In a sleepy encampment by the train tracks at the northern fringe of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, The Ponder Steakhouse (actually named Ranchman’s Café) has been a meat-eaters’ destination since 1948. Not much has changed over the years. Indoor bathrooms have been added; but the steaks are still hand-cut, and the ambiance is Lone Star to the core.
“Welcome to Texas!” chimed one well-fed good ol’ boy at us as he pushed his way out the front door, looking like he just sold his prize bull for a million dollars. Handing his denuded T-bone to the hound that had faithfully gazed in at him through the storefront window as he dined, he strolled along the dusty Ponder main street enjoying a smoke. The dog settled in on the raised sidewalk to savor his bone.
Ponder serves cowboy-style steaks – platter-sized, sizzled on a hot griddle until they develop a wickedly tasty crust. Although tender, they are not the silver butterknife cuts of expense-account dining rooms; they are steaks of substantial density that require a sharp knife and reward a good chew with tides of flavor. French fries come on the side, but if you call before 3pm, they’ll put a one-pound baked potato in the oven and have it ready when you arrive for supper.
“Y’all did good!” exclaimed our waitress after we polished off a few pounds of beef, potatoes, and a couple of slices of buttermilk pie that granny had made just that morning.
Note that gluten-free options are available.