Egg Roll Express

Hey, Egg Roll Express is far from being the prettiest barn on Front Street….but for Chinese-in-a-hurry, this beats waiting in the crowd at Peking’s.

Limited menu makes the choosing easier…and I went with the Beef and Broccoli. It was served pretty quickly, piping hot, and it was as good as any I’ve had from a Chinese buffet. About $8 covered the whole meal….and I could’ve saved another buck or two had I not added a soft drink to the deal.

I’d do this one again. It’s probably not the best Chinese in town (still looking) but if you don’t want to fight the lunch rush, this is a good option for folks who work downtown.


Daniel Boone’s Grill & Tavern

The five of us took in a little Daniel Boone’s one Sunday afternoon after seeing and hearing numerous advertisements for it quite some time. The theme of the restaurant is loosely based upon the old 1950’s Daniel Boone TV show, complete with a log-cabin look-and-feel and silly signs such as, “On this spot in 1890, nothing happened.” I’d say Daniel Boone’s most-closely resembles Judge Roy Bean’s or Cotton Patch, for those of you visiting from larger communities.

For an appetizer, we started out with the chips and fresh-made salsa, which was just right; a little spicy, but not enough to overtake the rest of your meal. Then, we were told about the ‘bean bar’ where they have a pot of beans-with-beef and another that’s beans-with-pork. Both were very tasty. If I had it to do over again, I would’ve passed up the chips and salsa (at $3.99) and just gone with the beans.

For lunch, my oldest and I went with the cheeseburger. They were a good size, big enough that I took half home for supper, and each came with side of fries. The vegetables were good, likewise for the buns, and, overall, the burger is worthy of having again someday. My youngest son went with the BLT. I’m guessing it was pretty good because I barely got a look at it before it was gone. My daughter went with the chicken rings from the children’s menu. No picky eating for her! She ate a good bit of it…even knowing ice cream was forthcoming. My wife went with the stuffed baked potato. It was delicious. I know this because I had half of it with my burger for supper that night.

If you saved any room at all, Daniel Boone’s welcomes you to their Ice Cream bar, full of self-serve buckets of Blue Bell. The perfect finish to a family-friendly meal.

With a tip, we threw down $52…..more than I’d want to spend on a family meal. If I’d avoided the chips and salsa and gotten water for all five of us, we probably could’ve dropped $10 off the bill.

But, overall, Daniel Boone’s was a pleasant experience and one of the more family-friendly places we’ve visited in East Texas so far. We’ll be back!


Jalapeno Tree

Tasty, but I don’t understand why Jalapeno Tree is so expensive. Granted, two can have lunch for less than $25, but if you take the family of five on, say, a Saturday night….you can count on spending upwards of $60.

The food is very good….and the guacamole “green sauce” is a delicious compliment to the salsa.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Jalapeno Tree. But be prepared to take a hit in the wallet if you go outside of the lunchtime window.

Plenty of locations throughout East Texas. Check ’em out!


Vietnamese Pho Restaurant

OK, I admit it…my first effort to try out this restaurant led me to the “safer” Mexican food place down the street…only because I feared making a fool of myself attempting to eat Pho. But I cowboyed-up on my second attempt and, boy, I’m glad I did!

Full disclosure — I did my homework. I read online how one should attempt to eat Pho. When the garnish of bean sprouts and basil arrived at the table, I placed the bean sprouts beneath the pho noodles in the piping-hot broth. (Seriously, the broth was about 10,000 degrees!). I also pinched off a few basil leaves and added them to the broth, then I finished my customization with a good squeeze of lemon.

I was looking like a pro at that point. But then, I found out you can’t eat Pho with a fork. First of all, rice noodles are a little “stiffer” than spaghetti….so you can’t really cut them on the side of the bowl.

So, when you twirl ’em up Italian style on the fork, you end up with a massive ball of 10,000-degree noodles — no WAY you’re going to attempt to eat it.So I finally got up enough nerve to ask the staff to show me how to use chopsticks. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE — it’s MUCH easier to eat pho with chopsticks than a fork! Granted, you end up with noodles hanging down into the bowl…but the staff assured me it was perfectly acceptable to slurp up the noodles.

Well, I made it through the meal….and only spattered one shirt, one table, and perhaps a patron or two. But the experience was well worth it.

And, as luck would have it, there’s several items on the menu that would be familiar to the Chinese-food fans out there, so don’t turn down an invitation to try Vietnamese Pho. And, PUT DOWN THAT FORK, ok?


Mama’s Restaurant

Took the family of five to Mama’s Restaurant for our last ‘lunchtime with Daddy’ before school starts. Chips and salsa to start, then came the Chicken Strips for my daughter, a pair of Burger Club Sandwiches for the boys, Quesadillas with rice and refried beans for my bride, and Grilled Chicken with fried okra and green beans for me. By the time our food was distributed around the table, you’d think another five family members were on their way! Huge portions and the side dishes were especially big … unusual for most restaurants these days.

My grilled chicken was delicious! It was prepared with fajita-like seasonings and would’ve easily covered not one, but two buns if ordered as a sandwich. The boys had no trouble polishing off their Burger Club sandwiches (basically, hamburgers on wheat bread with lettuce and tomato, cut into club sandwich wedges). My daughter couldn’t even finish her chicken strips and my wife ooo’ed and aaah’ed through her quesadillas.

$51 with tip….but the prices are reasonable, actually. I probably could’ve gone with waters all around and passed on the chips & salsa to save about $8. But I’m a chip-and-salsa-aholic, so that’s hard to pass up.

But we’ll be stopping by to visit Mama more often! I may even take MY Mama there!


El Mejicano Mexican Restaurant

Mexican food along the lines of a tacqueria…but with some TexMex and American favorites that gives El Mejicano broad appeal. At $8.99, that’s a little more than I’d generally want to spend for lunch…but that’s a competitive price for a buffet. Overall, you’ll not see this much variety in a buffet outside of a Chinese food restaurant. And be sure to save room for the dessert bar!



This is a Freebird’s/Chipotle-like “build-’em-as-you-order-’em” kind of place. Southwestern-style Mexican food (meaning black beans and white cheese) with a wide assortment of selections. I went with a Taco Salad and my wife went with the Nachos. Since you’re the one who decides what goes into your meal, it’s pretty much up to you to mix-and-match your favorites. And if you’re looking for lighter fare, say, for lunch then this is a good option.

With drinks and a side of chips and queso, the total bill was about $18. This is a tiny bit pricier than I would prefer for this type of dining option, but I will definitely visit Salsarita’s again.


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


Bud Jones Bayou

Bud Jones Bayou
Bud Jones Bayou

So, you need your car AND your appetite fixed?  Would you believe you can get both issues addressed at the same place?  Just wheel your bucket of bolts over to Bud Jones Garage to drop off your car.  Then walk next door to Bud Jones Bayou.

What all started as a concession trailer next to the garage is now a full-blown restaurant attached to the fixit-shop.  My lunch buddy on this particular visit works in the Tyler Square and, rather than making the short drive, he simply hoofed it down Erwin…so that’s good news for downtown workers seeking a little variety.

In my experience, good Cajun joints are few and far between here in East Texas, which is a surprise considering the proximity to Louisiana.  But, I’d say Bud Jones is a good spot to satisfy your hankering for bayou fare.

I went with the Blackened Catfish Po’Boy, served up with Cole Slaw ON THE SANDWICH with a remoulade dressing and it came with a side of onion rings (or french fries, if you’re so-inclined).  The sandwich is a good size and, so that I wouldn’t ruin date-night that evening, I brought half of it home.

The Po’Boy was very good, with the perfect balance of blackened spices and sweet slaw.  I’d definitely pick that again.

The locals also tell us the hamburgers are very good, as evidenced by the six boxed-up take-out burgers that were awaiting pickup.

If you come early, say 11:45, you’ll be able to secure a table througout lunch.  But if you come after noon, say 12:15, you might be standing a bit.  But don’t let that scare you off.  Bud Jones Bayou is a good place to eat, a fun place to meet, and an interesting place to discuss ….. even if you’re not a quart low!


504 East Erwin
Tyler, TX 75702

Monday: 11 am – 6 pm

Tuesday: 11 am – 6 pm

Wednesday: 11 am – 6 pm

Thursday: 11 am – 6 pm

Friday: 11 am – 8 pm

Saturday: 11 am – 8 pm

Sunday: Closed