16, about seven miles southeast of Graham; 888-462-9277 or wildcattersteakhouse.com. Open Wed & Thur 5—9, Fri & Sat 5—10, Sun 11—2. Closed Mon & Tue.
Grey Moss Inn, Helotes
• USDA Top Choice
• Grilled over mesquite
The number of couples who have held secret rendezvous here must be astronomical. But how could they resist? Romance fills the air like incense at this oak-shaded cottage in the woods. The flagstone terrace offers the most-secluded tables, but the dining room’s twinkle lights and Provençal-print curtains have a warm appeal too. Now in its seventy-eighth year, the restaurant is prospering under chef Jeff White. The steaks are excellent, grilled over mesquite coals and doused in the Witches’ Brew, a secret basting sauce. Ribeyes and filets arrive precisely cooked, with a delectable char; so does the fabulous venison T-bone, a special that should be snapped up when offered. Sides range from a special of highly creditable potato gnocchi and predictable stuffed twice-baked potatoes to the odd signature cumin-and-cheese squash casserole. If sides are variable, however, the desserts are spectacular, especially the lovely flourless chocolate Queen Nell’s Cake and a creative special, a poppy-seed-pound-cake “tart” that is actually a cake cup brimming with fresh raspberries in a thin butterscotch sabayon. 19010 Scenic Loop Rd. in Grey Forest community, 210-695-8301 or grey-moss-inn.com. Dinner daily 5—10.
Bob’s Steak & Chop House, Houston
• USDA Prime
• Broiled at 1,200 degrees
Houston’s brand-new Bob’s is the brainchild of Bob Sambol, who started the Dallas-based mini-chain, and is independently owned by Ed Toles. He wisely chose the former Tony’s location, instantly attracting the socialite and lavish-expense-account crowds. Accented in dark mahogany, the handsome space boasts a long, inviting bar and plush raised banquettes for a bird’s-eye view of the movers and shakers. As for the food, it’s all big at Bob’s, from gratis dill pickles and mountainous mashed potatoes included with the USDA Prime steaks to the—dare we say phallic?—signature glazed carrot on each plate. The hefty broiled boneless ribeye and the excellent Flintstone-size porterhouse are endowed with a bronze sear and beefy flavor despite butter saturation in every fork-tender crevice. Generous salads shine, and the terrific appetizer of shrimp cooked three ways could be a meal. However, some sides, like skillet potatoes with peppercorn gravy, ooze with oil. Sometimes there is too much of a good thing, except when it comes to a warm welcome. That’s where Bob’s excels. 1801 Post Oak Blvd., 713-877-8325 or bobs-steakandchop.com. Dinner Mon—Thur 5—10, Fri & Sat 5—11. Closed Sun. Also located in Dallas, Grapevine, and Plano.
Brenner’s Steakhouse on the Bayou, Houston
• USDA Prime
• Wet-aged for 28 days
• Seared on a griddle and broiled
The new Brenner’s Steakhouse on the Bayou is jazzed up and contemporary, quite different from the vintage Houston original founded in 1936 by the Brenner family. Now owned by Landry’s, both locations boast beautiful garden views, celebratory and business crowds, and the same entrées but different chefs. If you successfully navigate the tricky stairs here and snag a soothing downstairs window seat, you should be in the right mood to relish chef Grant Hunter’s perfectly broiled Prime steaks. The extraordinarily tender salt-and-pepper-dusted New York strip looms above its piping-hot white plate, all but afloat in savory jus. A petite, buttery six-ounce filet mignon seared to a medium char defies the typical spongy filet with its notably muscular texture. However, a pricey lump crab cake appetizer lacked presentation on one visit, and some sides faltered (choose crunchy German fried potatoes instead of overcooked mac and cheese). Thankfully, courteous servers insist you cut into your steak to check for proper cooking before they leave you to dig in. One Birdsall, 713-868-4444 or brennersonthebayou.com. Open Mon—Thur 5:30—10, Fri & Sat 5:30—10:30, Sun 11—9.
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Houston
Pappas Bros. is one of our top three steakhouses in Texas. Read our review here.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Houston
• USDA Prime
• Broiled at 1,800 degrees
It’s hard to obey the rule to never eat anything larger than your head at New Orleans—born Ruth’s Chris, a relaxed steakhouse saturated with the aroma of melting butter. Although Houston’s Ruth’s, circa 1975, has dated country-clubby decor and attracts a mature clientele (hipsters and scenesters need not apply), the Prime steaks are winners. Butter sizzles beneath your deftly seared steak as it arrives—a Ruth’s shtick—but even if you request no butter, it’s still damn good. The lean filet mignon seasoned with salt and cracked black pepper and parsley bears a charred bronze crust that easily succumbs to a knife. Slightly less tender but drenched with natural juices is the massive bone-in ribeye. Don’t skip the tart, lavishly chunky blue cheese dressing on your salad. Ditto for the vast spud selection, including a fluffy, one-pound loaded baker; crunchy homemade potato chips; and skinny fries. And one element has not gone out of style: gracious, professional service from entrance to exit. 6213 Richmond, 713-789-2333 or ruthschris.com. Dinner Mon—Thur 5—10, Fri & Sat 5—10:30, Sun 4—9. Also located in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio.
Smith & Wollensky, Houston
• USDA Prime
• Dry-aged in-house for 14 to 24 days
• Broiled at 1,800 degrees
After nearly four years, the Houston outpost of Manhattan-born Smith & Wollensky is starting to age but still turns heads with its striking marble bar, American antiques, and twinkling-palm-tree views of the shops of Highland Village. Clearly, founder Alan Stilman, who also branded T.G.I. Friday’s, has a knack for merchandising. You’ll be tempted to devour the buttery rosemary rolls, but save room for the mammoth Prime steaks. Here, the bone-in ribeye and the bone-in sirloin rule. Butchered and dry-aged in-house, both cuts are tender and beautifully marbled, with a subtle mineral tang. Lovers of char will especially dig the delectably bitter singed edges. Less impressive are the simple sides, like the bland creamed spinach. Desserts are comically huge except for the best—the dense, luscious New York cheesecake with whipped cream and radiant fresh berries. 4007 Westheimer Rd., 713-621-7555 or smithandwollensky.com. Open daily