Monday, February 1, 2016

The Brass Tap

The Brass Tap, a craft beer bar, recently opened in Allen, TX.  In addition to being a craft beer bar with a huge selection of craft beers (over 200), it also has a kitchen that has a fairly large menu for a bar.  Since this place is just a stone's throw from my residence in McKinney, I have been there several times and sample several menu items.

Below are my thoughts and opinions on the food options I have tried:

Jalapeño Corn Fritters- Puffy and sweet with a slight kick from the jalapeños.  Served with Peppadew Pepper Ranch and sweet chili sauce for dipping.  Great appetizer.
Pretzel Bites- Another winner in the appetizer department, the pretzels are great, but the real winner is the beer cheese fondue.  Great combo of flavors when you dip the pretzel bites in the fondue.
Tempura Chicken Sliders-Meh...the tempura chicken finger on a King's Hawaiian roll sounded great, but didn't live up to expectations and was very bland.  The fries were average at best too.

Pretzel Pizzas- Individual pizzas made with pretzel dough.  Although you can barely make out the pretzel flavor, it is there.  I have tried both the Margherita and the Four Meat pizza and both were good.
Fish and Chips-Fish was good, but didn't care for the fries or the slaw.  Pretty basic fish and chips that you would expect to find at a pub. 
Cowboy Burger- smoked Gouda, pepper jack cheese, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and Cowboy Sauce.  Average burger, but loved the brioche bun and whatever ingredients they used to make their Cowboy Sauce.
For the most part, I have liked most of the food that I have tried at the Brass Tap.  It is certainly above-average in the bar/pub food dept.  The Jalapeño Corn Fritters and the Pretzel Bites are a definite hit in the appetizer department.  I am happy that another good restaurant is close to my house, but if you are a craft beer fan, you will be impressed with the selection as well.

The Brass Tap
http://www.brasstapbeerbar.com/Allen
Livin the Good Life Rating=2
The Brass Tap Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hula Hut

The Fall of 2015 brought several new restaurants to the DFW area, but the biggest one in Little Elm had to be the addition of Hula Hut.  Many families, including my own, love to visit Hula Hut in Austin because it is a fun place to dine with families and the food isn't bad either.  The self proclaimed Tex Mex restaurant with a Polynesian twist, opened its second location on, this one on Lake Lewisville, and brought it's Mexonesian cuisine to the DFW area.
Having dined there several times in the past few months, I can say that I like the food here quite a bit and it is much better than the majority of the chain Mexican restaurants in the area.  While some items are better than others, none of them are bad.  Below is my opinion on a few of the items I have recently had at the Little Elm Location:

Chips and Queso-Chips are good enough, but the queso is really good.  It has a great flavor with quite a bit of kick.  If you don't like spicy foods, you might want to stay away from this quest.
Chicken Tortilla Soup-The bowl you receive is about double the size of most soup bowls and filled with plenty of chicken, avocado, cheese, cilantro, poblano peppers, corn, tomatoes, and tortilla strips.  The broth is great too.  I actually had this as a meal one time and was barely able to finish the huge portion.

Grilled Fish Tacos-These tacos include fish, shredded lettuce, cabbage, cilantro, tomatoes, and jalapeño-lime sauce served in flour tortillas.  I thought they had great flavor, but I would have preferred more fish.  There were so many veggies, that I could barely taste the fish at all.  

Pork Burrito- By far, my favorite item I have tried here and it is huge.  The large flower tortilla was stuffed with slow roasted pork, black beans, Monterrey Jack cheese, green chiles and roasted corn that was topped with Hatch Green Chile and Queso Blanco sauces. This burrito is served with rice, which is a little bland, but the burrito itself is a cornucopia of flavors.
Hula Hut Burger-This is one item that I probably wouldn't order again.  The burger was mediocre at best and the fries were less than spectacular.  
Since the portions are so large, I have yet to try any desserts at this location.  The kids seemed to enjoy the items they have ordered from the kids menu and the service is generally good.  Be warned that it can get very busy on weekends (an hour or more wait) and the service seems to suffer somewhat at these times.  Overall, I think the Hula Hut is a fun restaurant that serves good food (generous portions too) and is very family friendly.
My daughters in front of the volcano
Hula Hut
http://www.hulahutlittleelm.com
Livin the Good Life Rating=3
Hula Hut Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Teddy Jack's Hub City Grill

Whenever I travel to Lubbock, I always attempt to try out new restaurants that I have never been to before.  I have my favorites that I frequently hit in the city, but I always enjoy trying new places.  On a recent visit, my family and I hit up Teddy Jack's Hub City Grill, which has a little bit of everything from burgers to wood fired pizzas.
Cheese Sticks
We arrived hungry and sampled several items.  Below is my opinions of each item we tried at Teddy Jacks:

Cheese Sticks- Very large and absolutely fantastic in the flavor department.  Reminded me of a smaller version of the cheese sticks at Spanky's.  
The Cowboy Burger-This burger came with A-1 steak sauce, cheddar cheese, onion rings, lettuce and tomato.  Pretty good burger with a lot of flavor.  I really liked the crispy onion ring (which I also ordered as my side item) and the addition of the A-1 sauce.  
Cowboy Burger with Onion Rings
Italian Meat Lovers Pizza- This impressive pizza was topped with mozzarella, Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, Salami, and Prosciutto.  This was hands down, the best pizza I have ever had in Lubbock.  The toppings were generous and had great flavor, but it was a little on the spicy side.
Italian Meat Lovers Wood Fired Pizza
Chicken Strips- The hand battered chicken strips were tasty, but I wished they had been served with gravy instead of barbecue sauce or honey mustard.  The fries were basic and not noteworthy at all.  The onion rings I had with the burger were much better than the fries.

The menu at Teddy Jack's was quite extensive, so I only scratched the surface of what they had to offer, but most of what I tried was good to very good.  The wood fired pizza was probably my favorite item, but the cheese sticks were impressive in their own right.  I wouldn't hesitate to go back and dine at this restaurant and I think Teddy Jack's is a nice addition to the Hub City.

Teddy Jack's Hub City Grill
http://teddyjacks.com
Livin the Good Life Review=3
Teddy Jack's Hub City Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, January 15, 2016

Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue

Rumors have been going around that there is now some high quality barbecue to be found in Lubbock, Texas at a place called Evie Mae's, which is technically located in Wolfforth.  Having grown up on the South Plains and frequently visiting family in the area as an adult, I have sampled my fair share of barbecue in the Lubbock area.  My experience has been that there are some good barbecue joints in the area, but not a truly great barbecue place.  Having read good things about Evie Mae's, I decided to try it during a recent trip to visit family in Lubbock.
L-R=Pulled Pork, Brisket, and Sausage
I ordered the three meat plate with sliced brisket, sausage, pulled pork, and green chile cheese grits.  Below is my opinion of each item:
Brisket-The thick cut slices were a real treat.  They had a great smoke ring, a smoky flavor that wasn't overly smoky, terrific bark, and well rendered fat.  By far, this was the best brisket I have ever had in this part of Texas and it literally melted in you mouth.
Sausage-Nice flavor with a good snap to the casing.  It had a little spice to it, but nothing overpowering.  The portion size was good too, as they gave you 1.5 links with the three meat plate.
Pulled Pork-Tender and moist with a good flavor.  I have preferred a little more bark and more of the smokiness I tasted in the brisket, but it was still well above average for the area.
Green Chile Cheese Grits-Absolutely fantastic.  This side had just the right amount of both cheese and green chiles.  I could eat this every day for the rest of my life!
Green Chile Cheese Grits
The only thing I regret is that I didn't try the ribs.  Several people around me had them and they looked absolutely mouth-watering good.  It seems the rumors are true and Evie Mae's does serve up some top notch barbecue.  Although Evie Mae's is technically a barbecue trailer, they do have indoor seating available in a building that is behind the trailer.  I travel to the Lubbock area fairly frequently, so I am very glad to know that I have a fantastic barbecue option to choose from when the family is trying to decide where to eat.

Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue
http://www.eviemaesbbq.com
Livin the Good Life Rating=4
Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato