If you’re in the downtown area at lunch, drop by the wonderful Vinnie T’s Cafe (406 E. Main St., 936/559-0380, closed Sun. and Mon., $8–23). The salads are a big draw here, as are the hearty sandwiches, including the stacked turkey and eggplant parmesan. Visit Vinnie T’s for dinner on Friday or Saturday for a potential paranormal experience—the restaurant is supposedly haunted by mischievous ghosts.
Another popular lunch spot is the campus-area Stacy’s Deli (3205 N. University Dr., 936/564-3588, closed Sun., $4–8). Students and professors line up for BLTs, reubens, and meatball subs accompanied by salty chips and a large iced tea.
Locals also love the regional chain Clear Springs (211 Old Tyler Rd., 936/569-0489, www.clearspringsrestaurant.com , $6–19). Seafood is the main draw here, including popular dishes such as the pan-seared tilapia, salmon or crawfish salad, and catfish etoufée.
Don’t let the shiny new décor fool you at the Barbecue House (704 N. Stallings Dr., 936/569-9004, cash only, $7–14). Just because the building is new, it doesn’t mean the food is fancy. This is classic East Texas –style barbecue done right: sweet tomato-based sauce smothering delicious brisket, savory sausage, and meaty pork ribs. Instead of pinto beans and cole slaw, opt for the red beans and rice.
Houston-based Harlon’s Bar B Que (603 Old Tyler Rd., 936/564-4850, $6–12) isn’t quite as tantalizing, but it’ll satisfy your craving. The brisket and chicken are popular here, as are the weekend late-night gatherings, where blues music, karaoke, and dancing are often on the menu.
Nacogdoches  isn’t really known for its quality Mexican restaurants, but there are a couple options in town if you need a fajita fix. San Miguel Mexican Restaurant (2524 South St., 936/569-2082, $6–15) offers all the classics: chicken enchiladas with green sauce, tacos, burritos, and even fried ice cream.
Another option is Restaurant El Ranchero (123 King St., 936/569-2256, $6–12), featuring some of the hottest and heartiest salsa in town, along with traditional favorites such as quesadillas, fajitas, and flautas. Call in advance to see if they’re offering their semi-regular “two free margaritas” special.