Known for its beautiful rose gardens, charming historic downtown and lively cultural scene, Tyler, Texas also boasts a great dining scene. We round up some of the east Texas city’s best eats – from legendary local barbecue and Latin American fare to award winning pizza and prime steak.
Legendary local restaurant Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q is the oldest, still operating mom and pop-style barbecue joint in Tyler. Guests have been raving about its smoked-to-perfection meats for over 50 years. On Stanley’s menu you’ll find all the classics from brisket and baby back ribs to smoked hot links and pulled pork, alongside plenty of other dishes including breakfast burritos, sandwiches and tacos. Outside, there’s a covered patio featuring live music six nights a week and a full bar serving Texan craft beers and a huge range of American whiskeys.
Perched on a hilltop close to Tyler’s Headache Springs Natural Park, Villa Montez resides in a beautiful mansion dating back to 1935 and specializes in contemporary, authentic Latin American cuisine. Guests at Villa Montez are treated to a range of burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas and quesadillas or can opt for one of the inventive entrees like the flash-seared ahi with roasted pineapple-soy and the Yucatan-style sweet pork salad. Villa Montez itself is as exquisite as its food, with beautiful gardens surrounding the property that include a patio dining area and the restaurant’s own herb and vegetable plot.
Part of the beautiful Kiepersol Estates Winery and Vineyard – one of east Texas’ premier wine destinations – Kiepersol Restaurant specializes in prime steaks and fresh seafood served up in rustically elegant surroundings. Opt for an appetizer of duck ‘cigars’ (fried wraps crammed with shredded duck, chopped jalapeno and cilantro served with a fruit relish-plum sauce) and follow up with a juicy 16 ounce New York strip steak or the tempting black pepper and honey-glazed salmon filet. Naturally, the restaurant’s wine cellar features plenty of Kiepersol Estates wines to complement your meal, alongside a number of hand selected wines from across the globe.
Family owned and operated since first opening its doors 18 years ago, Bernard’s is an upscale Tyler restaurant, serving an eclectic Mediterranean menu that offers a taste of the cuisines of France, Italy and Spain. Standout dishes include the poulet de bordelaise (chicken breast stuffed with spinach and mozzarella and served in a red wine demi-glace) and the hearty seafood pasta with clams, mussels, shrimps and scallops in a white wine sauce. This is perfect when complemented with a selection from Bernard’s extensive wine list which features varieties from across Europe and the USA.
For prime USDA-approved steaks served in a beautifully upscale space, local diners in the know head to Dakotas Prime Steak & Chophouse. Since first opening its doors over a decade ago, Dakotas has earned a reputation as one of Tyler’s premier steak and chophouses. With dishes like the smothered steak with grilled onions, mushrooms and brown gravy and the double-cut Berkshire pork chop with orange-cranberry sauce, it’s easy to see why. A number of seafood, poultry and pasta dishes are also served alongside a bar menu with more casual eats like bacon-wrapped shrimp and Texas fries.
Open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, The Diner serves up wholesome, home-style cooking in a welcoming, retro-inspired space. Voted BSCENE Magazine’s Best Breakfast, an early start at The Diner comes highly recommended with hearty dishes like buttermilk pancakes, brisket benedict and the east Texas skillet – chopped bacon, diced sausage and skillet potatoes with cream gravy and two eggs. Lunchtime offers burgers, sandwiches and tacos alongside entrees including chicken-fried steak and blackened tilapia. If you don’t fancy eating out, swing by and pick up one of The Diner’s popular casseroles for hassle-free home cooking.
Offering a unique, casual dining experience in the heart of Tyler, Cork Food & Wine serves Euro-Asian tapas-style eats alongside handcrafted cocktails and an impressive global wine list. Located at Tyler’s recently revamped Times Square Shopping Center, Cork Food & Wine boasts a modern industrial-chic interior. Look forward to tempting sharing options and small plates featuring fare like crawfish and crab cakes, goat cheese-stuffed peppadew peppers and chilled Vietnamese spring rolls. There’s a creative sushi menu as well, and on Sundays the restaurant serves a popular brunch menu featuring fare like French toast, fried green tomatoes and Nutella crepes.
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Part restaurant, part boutique, The Potpourri House has been a unique east Texas dining and shopping destination since owners Les and Carol Ellsworth first opened its doors back in the early 1980s. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant serves deliciously eclectic fare including Thai egg rolls with carrot, celery, onion and ground pork and tilapia stuffed with Louisiana-style crab and shrimp. Meanwhile, The Potpourri House boutique offers fashion, beauty, food and home décor for the shopping fanatic. Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening dining includes live music from local talent.
Voted BSCENE Magazine’s Best Pizza, Bruno’s Pizza is one of Tyler’s best loved Italian spots. The family run restaurant has been serving its famous pizzas – all featuring homemade dough and sauces – for nearly 40 years and offers the option of dining in or ordering takeout. Guests can build their own pizzas from a range of toppings or choose a specialty pizza like Robinhood, which is topped with hamburger, ham, black olives and mushrooms. Salads, hearty sub sandwiches stuffed with fillings like meatballs and Italian sausage and pasta dishes are also served.
Located in the heart of downtown Tyler, Rick’s on the Square has been entertaining local foodies and music fans alike with its mix of casual fine dining and live music nights three times a week since opening in 1992. Its New American cuisine is host to a diverse array of dishes featuring certified Angus beef and market seafood. It also features both down home comfort food inspired elements and global flavors. Choose from gorgonzola wontons, crawfish-stuffed filet mignon and house smoked pork quesadillas with jack cheese and mango pico and finish with an indulgent homemade dessert of white chocolate bread pudding.