On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Ryan Cade and Blake Robertson join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss R-C Ranch. Founded 10 years ago, the duo operate a 2,800-acre farm in Brazoria County and recently opened a butcher shop in the Houston Farmers Market.
The conversation touches on a range of topics, including the owners' decision to partner on the business, why they selected wagyu beef, and what it's been like to open their first dedicated retail outpost. Sandler asks about Cade about R-C's relationship with Chris Shepherd; the Beard Award winner uses its beef at Georgia James and the newly-opened Underbelly Burger.
I remember the first time I met him. I was trying to figure out what he and I had in common. I'm a country guy from Brazoria County and a rancher. Don't know a lot about the restaurant business. He's potentially the biggest name, certainly in Houston, maybe in Texas. I didn't know what I was getting into when I met him. If you ask me today, I'll tell you I love that guy. Not only is he a great chef and a successful person, he's as genuine of an individual as you'll ever meet. I'd run through a brick wall for him.
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Felice Sloan discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: chef Sherman Yeung's plans to open Money Cat, a new sushi restaurant in Upper Kirby; the imminent return of Austin's Chi'Lantro BBQ to Houston; the temporary closure of Backstreet Cafe; and Kenny & Ziggy's plans to move to a new location.
In the restaurants of the week segment, the hosts discuss their recent meal at Daily Gather, the new restaurant in CityCentre from the owners of Dish Society. They also share first impressions of Mastro's Ocean Club, the luxurious steakhouse that recently opened in The Woodlands.
Here’s my response to U.S. News and World Report’s list of the 150 “Best Places to Live” that put Houston pretty much near the bottom. (Read our story here.)
I’m not a googly eyed, naïve homer for Houston, but any national poll of “best places to … anything” that has Dallas — to say nothing of Killeen, El Paso, and Beaumont — ahead of the Bayou City is, to put it bluntly in scientific terms, totally nuts.
Beaumont? The best thing I can think about living in Beaumont is you’re only one hour away from Tilman Fertitta's Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles.
U.S. News ranked the 150 biggest metro areas in America by measures of cost of living, job market, desirability, and quality of life.
McGovern Centennial Gardens at Hermann Park can't beat out...Beaumont?
Hermann Park Conservancy Facebook
I’ll translate that for you: it means that U.S. News never stepped foot in Houston or any of the other cities and simply threw a bunch of raw data and statistics into a Yahtzee cup and spilled out some silly click bait.
The purpose of the survey was, ahem, to help people looking for a place to relocate.
Wait...Buffalo is better?
Houston came in 140th behind all those Texas cities, and more than 100 others, including northern outposts like Buffalo and Anchorage, where, as Jimmy Buffett would put it in "Morris' Nightmare":
They never see the sun,
They hardly see the moon,
They barely see the ground
Until the snow melts in June.
Buffalo gets 89 inches of snow and Anchorage has only seven hours of daylight during winter and its cost of living is 27 percent higher than the national average.
Yeah right, they’re more desirable than Houston, where you can play 18 holes in January and eat dinner outside on Washington Avenue.
A dubious No. 1
The No. 1 so-called best place to live in America is, ready?
Green Bay, Wisconsin.
I once interviewed for a job up in Wisconsin close to Green Bay. I was there in September, happened to be the first day of deer hunting season. The newspaper ran some sort of a hunter’s prayer wishing for snow. I asked why snow? They said it’s because it’s easier to track a wounded deer by following its blood in the snow. They also explained to me how you plug in a heater and stick it under your car’s hood to keep the engine from freezing up in winter.
I wouldn’t make it to Halloween.
I visited Green Bay in the spring, too. It’s a beautiful place. I just can’t get past the long, sub-freezing winter. Brrr from November to April. I know, Houston’s summers are brutal. But I’d rather swelter than shiver. I do not own a winter coat.
The rest of U.S. News’ top five best cities are: Huntsville, Alabama; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Boulder, Colorado; and Sarasota, Florida. U.S. News compiled its ranking of cities using data from the U.S. Census, Department of Labor and FBI. That’s all you need to know.
We couldn't even beat Killeen?
Whatever criteria U.S. News used this time around, there was decided bias against Texas. Austin ranked No. 1 the last two times the magazine ranked U.S. cities. Now Austin is No. 40. Dallas is No. 113 (down from 32). Killeen is No. 122 (was 108). El Paso is 128 (was 124). Beaumont is 131 (was 109).
In fact, Houston dropped from No. 59 all the way to 140. It was the largest tumble of any city. According to U.S. News, Houston is the worst big city in Texas to live and work.
Now you know that’s a bunch of nonsense.
Yeah, I can’t tell you how many of my neighbors in Houston have told me they’re saving money so one day they can fulfill their lifelong dream of moving to Flint, Michigan (No. 130).
Or anywhere else.
"Well we're living here in H-Town..."
Allentown, Pennsylvania finished ahead of Houston. Didn’t Billy Joel do a song about people leaving Allentown because “they’re closing all the factories down?” And, “it’s getting very hard to stay?”
Allentown is No. 109. Houston, where the economy is growing, is 140. Don’t remember any chart-topping song about people fleeing Houston because there’s no work.
It’s one more dumping on Houston. For several years, Houston was ranked “the Fattest City in America” by Men’s Fitness magazine. You know how they came up with that? By counting the number of movie theaters, doughnut shops, convenience stores and burger joints divided by population, multiplied by the number of unicorns in the city zoo.
People like us — they really like us
If you think Houston is Fat City, check out the bodies running on Memorial Park’s jogging path — that’ll be one more summer you don’t take off your shirt at the beach.
Here’s a fun fact: Houston was one of a very small number of large cities to gain population during the COVID pandemic. They came here for jobs and a chance to own a home. And climate and entertainment and dining options. Houston is a fun place.
People like it here.
That’s what U.S. News should have done — actually visit each city and ask residents what they think of their hometown. Best time and place to ask Houstonians: a warm sunny day in January … on a golf course.