In the Houston Rodeo’s illustrious 90-year history, the event never once hosted a proper seated bar and restaurant within its gates. That all changed this year as the rodeo just introduced The Ranch Saloon & Steakhouse, the hottest new dining and drinking spot nestled inside one of Houston’s most beloved instututions.
Like the great Garth Brooks, who has spent his fair share of time at the rodeo, likes to croon: “I’ve got friends in low places, where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases…”
Such is the vibe of The Ranch, a blend of casual and fine dining where you can saddle up with boots and a hat and enjoy a glass of wine with your ribeye. Operating only through March 20 (when the rodeo ends), the new Houston pop-up restaurant is a project by Berg Hospitality Group. Some other projects by the group around town are B&B Butchers & Restaurant, The Annie Café & Bar, Turner’s, and B.B. Lemon.
The restaurant has also proved that fine dining can thrive in almost any environment. Some rodeo enthusiasts weren’t sure is the restaurant could feasibly sell caviar, oysters, top-shelf beef, and premiere seafood. But peak dining times throughout the entire three-week run sold out almost instantly, proving that the rodeo has certainly evolved over the years.
“You can come up and get a beer and a burger, but you could also come in for a wagyu steak,” said Benjamin Berg, owner of Berg Hospitality, who has been working on the project for two years. “We’re offering something for everyone — a multi experience at the rodeo.”
What can patrons expect?
With around 16,000 square feet available under a massive tent, guests can either sit in the saloon at a table or one of the three bars, or sit down for dinner in a private dining room. Flanking the length of the steakhouse is The Porch, a patio bar that sits 100 guests. The entire venue sits almost 500 patrons and has restrooms and even a shoeshine station.
Diners can expect two separate menus of dishes for the Houston rodeo restaurant. The rustic Saloon side offers classic American fare like burgers, barbecue, fish, and sandwiches. The upscale Steakhouse side offers all kinds of indulgence: prime steaks, American wagyu, and Japanese A-5 wagyu priced between $260 and $285.
As for drinks? Wine-by-the-glass selections as well as beer and beer buckets kick off the menu. Signature cocktails include the B&B Manhattan made with Maker’s Mark, and the B&B Martini fashioned with Bombay Sapphire Gin. The big fun is in the cocktails on tap list which includes Ranch Water (Maestro Dobel Tequila and Topo Chico), the French Diplomat (Hendrick’s Gin, Effen Cucumber Vodka and elderflower liqueur), a Mint Julep made with Angel’s Envy Bourbon, and the Strait Margarita featuring George Strait’s Codigo silver tequila.
“For two years we’ve been imagining this,” Berg said, smiling, while acknowledging the his high hopes for the Houston rodeo restaurant. “We’re hoping this is the gathering place.”