Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes

Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes has been on my foodie wish list for a couple of years now.  A couple of my friends highly recommended this steakhouse that is located in Decatur, Texas.  This restaurant is owned by the same family that owns the Babe's restaurants scattered across the Metroplex.  Since Babe's is one of my favorite places to eat some "home cooking," I was excited to try a steakhouse in the same family of restaurants.
Dining area of Sweetie Pie's and one of my little sweetie pies
Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes is located on the square in downtown Decatur.   Parking in front of the restaurant can be hard to find, but we were able to find ample parking behind the building.  Our waitress took very good care of us from the moment my family arrived at the restaurant and was extremely attentive throughout our visit.   While we perused the menu, she brought our drink orders and a big basket of  some fantastic hot rolls.
House Made Hot Rolls
Several items on the menu looked appealing, but I was here to eat steak.  I ordered the 8 oz. thick cut ribeye, cooked medium rare, with fresh cut fries and mac n' cheese.  My steak arrived cooked to order  and was as good as advertised.  Even though it was a small cut, the steak had excellent marbling and was very tender.  The fries were also fantastic and I wished I would have ordered double fries rather than the mac n' cheese, which was a little runny for my taste.
Ribeye, Fries, and Mac n' Cheese
My wife had the chicken fried ribeye with a lunch salad and mac n' cheese.  She ordered her lunch salad with bacon vinaigrette dressing.  I tried some of her salad and I absolutely loved the dressing.  Although I was unable to try her chicken fried ribeye, she assured me that it was very good.  She also liked the mac n' cheese much more than I did.  Both kids had the chicken strips from the kids menu.  Since they both had clean plates and faces covered in ketchup, I can only assume they enjoyed them.
Chicken Fried Steak, Mac n' Cheese, and Gravy
I couldn't leave this place without trying a dessert of some sort.  On this occassion, I decided to order the apricot fried pie and forgo the vey tempting pecan pie.  The apricot fried pie had one of the best crusts I have ever had on a fried pie.  It was very sweet, yet perfectly flacky.  The apricot filling was commendable as well.
Apricot Fried Pie
My family thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes.  The restaurant is very causal for a steakhouse and very kid friendly.  Our waitress was spectacular and even did magic tricks for my daughters.  The food was excellent and a great value.  Next time I am passing through Decatur, I will be stopping for another meal at this local jewel.
Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes
Livin the Good Life Rating=7

Sweetie Pies Ribeye's on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pizzeria Testa

Neapolitian pizza restaurants seem to be trending in the DFW area.  It has become a pretty common occurrence to see a new Neapolitan pizza restaurant opening somewhere in the Metroplex.  Pizzeria Testa opened up last year in Frisco and has been getting some very good press lately.   Although the restaurant has been open for over a year, I had not tried it until just a couple of weeks ago when I met my wife there for lunch.
Lunch Salad
Pizzeria Testa has lunch specials where you can get a salad and a personal pizza for under $10.  My wife ordered the special and got a Margherita pizza with a house salad.  The personal pizza was larger than what she anticipated, so she gave me a slice as well.  We both liked the taste of the Margherita pizza and she enjoyed the salad as well.
Margherita Pizza
For my meal, I decided to forgo the lunch special because I wanted to try a pizza that was not an option on the specials.  I ordered the Affumicata pizza, which  had smoked Mozzarella and Speck.  Smoked cheeses are an Achilles heal for me and this pizza lived up to my expectations.  The Mozzarella had a great smoky flavor and the large pieces of Speck covered each slice.   This pizza was absolutely perfect and tasted just as I had hoped.
Affumicata Pizza (Smoked Mozzarella and Speck)
Even after eating an entire pizza by myself, I still wanted dessert.  My wife and I ordered the Tiramisu and loved every bite.  This classic item is one of our favorite desserts to order at Italian or pizza joints, but the Tiramisu at Pizzeria Testa is simply outstanding.  It had a perfect texture, outstanding flavor, and looked as good as it tasted.  I can't think of any Tiramisu that was better than what we had at Pizzeria Testa
I feel that Pizzeria Testa deserves the praise that it has received.  Their pizza ovens combined with fresh ingredients really turn out some excellent Neapolitan pizza.  The service was commendable on this visit and the dining room was very comfortable.  This restaurant would be a great place to go on a romantic date or a fun place to dine with a group of friends.

Pizzeria Testa
Livin the Good Life Rating=7
Pizzeria Testa on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 1, 2014

Allen Cafe

When I am not dining out, I enjoy spending time outdoors.  Outdoor activities can often work up an appetite, which usually leads me to searching for a place to grab some grub.  On a recent day that I had done a little fishing at Bethany Lakes Park in Allen, I decided to try out the Allen Cafe.  I really hadn't heard that much about the place, but it had a high rating on Urbanspoon.  Since I was already in the area, I stopped by the restaurant on my way home.

I arrived around 11 a.m. and saw that about half the patrons were ordering breakfast and the rest of them were ordering lunch.  Breakfast didn't sound appetizing on this particular morning, so I began to scan over the lunch menu.  As I was looking over the menu, the waitress informed me of the daily specials.  Chicken Fried Steak was one of the specials and it came with a soup or salad, your choice of potatoes, and a vegetable for $8.59.  That sounded like a very good deal, so I ordered went ahead and ordered the special.
Salad with House Dressing
My salad arrived within a couple of minutes of placing my order and I liked the taste of the house dressing, but would have liked some croutons on it.  Shortly after I finished my salad, my entree was placed before me.  The chicken fried steak was tender, but it was very bland and the batter was not crispy.  It was quite possibly the worst chicken fried steak I have had all year.  That is saying a lot when you consider the fact that I had a chicken fried steak in a school cafeteria just a few months ago.  The fries and okra were very basic, but the okra was far superior in taste and I enjoyed the batter on the okra much more than the batter on the chicken fried steak.
Chicken Fries Steak Special with Fries and Okra
I cannot say that I was very impressed with the Allen Cafe.  My waitress was very friendly and gave outstanding service, but I was not impressed with the food.  Although the chicken fried steak special was only $8.59, I did not feel like it was a very good value due to the poor quality of the chicken fried steak.  The salad was delicious, but my meal went downhill quickly after finishing off my salad.

Allen Cafe
Livin the Good Life Rating=2
Allen Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Louie Mueller Barbecue

I recently had the opportunity to eat at Louie Mueller Barbecue for the first time.  The legendary purveyor of smoked meats is located in Taylor, Texas and opened it's doors in 1949.   This barbecue joint has been critically acclaimed for years and last year it was ranked in the top 4 in Texas Monthly's Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas.  Although I have not been to this barbecue joint before, I have several friends that claim it is one of their favorites.  Louie Mueller's grandson, Wayne Mueller, now owns the place and mans the pits.  Having sampled the good at his sibling's barbecue joints (John Mueller Meat Co. and La Barbecue), I had high expectations for Louie Mueller Barbecue. 
Anxiously waiting in line
I arrived in Taylor right as Louie Mueller's was opening and was among the first in line.  Most barbecue joints have anywhere between five to seven different types of meat that they smoke and sell.  Louie Mueller's has a much larger selection than most: included three different types of beef sausage (original, jalapeƱo, and chipotle) and three different types of ribs (their famous beef ribs, baby back ribs, and pork spare ribs).  On this particular visit, I ordered brisket, turkey, original sausage, and the baby back ribs.  
Louie Mueller's was packed for a weekday
As I usually do, I started with the brisket.  It had a decent bark that was covered in black pepper.  The brisket had an excellent smoky flavor and the fatty slices were extremely moist with perfectly rendered fat.  Even the lean slices were surprisingly moist and had great flavor.  
Close-up of the peppery rub on the bark of the brisket
The turkey was also heavily peppered and was smoked well.  It didn't have as much pepper as the brisket, but it had just enough to add to the outstanding flavor of the turkey.  Most smoked turkey is very dry since it is a finicky meat to smoke, but the turkey here was perfectly moist.

Ribs rival brisket as my favorite smoked meat.  Since most places don't sell baby back ribs, I decided to give them a shot.  The baby back ribs here were some of the best baby back ribs I have ever had.  The meat easily pulled off the bone, they were smoked perfectly, and they were bursting with flavor.  One thing that impressed me with these ribs was the fact that they were thick cut and had about twice the meat you would normally get on baby back ribs.  I regretted that I had only ordered a half rack.  Although I certainly did not have buyers remorse with the baby back ribs, I really wished I would have ordered one of their famous beef ribs as well.
Clockwise from top left-baby back ribs, turkey, sauce, bread, brisket, original sausage, and pinto beans
The original sausage was fantastic too.  It was one of the top three beef sausages I have ever had.  Beef sausage often dries out quicker than pork sausage, but the sausage at Louie Mueller's was extremely moist.  All three of their sausage are house-made and I will be trying the other two varieties on my next visit.

The only side I ordered were the beans.  They were outstanding and had chunks of pork in it, but this side couldn't hold a candle to the barbecue.  Sauce is an afterthought when you have great barbecue, but the sauce here is very different.  Unlike most barbecue sauces which are thick, the sauce at this establishment is a very thin tomato based sauce with onions and pepper in it.  More like a soup than a sauce, it was much better than I expected upon first looking at it.

When I was leaving Louie Mueller Barbecue, the crowd for lunch was lined up along the wall and out the door.  I left Taylor, Texas feeling very content.  Although I still had a three hour drive to get home, I was glad I made the trip.  It is very easy to see why this place is so well liked by everyone, including the food critics.  I had ordered about three pounds of meat so I could take some home for my wife to try.  Sadly, she only got to sample one slice of brisket, one slice of turkey, and a sausage link.  

Louie Mueller Barbecue
Livin the Good Life Rating=8

Louie Mueller Barbecue on Urbanspoon