Don't you hate it when you love love love a restaurant and it becomes your go-to spot, but it doesn't last?  It's worth high-fiving the East Texas restaurants that stand the test of time.

Many of them are Mom and Pop restaurants that are passed down through generations.  Can you name some of them?

Whataburger comes to mind, and it recently got the attention of Wide Open Eats, as part of the list of the 16 Texas Markets and Restaurants Serving Hungry Families for Generations.

The first one that comes to mind is Country Tavern out of Kilgore - between Tyler and Longview. It initially opened in 1939 during the East Texas oil boom, according to KLTV and they haven't lost their touch - especially with the ribs. In 1972, the Mason family purchased the restaurant and it still brings hungry people in from far and wide. Basically, if a mom and pop restaurants lasts OVER 85 years - they're doing something right.


For legendary restaurants, Stanley's Famous Pit Barbecue in Tyler is one of those places that combines culture and a great menu to keep us interested.  They've been at this for over 50 years, and when they started they probably never dreamed they would be putting pictures of their food on Instagram someday.  But they're doin' it, and getting big crowds on social media and in the door at 525 S. BECKHAM AVE in Tyler.

Loggins Restaurant also has a longstanding relationship with its loyal customers in Tyler. According to their website, (which is incredibly Texas A&M Aggies-heavy), this family owned and operated business has been a popular spot for lunch in Tyler since 1949.

In Nacogdoches, The Barbecue House says it is the oldest restaurant in town, serving up brisket and sausage since 1959.  Barbecue is a slow process, and it seems like the best barbecue joints take their time with it.  Like 57 years.  And that's probably why this is so good!  They're well-seasoned, and you can find them at 704 N Stallings Drive in Nacogdoches.

Whataburger opened its first location in 1950 and it has expanded into many locations over the years, but the orange and white theme hasn't changed and it probably never will.  I've always heard that orange makes ya hungry, and that's probably why these burgers taste so darned good, especially at 2am after a night out on the town (throw in a taquito once in a while too). The orange and white bags make us think of cheese, and that crinkley wrapper around the burgers and taquitos make our mouths water because we know that first bite is near.  Whatever it is, the Whataburger family is doing something right, to have success in the restaurant business for more than 50 years.

Chips, queso/guac and margaritas at Matt's El Rancho in Ausin | Jason Eisenberg

Many of the restaurants that are in the top 16 are in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin -- places like Matt's El Rancho in Austin that's been around since 1952, and Ray's Drive Inn in San Antonio that served up its first burger in 1966.  These places are still going strong after all these years, and if anything, they're drawing bigger crowds now than they did in 1975 because of the buzz, the nostalgia, and maybe social media.

There are many great spots in East Texas that have been around for years, that have survived and thrived because they're good and because word-of-mouth keeps us going back and taking friends with us.  If you have other legendary restaurants on your mind let us know.  We're always hungry around here, and thinking about the best ways to experience some great East Texas food.