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Best Local Restaurants in Lufkin

Whenever I think of Lufkin, I think of short trails with lush green grass, lakes with cute bridges, and unbelievably great food! If you want to know Lufkin’s best local restaurants, I got the perfect list! These five picks are a must-try if ever you go to this small city in Deep East Texas.

  1. Clear Springs Restaurant

Let me just acknowledge the fact that the ambience inside gives you that 1960s vibe which most restaurants in Texas have. It’s cosy and it feels so spacious with their open concept.

Nested in the middle of the Piney Woods of East Texas, this Clear Springs location occupies what once was the first refrigerated warehouse West of the Mississippi River. Located next to a busy rail yard, this warehouse was ideal for getting food and supplies to people all over Texas and the United States. Stop in and see history on the walls and enjoy the Best Fried Catfish in Texas as voted by Texas Highways Magazine. (source)

One thing in their menu that just pops out is their “World Famous Onion Rings.” It costs $5.95 for small, and $8.95 for Texas size. Since it’s only me and Luis, we ordered small, which I think is a great choice because we were almost full even before we got to the main course. We are a fan of onion rings, and Clear Springs’ is one of the BEST that we’ve tasted! It is full of flavor and has the right amount of spices. You can hear the crunch from every bite!

For the main course, I ordered a seafood combo of (2) for $14.45. They also have a choice of (3) for $18.45 if ever you have the appetite for three different kinds. I got fried catfish and fried oysters. This meal is served with french fries, cole slaw, Pinto beans and hushpuppies. I love that their catfish is cooked to perfection; I didn’t taste the “muddy” feel that it gives off sometimes. It didn’t smell fishy at all, and their tartar sauce is perfect with it. Its fried oyster is also surprisingly good! It is so soft inside that it’s almost melting in my mouth. Paired with lemon and tartar dip, their oysters just take the spotlight. For the price, the serving size is not going to disappoint you. I’m not a fan of their cole slaw and beans, or maybe it just tastes bland to me.

Luis, on the other hand, ordered chicken fried chicken (Cowboy size) for $12.95. It’s chicken breast coated with special seasonings then topped with cream gravy. It is also served with a choice of two sides and Texas Toast. He chose beans and fries for the sides. He adores chicken. Everything chicken, actually. So when I asked if he likes it, I already know his answer.

Their staff are also accommodating and very friendly. Waiting time is more or less thirty minutes which we actually didn’t mind because we’ve heard a lot of good things about this place prior going here. I’m giving this 4 stars out of 5 because I love everything about this place! However, it is 30 minutes away from Lufkin and that is a hassle if we want to go there more often.

2. Ray’s Drive In Cafe

Where do locals get their burgers? Definitely here! We are food slaves of Whataburger. Our home is filled with Whataburger ketchups and condiments, and we’re not even kidding. However when in Lufkin, Ray’s Drive In Cafe just takes the VIP seat. Their burgers are the best we’ve tasted in TX! We’ve been to Houston, San Antonio, and all the way south, but nothing like their old-fashioned Ray’s Special!

Sorry for the messy photos. Honestly, we were hypnotized by the greasy scent of the meat that I forgot to take a photo before indulging! My lipstick even stained the bun, do you see it? lol! This is Chili hamburger by the way, which is good, but their Ray Special Burger is the best! It costs $5.00 when I ordered it the next time we went and I didn’t bother to take a photo. It’s THAT good you just want to eat it right there and then! No wonder it is their all-time bestseller.

Another thing they are famous for is their milkshake and ice cream floats! I don’t have enough tummy room for a milkshake so I just ordered a root beer float as my drink for $2.85. And OMG! I was surprised!

This is NOT root beer float, it’s a whole ice cream with root beer in it. They are very generous with their ice cream, I just couldn’t handle the good vibes this cup gave me! And the ice cream tastes like a vanilla “dirty” or “street” ice cream in PH, but this one’s a better version. I totally love it!

Their staff is ok, seems a little off when we first got there. I don’t know why, they are just not those extra friendly people which I don’t mind at all because I was only there for the food. I rate this 5 stars of 5 because of its proximity to our location, fast service, and their outdoor space. It’s pretty amazing to look at especially at night.

3. Auntie Pasta’s

OK, when we got here, I didn’t know that we would have a great and amazing dinner. Yes, we googled it and read some reviews, but since it’s a pasta house, I didn’t really expect much. After all, what’s with pasta other than pasta and sauce, right? I thought, there’d be nothing extraordinary. I didn’t bring my camera, my phone’s battery was at 15%. Luis and I just wanted to eat, basically.

And I regretted not bringing my camera with me! The atmosphere inside is incredible! Their staff wore colorful aprons, and greeted us with warm smiles. Their stairs inside, right after you enter the front door, is antique and appears elegantly unique. Their wall decor, lightings, and the whole atmosphere is just perfect! I can still recall it in my memory! Too bad no photos to prove it, but you definitely should go here! The outside look was such a tease, there was a stunning surprise inside!

I ordered chicken marsala. It consists of chicken medallions, mushrooms and green onions in a rich Marsala wine sauce. It is also served with fettuccine. I can definitely taste the sweet and tangy wine sauce. The aroma is tempting, like a glass of old wine, but with a fruity appeal to it. The chicken is tender and perfect with every bite. You can taste every ingredient and I’ve never tried any pasta like this. It’s full of palatable flavor that is just right in your tongue. It’s not overpowering, it’s perfectly rich! The sauce is not like other wine sauce that I tried. I let Luis try it even though he doesn’t like mushrooms, and he gave his thumbs up!

On the other hand, Luis tried their homemade spaghetti and meatballs. OK, this one, I tried it, too! I am not a fan of sour spaghetti but this tastes like a tomato freshly picked from a farm. I don’t know, it just satisfies your palate in a way that’s hydrating and flavorful. Their meatballs are pure goodness of meat! It may appear simple, but the sauce is just savory!

Before I forget, our appetizer was crab cake. I didn’t give justice to this one but it was plated perfectly. The sauce around it is well-seasoned and has a sharp kick in your tongue, more like gingery and vinegary. It’s served with lemon butter sauce and remoulade dressing. One of the best crab cakes I’ve had in my entire life!

I rate this 5 of 5 because Auntie Pasta’s is one hell of experience for me! I love cooking pasta and this place gave me a lot of inspiration to level up my pasta game. The place was perfect, location is somewhat far from Lufkin city area, but definitely worth it! The price, however, is a little expensive. We spent almost $40.00 excluding the tip. But is it worth it? YES. Are we going back? ABSOLUTELY!

4. Stringer’s Lufkin Bar-B-Q

First of all, this is not the best brisket I’ve ever tasted. (Sorry!) But you should take note that this place has been in Lufkin for 66 YEARS. Legendary, right!? It blew me away, too. This place is not only historical, it also means that this place had served several generations and even then, was able to manage keeping up with changing time.

When you browse their menu, you can see the words: “Juicy, fall off the bone tender, mouth watering, seasoned just right, cooked over open fire pork ribs.” And they are right for the most part. I ordered a brisket plate which costs $12.00, I’m not really sure. But it is around that price range. I like the smokiness and tenderness of the meat. However, it’s not the only one that caught my attention. Their beans are extraordinary! It’s a must-try for the sides! I know others won’t love the sweetness of it but that’s what makes it stand out. I finished the whole thing and didn’t even have to ask for a to-go box! Also, the pickles are fresh and crunchy and cleanses your palate just right.

Another local favorite is their fried rolls.

Immediately after we ordered, these golden rolls hit our plates. They are buttery and soft like a cotton inside. They come with little packets of honey which we tried and boy, it was good! I thought I’m eating a dessert already. The texture is donutty but has more resistance when you chew it. It’s pretty heavy for a starter so we set some aside for after our main order. But we had a hard time, though, because you just can’t help but take another piece.

I’ll give this place a 4 of 5 because I think this place has way more potential than how it is performing right now. The staff are friendly and the vibe inside is homey. Most orders are to-go, and I think it’s because of their old tables and chairs. They should get an upgrade/renovation soon, or not, since it’s an iconic place. Well, as long as the tummy is happy!

5. Dolli’s Diner

“Always fresh, always friendly, the Dolli’s Diner way!”

We found ourselves eating brunch in this cute cafe near University area in Nacogdoches while we’re strolling around. I thought it’d be the usual American diner, but lo and behold, this 1950s style diner stunned us with their fresh selections of sandwiches. The fun vibe in this place is prominent. Colorful walls and memorabilia added character to the place.

Their serving is HUGE; I wasn’t able to eat it all. I even asked for help as Luis tried to finish mine. I got Tex-Mex burger with green chili, avocado, and pepper jack cheese. It is a hand-pattied fresh ground beef on a toasted bun. Served with lettuce, onion, pickle and my choice of fries or onion rings. For $9.00, it’s a fair deal.

Luis ordered his usual bacon cheeseburger which consists of bacon & cheddar, swiss, american, or pepperjack cheese. It’s priced at $9.00 as well.

I personally love this place for its relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It’s a casual place that offers you that home cooked food you always crave for. You can also build your own burger with (3) toppings of your choice for only $10.00. It also comes with homemade chili sauce for an extra $2.00.

I am giving this place a 4 of 5 because while the food is great, their sweet tea is not my type. I don’t know if it’s the way it’s sweetened or just the general taste of it. But overall, this place should be included in your list!


So there you go! Your five best local restaurants in Lufkin.

I’ve always believed that in order for you to know a place, you should try their local food. And we did! Not only did we savor Lufkin’s culture, these dishes also made me understand the authentic Lufkin living which transcends to their laid-back vibe with bold and classic kick.

Did you like this list?

Which one appealed to you the most?

Let me know in the comments!

On Travel Nursing: Pros And Cons Of Extending A Contract

Right now, I’m on my last week of my first ever travel nursing assignment. It’s been a crazy ride for our career and this blog, I must say. Everything seemed to happen so fast that I missed tracking some important events in this journey. But for now, I’m going to share with you the things we considered when extending our contract.

November of last year when Luis and I finally took the leap of faith and ventured into this journey that is travel nursing. Many wonderful things happened since. Fast forward to this day and five months after, here we are: finally leaving Lufkin and moving on to our next destination. But aren’t you supposed to only have 13 weeks? I know, I get that question a lot.


FAST FACT

Travel assignments usually last for 8-13 weeks. The contract depends on patient load, season, and overall need of the hospital.

 


Initially, we signed up for a thirteen-week assignment. And we loved it! I couldn’t explain this more but everything about workload and work environment are amazing.

Why did we stay?

 

After our 13 weeks, we received an email saying that we are eligible to extend. To be able to qualify for an extension, travel nurses should be able to pass according to the facility’s standards. Some staff are generally asked about our performance, work ethics, and how we carry ourselves. Are we knowledgable enough? Are we competent enough? Do we follow hospital policy? Do we break house rules? Are we good with our patients? Do we communicate well with staff?

Those were just sample questions that I heard from staff and management. To keep it short, it basically assesses whether the hospital wants to keep us or not. So being able to receive the extension offer, we are really elated! It’s our first assignment so we didn’t really expect much.

Here are the reasons we extended aka the pros of extending our travel nursing assignment:

1. No need for adjustment

 

We already know the different policies of the hospital. Where to get stuff. Who to call for this. How their equipment work. How people coordinate with other staff. Everything seems to be easy peasy when you familiarize yourself with these little bumps while working.

2. Higher paycheck, same expenses

 

When we accepted the extension offer, we tried to negotiate. If they wanted us real bad, they should be able to give us what we want. We were able to agree with $100 increase per week. It’s not much compared to what other travel nurses are requiring when they ask for a deal, but it’s already enough for us. From $1,400+ take home (tax already excluded) per week, we’re able to earn $1,500/wk.

3. More time to explore the place

 

Lufkin is a small city but is strategically located between Houston and Louisiana. There is not much to see in Lufkin, honestly. However, it is only two hours away from Houston so we were able to go in that amazing city whenever we like.

I even got the chance to experience Rodeo Houston!

And even watch THE Alicia Keys!

We were also able to go to Louisiana, and as far as New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras. Full post here.

 

It is truly one for the books! Five months in this place but it is still too short to try their incredible and amazing local restaurants! I promise to make a post about it. They are just so good!

4. Getting to know people on a deeper level 

 

During our whole stay, we got the chance to befriend some of the coolest and friendliest people on earth. We’re really happy that our coworkers in Woodland Heights are accommodating and simply amazing! More time staying means more time to be with these awesome people.

5. No need to pack. Again.

 

The only hassle of traveling often is the whole preparation thing. I just hate packing. Packing sheet! lol ok. It’s meant to be a pun because I don’t swear. It’s a breeze not to load all your stuff at the back of the car and squeeze them to bits just to fit everything we have. We’re still new at this and no matter how many pinterest boards I make to keep me organized, it just takes so much time. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

All is well, right? But…

Why do we need to go?

 

No matter how many pros I include in this list, extending a contract has its fair share of consequences as well. The gypsy in us is going to agree with these cons:

1. Homesickness will eventually kick in.

 

Travel is a great way to explore the world and find yourself. But being away from home for too long doesn’t do you good also. You miss events, family gatherings, and the feeling of being in your comfort zone. Luis told me that this is one thing that he’d never outgrow and I totally get it. If I’m given the chance to be with my family, sign me up! Good thing we were able to have our two-week off after our thirteen weeks assignment. Our recruiter is the best. We super love her! #TeamKelly

2. Limits in professional growth

 

One of the many reasons I signed up for travel nursing is discovering more of my potential. With different sets of people/coworkers, I learn more techniques and nursing interventions that enable me to become a better nurse. If I stay in one place, I’m afraid I’d miss out on that chance to improve my skills and knowledge.

3. Complacency

 

There is no wrong being comfortable in your work space, however, when you see yourself starting to become complacent, it’s asking for danger. Nursing is not the profession for “routine work.” Nothing is ever a routine. And when it feels like it does, that means you’re doing something wrong or something that doesn’t contribute to your patient care. When you see yourself doing the same thing over and over, and you feel like it’s “getting old,” it’s the gypsy soul saying, “it’s time to move.”

4. Workplace politics

 

When you start working in a new facility, you don’t know anybody. You don’t know whose team is late or early at work. You don’t know who’s the most hated nurse or the most strict nurse leader, or basically the center of every gossip. But when you stay longer than you should, believe me, you’re gonna play favorites eventually, and you wouldn’t want that. Peace of mind while at work is my jive. Taking care of sick people is already stressful. Spare me from negativities!

5. More destinations

 

When you extend a contract, that means that’s another contract in another place that you didn’t apply for. And while everything is doing great in Lufkin, I just feel like there is so much more in the US that I want to explore! When I first got here, I didn’t even know where Lufkin is. I didn’t have any idea how much good vibes this place would bring me. And I know there are more places like this that I need to discover! So we hopped on to our next destination— VIRGINIA!

I am so excited to go there and I’m already pinning locations that we are planning to visit. Follow me on Pinterest to see these boards!

To travel nurses reading this, what are your thoughts on extending a contract?

Also, let me know your pet peeves when packing.

I badly need to avoid those for our next road trip.

Dear Readers Of The World

 
Disclosure: This post contains sponsored links from Book Of The Month.

 

"The door to another world is just a book away."

It's 3am again. You stretch your arms and wiggle your toes while refocusing your blurry gaze. Your fingers fighting the urge to turn another page. You said you're going to stop after four chapters. But here you are - debating whether it is an option to close the door of the world you created in your head or just open your senses to the truth that is work day.

You drag your feet to the kitchen and aim for a cup of coffee. The aroma of fresh brew intensifies your inner villain.

Am I ready to face reality? You asked.

But it's not your work or school or any piled up chore that you are worried about. Those are for ordinary people. You are not ordinary, you tell yourself. You are afraid to see the words - the end. You don't want to, but you know you need to.

Here is the character you loved for a week or two and probably admire for the rest of your life. The place you familiarized with and imagined to explore. Here is the bad guy who made you understand why bad guys do what they do and why bad guys exist in all of us. Here are the questions that opened more bafflement and wonder, and here are the answers hiding between cynical phrases and sarcastic punctuation marks.

You go back to your pillow and fight the urge to finally know what ends it all. You reach for the book resting on your coffee-stained sheet.

Ok. You sighed.

You flip the page and the sound of it already breaks your heart. After falling in love with thoughts and new experiences, you realize that the author screwed you over. You just know that you'll never look at these personified paper people the same way. Whoever filled the characters' shoes, whatever their jobs are, however intolerable their attitude is, you know every detail gave you something valuable in the physical world.

In your make-believe story, the lesson is greater than tragedy. And THIS makes you ready. This makes you equipped with life lessons minus the cost of actually living each circumstance. Why is it always tragic anyway?

You console yourself and say, "Because it ends." 

Book hangover is a real thing.

One week after your last adventure, you browse Netflix but skip every show. Each time, you think nothing is capable of replacing that story that blew your mind away. You associate the characters with sales crew you greet at department stores. You find yourself casually using protagonist's remarkable phrases and sentences in real-life conversations.

You're stuck.

Your friend notices your lack of enthusiasm to listen to their gossips. You convince them otherwise by staring at their forehead and constantly nodding even though you can barely hear anything. The world is on mute, and you're okay. For now.

You compensate your loss with short reads - news and magazine articles related to the book and brief tweets from the author who wrote the book. You silently wish for a sequel or a surprise prequel, and honestly, anything that can prolong the idea of the story in your entity. You crave for the familiar feeling of being involved with the mysteries of every chapter.

This cycle goes on and on until you see somebody holding the very same book. You thought you moved on, but no, this is just the start of the trick. You approached the person and said, "Please tell me you're done reading."

You already imagine talking to him for hours. You visualize how he'd react when you spill a fanfiction you hypothesize to be true. You just know he'd drop his jaw and reread those pages you memorized by heart. And before you know it -

"Nah, I'm just bringing this to a friend."

Your world tears apart and you freeze. How can people carry the world in their hands and not be curious about it? All you wanted is to share your feelings and boxed emotions that book gave you. And before you know it, you're rereading the same book. You just can't let go.

Your sister sees you with the same book and drops a very unwanted comment.

"You read like a turtle."

Some days you just shrug it off but other times, you find yourself in word war against your tribe. It's not easy to be in a household where reading the same book for the nth time is just pretentious. They don't understand. You sighed.

 

 

Nobody understands you like a book lover does.

 

OK, truth time. You end up with this:

You read the same book. The book challenge you've been wanting to achieve for 2017 is a failure. 300 books before 30? Impossible. You meet someone who read a book you're unfamiliar with and you cringe at the thought of being ignorant to their world. You develop a serious case of FOMO: Fear of missing out. ON BOOKS. The very thing you're addicted of having. And you wonder how, HOW ON EARTH, CAN OTHERS achieve that?

What if I tell you that the search for your next read doesn't have to mean days of waiting for your go-to bookstore to update their shelves? What if I tell you that there is a way to ease your hangover by having a book line up, crafted according to your taste, and waiting for you right at your doorstep? And what if I tell you that there is a BIG COMMUNITY of readers out there that reads what you read AND hosts discussions about theories after theories and insights after insights of pages you keep going back to over and over?

That's what Book Of The Month club does for you. I wrote about them last month and I'm still talking about them. WHY? Because I am a fan! Here is my post last March if you want to know more about them.

So how does it work?

I know you won’t sign up right away if you don’t know how it works. Because you are smart like that.

Three simple phrases: Awesome books. Better reading. Every month.

 

What you need to know:

 

  • You get one book every month from 5 GREAT selections of BOTM judges. You can choose which book to get. If ever you get curious who the judges are, THEY are professionals in their field. Some are news writers, celebrities, hosts, editors, YOU REALLY NEED TO CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE because they are all awesomeeee!
  • If you want to add a book, you pay additional $9.99. Due to their great selections, I bet you’ll pay for more. Don’t worry. It’s FREE SHIPPING.
  • If ever you don’t feel like buying one from their great selections, you can skip any month. No hassle of unsubscribing. Because they know you’ll go back for more.
  • Say you come across a book that your friend will love, YOU CAN OPT TO GIVE IT AS A GIFT! No stress of wrapping it because they’re gonna make sure it will be delivered in a special way, just like how you’d want it to be.
  • PLUS you get an exclusive review from one of their judges. What if you receive a review from a news anchor that you love or a writer that you’re dying to see? What a BONUS right?! And it makes a great bookmark, too!

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

Right now, on my instagram account, there is a giveaway going on!

And I can't wait for you to join as well!

 

Best of luck, guys!

❤︎

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