Review: Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse

Just because you have an address in the West End doesn’t make you a tourist haunt. There’s more to Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse, whose eye for quality and wild-game theme make it uniquely Texas and a destination on its own.

Truer still with its April move into the old Tony Roma’s next door. Y.O. gave it a swanky remodel, with polished woods and black accents—a step up from the old rustic digs (now available for private parties).

On the menu, you can still spot Matt Martinez Jr., owner of Matt’s Rancho Martinez in Lakewood; he was co-owner when Y.O. opened in ’96. They may have given his Bob Armstrong dip a new name (Sal’s soft tacos), but it’s Bob A. all the way: creamy queso piled with tender shredded smoked beef, slices of wild boar sausage, pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream. The guacamole had a weird, watery texture, but everything else on the plate rocked.

Shrimp dynamite, another appetizer, started with three big, chunky black tiger shrimp, their edges charred, then smeared with spicy aioli and served on bright green wilted fresh spinach. If it used to seem odd to be eating elk chops from New Zealand—Y.O. is, after all, allied with a ranch in Kerrville—it somehow makes more sense in the new space, especially that cherry-molasses glaze that tops the tender, red elk.

Service was sharp and adaptive. The waiter started out giving a standard tourist spiel (“The buffalo filet mignon is one of our most popular items”), but when the table begged for a genuine suggestion, he offered candid advice, even when it meant urging one diner to avoid the Mexican martini. That one’s for the tourists, maybe.

Get contact information for Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse.

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