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The Revival Of An Iconic 40-Year-Old Texas Restaurant

Culpepper Cattle Co. is now in its third act

For over forty years, Culpepper Cattle Co. has been serving Texans. And the Rockwall restaurant was almost lost forever. 

There are photos of cowboys, saddles on the wall and vintage neon beer signs. And the place is big, with an 11,000-square-foot dining room and a 20,000-square-foot patio. We are given big forks and big knives for what will be a big, delicious meal. 

Culpepper is filled with all sorts of knick-knacks — surprising ones, including a lion shot by Theodore Roosevelt and the Liverpool circular bar from the Cavern Club, where the Beatles got their start. "Legend has it that on this bar, the Beatles signed their first record deal," a plaque reads. But Culpepper isn't only home to memorabilia. In year's past, as Rockwall County Herald Examiner reports, country superstars like Waylon Jennings and Randy Travis would pop in. 

I scan the menu: a greatest hits of food I grew up eating and food I love, from chicken fried steak and fried green tomatoes to biscuits and gravy and queso — the last of which I had to control myself from using my finger to get the last remaining cheesy bits of deliciousness. The ribeye is tender and good, the fajitas are fresh, and we cap off the meal with key lime pie and turtle cheesecake. 

For drinks, we have classics like a smoked old fashioned as well as fun brunch drinks like "cereal milk," which is a sweet, nostalgic mix of Cruzan rum, Cointreau, lemongrass and house-made cereal milk. 

Originally founded in 1982 as Culpepper Steakhouse, the restaurant was first built in an hold house and filled with knick-knacks from owner "Dobber" Stephnson's world travels. The menu was home-cookin' and barbecue. In 1993, businessman Bob Clements bought Culpepper and turned it into a fine dining restaurant, with an extensive wine list and premium steaks. The restaurant was at risk of closing until UNCO restaurant group of Leela’s Wine Bar and HG Sply Co. fame) bought Culpepper, rebranding it as Culpepper Cattle Co. and saving the restaurant. 

The latest iteration, opened in fall 2023, honors the previous Culpeppers, with nods to home-cookin', barbecue and fine steaks, but also adds fresh Tex-Mex and margaritas. We love the result — it's fantastic, fun and delicious 

"This place is Texas in a restaurant," says Nicole, our server, succinctly summing up the restaurant. It is. And while this is my first visit, it's like I've been here before. Maybe it's the smell of wood — and history. Or maybe, as Nicole says, it's that Culpepper feels like Texas. 



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