Automobile Registration – Smith County Tax Office

So, you’ve waited until the last minute to register your car?  Good news!  There’s no need to rush down to the county seat in Tyler and wait in line during your lunch break.  There’s a Smith County Tax Office right in Lindale.

Physical address:

2616 S. Main Street – Lindale, TX 75771

It’s a bit tricky to find, however, so here’s a few landmarks:

From HWY 69, turn east on the road that runs alongside Cinco de Mayo’s and follow it to the very end of the road.  There, you’ll see a red metal building.  Part of it is occupied by the Smith County Constable’s office, while the other part serves as the Smith County substation.  There’s a couple of folks working the Auto Registration desk, so you’ll be in and out of there in no time.


Dining Travel

Blind Tiger (Shreveport, LA)

My wife and I managed a weekend getaway to Shreveport and chose to eat at the Blind Tiger our first night in town because it was within walking distance of our hotel.

My mission was clear — Cajun food or bust! We started off with an order of Crab Cakes. They came three to an order, each the size of a hamburger patty, with a creamy rue and some small crawfish. The flavor was absolutely outstanding! Crispy on the outside with warm, sweet crab on the inside and not the least hint of a fishy taste. WAHOO WARNING: This appetizer (or “appe-Tiger” as they call it) could easily serve four adults or maybe a family of five…so don’t overdo it right out of the chute.

For supper, I went with the Red Beans and Rice. It took up the entire plate and was served with an enormous wedge of cornbread. My wife had the Chicken Bacon Swiss sandwich, served with battered french fries. It, too, covered the plate. In both cases, we ended up eating only half at the restaurant and taking the other half back to the hotel. WAHOO WARNING: Seriously, each of these entrees could easily feed two people.

At this point, we were soundly stuffed. Yet, I still hadn’t learned my lesson. So I ordered not one, but TWO slices of cheesecake and had them boxed up for the walk back to the hotel. We didn’t even peek at the cheesecake until we got back to the room. And, as the Wahoo could’ve told you, WE SHOULD HAVE SHARED A SINGLE SLICE! This wasn’t your Sam’s Club cheesecake, either. Each huge slice of traditional cheesecake came with a container of chocolate drizzle, caramel drizzle, and a dollop of whipped cream. It took us two nights to polish those off, too.

So, in short, we had an appetizer, two entrees, and two desserts for $44 (including tip) and could have easily fed 4 or 5 people. If you leave this place hungry, it’s your own fault. But chances are, you’ll leave saying “Wahoo!” Oh, and be sure to tell the Wahoo howdy on your way out.


Health Camp (Waco, TX)

Image Credit: Health Camp, Waco, Texas
Image Credit: Health Camp, Waco, Texas

Now that we have a kid a Baylor, Health Camp has become a regular stop on our visits to Waco.

We were first introduced to this Waco institution years ago after the Summer Games of Texas swim meet. The same is true today as it was then: if you have designs on going to this place, go early….because it fills up quickly and the seating area is pretty small. That’s especially true today because Health Camp is adjacent to the former Elite Cafe (now Magnolia Grill, of Chip & Joanna Gaines / Fixer Upper fame).

Health Camp is a no-frills burgers-and-shakes place that also has steak sandwiches and a pretty solid grilled chicken sandwich as well. Traditional sides such as fries and tater tots are available as well as some very impressive onion rings. Tea, fountain drinks, or a terrific shake round out the experience. And, yes, those shakes are made from real ice cream.

Image Credit: Health Camp, Waco, Texas
Image Credit: Health Camp, Waco, Texas

Prices are competitive with the other eateries in Waco. Our recent party of 5 were seated and satisfied for about $50.

When you first drive up to Health Camp, don’t let the parking fool you. The biggest bulk of the cars are headed to the Magnolia Grill but the space immediately around Health Camp is reserved for its patrons. As you make a loop around the building to find a parking spot, take a peek into Health Camp to see if there’s seating inside. If not, outdoor seating is available or, if that’s not an option, get it to go. It’s worth it!



Health Camp

2601 Circle Road

Waco TX 76706-3805

Ph: (254) 752-2186


Ken’s Pizza

East Texas has no shortage of buffets and when it comes to pizza, few can rival Ken’s Pizza in Tyler.  It seems most pizza restaurants spend more time trying to come up with “experimental” flavors.  Ken’s, however, does a great job of keeping the traditional favorites coming while inserting something new here-and-there.  Hamburger, Cheese, Pepperoni, and Sausage pizzas always seem to be available alongside Spinach, Taco, and Fajita pizzas, among others.  Ken’s also has an ample salad bar and great desserts.

The cost is about $40 for a family of five.  “Servers” will bring you new plates, but service tends to be a bit slow and inattentive.   If all else fails, simply walk up to the buffet and request a new plate and you’ll be on your way.



Bodacious BBQ

The folks at Bodacious BBQ have been serving up the good stuff since 1965 and if you’re anywhere close to the Tyler-Longview area, there’s a Bodacious near you.

There’s a new location just north of  SSW Loop 323 on Hwy 155.  When you walk in the door, there’s no doubt you’ve walked into a Bodacious BBQ;  the dining room sports the same stainless steel tables that you see at other locations and, of course, there’s that great smoky aroma. For you sauce connoisseurs, Bodacious typically runs a little on the sweet side.

Not only do you get the usual good stuff (I’m partial to a chopped beef sandwich), this Bodacious location even has a drive-thru — perfect for picking up Sunday lunch.  Of course, the folks at the original Troup Highway location are always anxious to serve you, too.

A sandwich and drink will run about $8.  You can add sides to that if you want, but the sandwich is usually all you’ll need for lunch unless you intend on taking a nap later in the day.

Tip:  Bodacious makes some awesome Sloppy Joes!  Kids love ’em (so do I!) and they’re only about $2 and they’re HUGE!   The Troup location has been known to offer them for $1 on certain days.  Check out their website or Facebook page for more information.


Monday – Saturday:  10a – 9p

Sunday: 10a – 8p

Original:  1879 Troup Hwy, Tyler, TX 75701 (in the Green Acres Shopping Center) – (903) 592-4148

New location: 2701 W Southwest Loop 323, Tyler, TX 75701


China Chef

No doubt, East Texas has a restaurant to satisfy nearly every palate (except for Egyptian food…still looking for some good schwarma around here).  There’s plenty of BBQ, Southern Cooking, and even Cajun and Seafood offerings.  There’s also a good handful of Chinese food restaurants but few, if any, can rival the simplicity, cleanliness, and comfort of China Chef in Chandler, Texas.

A little background — I’m a big fan of Chinese food.  Doesn’t matter to me if it comes from a grubby dive joint or a fancy-place like P.F. Chang’s.  But my favorite all-time spot is Szechuan Chinese Restaurant  off Camp Bowie in Fort Worth.  They have the perfect mix of price, location, and service and I’m happy to announce China Chef has achieved that balance as well.

I made the trip to Chandler to meet with some new acquaintances.  China Chef is easy to get to, just off Highway 31 East of Tyler.  As of this writing, the restaurant is about a decade old and appears to be in a building about the same age.  The dining area is fairly small but had no trouble accommodating our party of 8.  The menu features all of your standard Chinese favorites (mine is Orange Chicken).  Servings are generous and inexpensive!  With a large drink, my lunch was about $8 … a bargain by today’s standards.

China Chef is a family-run business.  Best I can tell, “Helen” runs the show with a flair for the care and comfort of each patron.  If you’re lucky, you’ll be greeted by her children who have already learned a great deal of hospitality from their Mom.

Nothing fancy here, just good food at a good price served by nice folks in a nice town.

China Chef
(903) 849-2308
636 HWY 31 W
Chandler, TX 75758

Entertainment Travel

American Freedom Museum

Take in over 200 years of American history at the American Freedom Museum in Bullard, TX, just a few miles outside of Tyler.  On the campus of the Brook Hill School, visitors to the American Freedom Museum are greeted by an 1861 Parrot Rifle Cannon and an 1857 Congressional Desk and Chair in the museum lobby.   There’s even a photo of then-Senator Abraham Lincoln sitting in a similar chair.

From there, visitors can take in the Hall of Presidents which features signed documents from every President from George Washington to Barack Obama.

The largest exhibit is the museum’s Hall of Freedom featuring artifacts pre-dating the Revolutionary War up to Operation Enduring Freedom including a moving tribute to 9/11.

The museum recommends 90 minutes to tour the facility.  I highly recommend a good 2 or 3 hours if you’re a history buff.  And the American Freedom Museum appeals to all ages.  My party of six ranged in age from 8 years old to 75!

This relatively-new museum has so much to offer and is one of the best U.S. history museums west of Washington, D.C., and certainly within 100 miles of Tyler.  Recommendation:  have lunch at the new Jucy’s location on Old Jacksonville Road.  The American Freedom Museum is just down the street from there.


Bryan’s Cheesecakes

Yeah, that’s exactly what you think it is … BANANA PUDDING CHEESECAKE! Who’s responsible for this marriage of all-things-good-and-right-in-the-world?  Bryan’s Cheesecakes.

The longtime staple at First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Bryan’s Cheesecakes have made their way to Broad Street in Mineola joining one of the greatest collections of antique shopping and fun dining in all of East Texas.

Image of Chocolate Extreme Cheesecake, Bryan's CheesecakesSimply put, Bryan’s Cheesecakes are spectacular. The Banana Pudding Cheesecake was everything you’d might expect from such a combination. Likewise for the Chocolate Extreme that we tried. But what really caught our attention was the luxurious texture of each bite. Most of the time high-end cheesecakes are very dense and somewhat heavy…not that that’s a bad thing! These cheesecakes were more airy in nature, if you can believe that, yet still filling. My wife and I had stepped into Bryan’s Cheesecakes after a big meal, fully intending to “share” the slices we purchased. As the old saying goes, there’s always room for dessert and while we shared a bite or two with one another, each slice was completely gone by night’s end.

Bryan’s Cheesecakes offers a more-traditional New York-style Cheesecake but their gourmet offerings are difficult to pass up. Consider:

  • White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake
  • Salted-caramel Apple Cheesecake
  • Lemon Cheesecake
  • Birthday Cake Cheesecake

A nice addition to the terrific options at Bryan’s Cheesecakes are the out-of-this-world cupcakes by Teresa Cannon whose baking skills are well-known throughout Lindale.

If neither cheesecake nor cupcakes are your style, the Mineola installation of Bryan’s Cheesecakes also has several popular flavors of Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream on hand.

People’s tastes and dining habits have changed over the years. Pie pantries, bakeries, and confectionaries are disappearing left and right. And, let’s face it; your favorite restaurant probably isn’t known for its desserts. Bryan’s Cheesecakes is filling that void. Once again, you can top off a nice, savory meal with something sweet.  Welcome to Mineola, Bryan’s Cheesecakes!


The Stand


Image of Bratwurst & Onions at The StandIn East Texas, there are four major food groups:  BBQ, taqueria, hamburgers, and Cajun.  It’s all good, but it’s nice to find something different every now and then and the good folks at The Stand are happy to oblige.

The beauty of The Stand is in the simplicity of its menu.  Nothing but hotdogs, bratwurst, polish sausage and the like.  And then, you can dress ’em up just like you’ve always wanted.  Grilled onions?  Got ’em!  Cole Slaw?  You bet!  Mac & Cheese!  YES, you can even put Mac & Cheese ON your hotdog or sausage.  But how about this — Stanley’s BBQ sauce!   Yessir! Clearly one of the greatest food marriages of all time, only at The Stand.

The dining room is cozy, so it fills up fast during lunch and dinner.  But, on a pretty day, you and your crew can enjoy your meal at one of the many outdoor seating options.  In a hurry?  They’ve got you covered there, too, with a drive-thru.

So if you need a change from the typical East Texas fare, take the family or your office crew to The Stand.

16700 FM 2493 Suite 1600
Tyler, TX 75703

Tel: (903) 504-3292

Email: [email protected]