Surrounded by the largest livestock trading center on earth, Cattlemen’s is the consummate western steak house. The original dining area maintains its old lunch counter, where brokers, haulers, and buyers come for breakfast of steak or brains and eggs starting at six a.m. In the South Dining Room, which was added in the 1950s, there are spacious upholstered booths; one entire wall features an immense, illuminated panoramic transparency of a herd of black angus cattle with two men on horseback watching over them. Curiously, the mounted cowherds are not dressed in buckaroo attire. They wear suits and ties, apparently to distinguish them from common cowboys who work for wages. These gents are cattle ranchers who can afford a blue-ribbon steak.
Top-of-the-line on Cattlemen’s menu is a sirloin steak as fancy as anything served on the white-clothed tables of New York’s steak row or in the premier beef houses of Chicago, Omaha, and Kansas City. You hardly need the steak knife provided — a butter knife would do the job — but it sure is mouth-watering to feel the keen steel glide through beef that, although tender, has real substance. This is beef with character.
Steak soup is wonderful: lusty mahogany brown and crowded with vegetables, beef, and lamb fries. Lamb fries are gonads, a highly-regarded delicacy in much of the West. When young livestock is castrated on the range, it is traditional for cowboys to fry their harvest as a treat at the end of the day. Like much deep-fried food, it’s breading that’s the keynote flavor. The organ meat inside is moist and slightly sweet.