Fabens – Way out the outskirts of the West Texas town of El Paso is a desolate destination known as Fabens. There’s not a whole lot to find in Fabens, but a unique canyon facade known as Indian Cliffs has made this place a destination. That, and the massive restaurant on a hill called Cattleman’s Steakhouse.
“We’ve got some of the best beef in the world, and it’s just a great Texan experience,” Marc Gerzymisch said.
Marc runs the restaurant that was started by his father, Dieter, in the mid 70’s. This one of a kind food find was an afterthought to the family’s original business venture back then: Horse-riding through the west Texas desert. Dieter is originally from Germany, and he moved the German Air Force School and it’s soldiers to Fort Bliss back in 1966. From then on, Deutschland was a distant memory. Dieter established the Indian Cliffs Ranch, a 57-square mile piece of property, all those years ago. A young man from Mexico named Joe R. Vega used to paint around the place until he got a shot at taking the horses for a ride.
“Anybody who wants to come and help us on the weekend, because this guy didn’t show up, and I loved horses from day one, and I said … I raised my hand right away, said, ‘Hey, me,’” Joe said.
Joe went from helping out to being the ranch foreman, and he’s be working here since 1972.
“I think we have the best steaks in the country,” Benjamin Sanchez said.
Benjamin has been here a long time too. Since 1986, he’s been keep up with the cooks at Cattleman’s.
“These guys take pride in their work, and they’re proud to be a part of it,” Marc said. “They’re the guys who built this. These guys just don’t have quit in their vocabulary. They work hard. They do an amazing job, and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them, so these guys, they’re like family. They’re like my uncles.”
While these massive steaks bring in beef eating Texans, there is another attraction here that’s almost as popular: A zoo.
“We’ve got an ostrich, buffalo, cattle, longhorn, horses, goats, sheep, rams, and a rattlesnake pit,” Marc said. “It is lovely.”
If all that’s not enough to bring you out here, there is the movie history that’s a part of this place. Turns out, there have been several Hollywood movies filmed here including the incredible Lone Wolf McQuade starring the one and only Chuck Norris. Joe got to be in that movie!
“I was riding this horse,” Joe said. “It was kind of not quite broken, and I ran into the camera guy.”
Well, let’s get to the steak because that’s a really big thing here.
“We age everything on premises, “ Benjamin said. “We buy directly from the packer. They pick out the size and the specs that we want, and we test every week, constantly testing, and we’ve been doing this for a long time. So, I think we got this down pretty good.”
Benjamin got things started on some blissful beef.
“This is our rib eye,” Benjamin said. “As you can see, it’s got the marbling in the middle. That’s what distinguishes it from a rib eye. It’s a nice thick cut, maybe about an inch-and-a-quarter to an inch-and-a-half. We’re gonna go ahead and season that. We’ll season it pretty vigorously on both sides.”
This seasoning is one of their trade secrets.
“We have 150 employees here, of which maybe three or four are the only ones that know this recipe,” Benjamin said.
While our steak sizzled, I couldn’t help but notice how well seasoned the staff was.
“These cooks have been here 10, 15 years,” Benjamin said. “For me to get a cook trained, it will take me about two years for him just to become average, not good, but average. So, we take good care of them because it would be hard to replace one if we lose one.”
After a few minutes, a few flips, and a few licking lips it was almost time.
“You can’t rush it,” Benjamin said. “You’ll just ruin it. So, you just gotta let the grill do what it’s gonna do.”
If you’re going to do something, do it well. That’s exactly what they do out here at the Cattleman’s since the 1970s, and it is well worth a stop on the Texas Bucket List.
“You get the full cowboy experience out here, and great steak to go with it,” Marc said.