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The most underrated steaks in Houston: Restaurants that do killer red meat at lunch

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red meat steak chopping board
I know all the controversy over eating red meat. FoodScienceAcademy.org
Sorrel Urban Bistro pepper steak
Chef Soren Pedersen at Sorrel Urban Bistro changes his farm-to-fork menu daily, so no telling when it will come back, but it was a melt-in-your mouth filet of beef. Sorrel Urban Bistro/Facebook
Smith & Wollensky Houston steak lobster
A steak with lobster at Smith & Wollensky, which is open for lunch during the week Smith & Wollensky Houston/Facebook
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar peppercorn steak glass of wine
Mostly about once a month I get the steak craving. If I’m not making it myself, I’ll go to Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in River Oaks. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar/Facebook
red meat steak chopping board
Sorrel Urban Bistro pepper steak
Smith & Wollensky Houston steak lobster
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar peppercorn steak glass of wine
News_Marene Gustin_columnist_mug_head shot

I know all the controversy over eating red meat.

There’s the health aspect on how fish and fowl is healthier and lower in bad stuff, how being vegetarian is the better lifestyle.

I was vegetarian for a couple of months back when I first lived in Austin. It was still the crunchy granola capitol of Texas back then. My choice then had nothing to do with health or ethics.

I’m a firm believer in the fact that if you eat meat you should respect the source, know where it came from, how it was raised and how it was slaughtered. I’ve been in butcher shops. I’ve been in huge poultry plants too and I can tell you after that little experience I started eating free range chickens that I buy from local farmers.

 Sometimes you just want a juicy steak. For me it’s always a black and blue petite filet mignon. There’s nothing better. 

Anyway, I digress. I went the vegetarian route because I was broke. Back in the day (I’m talking the Austin of Slacker days) there were plenty of hole in the wall places where you could get a big bowl of brown rice or black bean nachos for around a buck. It was fine for a while.

But then I got money. Right about the time the martini steakhouse craze hit Austin.

And that was the end of that.

Sometimes you just want a juicy steak. For me it’s always a black and blue petite filet mignon. There’s nothing better.

Steak Fever

Of course I don’t eat this all the time. Mostly about once a month I get the steak craving. If I’m not making it myself, I’ll go to Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in River Oaks.

But, like a lot of steakhouses, Fleming's isn't open for lunch, which is really sad since chef James Cole throws down one of the best steaks around, cooked exactly how I like it.

Which usually sends me to Smith & Wollensky, which is open for lunch during the week. But this place is a special treat. It’s pretty pricey, not something I can ordinarily even do once a month, but they do often have a lunch special that’s fairly reasonable.

And now we have Del Frisco’s Grille, which I thought was supposed to be a more casual concept of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse but it’s not. It’s a rather posh eatery with a grille menu, not at all the casual steakhouse I was hoping for. They do have one steak on the lunch menu, the Suit & Tie, a six-ounce filet for $22.

Hence my delight when settling in at Sorrel Urban Bistro for lunch the other day and noticing a filet on the menu.

Chef Soren Pedersen changes his farm-to-fork menu daily, so no telling when it will come back, but it was a melt-in-your mouth six-ounce grass-fed filet of beef that was wonderful. He grills it perfectly, albeit without the steakhouse char. The filet sat in a light cream sauce topped with a few micro greens and it was perfection.

And at only $16, I will definitely order it for lunch again if it rotates back on the menu.

Which leads me to one other option.

The Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen has hands down the best steak sandwich I have ever tasted. The Beef Anna (at $14) is large enough to share, particularly since it comes with a bucket of tasty hand cut fries. The marinated and grilled beef tenderloin is thick enough to hold up to the toasted French roll and smothered in blue cheese and horseradish aioli then topped with arugula and grilled onions.

If anyone else makes a better steak sandwich for lunch, I haven’t found it. Oh, and wash it down with one of the wonderful craft beers The Queen serves. Last time I lucked into a Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero, with a taste of chocolate and ancho chiles it makes a perfect drink with that sandwich.

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