About fifty minutes southeast of downtown El Paso, just over an hour from Casa Wicker, situated some six miles north of the Fabens Exit (Exit 49) off I-10, is a working ranch straight out of the Old West. This ranch has been used in many movies, and is home to one of the highest rated steakhouses in the country.
I’m speaking of course of the Indian Cliffs Ranch and their famous Cattleman’s Steakhouse.
Over the next two weeks we’ll be looking at Indian Cliffs, exploring their zoo, dining at their restaurant, taking a tour of an Old West ranch house straight out of the 1880s, and looking at a 1984 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz from the 1998 television movie On the Border, and stepping around abandoned props from the 1996 film Courage Under Fire.
Upon arrival the hostess asked, “Do you have reservations, Mr. Wicker?”
I replied, “I do, actually, but we decided to give your establishment a try despite any misgivings.”
I know. I’ve used that joke before — in my murder mystery The Globe. Sorry. I just couldn’t resist digging it up as a summer rerun. Now for some shameless self-promotion:
The exterior of Cattleman’s has a definite western charm:
But it gets positively Old West Kitsch inside:
There are many individual dining rooms inside, and each has a distinct Old West theme. Our dining room this evening was the Saddle Room. Note the saddles draped across the picket fence enclosing this particular dining area:
So, let’s pull up a chair and look over the menu, shall we?
And let us not forget to peruse the wine list, concentrating on the reds, of course. After all, this is a steak establishment.
On this outing I opted for “The Cowgirl” — 1½ pounds/680 grams of T-bone purchased from El Paso-area ranchers. Steak dinners here come with a choice of a baked potato, rice, or corn-on-the-cob. Also accompanying your steak will be all-you-can-devour spicy ranch beans (and, boy, are they great), pineapple coleslaw (even better), and yeast roll breads (a tad commercial tasting in my book — definitely not homemade).
Let’s face it, sides may be a great accompaniment, but it’s the steak that makes or breaks a steakhouse’s reputation. And Cattleman’s definitely has a reputation to maintain. My medium-rare T-bone was exquisitely charred on the outside yet pink, moist, and perfectly tender beneath the rustic exterior.
Ursula likes her beef from the fillet cut, so she ordered her 10-ounce/285-gram Fillet Mignon as she always does — blood rare with a cool if not cold interior. The cooks at this steakhouse know how to deliver, as most restaurants tend to over-cook her steak even though I tell the waiter, “Just pat the cow on the butt and send her on out, ’cause that’s the way Ursula likes it.” Ursula had no reason to send this piece of beef back. The cooks got it right the first time.
Our meal, as you can see, was not a disappointment. We were completely satisfied with the effort of getting out to Indian Cliffs Ranch, but after dinner was equally enjoyable as you’ll see beginning with this Wednesday’s post.