For 42 years, Ed Lowe has served meatloaf made from his mother’s recipe. It’s made with onions, peppers, fresh herbs, and eggs. No surprise there. But they use breadcrumbs from their house-made yeast rolls, and the beef is ground twice so that the loaf is dense enough to bake on a flat sheet. Best of all: if you’re hungry enough for seconds, all you have to do is ask.
The ground beef comes from Crystal Creek, a local cattle organization. The eggs are local, too. But the real key here is what they don’t do. Instead of an industrial paddle mixer, which can almost liquefy the meat, leading to a dense loaf, Garden Cafe hand-mixes its meat, leaving it airy, more playful on the palate. The loaf spends three-quarters of its time in the oven covered with aluminum foil to keep in the juices; the remainder of the time, a house-made tomato sauce bakes into a glaze.
The Ranch at Las Colinas
Close your eyes and imagine these layers of flavors (for this exercise, someone else will have to read the following to you): applewood-smoked bacon ground right into a mix of chuck and short rib that is seasoned with ancho chile pepper. Brushed with a chipotle ketchup, and then baked. Finished on a gas grill when ordered, using mesquite chips to impart a smoky flavor. Then topped with a smoked tomato-poblano salsa before serving.
We’ve heard reports of inconsistency at Stephan Pyles’ playful homage to Texas cooking, but when the kitchen is on, this meatloaf will make you rethink the entire dish. A loaf of finely ground venison is corralled by a ring of bacon and served atop charred tomato gravy. At $14, it’s one of the priciest dishes on this page—and when it works, it’s worth every penny.
Eleven years ago, Lisa Kelly came up with the recipe for Hattie’s meatloaf. Today, chef Estevan Galindo is still following it, with one minor adjustment to the beef-to-veal ratio: three parts steakhouse grind (chuck and tenderloin) and one part ground veal. He bakes it wrapped with applewood-smoked bacon and tops it with a mushroom and tasso ham gravy. Galindo says that most people, once they’ve finished, go looking for a pillow.