Texas Traveler: Buffalo Gap

Buffalo Gap is a hamlet outside of Abilene whose main claim to fame is the Perini Ranch Steakhouse. The current issue of Food Network Magazine claims that the Perini Ranch Steakhouse makes the best burger in Texas. I love the Perini Ranch and count Tom Perini among my friends. But read the menu -- it's not a burger, it's a "Hamburger Steak." It doesn't even come on a bun unless you request one.

The Perini Ranch Hamburger Steak is a half pound of quality beef, ground on the premises, and topped with cheese, green chile and mushrooms. This is what they called a "Top Chop't Steak" at Austin's old Nighthawk Chain, or a Salisbury steak elsewhere. It is a fine Texas tradition, but it isn't a classic Texas hamburger.

You can't expect Food Network Magazine to understand the nuances of regional food culture. Real Texas hamburgers are dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions, served in convenience stores and road houses and consumed with French fries and cold beer.

I'd much rather eat Tom Perini's chicken-fried steak anyway. It's made out of rib eye steak scraps, and it's probably the tenderest CFS in Texas.

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