Tom Perini

This cattleman and restaurateur serves some of the best steak in Texas.

Penny De Los Santos

Tom Perini is as deeply rooted in the Texas soil as any of the centuries-old mesquite trees scattered across his 600-acre ranch, smack in the middle of the state. He has been a cattleman since 1965, when at age 22 he took over the family business; in the years since, he has weathered the ups and downs of the beef industry, mastered the art of open-range cooking, made dinner for the Bushes, and turned a former hay barn on his property into the Perini Ranch Steakhouse, which serves what may be the best steaks in Texas, which is to say the best steaks almost anywhere. My husband, a Texas native, and I celebrated our anniversary last winter by making the thousand-mile round-trip drive from our home in New Mexico just to eat honest steaks cut from Texas steer and prepared according to Perini's recipes: whole prime rib pit-roasted over burning embers; bone-in rib eye rubbed with salt, garlic, and pepper and flame-seared; lean and tender strip steaks with a cracked-peppercorn crust served with bacon-flecked green chile hominy. The meal made me want to move to Texas and made my husband wish he'd never left.