1647 Troup Hwy Suite 100
Tyler, TX 75701
(903) 617-6878

Unk’s Shrimp Shack

Unk's Shrimp ShackIt’s not unusual for us to make a last minute trip down the road to Unk’s Shrimp Shack when nobody feels like cooking.

Unk’s Shrimp Shack is, obviously, a seafood restaurant.  Family owned and operated, the restaurant has been serving area residents and guests at The Villages resort for years.  Though the grilled shrimp and steamed broccoli is good, nobody should ever go to Unk’s and not order the Seafood Platter which, even in the Seafood Platter for One size, is enough fried food to feed a family of six.  Piled high with french fries, fried clam strips, fried catfish filet, fried oysters, stuffed crab, hush puppies, and boiled shrimp, the Seafood Platter is unbeatable when you’ve got a craving for anything fried.  I also love the condiment station stocked with homemade green tomato relish, cocktail, remoulade, and tarter sauces, and there’s even a tub of pure, nose burning horseradish which I love to eat on saltine crackers with a bit of the tomato relish.

The one downside of Unk’s, is the price.   Me and my husband always get the Seafood Platter for One and an order of grilled shrimp, and it really adds up quick.  However, the food is delicious, and you couldn’t ask for nicer people than the folks over at Unk’s to buy dinner from.  Also, they do serve beer at Unk’s, which is a plus in my book,  but also usually ends up being another wallet drainer if we are dining in.

Unk’s Shrimp Shack is located on the corner of Big Eddy Road and 2661 in Noonday, just outside of the Villages Resort on Lake Palestine.  They have seasonal hours and are not open every day, so I strongly suggest calling first before heading out that way to ensure they’re going to be open.  Also, another word of advice… the guys in the kitchen might throw some extras on your Seafood Platter if you buy them a beer, so be sure to keep that in mind!

Unk’s Shrimp Shack
16760 County Road 1261
Flint, TX 75762-9182
(903) 939-2323

Bruno’s Pizza and Pasta

Bruno's Pizza and PastaBruno’s has been a Tyler staple for years now, yet I don’t find myself venturing over that way too often. In fact, before this week I had only eaten at Bruno’s once and that was several years ago. That being said, I’ve always known Bruno’s to be a Tylerites favorite and have yet to hear a bad word uttered about the place. Lucky for me, and many of the other south-siders, Bruno’s opened a new location on Old Jacksonville just north of the four way intersection in Gresham.

Bruno's Pizza and PastaI met my sister at Bruno’s for dinner this past Thursday evening. Their new location is shiny, big, and new and is a fantastic choice for families or friends or couples. It is BYOB so I brought a bottle of Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio which I’ve been fueling with all summer. Bruno’s is known for their pizza, but I was more in the mood for pasta so I turned to that page in the menu. There are no creative dishes on the menu at Bruno’s. Your options are limited to marinara, meat, or Alfredo sauce. Of course they also offer ravioli and lasagna, and everything comes in either full or half sizes. I took this as a sign to order with caution and ordered the half order of spaghetti with marinara and one meatball. My sister did not pick up on the warning and ordered the full portion of lasagna.

Bruno's Pizza and PastaSoon after we ordered our dinner salads were delivered.  Talk about yum!  The salad came with thick, freshly sliced mozzarella cheese, green olives, and a porchini pepper. I ate all the cheese off mine and waited anxiously for my entree to arrive, though I was starting to get full after that salad.  Not long after, our dinner was delivered to our table. I dove right into mine. Spaghetti and marinara with a meatball is a pretty simple dish, and Bruno’s does it right. The noodles, the sauce, and the meatball all tasted great. I sampled a bite from my sister’s vat of lasagna and it too was delicious.

Bruno's Pizza and PastaI am certainly happy that we decided to venture over to Bruno’s.  Good food, friendly service, and a nice but casual atmosphere make for an experience I am sure to come back for again and again.  Not only is the food good, but it is also very reasonably priced.  I hope a few other Tyler restaurateurs will follow Bruno’s example and expand south!

Bruno's Pizza and PastaBruno’s Pizza and Pasta
15770 FM 2493
Tyler, TX 75703
(903) 939-0002