Our Favorite Places to Eat in Palestine, TX
I’m sure you know by now that I am a part of a wonderful family online, the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community and we decided to all get together and talk about our favorite places to eat in our hometowns around the United States, Canada, and England! This round-up is not sponsored in any way, just fun and informative for you! Stay tuned in a couple of weeks and I’ll share what the other bloggers found in their hometowns as well.
My hometown is Palestine, Texas, where I grew up and am now building my own family. I moved away to Austin, Texas, for 12 years and had some of the best food in some of the most unique places, but now that I’m home again, I’ve found some of my favorites are just as good, if not better, than all those weirdo places in Austin and around Texas.
When I told Hubby that I would be participating in this blog hop and I would be writing about 8-12 restaurants in Palestine, he laughed. He asked if there were 8-12 restaurants in Palestine (worth writing about) and that is when I knew I would need to expand my search just a little. Once I started; however, I got to 9 before I knew it so we’re sharing today our top 9 favorite places to eat in Palestine, Texas.
Our Favorite Places to Eat in Palestine, TX
Little Mexico [2025 W. Oak St.]
I just can’t write about restaurants in Palestine without talking about Little Mexico. When I was growing up, this was THE place to eat (for my family) and it was a treat for us to go on Thursday evenings when my dad got paid.
Little Mexico was established in 1967 and still has that family restaurant feel. If you have lived in Palestine for any amount of time, you have either eaten there, worked there, or become addicted to their Tex-Mex menu. It is not what some would consider authentic Mexican food. It is definitely Tex-mex and combines chili and cheese with fresh, fast ingredients.
The atmosphere is one of a San Antonio feel with light authentic Mexican music in the background, low lighting with candles on each table, and booths with tall backs for privacy. The salsa is served at each table in a bowl, but there is a small container left for the patrons to refill their bowls as well. It is a mild salsa on most days, but at times it can have a bite to it.
The meals are moderately priced, but more food than any one person can usually eat. Most meals include a taco with fresh shredded lettuce and tomato and excellently flavored taco meat. My favorite; however, are the cheese enchiladas, with a CCQ. Hubby just loves the chili on everything and occasionally will just order a bowl of it.
What’s a CCQ, you ask? It’s a simple, but perfect little snack included in most meals or served a la carte. CCQ is a tostada chip about the size of your hand that is covered in queso and baked. The queso has a texture of melted Velveeta, but with the taste of a creamy cheddar cheese. It is simply delicious.
Shep’s Bar-B-Q [1013 E. Palestine Ave.]
Shep’s is the landmark Bar-B-Q in Palestine. Bruce from Shep’s is a pillar of the community and cooks some of the best brisket in East Texas. He is known for his catering of most events around town and most recently (past few years or so) for his Thurday’s ox tail stew.
Shep’s is a great place to go for a home cooked lunch with brisket, ribs, sausage, and the fixin’s or for picking up a quick dinner on the way home or when you’re serving a large group in the evening. Grab a pint of sauce for the brisket and you are set!
Hamburger Bar [502 N. Tennessee Ave.]
To picture the Hamburger Bar, think Mel’s Diner on Alice, complete with Flo telling you to “kiss my grits”. This diner is home cooking, handmade burgers, homemade pies, or a full meal with meat, potatoes, and gravy. The atmosphere is diner-esque and the chairs look like they were picked up a few different school cafeteria auctions. The booths are old and battered, but comfy and home-y. My favorite thing to order is a simple cheeseburger and fries plate, but don’t dive right in because you will (because I do it EVERY time) burn your tongue!
This photo of Bishop’s Brisket House is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Bishop’s Brisket House [2000 S. Loop 256]
Bishop’s is the “new kid” of BBQ in town, but they are giving Shep’s a run for their money! Hubby and I love to stop by here once or twice a month and pick up the brisket, ribs, sausage, beans (ohhh, the beans!), cole slaw, and the potato salad at Bishop’s Brisket House.
The staff at Bishop’s are amazingly nice and attentive to their customers. As soon as Hubby walks in, they know his order and they know we don’t need sauce because their brisket and ribs are seasoned perfectly! The atmosphere is nice and warm, with cozy seating and live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
El Toro Mexican Restaurant [2111 S. Loop 256]
El Toro is not completely unique to Palestine, but it is 1 of 6, I believe, around East Texas. This mexican restaurant is a step above regular Tex-mex with their moderate menu of fajita salads, ribs, and bacon/jalapeno-wrapped shrimp. El Toro is perfect for a romantic date night, a family birthday celebration, or a family dinner night out. And they have free tortillas and ice cream with every meal!
I visited El Toro for the first time for my Senior prom night out with friends and have spent Hubby’s birthday dinner there as well. They have an amazing burrito dinner, a large meal with a half rack of ribs, and their salsa and green sauce that comes with the chips at the beginning of the meal is the perfect ice breaker and starter to all of their meals.
Village Seafood [2503 W. Oak St.]
Not just a seafood restaurant – Village Seafood has some of the best shrimp fried rice and what Hubby calls “the best burger in town”. This is a small, dingy restaurant on an off the beaten path part of town, but the food is worth it if we remember to go there. My dad and stepmom go there all the time and we love it. You won’t be overly impressed with the atmosphere or the look of the place, but the staff are really cute and sweet and you’ll leave feeling full and with a to-go plate!
King Buffet [2800 S. Loop 256]
I just HAD to throw in “King Fuffet” as my boy calls it because this is our go-to place for a dinner out when we’re exhausted, but I refuse to pick up dinner and eat at home. This is an “upscale” Chinese buffet with a Hibachi grill and sushi bar and all the typical (and some not-so typical) items you would find on the buffet. I love the fresh grill items and the beef and broccoli and we all love the warm crab rangoons!
Chip’s Burger Village [908 W Palestine Ave.]
Chip’s is a family owned burger joint with some of the juiciest burgers around. While we all head there for some fresh cooked burgers (and we know they are fresh and cooked to order because of the wait time), I sometimes can’t help myself from ordering their delicious taco salad. It’s a tortilla bowl full of good-ness and cheese sauce…I’m getting hungry! Oh, and the best part? They also serve Blue Bell ice cream!
Subs & Dogs [407 W Palestine Ave.]
An alternative to Subway or some other lunch burger place, Subs & Dogs is another “off the beaten path” location where you can find some of the best lunch items like sandwiches, soups, and those over-stuffed baked potatoes. Yum! This is a fun place to go for lunch on a day off during the week or on the weekend. It’s low key and low priced and it’s just a place to hang out with friends and have a big (take some home with you) type of lunch.
So, now you know some of our favorite places to eat in Palestine, Texas. We eat out a lot even though Hubby is a chef because we are both so busy during the day and I’m just a sucker for eating out. Things are slow around here right now because money is a little tight, but we can’t help but visit our faves at least once a week.
I would love to know if any of you have been to (or through) Palestine and stopped to eat. Where did you go? You might know that Palestine is known for the Railroad Park where Thomas the Train and The Polar Express visit once a year. We also have the Dogwood Trails and Hot Pepper Festival in March and October. You should really come visit during these times and see our quaint little town. If you do, drop me a line and let’s have a meal together!
There are not even five good restaurants in Palestine. We have been here about 5 years, relocating from the Dallas area. This town has so few restaurants its laughable. As far as your list goes, Little Mexico is good if you are accustomed to frozen TV dinner Mexican food. Otherwise it is mediocre at best. King Buffet – got violently sick after eating there last time. Will never go there again. If you want quality food in Palestine, drive to Tyler. We do once a week on average. So do most of our friends. Even Athens has more, better restaurants.
Michael – thank you for stopping by my blog and for giving your opinion on a couple of the restaurants that I mentioned. I was raised in Palestine, left for 12 years, and am back now and I enjoy all of the restaurants I mentioned here. I’m sorry to hear that you don’t like Little Mexico and King Buffet. I can see how that can reduce your number of available restaurants as well. Many people visit Palestine this time of year due to The Polar Express so I’m hoping others will give some of these places a try!
I also appreciate you taking the time to reply. I understand lists like these are subjective and everyone has an opinion. But your list has some glaring omissions. What about Switch, Red Fire Grille, Giovannis, Pint and Barrel, and, even though they are not great favorites of mine, Appleby’s and Cotton Patch? I think it says a lot when the list of “best” restaurants in a town includes Chips and Subs and Dogs, both OK but basically fast food establishments. It saddens me deeply that our town has such a dearth of quality food purveyors. The only explanation I have been able to come up with if the “locals” won’t spend the money to support a better restaurant. Think Denbys, Ryans, Ranch House, and others. All gone.
This list isn’t meant to be the “best” as voted by the town and that is why it is titled “Our favorite”. I have differing opinions about Switch, Giovannis, and Pint and Barrel and I have not been to Red Fire Grille. I am not a food blogger so I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on food, although my husband was a chef for 20 years. He doesn’t agree with me on a couple of these places, but they are still “our favorite” places to go with our limited choices around Palestine. My view on this is that Palestine people are VERY hard on restaurants and if a new place comes into town and doesn’t have their stuff in place consistently, then it just won’t stick around. We are so accustomed to visiting Tyler for our shopping and entertainment that it just makes sense to eat there since we are there anyway. This is why a blog post like this DOES get attention because people from out of town don’t want to have to travel even further for a place to eat while they are visiting us here!
El Toro would be first on my list! It was my favorite place there. When we moved there everyone raved about Little Mexico, but…not my fave! I thought maybe it was a local tradition or something. Shep’s would definitely be my second. And what about Herschel’s?? We loved Herschel’s!
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Esther, this morning I thought about Herschel’s and I need to add it in! I love their Dr. Pepper freeze!