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

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

julians4

Mariscos DJ’s

Mariscos DJSWe knew we wanted to go out for dinner this past weekend in celebration of my sister’s birthday.  We’d been hearing so many good things about the new Don Juan’s seafood restaurant, Mariscos DJ’s, so picking the restaurant was a no brainer.

I was a bit concerned that we might not be able to get a table since this was a Saturday night, but the restaurant was actually very quiet.  There were only a handful of other groups there, so we got to choose a prime table on the patio.  I promptly ordered a margarita, and my sis opted for a mojito.

I feel as though I have a pretty good handle on ‘authentic’ Mexican food and feel comfortable ordering and making selections even when limited English definitions are provided.  Mariscos DJ’s is a whole new kind of authentic for me.  Of course I could understand shrimp cocktail, shrimp fajitas, and a few other more commonly known foods, yet there were a few items that didn’t ring even the faintest bell.  So, I put myself to the mercy of our fantastically sweet and kind server and asked him what he’d suggest.

Mariscos DJ'sI don’t know what my food was called or even what exactly it was, but it was very tasty indeed.  I’m going to describe it in a way that may sound odd, but trust me, it was delicious.  You see, I don’t know of an appetizing way to spin the words fried fish chunks, because that’s exactly what mine turned out to be.  It was nugget sized pieces of really tasty fried fish on a plate surrounded by sliced cucumber.  There was also a side of what I discovered was really, really,  hot green sauce.

We were most impressed by our first visit to Mariscos DJ’s.  In addition to the unique food and the warm service, the architectural details of the restaurant building were especially remarkable.  Lots of intricate details were incorporated into the décor making it clear just how much love and hard work went into it.  I am already looking forward to my next visit.

Mariscos DJ'sMariscos DJ’s
1201 E. Ewrin
Tyler Texas 75702
(903) 533-1220

South Lake Grill

South Lake GrillThis weekend I had the best idea ever.  It was Sunday afternoon, the weather was nothing short of gorgeous, yet I was faced with the same dilemma I’ve been facing all spring…    Where to spend a day like today?   Tyler certainly has a decent selection of patio drinking and dining establishments, but for whatever reason none of those places sounded good.  That’s when I remembered there was a restaurant on Lake Tyler.  I was off to claim my table in the sun!

When we arrived at South Lake Grill I was pleasantly surprised that there were plenty of empty tables on the patio.  I ordered some chicken quesadillas and a margarita and plopped myself down in the warm sun and thus began my new love affair with the South Lake Grill.  My chicken quesadillas were pretty good, my margarita was awesome, and my sister’s huge South Lake burger looked really good too.  (YES, we just ate at SmashBurger a couple of days before – don’t judge!)  We stayed and relaxed for awhile and I even got a mild sunburn.

DSC05307Too soon it was time to go home and start preparing myself for the reality that is Monday morning.  Despite my sadness at leaving, I am still thrilled about this discovery and seriously can’t believe I haven’t been taking advantage of this place!  It’s got everything I like in a restaurant – casual atmosphere, good variety of menu options, bar, and a totally awesome patio with a fab view of Lake Tyler.  I am already daydreaming of the next weekend when I can go back and do it all over again.

South Lake GrillSouth Lake Grill
18183 Concession Road
Whitehouse, TX 75791-5224
(903) 839-2827

South Lake Grill on Urbanspoon

Jakes Tyler

jakesThere are two types of articles that are especially fun for me to write.  The reviews of really bad experiences, and reviews of really great experiences.  Luckily, Friday night at Jakes I had a really, really great experience.  My sister and I decided to make an impromptu trip downtown just to get out of the house for a little while.  We thought we’d have a drink and maybe share an appetizer if we got hungry.  We took a seat at the bar and were immediately greeted by one of the polite and friendly (and handsome – hi Thomas!) bartenders.  We were off to a good start.

Jakes is the type of place that you would expect to be exceptionally good, and it lives up to all of my expectations each time I visit.  It’s one of the pricier places to eat in Tyler, but the atmosphere, service, and fantastic food really make it worth the price.  Jakes makes the perfect spot to celebrate a special occasion, or to satiate a need for indulgence which is exactly what we did on Friday.  We decided to share the Oysters Rockafeller, and I kid you not when I say they were the absolute best oysters I have ever tasted.  I think even people who don’t like oysters would love these.  Broiled with butter, Applewood smoked bacon, onion, spinach and freshly shaved parmesan cheese, Jakes’ Oysters Rockafeller are simply to die for.  We devoured all dozen of the oysters, and on an oyster high made the impulse decision to finish the night off with Jakes coconut cream bread pudding.  Yes, this was as fantastically good as it sounds.  Not one word was spoken as we dove into the dessert, and we didn’t come up for air until the plate was scraped clean.

DSC05178We could not have picked a better place to enjoy our girls’ night out.  Everything was perfect from the moment we walked in until we bundled back up and headed home for the night.  It was far too cold to enjoy this weekend, but Jakes roof top cheveta is one of the coolest places in Tyler to visit on a warm spring evening.  You can dine while overlooking the square in downtown Tyler, and they even have live music on the weekends.  I’m already looking forward to coming back for more oysters and bread pudding on the roof when the temperatures warm up.

jakeshours: Tues – Fri 4pm-12am, Sat 5pm-1am

Jakes
111 East Erwin Street
Tyler, TX 75702
(903) 526-0225

Julian’s Asian Diner

juliansWhat a pleasant surprise it was for me to enter Julian’s Asian Diner and find a non-buffet Asian restaurant.  Previously limited to Chinese buffets and Japanese hibachi grills, before Julian’s opened it’s doors, Tyler desperately needed a sit-down style Asian restaurant.

Julian’s is not new.  It’s been around for a few years, but it recently came under new ownership, and the new owners are doing some cool things to the place.  The biggest improvement they are making is to remodel the entire bar area.  Previously, the bar looked cool, but it wasn’t really practical.  I have not seen the new bar area, but I know it’s going to be a lot bigger and offer more seating than the few low couches and tables that they had before.

The food at Julian’s is very good, and luckily, I don’t think the new owners plan on changing the menu.  My favorite thing is the Cune Special, one of their Health Bowls, which consists of brown rice, shrimp, chicken, and veggies served with your choice of sauce.  Personally, I love it with shrimp and scallops instead of chicken, and the Teriyaki sauce.  I am getting hungry just thinking about it!  Other great choices include the Julian’s Spicy Chicken, the Honey Seared Shrimp, and the Filet Medallions topped with Gorgonzola.

juliansAside from the good food, Julian’s also offers a nice selection of beers, wines, and martinis.  I had my first ever Leinenkugel here, which marked the start of a very special relationship between me and my new favorite wheat beer.

Be sure to head over to Julian’s for lunch or dinner.  For lunch try the Cune Special or Spicy Chicken.  For dinner I’d recommend the Filet Medallions that I mentioned earlier, and definitely one of their special martinis.  That would be the perfect way to unwind after a long day of Christmas shopping.  Check out Julian’s menu online at www.juliansintyler.com (their annoying Flash website is not a good representation of the restaurant).

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

Cimarron

CimarronCimarron…  How have I not reviewed this place before?  I love it, and it’s always one of my first choices when asked to pick where to go for dinner or drinks.  Many of you know that Cimarron belongs to the Dakota’s and Fiore family, but it is definitely different (and not just because they serve sushi…  YES they serve sushi, and it’s not Shoguns!  Exciting, right?).  Let me just tell you…

When Cimarron first opened, they billed themselves as a tapas restaurant, meaning small plates, small portions…  The first of its kind in Tyler.  My husband and I heard about it and were immediately drawn in.  We loved it and declared immediately that it was our new favorite place to eat in Tyler.  I mean how many places around here can you get duck cakes or dilled cheese puffs? (Jimmy, if you are listening, PLEASE bring back the cheese puffs!  They were fab!)  Anyhow, I digress…  Cimarron offered an innovative menu for Tyler, and they were the first restaurant to offer ‘small plates’.  Definitely a first for East Texas but welcomed with open arms as evidenced by the large crowds drawn to Cimarron on any weekend night.

CimarronMonths went by, and Cimarron, addressing, what in my opinion, was a HUGE need in Tyler, decided to change their menu (for the second time – the first was when the dilled cheese puffs were eliminated).  But this time they offered a fair trade…  They started serving sushi.  Not just any sushi (hello Brookshire’s), but good sushi!  Try the Jimmy roll –  It’s awesome!  Also, I can’t let a Cimarron review pass me by without mentioning the drinks.  Cimarron seems to be just as much a bar as a restaurant…  Just take a look at the place.  The horseshoe shaped, large, granite bar counter top speaks for itself.  They offer a great wine selection, as well as specialty martinis and every other liquor concoction you could possibly want. Wednesday night is Ladies night and the place is packed, and the drinks are half priced.

Anyhow, my whole purpose here is to tell you about the Halloween party.  Apparently, this has been the place to spook and be spooked (or spooked in a sexy way, depending on your costume) for the past two years.  This year’s festivities include live music by Something Blue, drink specials for the ladies, and costume contests.  The place is decorated in its spooky garb, and it looks great.  Come out and party with your fellow Tylerites…  That is, if you can recognize them with their costumes on!

Cimarron
5201 S Broadway Ave
Tyler, TX 75703-3799
(903) 939-2200

Rick’s on the Square

ricksMy hands down FAVORITE place to go in Tyler is Rick’s On the Square in downtown Tyler. This place has everything. Delicious food, awesome live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, great drinks and extensive wine list, and friendly and experienced service all in a really cool atmosphere – you HAVE to check out the patio!

Let me start with the menu. Known for offering the finest cuts of steak and freshest seafood in East Texas, it is hard to go wrong when ordering one of Chef Jack Lewis’ specialties, but I do have a couple of favorites. When I heard Rick was selling Jakes I was worried that the Mezze Platter would be lost forever. Thank goodness they brought it over to Rick’s! It comes with a sampling of Lebanese and Mediterranean salads and nibbles served with a basket of pita bread. It makes for the perfect light snack. Another of my favorite things to order is The Whole Shebang. It comes with seared peppercorn tuna, grilled filet mignon, crawfish beignets (a must try!), fried and grilled oysters, chipotle shrimp and escargot. It’s the perfect thing to order if you can’t decide what you want. After dinner, your life will not be complete until you have tried the White Chocolate Bread Pudding. It is quite possibly the best dessert in the world.

After dinner, I strongly suggest sticking around for the entertainment. Grab a cocktail from the bar and head out to the patio to relax and listen to some great live music, or get up and dance! Rick’s even offers a selection of fine cigars to enjoy while you are taking in the whole experience.

Rick’s On the Sqaure offers it all from the moment you pull up to the valet service and walk in the door until the night is over and it’s time to head home. Come in for dinner, stick around for some fun after, and don’t forget to try the White Chocolate Bread Pudding!

hours: Mon – Fri 11am-12am, Sat 5pm – 1am

Rick’s On the Square
104 W. Erwin
Tyler, TX 75702
(903) 531-2415

Buffalo Wild Wings

buffalo-wild-wingsBuffalo Wild Wings has many locations other than their new location on Broadway in Tyler, however the Tyler location has something all the others do not…  it’s Tylerite patrons!

The food is the same delicious menu you would find in other Buffalo Wild Wings locations, including their gigantic hamburgers such as the Bacon Cheddar Burger, their rib and chicken tenders platters, and of course their legendary buffalo wings – with or without bone – in your choice from their selection of 14 sauces ranging from the tame Sweet BBQ to the mouth burning Blazin’ flavor.  If you’re thinking no buffalo wing establishment is complete without a good selection of beers you need not worry.  Buffalo Wild Wings has you covered in the beer department, with many varieties available on tap.

Yes, the food is great, but it’s not the best thing about Tyler’s new Buffalo Wild Wings.  The best thing about this place is the crowd.  Always busy, but never TOO busy, Buffalo Wild Wings is the new place in Tyler to see and be seen.  Don’t worry about getting dressed up or getting your hair done though, because this place is casual with a laid back atmosphere.  I do recommend however, making sure your face is wiped clean of wing sauce before chatting up that table next to yours.

Buffalo Wild Wings
7916 S Broadway Ave # A
Tyler, TX 75703
(903) 939-0698

Half Moon Grill & Saloon

Half MoonThe Half Moon Bar and Grill in Gresham has launched a pretty extensive radio advertising campaign lately – I’m sure some of you have heard one of the radio ads boasting about their menu or the one focusing on their huge deck… I had heard both and was excited to go see what all the fuss was about (the fuss over the FOOD, that is – not the deck).

We decided to try it out one Thursday night at around 8 pm. I don’t even know why we bothered to go inside, because when we pulled up the parking lot was PACKED. This would have been a great thing if I was looking for a big crowd, but I was intent on trying the wonderful food they have gone to such great lengths to advertise – not the crowd. The advertisements left me under the impression that this was just as much a restaurant as a bar. Based on my experience this is not the case.

We walked in and were greeted by the doorman who scanned our IDs. The music was very loud which was ok because the band was pretty good. As far as I could see it was standing room only, so my hopes of enjoying a meal here were diminishing. We walked room to room past pool tables and gatherings of people and finally made our way to the door that leads out to the huge deck. I was CERTAIN there would be room for us to sit and eat on the deck (since it is so enormous of course), and there was! There was plenty of room on the deck, but NO CHAIRS. Still hopefull, we walked back inside and asked the bartender if there were any chairs we could pull up to the tables outside. Sadly, we were told that there were not any chairs. Since the band that was playing that night was pretty good we decided to stay for a beer then head on down the road to an actual restaurant.

I really wanted to like this place and was expecting an awesome time, but unfortunately the Half Moon didn’t deliver that night. The food that I saw looked good, so my advice would be to anyone who wants to eat here to go early. I don’t have plans to go back anytime soon, mainly because we could never get of the house early enough to get a table. So, good luck to any of you who venture that way!

Half Moon Grill & Saloon
16884 FM 2493
Tyler, TX 75703-7378
(903) 534-1884