A Meat Lover’s Guide to Eating in Austin, Part 1

Most of us on the Niman Ranch team like to make sure we’re eating at the right restaurants, whether at home or while traveling. This includes restaurants that follow some or all of the following criteria:

  • Are small or locally-owned
  • Serve up sustainable meat and produce
  • Offer a creative menu

Searching for these types of restaurants can take time, though, so it’s best to find a comprehensive guide that does all the work for you.

We spent some time touring Austin, Texas, building you a list of the right restaurants. Lone Star Foodservice, our local distributor, pointed us in the direction of Austin’s finest and funnest eateries to achieve this task. From pork belly sushi to cheeseburgers and pork chops, this two-part food adventure series is the perfect guide to eating in Austin!

 Counter Cafe

Counter Cafe Steak and Eggs
Steak & Eggs at Counter Cafe.

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Profile of a Female Rancher: Jeannie McCormack

Photo courtesy of the American Lamb Board


We’d like to share the story of Jeannie McCormack, Niman Ranch’s first ever lamb producer. Her family ranch was originally founded in the hills of California in 1896 by Jeannie’s grandfather, Dan McCormack, and had been run by her father, Wallace, since 1934. This makes her the third generation to care for the land.

Jeannie and her husband, Al Medvitz, returned home to raise sheep after living for 15 years in Boston and Africa. When they arrived at the McCormack Family Cattle Ranch in October of 1987, Jeannie started working in the sheep barn learning about lambing from her father’s Peruvian sheepherder. Al started driving tractor under the tutelage of John Lopez, a man in his 70’s who had worked for her father since he was a boy.

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Pew Charitable Trusts: Preserving Antibiotics for the Future

In the pre-antibiotic era, doctors were taught that they could not change the course of their patients’ illnesses. Their job, instead, was to make an accurate diagnosis so they could give an accurate prognosis to their patients. When antibiotics came along in the 1940’s, it totally revolutionized things. They are undoubtedly responsible for saving millions of human lives.

Unfortunately, inappropriate use of antibiotics could be threatening their ability to cure. As mentioned by Dr. Lance Price during his presentation at one of our conferences this past year, the conventional livestock industry’s low dose use of antibiotics is partially responsible for drug-resistant bacteria emerging on farms. This is thought to reach the general population through human or animal carriers, and through the food consumers eat.

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The How’s and Why’s of Dry Aging Meat

There’s nothing quite like biting into a juicy, flavor-filled steak. It’s something that any meat lover longs to enjoy for dinner, and something that apparently gets better the longer you wait.  The process of aging meat requires an ample amount of patience, both with wet aging and dry aging, but this patience adds an undeniable amount of flavor and texture to any cut.

Many of our distributors and chefs are into dry aging, but the practice has been a mystery to many, both the method and meaning. You’ll find that a dry aged cut of steak is far more expensive than your average steak, which is due to the meticulous care that goes into the lengthy process. This great article by Eater Dallas sheds light on what incredible things Chef John Tesar is doing at Knife in Dallas, TX with Niman Ranch beef. Also check out this video put together last year by Bon Appetit about DeBragga & Spitler in New York, another one of our partners who dry age our beef. We’re a big fan of what they’re both doing to bring you the finest tasting meat in the world.

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California’s Proposition 2 and the Rise of the Cage-Free Egg

eggs-685x1024As with pork, beef and lamb, our eggs are laid by hens raised with all vegetarian feed, in housing approved by the Humane Farm Animal Care and American Humane Certified programs (cage-free) and are never-ever given antibiotics. This means they’re humanely raised, cage-free eggs that don’t contain the chemicals and medicines you find in most store-bought eggs.

Now, all egg producers selling in California have less than four months to establish similar, more humane standards for laying hens because of Proposition 2, also known as the California Standards for Confining Farm Animals Act. This new law will go into effect on January 1, 2015, so we’d like to share some information on what makes this proposition worth talking about.

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Save Time This Holiday to Give Thanks

Thnxgiving-DayThe fourth Thursday of November is not just all about the food; it’s traditionally a time to give thanks and build memories with loved ones. Our immediate outpouring of gratitude always seems to focus on families and friends, the turkey, stuffing and afternoon football. But Thanksgiving is also a time to give thanks for all of the great, influential people in our lives.

That being said, we’d like to thank our independent family farmers, all of whom work hard every day, year after year to make sure their land and animals are treated as well as possible. Regardless of corn prices, gas prices or weather, our farmers and ranchers continue to practice farming traditions they believe are right. They’re able to pass land onto their children, help mitigate environmental issues like soil erosion and raise animals that are happy and healthy. For this, we are thankful every day of the year.

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Eat A Burger, Fund A Farmer

Marczyk-Burger-NightMarczyk Fine Foods in Denver, CO has hosted Burger Night from Memorial Day to Labor Day since they opened back in 2002. This is their signature event, and it’s been said that they only shut down if the rain is hard enough to put out the coals. Both their locations offer Niman Ranch beef patties with outdoor seating – the perfect way to spend a summer evening.

Pete Marczyk, founder and owner, hosted their first Burger Night for charity three years ago. The event was so successful, he felt the need to look for more meaningful opportunities. When asked why they chose the Next Generation Scholarship Fund, Pete reflected: “As we were planning for the future and how we could work more closely with our partners, it occurred to us that the Next Generation Scholarship Fund was the charity we felt most connected to, and the one we wanted to participate in most meaningfully as a staff.”

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St. Petersburg Area Chefs Support Young Farmers

Parkshore Birchwood Fundraiser 2
Chef Jason Cline, left, and Chef Tyson Grant, right

On August 28th, Chef Tyson Grant of the Parkshore Grill and Chef Jason Cline of The Birchwood joined culinary forces to raise money for the Next Generation Scholarship Fund in St. Petersburg, Florida. Tyson, who first came up with the concept, hosts several fundraisers at the Parkshore Grill each the year. “As chefs, we really love doing these kinds of events,” says Tyson. “When we can successfully put something together and raise money at the same time, it’s fun for us.”

The Parkshore Grill was the first Niman Ranch-branded restaurant in the Tampa area, starting back in 2007. With Jason now serving our products just blocks away, Tyson felt it was only natural to work together. He even was the one to suggest we invite Jason as a featured chef to the Farmer Appreciation Dinner, where Tyson himself was featured just a few years back. Jason was ultimately chosen this year, and he did a spectacular job in Iowa highlighting Niman Ranch pork with his gorgonzola & candied bacon-stuffed meatloaf entrée.

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