Texas is cattle country. Drive a few miles outside the city and, lo and behold, there are cattle grazing.
Oddly enough though, many steakhouses aren’t serving beef from the ranches in their own backyards. Many obtain meat from what are essentially packing houses, including Standard Meat in Dallas and Freedman Meats, a subsidiary of Sysco Foods in Houston. While those companies might be selling some Texas beef (Freedman told us by phone their Wagyu, for example, comes from HeartBrand Beef in Flatonia), their other products aren't. (Freedman says its other beef comes from Harris Ranch in Selma, California and Strauss Brands Inc. in Franklin, Wisconsin.) Others cited suppliers in Kansas, “the Midwest” and California.
According to Felix Florez, who runs Black Hill Meats, a rancher and broker of locally-raised beef (as well as pork and other meats), one reason is because there are very, very few companies who are actually dedicated to supplying Texas-raised meat. Jason Schimmels of 44 Farms agrees with that perspective, saying that their company and Black Hill Meats are the only major suppliers he know of to the Houston area.
So, where is all of that Texas cattle we see along the highway going? Florez said that ranchers are unable to make enough money simply selling grass-fed beef. Not enough places are buying it, because people want to see marbling that comes from the fattiness of corn-fed cattle. “They’ll sell [the cattle] and ship them up north where there are feed lots,” he explained. “Whether it’s Kansas, Tennessee or Nebraska, those are the states that have feed lots. There are not many feed lots in Texas.”
At that point, meat from those cattle—which spend the rest of their lives being eating corn and getting fat—is considered “commodity beef” instead of a Texas product. (That’s not as good of a life as it sounds, as they probably spend it penned up, not getting enough exercise and standing in unsanitary conditions.)
So, what is a beef-lovin’, loyal Texan to do? Both 44 Farms and Black Hill Meats told us which Houston restaurants are buying beef from them.
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To make it as easy as possible for readers to find restaurants serving Texas beef, we’ve combined both sets of clients into one list, as well as added a few places obtaining Texas beef from other sources. (44 Farms maintains a web page for its client list in case you care to distinguish, and some restaurants buy from both Black Hill Meats and 44 Farms.) For example, Hubble & Hudson sources from HeartBrand Beef, while B&B Butchers gets its Wagyu from Gearhart Ranch. Texas Land & Cattle says it buys exclusively from Hartley Ranch in Stephenville.
Note that these restaurants might not sell only Texas beef. That’s probably rarely the case.
(Updated 1/10/2015, 4:14 p.m. to include restaurants serving beef from Marble Ranch in Iola, Texas.)
- Ara Restaurant at Royal Sonesta Hotel
- B&B Butchers
- Brooklyn Athletic Club
- Buff Burger
- Da Marco (Added 1/10/2016, 4:16 p.m.)
- Dish Society
- El Meson
- Fielding's Local Kitchen + Bar
- Fielding's Wood Grill
- Foreign Correspondants
- Good Dog Houston
- The Grove
- Harold's in the Heights
- The Hay Merchant (Added 1/7/2016, 8:43 a.m.)
- Heights General Store/Alli’s Pizzeria
- Hubbel & Hudson
- Hunky Dory
- Karbach Brewing Co.
- Killen's Steakhouse
- Lakeside Country Club
- Local Foods
- Local Pour(Added 1/8/2016)
- Mucky Duck
- Pappa Charlies Barbeque
- The Pass and Provisions
- Patagonia Grill and Cafe (Added 1/10/2016, 4:17 p.m.)
- Paul’s Kitchen
- Pax Americana
- Pour Society
- Rainbow Lodge (Added 1/10/2016, 4:17 p.m.)
- Redneck Country Club
- Revival Market
- Ruggles Black
- Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
- Sonoma Wine Bar
- State of Grace (Added 1/8/2016, 6:41 a.m.)
- Tango & Malbec (Added 1/10/2016, 4:15 p.m.)
- Texas Land & Cattle
- Tin Roof BBQ
- Weights and Measures
- Wooster's Garden (Added 1/7/2016, 11:50 a.m.)