The Perini Ranch Steakhouse
, located in the tiny West Texas town of Buffalo Gap, Texas, is one of the five winners of an America’s Classics designation, a group of awards given annually by the New York–based James Beard Foundation, the nation’s most prestigious culinary organization. According to the foundation, the “America’s Classics Award is given to restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved for quality food that reflects the character of their community.”
The proprietors are Perini and his wife Lisa. In an email, Lisa Perini said, “We are so flattered by this award. It’s truly an honor to our entire Perini Ranch team.”
Founded in 1983 by rancher Tom Perini, the steakhouse has become a destination for diners from all over the country, but the restaurant has long been a stalwart in the Texas dining scene. In a December 2007 feature, Texas Monthly
ranked the restaurant number three on our list of the 38 best steakhouses
in the state, and in April 2011, Tom Perini graced our cover
for a story about traditional Texas fare, “Cook Like a Texan.”
The foundation described the history of Perini Ranch and its proprietor:
Cowboy cook and rancher Tom Perini made a bold decision in 1983. With oil and cattle prices depressed, he turned a hay barn on his family spread into a restaurant, hoping to draw folks from nearby Abilene. Serving Texas standards with genuine hospitality, he has created a signature rural roadhouse.
Grilled steaks are the heart of the menu. Tom knew that if he opted for prime beef, he would price himself out of the local market. He chose instead to grill the best choice rib eyes, strips, and filets. The appeal of those steaks owes much to mesquite. The scrubby, thorny trees grow everywhere in this arid terrain. And their coals yield a pungent smoke that perfumes the air.
Comfort foods and chuck wagon favorites fill out the offerings, including green chile hominy and garlicky cowboy potatoes. For dessert, there’s whiskey-laced bread pudding.
The other four recipients of Classics awards are Hansen’s Sno Bliz, in New Orleans; Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville,Oregon; Olneyville New York System in Providence, Rhode Island; and Sokolowski’s University Inn in Cleveland, Ohio.
Honorees will be recognized at a ceremony May 5 at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City.