After having a brief look around Fort Worth’s historic stockyard area, it was time to meet my classmate Tom from DeVeaux School, a former all boys college preparatory school in Niagara Falls New York. There were 27 of us in the graduating class of 1961…
After some research, I’d chosen the H3 Ranch Restaurant as our place to meet, have dinner and catch up on the last couple of years. We last saw Tom and his wife Margie at our reunion back in the fall of 2015.
H3 Ranch (Live Hickory Wood Grill) was founded by descendants of the Hunter brothers. In the 1800s, 3 brothers emigrated to the U.S.A. from Ayre County Scotland with their parents. William, Robert and David Hunter enjoyed America’s Old West and they took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to them. The brothers owned the H3 Ranch in Nebraska…hence the name of the restaurant…
Laurie and I were still a little early so we stopped by Booger Red's Saloon, part of the H3 Restaurant. Located next door, Booger Red's is named in honor of the legendary Texas bronc-busting champion Samuel Thomas Privett (1858-1926).
Samuel was born during the Civil War in central Texas. His parents were ranchers and they called him "Little Red" because he had a shock of bright red hair. At the age of 13, he was disfigured by an explosion when he and some other boys stuffed a hole in a tree trunk full of gunpowder and lit a fuse in it. When the attempt to create a firework didn't immediately catch fire, the boys went to check on it. It exploded, killing one of them and riddling Red's face with burns and wood splinters, thus creating the nickname "Booger Red"…and that nickname stuck with him. He was the most famous bronc rider of his day and was in high demand for touring shows. It’s said that he was never thrown from a bronc!
Some folks dined inside the bar. There were tables by the front window as well as along the wall across from the bar. Note the taxidermy mountain lion over the door to the main dining room.
More about the 3 Hunter brothers…the inspiration for the H3 Restaurant. The youngest, David, joined the Union Army in 1861 at the age of 17 and fought with General William T. Sherman during the historic March to the Sea. Robert, the eldest, and his brother William prospected for gold in Colorado and Arizona during the Gold Rush years of the mid-1860s.
After hunting buffalo for the railroad, in 1873 the brothers cofounded Hunter and Evans, a livestock commission company, with offices in Ft. Worth, East St. Louis, Illinois and Kansas City. The Ft. Worth offices were located in the developing Stockyards District. When the railroad linked Ft. Worth to other major cities in 1876, Hunter and Evans organized Texas’ first railway shipment of cattle to market. By 1884, their livestock commission company owned or leased 11,464,000 acres of land and 386,000 head of cattle. Included in these holdings were the three Hunter brothers' ranch operations, distinguished by the H3 brand.
As long as we’re looking at stuffed critters on the wall, and there are plenty of them, it’s fitting to talk about Booger Red’s special beer. It’s called Buffalo Butt Beer and it was named for the aft end of the bison that is prominently mounted in the center of Booger Red's bar. (Check out the first photo of the bar…)
The Hunter brothers lived and worked as farmers in Macoupin County Illinois until they were recruited by William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody to hunt buffalo for the continental railroad. On one occasion, surrounded by an attentive audience, William Hunter remarked that an ice-cold beer was the only thing that could make him forget his often viewed sight of a buffalo's butt! A local brew master, who had had a few beers himself, loved the ‘tale’ and vowed to create Buffalo Butt Beer in order to commemorate the posterior of the prairie's most majestic beast.
The main dining room at H3 Restaurant is large and fairly rustic, with lots of room between tables. The big grill dominates one end of the room with the smell of grilled and smoked meat wafting over the tables. This is an old building…note the metal patches on the old wood floors. I couldn’t locate any information about the age of the building despite the fact that it’s in the Stockyards Historic District.
The first section of the on-line menu is loaded with grilled meat…primarily steaks although there was a 12 oz. pork chop ($31.95). The steaks run the gamut from a 12 oz. Cowtown Sirloin ($29.95) on up to an 18 oz. bone-0n ribeye steak. ($46.95) None of us went for the steaks. Laurie and I like my grilled steaks at home and we rarely order them when we’re out to eat.
Tom went for a special item on the menu, the Brisket with beans and a baked potato. He really liked his dinner and he took some home with him!
Margie decided that she’d do a bit of surf and turf for her dinner, ordering the ribs and shrimp combination…3 ribs and 3 char-grilled jumbo shrimp with French fries. ($21.95) She was another happy camper!
A number of menu options were listed under “Cowtown Favorites”. These included Rainbow Trout, Chicken Fried Steak, Spit Roasted Pig, Fried Catfish, Spit Roasted Chicken, Cedar Planked Salmon and Alaskan King Crab. Prices for these items ranged from $16.95 for the catfish up to $46.95 for the King Crab.
Laurie was on her fasting diet, (Delay, Don’t Deny), so she ate a relatively light dinner. After a nice big dinner salad ($6.95), she ordered a 4 oz. Lobster Tail basted, char-grilled and served with lemon butter. ($13.95) She is always happy with lobster!
She ordered her lobster from a portion of the menu entitled “Great Steak Additions”. Other items available as ‘steak sides’ include shrimp, ribs, a mushroom and onion combo, onion rings, sautéed onions and sautéed mushrooms.
For my dinner, it was all about those 3 meaty ribs and a couple of links of pork sausage with French fries and baked beans. ($18.95) The ribs were very good if not great and I really liked those sausage links. They were a quality change from the normal grilled meats.
In case you’re wondering, although the menu starts out with those steaks, there are a number of appetizers or starter options available under a section that is called “Short Orders”. These include tortilla soup, nachos, guacamole, glazed roasted chicken thighs, a multi-layered dip with chips, tacos, ribs, a quesadilla, salsa and chips, poblanos con queso and a couple of combination plates.
These are our dining companions, Tom and Margie. What I didn’t know is that they lived almost up at the Texas Oklahoma state line near Denton Texas. They had a heck of a drive just to meet us for dinner. If I’d realized how far away they lived, we’d have looked for a place between our hotel and their house so we could at least meet half way. Thanks to Tom and Margie for meeting us in Fort Worth!
Here are a couple of old classmates from the class of 1961…Tom and yours truly. It’s fair to note that we were both from northern states but that in retirement, we’ve both sought the warmth of the south. It had been about 20 months since we’d last broken bread together but it won’t be too long before the class gets together in Nashville Tennessee for our 56th reunion. DeVeaux School may be long gone but our memories of this formative place live on with all of us…
As for H3 Restaurant, we thought that it was above average in all respects…serving plentiful meats that were well prepared. I especially appreciated the fact that the menu covers a wide range of prices. Diners can drop big bucks or they can keep a lid on their wallets. H3 Restaurant and Booger Red’s Saloon are located at 105 East Exchange Avenue in Fort Worth Texas. Phone: 817-624-1246. Website: http://h3ranch.com/.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by to see what was for dinner!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave