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Cattleman's Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch

Ranch Road 793
Fabens, TX
(915) 544-3200

Cattleman's Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch

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Cattleman's Steakhouse has been known as one of El Paso's most popular tourist attractions since its opening in 1973, providing both good food and a close-up view of the Old West as it has been romanticized by movie Westerns. Indian Cliffs Ranch was started as a working horse ranch with Cattleman's Restaurant not becoming an integral part of it until later. Cattleman's offers attractions such as hay rides and a children's zoo so that families will not run out of things to see when they make the drive "out in the middle of the desert" (although still within El Paso County). This may be the closest thing El Paso has to a real dude ranch, or at least one that such great numbers of people can experience.

The number of visitors to the restaurant seems to have exceeded expectations, with several expansions taking place since its opening. Word of mouth has been the main means of publicity for the restaurant, with the desert setting surrounded by a backdrop of distant mountains being a scene that becomes etched in people's memory. Cattleman's at Indian Cliffs Ranch has not only become famous for its steaks, but has even served as the set for Hollywood movies, likely with the knowledge of the producers that they could get some very good food while shooting the film.

New York Strip
New York Strip

Of course steaks are the big attraction at Cattleman's (although other types of meat are also served). The New York Strip Steak is one that I have found good over the years, and I think is a good compromise between the tenderest meat and the largest steak. Although I tend to avoid large steaks and go for the best flavor, I think the New York steak has one of the best flavors of any of them.

Cattleman's has usually been one of the best places to try this steak, with the meat being excellent quality, freshly cut, and lacking the "processed" flavor that is found in some grocery store meat that comes via the commercial feed lots. I originally thought Cattleman's raised its own cattle, and this was the reason for its freshness. The fact is that Indian Cliffs Ranch raises horses, and if there are any cattle there are not enough to provide the mass quantites of beef at are served at Cattleman's. The meat is actually bought elsewhere, but it tastes as if it is raised at the ranch.

My most recent experience with the New York strip, though, was rather disappointing compared to the past. The meat had a different flavor than I remember from years ago, as if the cattle now used are fed differently than in the past. The steak was good, but my latest time at Cattleman's made me think it was better to save the gas and eat at one of the good steakhouses in El Paso (which may in fact get their beef from the same or similar sources).

Fillet at Cattleman's

I had a similar experience with the Fillet, with the steak seeming to be better in the past at Cattleman's. I enjoyed the fillet more than the New York strip, and I think this is probably the best steak the restaurant serves. In the past there would have been no question that Cattleman's was the best place to go for this or any type of steak, but it seemed to me that the food had changed from the times I had gone before. It has not changed to the point that I do not enjoy the steaks, the question to me is whether it is still a "destination" restaurant worthy of making a special trip.

The side dishes are excellent, and in fact I cannot tell much difference between the ones here and the ones at Great American (an El Paso restaurant which is like Cattleman's in many ways). The beans and cole slaw are probably my favorite, but everything served is good.

Gift shop
The gift shop is one of the many attractions of the sprawling Cattleman's complex

Cattleman's gift shop is a good place to load up on El Paso souvenirs, and is located in the main restaurant. Several large dining rooms are available that can be used for special parties, as well as a barn and picnic facilities.

I have been disappointed by the overall drop in quality of steaks throughout the country, but the Southwest has generally had some of the best that are available. Some places, such as Cattleman's, have stood out over the years as one of the best of the Southwest. I think it is still one of the best, but I wish I could say it was one of the best steak restaurants in the United States, as I used to think it was. Perhaps it still is and I have just gone on days when it was off. Even when it is off, though, I think people will still enjoy it.



Cuisine: Steaks
Cost: $$$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking

Most Recent Visit
May 9, 2008

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Fillet, Cole Slaw

Special Ratings
New York Strip:
Cole Slaw:

Restaurant Web Site