Look at that marbling! This is the Rolls-Royce of steaks!” a man sitting near me booms, caught in a carnivore’s bliss.
Peggy’s on the Green
128 W. Blanco Road in Boerne
We are burrowed at the bar at Peggy’s on the Green, the Boerne eatery that’s taken the town to a new culinary frontier, and he’d just cut into a prime rib about 2 inches thick, a steak for which Chef Mark Bohanan is renowned. “I feel like a Michelin-starred restaurant has come to Boerne!” he pretty much shouts to everyone in the room.
While impressed by his enthusiasm, I am in my own state of reverie, just having sipped from my margarita. The fresh lime, top-shelf tequila, orange liqueur, and citrus-salt rim comingle deliciously. It’s easy to relax in this handsome barroom adjacent to the main dining room.
While the décor at Peggy’s might suggest the English countryside, the cuisine comes from deep in the heart of Texas.
Outfitted like a Texas gentleman’s parlor, with a coffered ceiling, limestone walls, and cozy couches for tête-á-têtes, it’s as warming to the soul as the tequila. While I’m here tonight to enjoy drinks with a friend, I take mental note: I will come back soon to Peggy’s on the Green, and I will come hungry.
In a few months I return, this time with my husband and children, ages 12 and 8. We are embarking on a family pilgrimage, driving down from Austin for a whole night of it. I’ve reserved the Texas Room at Ye Kendall Inn, the thoughtfully restored 1859 home-turned-historic hotel adjacent to Peggy’s, so that we can all tumble into bed afterward. Nobody should have to drive very far after a steak dinner.
For those of us who don’t live nearby, Peggy’s hits the mark as a destination restaurant—an eatery so good it’s worth a road trip—and its location in a historic little corner of Boerne makes it even more so. The fact that beautiful Cibolo Creek runs just steps away from the restaurant’s welcoming wrap-around porch is icing on the cake.
Before our feast, we check in to Ye Kendall Inn; with an old-timey school desk and a big metal washtub, the Texas Room gives the kids a chance to marvel at how life used to be here. We then venture on to Cibolo Creek, where they get their wiggles out running along the grassy banks. A local man feeding birds offers them scoops of grain for the ducks and mallards, which gulp it out of their hands and honk for more. This blood-pumping outdoor gambol makes an ideal prelude for our meal.
We spruce up for our 6:30 reservation. Peggy’s isn’t fussy, but it is elegant, so I bribe my son with a promise of dessert to swap his Cowboys’ jersey for a button-down. A hostess escorts us through the well-appointed dining room; with its dark wood molding and subdued floral curtains, it feels like an upscale English tavern. Once seated at our table, big white napkins in our laps, we can tell right away we’re in for something special.
While the décor at Peggy’s might suggest the English countryside, the cuisine comes from deep in the heart of Texas. To be precise, it comes from deep in the heart of Bohanan’s family kitchen. Bohanan, San Antonio’s prince of prime beef, has long been equated with the melt-in-your-mouth steaks served at his eponymous steakhouse in downtown San Antonio.
These dishes harken from Bohanan’s childhood in Jourdanton, where he grew up watching his mother and grandmother in the kitchen.
Peggy’s, which he opened in 2016, also stars beef, but in the friendly company of comfort food: flaky buttermilk biscuits with honey butter, smoky pulled-chicken soup, Andouille shrimp and grits. These dishes harken from Bohanan’s childhood in Jourdanton, where he grew up watching his mother and grandmother in the kitchen. Epitomizing this Southern heritage, my son’s rich and creamy mac-n-cheese and my daughter’s maple-glazed pork chops are both served in cast-iron skillets set hot on the table. Such details recall a vision of the country past; you can almost hear a rooster in the yard and the screened-porch door slam.
But, like Boerne, Peggy’s straddles the rural and the urban. San Antonio has grown to meet this town of almost 15,000 people, so much so that it’s unclear where the city ends and the town begins. The food at Peggy’s also blurs boundaries. Take the most popular appetizer on the menu—chicken-fried quail legs atop cornmeal johnny-cakes ($13.95), a Southern interpretation of what might otherwise be known as pancakes. Drizzled with a maple-cayenne syrup that hits the sweet and spicy balance just right, this dish has complex flavors that blow out diners’ expectations of what comfort food can do. And so it is with the cremini mushroom side dish ($12.95), the biggest surprise of the meal. Cooked in a red-wine reduction sauce, these little fungi are so shockingly rich that we say there is no way they could be vegetables. And yet, they are. And the kids gobble them up.
And then there is the service, which strikes a balance between urban polish and small-town bonhomie. Our waitress presents us with a black box of shiny steak knives so we can select our own implements—a small gesture that adds big drama to our experience. And as the sommelier pours our malbec into a shapely carafe, he tells us how he moved to Boerne from San Antonio before Peggy’s, but its opening has been like a dream come true. “I get world-quality wines and food,” he tells us, “but here in a beautiful town. It’s the best of both worlds.”
And what about my prime rib, the carnivore experience I had been waiting for ever since my first visit? My mesquite-smoked cut of Allen Brothers’ Beef, the premium meat purveyors from Chicago, is tender throughout, with a taste so complex I can’t help but close my eyes while I chew.
As the grand finale, we fork into a silky slice of chess pie. Decked out with salted caramel and whipped cream, it’s a snazzed-up version of the pies I imagine once graced the windowsills at Bohanan’s mother’s house. Drowsy with contentment, the four of us walk next door to our room and surrender to our comfortable beds. Peggy’s had earned its title as a destination restaurant—and it now has a respected place in the family memory book.