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Tilman Fertitta and King Ranch saddle up new Texas comfort food restaurant

Tilman Fertitta and King Ranch fire up Texas comfort food restaurant

King Ranch Texas Kitchen tomahawk steak
Tomahawk on the block. Courtesy of Fertitta Entertainment
King Ranch Texas Kitchen exterior
King Ranch Texas Kitchen opens this fall. Courtesy of Fertitta Entertainment
King Ranch Texas Kitchen Carlos Rodriguez
Executive chef Carlos Rodriguez. Courtesy of Fertitta Entertainment
King Ranch Texas Kitchen wagyu surf and turf
Wagyu surf and turf with sirlon and a grilled, bacon-wrapped lobster tail. Courtesy of Fertitta Entertainment
King Ranch Texas Kitchen rodeo room
A look at the Rodeo Room. Courtesy of Fertitta Entertainment
King Ranch Texas Kitchen barbecue plate
A barbecue plate with brisket, baby back ribs, and sausage. Courtesy of Fertitta Entertainment
King Ranch Texas Kitchen dining room
A look inside the main dining room. Courtesy of Fertitta Entertainment
King Ranch Texas Kitchen tomahawk steak
King Ranch Texas Kitchen exterior
King Ranch Texas Kitchen Carlos Rodriguez
King Ranch Texas Kitchen wagyu surf and turf
King Ranch Texas Kitchen rodeo room
King Ranch Texas Kitchen barbecue plate
King Ranch Texas Kitchen dining room

Two prominent Texas brands have teamed up to open a new restaurant dedicated to the state's signature cuisines. Fertitta Entertainment and the King Ranch will open King Ranch Texas Kitchen this fall.

Located in the former Willie G's at 1605 Post Oak Blvd., King Ranch Texas Kitchen will blend South Texas, barbecue, and Gulf Coast flavors. Chef Carlos Rodriguez, a Landry's veteran who was the longtime executive chef of downtown steakhouse Vic & Anthony's, will lead the kitchen. The chef tells CultureMap that Fertitta asked him to lead the project; after spending the last couple of years overseeing Saltgrass Steakhouse, he's looking forward to getting back in the kitchen to launch this new concept. 

"Getting an opportunity from Tilman to do a second concept from the ground up [is exciting]," he says. "Given the way the world has gone in 2020, it’s been nice to focus my creativity on something different."  

Look for a mix of steaks — including both USDA Prime cuts as well as Texas wagyu offerings — alongside smoked meats such as baby back ribs and Akaushi brisket, sandwiches (including both chopped brisket and an on-trend Nashville-style hot chicken), seafood, and more. Mexican flavors include street-style tacos and "The Beast," a 5-pound wagyu beef shank that's braised and served with taco fixings such as tortillas, salsas, guacamole, and more.

"It’s really a nod to Texas," Rodriguez says about the mix of cuisines. "That’s the goal here."

Other dishes include smoked brisket queso, salads, and seafood items such as blackened redfish and Gulf shrimp. One intriguing item is a reworked version of Vic & Anthoy's legendary crab cake. But will there be King Ranch chicken?

"There’s some stuff in the works. Not everything is out there yet," Rodriguez says. "There’s a lunch and a brunch menu that are working. I wanted to make it a little more interesting than a casserole. By the time we open, you’ll see something familiar there." 

On the beverage side, the spirits list will concentrate on whiskey and agave offerings. The wine list will feature at least 10 percent of its selections from Texas producers.  

Decor will take its inspiration from the King Ranch, the state's biggest ranch that covers 825,000 acres between Corpus Christi and Brownsville. Those elements include hand-forged metal drum chandeliers, framed livestock bill of sale and land deeds, historic black and white photographs, and leather saddles, according to a release. 

"I got to go down to the King Ranch and meet with those guys … really get a feel for what they’re about," Rodriguez says. "Being able to translate that into this location, it’s going to be a lot of fun."

In addition to its ranching, turf growing, and Florida citrus holdings, the King Ranch brand offers a wide array of leather goods. Many of these will be available for purchase at the restaurant, including the "game chairs" in the restaurant's Rodeo room private dining space. 

“Houstonians will get to experience a first-of-its-kind, Texas flair urban kitchen that we know everyone will enjoy,” Landry's owner Tilman Fertitta added in a statement. “We look forward to opening our doors this fall and bringing this exclusive and unique concept to our city.”