A Taste of Texas
Texas Forts Trail Region ‘Is the Real Texas People Expect to Experience’
Text and photos by Andy Rhodes The Medallion Managing Editor
Sitting next to a crackling fireplace in the timber-lined dining room of his legendary steakhouse, Tom Perini surveys his surroundings and begins smiling. He motions to the perfectly prepared ribeye on the table and the stunning landscape beyond the window, proclaiming, “This is the real Texas people expect to experience. Just look at everything around here— sometimes it feels like we’re still on the edge of the frontier, with all these wide-open spaces and natural gifts. I really don’t think you could find a better place for Texas history and culture.” Indeed, this portion of the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Texas Forts Trail Region near Abilene is known as Big Country for a reason. Its panoramic views and legendary history are colossal. And Perini, a THC commissioner, proudly attests to this enormity.
The legendary Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap
Although he’s internationally known as the proprietor of Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, Perini is also an important cultural ambassador for Texas. A native of the area, he has a deep knowledge and appreciation for its heritage, which he shares with local residents, national visitors, and even foreign dignitaries. In the 1990s, Perini was asked by then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush to cook meals on special occasions. He continued the arrangement when Bush became president, and was once invited to prepare a genuine Texas-style dinner in Crawford for visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Perini, “Putin had never experienced the taste of properly cooked beef, since Russians usually make it well-done.” Although Perini admitted to being nervous about cooking for two of the most powerful men in the world, he managed to prepare a medium-rare steak that he deemed satisfactory.
Scouting the Forts Trail: Frontier Outposts Near Abilene Tell Real Stories of Texas' Past