The improbably authentic Ritual stands out in this small East Texas town (population 15,000) some 25 miles south of Tyler. Think one-stop shop for overall well-being upstairs (massage, facials, yoga, and meditation) and imaginative lunch fare downstairs. Perhaps it’s the location, tucked as it is into a turn-of-the-century downtown brick building, or the energy of the employees, but this place is just plain convivial. Owner Whitney Graham Carter’s menu features an impressive variety of hot teas and coffee drinks and culinary treats like the to-die-for hot bacon balsamic salad with locally sourced field greens, mushrooms, red onions, and blue cheese. On a recent visit we were enchanted by the delicate but rich smoked salmon–Parmesan crostini with capers and lemon and the grilled-chicken salad enlivened by a honey-lime vinaigrette and peanut sauce. The grilled cheese was an upgrade of the old standard, served on a waffle bread (we chose to add bacon) and with a light fig compote on the side. The Chocolate Antarctica Mousse with meringue crumbles and sea salt was indescribably delicious.
Drinks: No bar