Red Fire Grille: Fine Dining in Downtown Palestine


Popular appetizers at Red Fire Grille include Piggybacks featuring house-made tater tots with pulled pork and cheddar cheese topped with brown butter gravy.

Photo by Tracy Torma

The Red Fire Grille, located on the first floor of the historic Redlands Hotel in downtown Palestine, is a culinary jewel.

Visitors enjoy gourmet menu items – from delicious steaks to seafood – and a full-service bar in the same regal atmosphere where diners ate when the hotel opened more than 100 years ago.

New owners Daniel and Rona Lacey recently added a tapas bar called SparQ for cocktails and light food and are continuously offering new and unique dining experiences, .

Popular appetizers include Crab Kracklins, Red Fire’s version of crab rangoon served with an Asian dipping sauce. Photo by Tracy Torma

SparQ Bar is located adjacent to the restaurant and features lighter fare. For tapas, try the Piggybacks, house-made tater tots, with pulled pork, cheddar and brown butter gravy on top. Other dishes to share include Crab Kracklins, a version of crab Rangoon served with an Asian dipping sauce, and Russian Deviled Eggs, a traditional Russian recipe with a spicy kick.

For those wanting something a little heavier, try the Chop House Burger, served with mixed cheese, house-made truffle aioli (added bacon or blue cheese as an extra).

The bar features a number of specialty cocktails including a Blood Orange martini, Midnight Cosmo and Prohibition cocktails, such as a Side Car made with orange liqueur, cognac and lemon juice, and the Bees Knees, a gin drink with house-made honey syrup and fresh lemon juice.

Elegant is the best way to describe the main dining room, with black linen-covered tables and white high-back chairs in a room featuring a beautiful hexagon-shaped tile floor that is 103 years old.

From the original multi-paneled windows with transom window above — designed to allow ventilation for a time before air conditioning — diners can see the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which opened in 1890 and was designed by prominent Texas architect Nicholas J. Clayton, who designed the Bishop’s Palace and many other prominent historic structures in Galveston. The view from the other side is the Carnegie Library, built in 1914 and one of the 13 remaining Carnegie Library buildings in the State of Texas.

Chef McKensie Maynard is an East Texas native from Chapel Hill who served for nine years at Dallas’ famed III Forks Steakhouse. Sous Chef Christopher Gouras has worked at the restaurant since it opened in 2012.

The dining room’s appetizer menu features many of the same appetizers found in SparQ, as well as oysters on the half shell, grilled or raw. The restaurant has a soup of the day, as well as a good selection of salads. The Blueberry Lemonade salad and the Classic Caesar both had just the right amount of dressing and didn’t disappoint.

All entrees at Red Fire Grille, such as this six-ounce filet and four-ounce crab cake, are served with potato and vegetable. Extras, including delicious Asian-style brussels sprouts and truffle mac and brie, can be ordered to share with the table. Photo by Tracy Torma

Dining entrees run the gamut from a selection of different steak cuts to seafood items, including grilled mahi-mahi with a mango sauce, cold water lobster and Creole crab cakes (delicious). The restaurant is known for its deliciously seasoned and tender steaks and the filet mignon lives up to the reputation. Add entrée extras to share with the table. The Asian-style Brussels sprouts (deep fried to perfection) and truffle mac and brie are excellent.

Dessert items vary, but favorites include crème brulee and bread pudding. With a seasonal menu, the restaurant is continuously offering diners new culinary experiences including holiday brunches and a special dinner featuring the menu of the Titanic on the anniversary of its sinking

No wonder the restaurant — open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday with a new lunch menu and from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday for dinner — is rated five stars on Trip Advisor.

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