A game-hunting vibe, yet Western and upscale. Lonesome Dove is the ideal date night spot to take any loved one that needs a carnivorous fix. If you’re wanting to impress someone from out of town that’s not used to Texas cuisine, this is the place that represents the Lone Star State to the T!
It’s been nearly eight years since the debut of Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Austin’s thriving downtown. Things are about to get even more exciting because Chef Tim Love and his team just reopened the restaurant on West 6th and Colorado Streets, just steps away from the original location.
The most significant change comes from the addition of the Front Porch, an expansive all-season porch with oversized leather chairs and couches, perfect for socializing while taking in the lively street scene through the retractable, open-airy windows.
Inside the main dining area, the interior is certainly distinctively decorated. Walking in, you know you’re about to get served some serious carnivore dishes, as there is game all around the place with a variety of antlers and taxidermied animal mountings all over the walls.
This place is known for their meats and drinks. Their expansive maple live edge bar showcases more than 100 different tequilas and over 50 bourbon and rye offerings. The bar is lit from above by a whitetail deer antler chandelier, really solidifying that game-hunting vibe.
Wild Game Fettine
Everything prices out for an individual portion if you would like, or you can pick three things from the list to share with the table. If it’s your first time at Lonesome Dove, like it was for me, make sure to start with the Fettine Trio (fettine is a selection of cuts spit-roasted over an open mesquite fire) so you can get a preview of what you’re about to get yourself into. Our Trio came with duck, pork belly and Texas wild boar, all distinctly tasty in their own right.
Get into the first course with the Rabbit-Rattlesnake Sausage. I promise it’s not as gamey as it may sound. It very much could become your new favorite or perhaps even make the Hall of Fame for some of the best sausages you’ve ever had. The Deviled Gulf Coast Blue Crabs contain sweet, fresh crab meat with Lonesome Dove hot sauce. The hot sauce wins out over the crab, so if you’re a spicy-lover, then this one’s for you. Then there were the Blue Corn-Lobster Hushpuppies, our waiter’s favorite, so you knew we had to try them. The delightful bites basically tasted like a lobster roll in one bite form. Truth be told, I was a little intimidated to try the Wild Boar Ribs, but they pleasantly surprised me. They didn’t taste too gamey, and they were so tender that they were falling off the bone. Don’t you just love when that happens? The Lonesome Dove BBQ sauce made the dish even better.
For the second course, the Butter Lettuce is an elevated Southwestern wedge salad with lots of great flavor. The addition of lardoons and red chili-buttermilk vinaigrette is a great way to add to a salad. The pepitas pulled it together while the red chili vinaigrette really spiced up the dish. The Duck Prosciutto Salad is a relative newbie on the menu. However, anytime you can incorporate beets and candied pecans in a salad, you have a winner. The balsamic, honey and beets made the dish crossover onto the sweeter side. As for the Fideos and Bowl of Texas Red, they are on the heartier side. The Texas Red does not have any beans in it which is traditionally what you would expect, but it does contain a lot of hearty beef and bison. The Fideos tend to get overlooked since some don’t know exactly what it is, but let me enlighten you! Fideos are just noodles that are roasted and then cooked in broth. Delicious, but split the noodle-octopus dish with someone at the table to save room.
For the main course, the Roasted Stuffed Beef Tenderloin is the hero, as it’s Chef Love’s signature dish, and the most popular on the menu. I can understand why! The sauce is literally cooked down for three days. With the Rack of Elk, you’ve got the salty flavor from the parsnip puree and then you have the sweetness from the candied blueberries. The earthy flavor comes from the crispy maitake mushrooms. The char on the edge really adds a layer of texture and a wave of flavor. It’s cooked excellently and not chewy at all. Everything on the plate goes together so well and is amazing even just by itself.
If you’re getting a Hand Cut Steak, that’s when you need to take a look at the sides (which are family style), so expect a good amount to share with the table. (One will be enough). The steak was super tender and flavorful. I cleaned up my plate!
No (Red) Meat
If you’re looking to minimize your red meat intake, the Rabbit Ravioli is the golden child, as it’s not heavy nor too light. It has great flavor from Chef’s carefully crafted sauce. You might also enjoy the seafood options since they’re a bit lighter, but still packed with flavor. The Idaho Rainbow Trout would be a good pick for the lighter side.
The Sweet Potato-Chorizo Succotash that comes with the trout is so tasty that our waiter actually mentioned how he makes it every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. If that doesn’t tell you how tasty it is then I don’t know what will. Pro Tip: Make the sauce without the chorizo and you have yourself a vegan dish!
Iron Chef-Winning Dessert
Would it be such a delightful dinner without dessert? Nope! You seriously can’t go wrong with the Ancho Chile Chocolate Cake topped with house-made vanilla bean ice cream and almond brittle. The dessert is most definitely suitable for those chocolate lovers out there. Chef Love actually won Food Network’s Iron Chef America with this delectable dessert, so you can imagine how high in-demand those sought-after extraordinary flavors are for those who stop by.
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Cover photo courtesy Lonesome Dove
Leean Vargas is the Highlight Reel newsletter editor at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She is a concert enthusiast who loves traveling, photography, good food, and discovering new hangout spots in her beloved city, Austin, Texas.