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Mar 6, 2010 06:37 PM

Visiting Austin, looking for steakhouse tips

I'm going to be visiting Austin, Texas, later this month and I'd like recommendations on steakhouses. I'm not looking for a Vegas-style, Ruth's Chris-type place, but rather somewhere authentically Texan that serves great steaks. The kind of place locals go to that shows off the great beef in the region. Thanks

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  1. I'm going to say it, and I beg to be corrected by the fellow 'hounds here; the place Dave68 describes really doesn't exist in Austin right now. We've got upscale chop-house chains, but no real Texas steak-house. Please prove me wrong.

    9 Replies
    1. re: gilintx

      Gilintx, you're dead on. We suck for this. If you really want some great steak in a steakhouse setting, get in your car and drive to Fort Worth, Dallas, or Houston. Austin lets us all down. Fail.

      What you're looking for is probably the Hoffbrau. Genuine Austin history. Also, the steaks suck.

      We've also got Austin Land & Cattle:
      Better steaks and pricier, but sort of a mix between what you don't want (a top-tier steakhouse chain like Ruth Chris) and the Regal Beagle from Three's Company.

      Make a drive to Spicewood? I don't know if the glorious Backstage is still as good as it once was. Call to see if Ray Tatum is working that night. If he is, you're probably golden. I've had a few amazing meals here, but I haven't been in what feels like an eternity.

      And thats it. At least, as far as I know.

      You could always voyage beyond; the best steaks in Austin aren't at steakhouses. You'll need to call around to see what is on special, but Vespaio and Parkside both occasionally have amazing steak jams, as do a handful of other small, hip places that focus on local, fresh ingredients.

      Good luck, Dave68. Let us know if you uncover a gem.

      1. re: tom in austin

        What about the place at Steiner Ranch?

          1. re: mizznicole

            I had one of the worst meals ever at a fine dining-ish restaurant in town on Tuesday. Most of our food was borderline inedible. Views gorgeous, cocktails fabulous, service robotic (and not in a good way), food fairly wretched. I have a friend who said the Salt Grass is better. I laughed at him, and now I agree (and I do not like Salt Grass).

            1. re: txgrl99

              Which place?

              Salt Grass is actually pretty good, mostly. Some locations are better than others, though, for some reason.

          2. re: tom in austin

            Actually, Austin Land and Cattle is locally owned, and has a really great staff. They have delicious steaks, and some dishes the non red meat eaters with you can enjoy. The bar menu is great, with excellent HH prices on the bar food.
            Maybe your thinking Texas Land and Cattle?

            1. re: tracymakeuup


              Tracy, I've dined at AL&C probably fifty times. I'm not confusing it with TL&C, a mediocre chain with mediocre steaks. I'm referring to the joint on 12th and Lamar, sharing a block with the Tavern.

              And while I enjoy AL&C, I have to disagree about the apps. In my experience, the steak is the highlight and the apps seem like a punchless-but-heartfelt attempt. Sort of like your kids putting on a ballet for you -- amusing, endearing, but not about to be confused with the Nutcracker.

              1. re: tom in austin

                Tom, that Nutcracker description is about the funniest (and most observant) comment I've read in ages. Thanks.

          3. re: gilintx

            Mesa Ranch kind of fits the bill here. The sometimes useful Fearless Critic gives it a 7.7, or a C+. I went there last summer and gave it a B in my restaurant notes. B for me means I would likely go back, the food was decent, and the service was reasonable.

            I seem to remember getting the appetizer of the elk sausage bites, which were pedestrian, and the mixed grill, which ranged from acceptable to great. The service does stick out in my mind as being outstanding; they usually have live music, and a drinking crowd as well, though it's not particularly loud.

          4. Not exactly a Steakhouse, but Cooper's BBQ in Llano serves up some mighty fine smoked sirloin. Still pink in the middle, tender, and great mesquite taste. They cook directly over mesquite coals, just higher up, so its more like grill/smoked than grilled. Would be a great weekend road trip. The wildflowers might be blooming by then..

            3 Replies
              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                HOT! Thanks for the rec scrumptious. Never saw the original thread.

              2. I've had some very enjoyable meals at Austin Land and Cattle (not to be confused with Texas Land and Cattle). They have yummy lamb chops.

                1. Unfortunately, none of the places mentioned in this thread are going to "show off the great beef in the region." Texas does have its share of cattle farmers, obviously, but what you'll find at local steakhouses is steak that comes from the same big distributors that supply restaurants around the country. Occasionally you'll find some local beef on menus--East Side Showroom sells a ribeye from Richardson Farms--but you're not likely to find it in a steakhouse.

                  In addition, the quality of the beef available at the local steakhouses isn't top notch. I don't know of a decent dry aged example in town. That said, I love taking a cheap bottle to the Hoffbrau and scarfing down a crappy steak.

                  Actually, I do recall Lambert's having an occasional steak special that included some nice, dry aged beef. Perhaps something from Brandt or Creekstone, I don't recall. Might be worth a shot.

                  I just noticed that Tom in Austin was thinking along the same lines...

                  1. tom, Backstage is equally as glorious as it once was. my family has a house in spicewood, so we eat there quite often - i have yet to be let down. it's still the best steak i have ever had in my life. very worth the 30-40 minute trek.