While the Ranchers Club of New Mexico may evoke images of J. R. Ewing holding court with fellow oil barons in Dallas, Albuquerque certainly isn’t Dallas where one’s socioeconomic status is much more flaunted. More than most restaurants in Albuquerque, the Ranchers Club of New Mexico has a sophisticated big city feel in a decidedly westernized milieu. Sophisticated does not necessarily mean haughty and exclusive. The Duke City’s inclusiveness means the lavish Western themed steak palace isn’t so exclusive that only the one-percenters will feel at home. It’s been that way since the Ranchers Club opened in 1985.
Inspired by the rustic elegance of ranch house comfort, the Ranchers Club is the opulent crown jewel of Albuquerque’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on the northeast corner of the Big I interchange. The artwork, saddles, stirrups, lassoes and other western artifacts on the walls, many of them historical in nature, were donated by the ranching community of New Mexico. The stirring black-and-white photographs on the walls were taken by prolific photographer Harvey Caplin. Artwork shares wall space with taxidermy animals. Jutting out from a spoke-shaped multi-layered chandelier are cow’s horns of varying sizes.
At the Ranchers Club, diners are seated in the lap of luxury befitting the special occasion of dining in New Mexico’s most recognized steakhouse. Each table is adorned with silver place settings, fine china, real glassware, linen tablecloths, but what makes a dining experience at the Ranchers Club special is the impeccable service. Table service is provided by a tandem–front server, back server, assistant server–of nattily attired servers under the direction of the captain of your service team. They will take care of all your dining needs and can certainly be trusted to provide savvy recommendations.
The Ranchers Club boasts of imported wood-fired French grills which fire up aromatic wood embers such as mesquite and hickory. Your meal will be prepared on a gridiron, a grilling method which imparts a unique and unusual flavor to the generous portions of meat, seafood and game. It’s a style of grilling reminiscent of the open range cooking of yesteryear. Painstaking attention to detail is obvious in the preparation of each course. The restaurants makes every effort to source verify all their meats, procuring only from the highest quality ranches committed to sustainability. Most of the menu items are obtained within fifty miles of the Ranchers Club, an inspiring commitment to buying local.
Contrary to popular belief, a meal at the Ranchers Club will not break the bank. There are several entrees south of the thirty dollar mark with the most expensive entree being a Wagyu domestic Kobe filet for under eighty dollars.
Start with a Caesar for two and end your meal with Bananas Foster, both prepared table-side by your Captain. Not since New Orleans have we had a better Bananas Foster. The steaks are formidable slabs of prime beef prepared to perfection and offered with your choices of sauces which ameliorate their flavor even more. Sides of vegetables, potatoes and rice, all prepared with flair and imagination accompany every meal.
The Rancher’s Club will probably always be a restaurant for special occasions, but it’s always fun to imagine being wealthy enough to dine there more often.
Rancher’s Club of New Mexico
1901 University, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 12 November 2002
# OF VISITS: 2
BEST BET: Bananas Foster, Porterhouse Steak