In the mood to drive?  Well, one of the Best Road Trips from Dallas is to head East.  What’s your destination?  Jacksonville, Texas, home of one of the best East Texas Restaurants, called ‘Ritual.’  It’s a Small Town Cafe, serving up amazing farm-to-table dishes, including mouth-watering desserts!  I’m a dessert gal, and my weakness is cake.  Where can you find the Best Ever Strawberry Cake?  Look no further than Ritual, in Jacksonville.  It’s one of the Best Restaurants in Texas!
First Published: July2, 2018 Last Updated: July 13, 2019


Best Road Trips from Dallas


Wow, life is busy!  And sometimes, travel is just not in the cards, unless it’s a road trip of the short variety.  I am not a HUGE fan of spending hours in the car.  And Texas is so big, y’all, you have to spend hours just to get someone.  If you are willing to drive about two hours East of Dallas, I highly recommend Jacksonville, Texas.

Jacksonville is known around these parts as “The Tomato Capital of the World,” and if you are a fan of home-grown tomatoes, be sure and visit during the Tomato Fest, which takes place every year in June.  The high school football stadium is knows as “The Tomato Bowl”   It’s a very cool site, designed in 1938 by a Dallas architect, and build out of red iron ore.  According to a local historian, red iron ore rocks were fitted carefully into place and cemented, forming the exterior and supporting columns of the new building.  Stones for the stadium came from area farms, whose grateful owners were glad to receive a little money for each truckload taken from their land.

And guess who spent a lot of Friday nights in that very stadium?  The adorable proprietress of a super charming Small Town Cafe called Ritual, Whitney Graham.


A slice of strawberry cake on a white plate next to a glass of iced tea

The mouth-watering Strawberry Cake at the best East Texas Restaurant, ritual!



My Favorite Small Town Cafe


As I began to write this post, I wondered:  What is a Ritual?  And how is a Ritual different from a Habit.  Somewhere on the Internets, I saw a really good answer!  When you think of a habit, you think about one specific action that you do over and over again. Flossing your teeth is a habit. Drinking water after you wake up is a habit.  Habits are a singular focus.  The beauty of rituals is that they can contain multiple habits in one ritual.

That’s the perfect description for the cutest luncheonette in all of East Texas:  Ritual!


Delicious Food, The Best Ever Strawberry Cake, and Healthy Living:  A Ritual


Proprietor and friend, Whitney Graham Carter, describes her Jacksonville, Texas establishment in this way:  “When I opened Ritual, I wanted to make this a place where customers, friends, and neighbors can change themselves from the inside out.  And by adopting many lifestyle changes that become more than a habit, they become a Ritual.

So, the food we serve is as fresh and locally sourced as possible.  The curated apothecary inside Ritual carries the best products we can find for hair, skin, nails, and general holistic wellness.  And the Yoga studio upstairs, helps practitioners cleanse their internal organs, while seeking calm and focus.”

Whitney has also opened up a boutique hotel in Jacksonville, Texas, appropriately named Hotel Ritual.


Woman in a black cowboy hat leaning on a glass counter

How adorable is Whitney Graham? She’s an East Texas Power House!



Seem pretty progressive for deep East Texas?  Yup.  It is!  But Whitney has lived and travelled all over the world. While she got to Jacksonville, Texas “as fast as she possibly could,” her wide experiences include educational training in the Honors Economics program at the University of Texas.

She also studied International Business studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, France.  There she began work for J. F. Lazartique,  then later Joseph A. Lewis III and Joseph Dinardo, the most renowned scientists in the field of anti-aging research science and cosmeceutical formulation.


Two paper menus resting in a vintage wall pocket



Restaurants in Texas:  Destination Ritual


Ritual opened in December 2016, and is a popular restaurant in Texas for folks looking for things to do in East Texas.  Ritual has quickly become a tremendously popular dining, shopping, and Yoga establishment for Jacksonville, Texas residents. Many say one of the Best Restaurants in Texas!  Day-trippers, like myself, who enjoy visiting small town Texas, and are looking for great restaurants, small town cafes, and unique experiences along the way.


Metal Tray with a sandwich and potato chips with a glass of iced tea

Only the best road trips from Dallas include grilled pimento cheese sandwiches, and sweet tea served in mason jars!


When Ritual first opened, Whitney explained that she was committed to including the tried-and-true Texas favorites on the menu:  Chicken Salad, Pimento Cheese, the Best Ever Strawberry Cake….yes ma’am…that’s all there, and delish, I might add!

But, Ritual expands on the traditional recipes, to include a drizzle of truffle oil on a deviled egg here, a herb-infused Quiche there, fresh gazpacho with legendary Jacksonville tomatoes.  And let’s talk about Wagyu Beef Taco Tuesday.  The line is out the door, y’all!

East Texas friends, Ritual CATERS!  Pretty sure I need an entire strawberry cake STAT!

If you are looking for things to do in East Texas, I suggest throwing a party!  And for dessert?  The Best Ever Strawberry Cake, obviously!


The pink front door of Ritual restaurant with an American Flag hanging on the wall


Tips for the Best Road Trips from Dallas and Visiting Ritual in Jacksonville, Texas

  • OK road trippers….Jacksonville is 30 minutes south of Tyler, Texas, and two hours southeast of Dallas.
  • The Jacksonville Tomatoes are famous, you might want to plan a visit during the Tomato Fest, which my friend Tanya Foster detailed in this post.  But if you can’t make the Festival, Jacksonville is a darling town worth visiting any time.
  • Open Monday-Friday 7:45-2:00.  Closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • While you are out in East Texas during Spring or early Summer, you might want to take the opportunity to pick blueberries, and I have have several suggestions in the area.


Be sure and give Whitney a big hug from The Curious Cowgirl!  She’s a doll!




pink cake on a white place with gold trip next to a glass of iced tea in a mason jar


a woman in a blue dress with text overlay


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