By Beth Bond
While crawfish boils bring people together in late spring and elaborate turkey feasts are a rite of autumn, a good steak is a delicacy that’s available year-round. Even so, one that’s expertly cooked is something to mark on the calendar in anticipation. The idea that a steak dinner can be an event in itself is the thinking behind a few very special steak nights held at a handful of restaurants in the Hill Country. Take a look at our list of favorites, then grab a few friends or family members for a meal to remember.
The first thing to know about the food at the Waring General Store is that it’s part of a Texas family’s proud culinary legacy. Owner Jason Strange is the son of Don Strange, a renowned caterer who cooked for presidents and celebrities. Twice, Rockefeller Center in New York City was converted into “the Don Strange Ranch,” serving only his food from the Fourth of July through Labor Day.
“He was one of the pioneers of off-premise catering, which he started in San Antonio around the time of the Hemisfair in 1968,” Strange said of his father. “Along the way he became a globally famous cook.”
The family owns several event venues, and the Waring General Store is open daily, serving a menu of burgers — except for Wednesdays. For 17 years now, Wednesday has been Steaknite.
For $25, you can get a 10-ounce New York Strip cooked to order or a grilled chicken breast, plus all-you-can-eat desserts — many from Boerne’s own Bumdoodlers — and appetizers including a salad bar, mashed potato bar, the world-famous Don Strange queso and handmade spinach quesadillas and gorditas. Just pay at the counter up front, buy some Texas wine or beer, then walk into the backyard and let the cook know how you’d like your steak done.
“You’ve already paid, so help yourself to anything and everything,” Strange said. “It’s like being at a private party.”
There’s plenty to do for the kids, too. Kids 10 years and younger are treated to free hotdogs and appetizers. The hotdogs are wrapped in a tortilla and grilled — so delicious you’ll want a bite! And there’s a big backyard for them run and play in.
Reservations aren’t required but may be a good idea if you know a large group is coming. Live music is also part of the deal, with rotating acts each week, and Strange said folks are looking forward to a performance by Jason Bowen on June 3.
Need one last motivation to go? The Waring General Store’s website makes this promise: “We are always striving to get the beer just a little bit colder for you.”
The Tejas Rodeo Company in Bulverde is a 70-acre complex of Texas-style fun that really gets hopping on Saturday nights. Buckaroos show up for a rodeo 44 weeks out of the year starting at 7:30pm, followed by live music that lasts until 1am And it’s a family-friendly event, with pony rides, a mechanical bull to conquer and a spot to get your best boots shined.
Also on the grounds is the Tejas Steakhouse & Saloon, and you could say Saturday night is a pretty popular night to get a steak there: the Old West-themed restaurant sells about 300 orders of its signature menu item each Saturday. Tip: Get there early because the outdoor beer garden and patio area is first-come, first-served.
“People come in about 4:30 and make an evening of it, starting with dinner,” said general manager Tom Ozene.
So what’s for dinner? The KC pan-seared steak is not to be missed. One order is seven 2.5-ounce coulotte-cut medallions, meaning it’s from the top end of the sirloin straight from the Beeman Family Ranch.
“We season every piece and it’s cooked on a hot flat top like the cowboys used to cook,” Ozene said. “When you bite into this meat, every piece has seasoning on it. And we serve Premium Akaushi Beef from Japanese cattle.”
It’s a recipe that really works, earning the title of “Best Steak in Texas” from Texas Monthly magazine.
“This type of steak may be well-known in West Texas, but no other steakhouse in South Texas serves the KC steak like we do,” said co-owner Trey Martin.
Try it — or the super-flavorful wild boar served with caramelized pineapple, roasted garlic, red peppers and chipotle cream cheese, or BBQ quail loaded with house-smoked jalapenos, pecan pesto and Texan Oaxaca cheese — each piled on the black pepper and Cheddar flatbread, known as “cowboy flatbread” or pan de campo.
If you make a weekend of it by staying at a bed and breakfast on the property (where you can go fishing and hunting), you can also try the barbecue — pulled pork, brisket, chicken, turkey and ribs — served at the property’s smokehouse.
The Steakhouse is also open Thursday for dinner, and Friday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.
This Fredericksburg hotspot hosts live music Thursday through Sunday nights, but if you’re a steak lover the best time to go is Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday. That’s when the steak special is offered: For $20, get either a 6-ounce sirloin or an 8-ounce prime rib with a baked potato, asparagus and a salad. Plus, select bottles of wine are half-price.
The kitchen sources its beef from Niman Ranch, serving only all-natural Angus beef, certified Angus beef & U.S.D.A prime steaks. The wine list is one of the best in the Hill Country, so ask your server about finding the perfect pairing. Because the area surrounding Fredericksburg is dotted with a number of Texas wineries, the wine list is full of spectacular locally made options. Want to sip something from beyond Texas? The cellar also features wine from around the world. Plus, the restaurant serves locally brewed and imported beers, a complete selection of top shelf liquor and a well-stocked humidor for enjoying a cigar on the patio after dinner.
Looking to add a little variety to your steak dinner? Try one of the expertly prepared add-ons and have your steak topped with sautéed mushrooms, brandy peppercorn sauce, blue cheese butter, a red wine reduction or sautéed steak onions, or go all out and top it with a grilled lobster tail.
On Wednesday nights in Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World, you’ll find a place that’s more than a bar but not quite a restaurant. But it’s certainly a great spot for a steak night.
The 11th Street Cowboy Bar is an old, wood-framed building with a porch out front, plenty of cold beer and, on Wednesdays, several fired-up Texas-sized barbecue pits. Bring your own steak (or chicken or fish) to grill, then buy a plate of sides for $6. All the fixings (such as spices and cooking utensils) are provided, and you’ll get a salad, baked potato and a roll. However, they do recommend you BYOSK (Bring Your Own Steak Knife).
Country and western bands play each week, making it a great place for mid-week entertainment. After you eat, take a turn on the only jet-cooled dance floor and patio in Texas. The 11th Street Cowboy Bar often has pickers and jam sessions, so bring your guitar and join in the fun!