It's everywhere in this city.
Classic steakhouses, where servers present immaculately prepared tenderloin to white-draped tables. The new temples of meat, where diners choose between tomahawks dry-aged for weeks and decadent wagyu straight from Japan. Your backyard, and mine, where charcoal smolders beneath sizzling, succulent beef, its juices tucked safely inside after a crisp sear.
Steak has ruled Houston for decades, at laidback family functions, glitzy gourmet affairs, and everything in between. And these days, as local chefs showcase their own traditions and evolving interpretations, it shows no sign of abdicating its throne.
Ronnie Killen well remembers becoming a devotee. His father, Jerry, who also had a restaurant, was a consummate griller, especially at the holidays. But it was his uncle Wilfred Muenster, who grew and pickled beets and okra in addition to being a grill master, who ignited his passion for cooking great steaks.
“When’s the last time you cooked on that grill?” Wilfred asked his nephew, regarding the thing one day over 30 years ago, long before young Killen became a Houston-area culinary star with concepts including Killen’s Steakhouse in Pearland.
“Maybe a month ago,” Killen replied.
“Would you eat from that grill when there’s things on there that are a month old?” Wilfred sneered. “I wouldn’t.”
Uncle Wilfred taught Killen to clean the damn grill, to turn out the perfect medium-rare ribeye, and, most of all, to cook with respect. There are thousands of Uncle Wilfreds across Houston, all of them at their happiest when a good piece of meat’s sizzling away over a flame.