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

Cajun Bayou Seafood Market

Cajun Bayou Seafood MarketA new Cajun restaurant recently opened on 155 in Flint.  Like Randy’s, it is a casual place with no air conditioning and it’s BYOB.

As far as ambiance, it is basically a huge wooden patio shaded by large trees.  You walk to the counter to order, then your food is delivered once ready.  I was having trouble decided what to get, so I asked the guy behind the counter what he’d consider the specialties to be.  He said everything on the menu is great which is nice but didn’t really help narrow it down.  I finally decided to go with a shrimp poboy, and my sis got the soft shell crab poboy.  We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  Our jaws dropped when the sandwiches were delivered…  These things were huge!  They tasted good, but I could only eat about a third of mine before throwing in the towel.

Cajun Bayou Seafood MarketI ended up going back with my husband several days later, since he hadn’t gotten to try it yet.  This time we got the crab cakes, fried pickles, vanilla sweet potato fries and fried boudin.  I am in love with fried pickles, and these were good.  The crab cakes were good, but they were covered in a thick sauce which overpowered the flavor of the crab.  Next time I’d definitely see about getting the sauce on the side.  The vanilla sweet potato fries were also good, but I think the vanilla may have been a bit too strong for my taste.  The fried boudin was good, and I think anyone who likes boudin would like it.

Cajun Bayou Seafood Market Cajun Bayou Seafood Market

I’d say this place is a must for anyone who likes Cajun food. It is really cool and will be a great summer hang out.

Cajun Bayou Seafood Market
18950 Hwy 155 South
Flint, TX, 75762
(903) 825-1158

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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

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Coyote Sam’s Bar & Grille

coyotesamsI love Coyote Sam’s for two main reasons.  First, their location is beautiful.  Coyote Sam’s boasts tall ceilings, rustic architectural details, a stone entrance, and a a huge patio area which make this restaurant one of the most visually appealing in Tyler.  The second thing that I love about Coyote Sam’s is the brunch.  Coyote Sam’s started serving brunch at a time when there really weren’t too many places in Tyler to eat a good Sunday brunch.  Now that a couple of new breakfast places have popped up, I hope that Coyote Sam’s can continue to bring in a good brunch crowd, but if not, their regular menu and drink specials ought to get people in the door.

Coyote Sam’s offers burgers, barbecue, and several delicious appetizers such as the brisket quesadillas and venison chili cheese fries.  Their pulled pork is some of the best I’ve had.  They also have steaks, seafood, and some yummy salads like the Crispy Chicken and Avocado Salad.  However, like I mentioned before, their brunch is my favorite thing offered.  There are few things better than a leisurely weekend brunch, complete with a Mimosa and Amaretto French Toast.

No matter what you are in the mood for, Coyote Sam’s has you covered.  With choices ranging from Eggs Benedict to chicken fried steak to BBQ pulled pork or a Kobe beef burger, there is something for everyone here.

Coyote Sam’s Bar & Grille
5424 Old Jacksonville Highway
Tyler, TX 75703-3337
(903) 705-4278

Caffe Tazza

DSC04684What’s the best place to go in Tyler for a light brunch and a specialty coffee or tea?  Caffe Tazza, obviously.  Located in the Harley’s shopping center next door to Garden Style (best florist in town, by the way), Caffe Tazza offers a selection of breakfast pastries, muffins, sandwiches, salads, and gelato along with gourmet coffees and teas, and a small selection of wines.

DSC04687Caffe Tazza specializes in what my husband may call ‘chick food’, but that’s probably why I love it so much.  One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday lunch is at one of their patio tables with my sister and a stack of magazines.  We love to split the veggie sandwich on Ciabatta bread with a side of fruit and either a Chai Granita or a glass of Prosecco, and some days I like to indulge with a scoop of Spumoni gelato to finish things off.

Caffe Tazza is a great spot for unwinding with girlfriends or taking a break from a day of shopping.  If your husbands or boyfriends are brave enough to come with you, they do have some delicious and hearty looking Belgian waffles and omelets, and a yummy turkey bacon avocado croissant that I would consider to be guy-approved foods.  Coffee lovers must try Caffe Tazza’s signature drink, the cappuccino, with perfectly proportioned espresso, thick and creamy steamed milk and foam.  Or, try a pumpkin latte if you are in a seasonal mood.  Caffe Tazza is definitely a must-try for all my lady Tylerites.

DSC04688

Caffe Tazza
4815 Old Bullard Rd # 107
Tyler, TX 75703-1214
(903) 581-6601

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