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Hit The Road with Chet Garner

We Brake for Steak

There’s no need for menus at the Leona General Store

In my line of work, it’s normal to pass through a small town with ailing buildings and few visible signs of life. It isn’t normal for one of those old wooden storefronts to have a line 150 Texans long, stretching clear into the next parking lot. I pulled over to find out what was happening at the Leona General Store, and after someone told me it was steak night, I had no choice but to get in line.

This special event on Friday and Saturday nights draws hordes from hundreds of miles to this vintage storefront on Texas 75 in Leona, less than a mile off Interstate 45, midway between Dallas and Houston. When the doors opened, the small store swallowed the entire line as folks spread across the creaking wooden floor. The walls are covered with knickknacks and farming equipment, just as you’d expect inside a 100-year-old general store.

Part of the magic of “the best little steakhouse in Texas” is its simplicity. There’s no written menu since they’re known for one entrée: rib-eye steaks. Each one is hand cut and cooked over hot coals. Everyone gets the same sides and salad bar.

The only choice customers make is how big they want their steak. The smallest is 10 ounces, and the largest ever eaten was more than 90 ounces. I decided to let that record stand and ordered a 12-ounce steak, which was at least 16 ounces. They admittedly don’t weigh anything in the back, which works to the customer’s benefit.

Owners Jerry and Cynthia House made laps through the building, making sure everyone was happy and well-fed. The steak was certainly one of the best I’ve ever eaten, but it’s the small-town hospitality that will keep me and hundreds of my closest friends coming back.