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Aug 31, 2007 10:14 AM

Best "Bang for Your Buck" Steak in Town

I'm trying to figure out where to go for a good quality steak at a good price in Austin. I know that Texas Roadhouse has very affordable prices, but I've heard the steaks are not of great quality. I also know that Austin Land and Cattle has excellent steaks, but at a price.

I know that you get what you pay for, but is there a steakhouse in Austin that gets it right in quality AND price? How about Texas Land and Cattle or Saltgrass?


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  1. I've had very mixed experiences with Texas Land and Cattle, with the most recent experiences being about at the level of Texas Roadhouse, so I'd recommend against it. Saltgrass is owned by Landry's, so as a matter of principle, I avoid it.

    Mesa Ranch has always been a decent value to me, just slightly more expensive than Texas Land and Cattle, and offers one of the best NY strips in town. I believe there have been several discussion threads on Mesa Ranch.

    Last weekend, I tried Nancy's Steak House in Bastrop, based on Dale Rice's review in the Statesman. I was very impressed with it and thought of it as a small town answer to Texas Land and Cattle.

    Hope this helps...

    3 Replies
    1. re: exlnghrn

      Just to be sure we are talking about the same thing...
      TEXAS Land and Cattle Co. is a chain of medicore to bad steakhouses
      AUSTIN Land and Cattle Co. is an excellent and fairly inexpensive local steakhouse.

      1. re: Alan Sudo

        When I'm craving a perfectly turned out slab of steak, it's off to Austin Land & Cattle for me. I know the price may be higher than brattpowered is looking to pay but it's worth it when you eat a quality steak. The sides are eh, always the same spinach, carrots and your choice of garlic mashers, loaded baked, etc, but the steak is phenomenal. I like my meat rare, so it's black & blue for me.

        1. re: Kaya_n_Austin

          ALC is good. I had their filet a few times - seemed like decent quality. We used to go there once a week on Thursday evenings with friends. I liked that it was locally owned. I liked the low "mood" lighting. Consistency varied widely depending on whether Scott or Christian were cooking. This always amazes me about steak places. Seems like cooking a steak to order (rare, medium, well-done) would be a pretty exact science after awhile. I know this thread is about steak but I switched over to ordering the seared ahi tuna and subbing the starch for a house salad. Their tuna wasn't the highest quality (sometimes had tendons or fat - not sure which- running through it). I'm addicted to their spicy balsamic dressing though. Yum!

    2. Unfortunately, I go to Saltgrass when I want an "under $20" steak. I don't know anything about Landry's - I've never been to one. Saltgrass serves "Certified Angus Beef" which should be high choice/low prime...actually a better cut than many of the steakhouses serve. However, Saltgrass varies a lot by location for some reason (I'm referring to the preparation). The one way north on I35 is far better than the one on 183.

      If you are in Corpus, there's a place where I just ate (twice) called Katz 21. The serve 21 (or 28?) day dry aged prime (I don't know the source). I don't think that you can get that in Austin, although a waiter at the Belmont claims that they do it in house. If it is true, the $22 NY Strip would be a great value, and it comes with sides.

      3 Replies
      1. re: rudeboy

        From what I understand, "certified angus" means nothing as far as quality, it's a breed. if it actually was "low prime", they would sell it as prime, because they would get more money for it.

        1. re: LeroyT

          I know that just saying "angus" or "black angus" doesn't mean much - but "Certified Angus Beef" or CAB is a brand name. This is what they promise:

          It just provides a little bit of predictability when I see the label.

          1. re: rudeboy

            Having worked at the Saltgrass many years ago the CAB label does indeed, as rudeboy reports, have some cred. That's why Saltgrass waiters are forced to do the spiel on CAB and hold up the little table plaquard on the topic. If you can manage to get the steak cooked right at a Saltgrass they aren't all that bad. The center cut filet can be quite tasty nice and rare. Plus, I'll always have a soft spot for their baked potato soup and shiner bock beer bread, both of which used to be made in house at each location...but it changed a lot after the Landry's buy out. All is all, Saltgrass can, at times, provide a decent steak but it's certainly not my first choice.....of course it may just be bad memories of bolo ties for me.

      2. Option 1: high quality, high price: Fleming's. Always a good piece of cow.

        Option 2: decent quality, low price: a 2 inch ribeye from Randall's on special, and the Big Green Egg in my neighbor's backyard. I nearly always grill my own these days.

        1. I know that a lot of people will disagree, but I think the Sirloin Marsala at Carrabbas is one of the best 'cheap' steaks in town. Obviously, it's not a steakhouse, but they do a pretty good job imho. For $17, you get the bread, salad, steak and a side. They have a filet for about $20, but I have yet to try it.

          I've only eaten at Saltgrass once and that was enough for me. Texas Land and Cattle has dropped off a lot in the last few years.

          I would agree with TAF that cooking a nice ribeye at home will surpass much of what you can get at a restaurant here.

          10 Replies
          1. re: ssouth

            Funny you should mention Carrabbas. One of the 'Hounds I've grown to trust–Tom in Austin–mentions here: that he's had the steak at Carrabbas numerous times (he's somewhat of a steak aficionado). He doesn't say that it ranks well, necessarily, but based on the number of times he's ordered it there, perhaps he can comment on the quality:value of their preps. He also does a marvelous statistical table on the various steak offerings at chains around town, so it's definitely worth a gander.

            1. re: Twill

              I hate to belabor a point but Little Thailand in Garfield,a fifteen minute ride from downtown Austin does a wok seared Ribeye for under 15 bucks that will blow your doors off.Ol girl comes with Fried Rice,Sauteed mushrooms and a good salad with homemade dressing.Ambience is beyond belief;sit at the bar in the back and spin the free jukebox[no selections dated past 1973]...hang out with Dick[tall tale teller]and let Surin[the chef]work her magic.You will not be disappointed.This is my favorite steakhouse in the region.

              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                I've been wondering the same thing lately as I've been cooking some steaks at home. I will have to check out LThailand and Nancy's. I've had some great ones from CenMkt that were "prime" ribeyes(not sure if USDA or not) but worth every penney, easier to cook and more melting fat than what I find elsewhere.

                1. re: crippstom

                  Two points:

                  1) Yea, no one can just throw around the term "prime." If they say it, it will be (and that's USDA prime).

                  2) I also remembered Tom in Austin mentioning that he tried the Carrabbas steak 20 times. I'll have to try it next time I have to go there.

                  3) Yes, cooking a steak at home is infinitely better than going to a restaurant, except for the fact that you aren't in a restaurant having someone cook a steak for you. In some cases, like the steak I just had in Corpus Christi, I can't cook it that way at home.

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    While I do (or did) enjoy the steak at Carrabba's, there are many better steaks in town.

                    The best "Bang for your buck" steak in town can be had at your house. Buy a whole beef tenderloin at Costco and do it up right. Have friends over -- invite the boss or something -- and you'll be sure to blow minds. If you're not in the mood for cooking something quite so intense, get the best quality ribeyes you can find.

                    But you're not in the mood to cook at home? Or maybe you're craving something you can't easily do at home (fries, for instance? an amazing sauce that you can't make w/o spending days on excellent stocks?) Well, the steak frites at Chez Nous and the hanger steak and fries at Enoteca Vespaio are actually pretty darn good and extremely affordable. They share top marks in town for "affordable-steak-with-fries-but-still-worth-eating", in my opinion.

                    1. re: tom in austin

                      Tom, a little off topic and there isn't a way to message you and it looks like you would be the one to ask, Do you know of any steak hours in Austin that have a plate that if you can finish it it's free?

                2. re: scrumptiouschef

                  I need to find little Thailand, is it right on the hwy.? I have looked but no luck seeing it yet?
                  I second Nancy's by the name it sounds generic, we had a great BIG meal there, go hungry.

                  1. re: familyof3

                    Heading towards Bastrop on 71, use your odometer as your guide. Once you pass the exit for ABIA, measure 7 miles and it will be on your left, shrouded by a few trees and just off the road facing Caldwell Lane.

                    Little Thailand
                    4315 Caldwell Ln, Del Valle, TX 78617

                  2. re: scrumptiouschef

                    I couldn't agree more. I found Little Thailand because of the board. Whenever I want a steak, that is the place that comes to mind.

                  3. re: Twill

                    I think one of my first replies here was to Tom-In-Austin about Carrabba's steak and calamari, but I can't find the reply now. Maybe it has aged off into the > the 1-year bit-bucket...

                    Net: Order the "Filet Fiorentino" ($19), and ask them to prepare it with the Chicken Bryan topping (the goat cheese and sun-dried tomato topping). That + their consistently tender and perfectly fried Calamari + sauce for an appetizer, and you have a delicious surf + turf.

                    Agree with TAF about how amazing rib-eye's turn out on the Big Green Egg!
                    I do this recipe by auto-pilot now:
                    (no nekkid pics on that site - "Nakes Whiz" is the person's handle


                    But sometimes you just don't want all your hair to smell like Eau de Mesquite Wood which mine instantly does after flipping after the first sear.

                3. Not sure what your stance is on being surrounded by dancing naked ladies during your red meat fueled feed is but...Sugars' near Highland Mall easily offers the best "bang for the buck"steak in town.

                  I like to go around 1pm on Tuesday when the booze deal is two bucks for anything at the bar,the ladies are good and lively after two hours on the job and 4 dollars will get you a nicely grilled Black Angus Sirloin and Steak-Cut Fries.The chef has access to salt and pepper and applies both liberally. Feeling sporty? Grab a house salad for 3 or so more dollars,the dressings are homemade and pretty good.