Ray’s Drive

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!


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