Standing in a clearing in the Texas Hill Country at Y.O. Ranch, it’s almost possible to feel like you’ve suddenly landed in 1880 where cars, televisions, and smartphones just don’t exist. As a working ranch with a generations-long history, the Y.O. is the biggest family-owned ranch in Texas. It covers an idyllic 50-square miles in an area of the state that’s both rustic and beautiful.
If you come to Texas as a visitor, one of the first things you experience is the widespread love of family, tradition, and great food. In Texas, sitting around the table each evening isn’t just something you’d see in an old sitcom from the 50s. People gather around the table each night to celebrate food and family, and that’s a tradition celebrated at the Y.O. Ranch and Dallas Steakhouse.
The Y.O. Brand: Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow
The Schreiner family came into the Y.O. Brand in 1880 with Captain Schreiner’s purchase of the ranch, but the brand actually has a history that stretches back before the Civil War, when Texas was still an independent Republic and hadn’t yet joined the United States.
How did the ranch come to be known as the “Y.O.” so many years ago?
The Y.O. brand was the creation of a man named Youngs Olsten Coleman. When Captain Schreiner bought the ranch, he kept the official name that was branded on the cattle and made his fortune driving cattle north to Dodge City. A classic story of early ranching life in frontier Texas.
Family businesses often change hands over the years or become owned by faceless corporate entities, but that’s not the case with the Y.O. Incredibly, the ranch has been family-owned and operated by the Schreiner family since 1880 with the original purchase of the ranch.
Almost 20 members of the Schreiner family help operate the ranch today, but the focus isn’t on just getting cattle up to Dodge City anymore. Now, the family’s 19 family members work to provide visitors to the ranch with outdoor recreation and hunting, as well as the amazing food at the Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse.
The Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse: Bringing the Ranch to the Dallas Steak Restaurant
The steakhouse’s heritage is strongly connected to the traditions and history of the ranch, so when you sit down for a meal, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported back a century. Beautiful brick arches and warm candlelit tables create the perfect relaxing environment for an amazing steakhouse experience.
It’s impossible to separate the rustic appeal of the ranch from the same experience you get at the steakhouse. The charm, character, and flavor of your experience is modeled on how you might feel walking amidst the wildlife and peaceful rural hills of the Y.O. The furnishings in the steakhouse actually come from the ranch! Throughout the entire restaurant you’ll see chairs, tables, doors, art and pictures from the ranch. The walls are full of longhorns and antlers, and even the walls enclosing the private dining rooms were restored from an old barn on The Y.O. Ranch.
Why is the connection between the ranch and restaurant so strong?
Most notably, the items you see on the menu at the steakhouse are prepared with herbs and spices used to season the meat come from century-old recipes used at the ranch. Since the ranch’s owner is also co-owner of the restaurant, that makes it easy to see why the character and history of the ranch shine through in the menu and décor at the restaurant.
Whether you experience an adventure at the ranch first or have your first taste of Y.O. hospitality at the steakhouse, you’ll notice the friendly charm and hospitality permeate every facet of the Y.O. brand. The Y.O. Ranch, its traditions, and its history are just a few of the reasons why people love visiting Texas Hill Country. What better accompaniment to the region’s incredible wildflowers and sunsets than a classic Texas ranch?
Your Adventures at the Ranch
After a friendly, delicious meal at the steakhouse, you can continue your true Texas ranch experience with a visit to where it all started: The Y.O. Ranch. Bring the kids for a visit to the Y.O. Adventure Camp or experience the wildlife and hunting opportunities on 40,000 acres where dozens of species and big game roam.
Wildlife Conservation and Tours
The introduction of exotic wildlife to the Y.O. occurred in the 1950s when Charles Schreiner III decided to bring herds of deer, sheep, and antelope to live at the ranch. Today, some of the herds of exotic animals actually outnumber those found in their native countries.
Want to see over 60 species of exotic wildlife including giraffes and zebras? Want to witness herds of blackbuck antelope and aoudad sheep roaming the hilly grasslands of Texas Hill Country? You’ll want to catch one of the daily wildlife tours. See “Africa in Texas” up-close, and personal.
If you’ve dreamed of roaming the savannahs of Africa but haven’t been able to travel that great distance, visiting the Y.O. with your camera is one way to experience the excitement of seeing big game in a domestic setting.
America’s Original Game Ranch
In addition to operating as the preeminent wildlife conservation ranch in Texas, the Y.O. also hosts opportunities for trophy hunters. Veteran hunters say the ranch is one of the best places in the country for fair chase hunting.
What is fair chase hunting? It’s a sportsman-like approach to hunting where the hunter isn’t given a big advantage over his quarry. The hunter respects the life of the animal and the land by following a personal code of ethics for fair chase hunting.
One of the reasons why the ranch is so well-known for its hunting opportunities is because of its size. The ranch welcomes hunters from across the globe with many visitors choosing to come back year after year for a new experience.
Y.O. and Its Longhorns
Original owner Capital Schreiner was able to purchase the land on which the Y.O. stands today after his successes in driving 300,000 head of longhorns to Dodge City. Did you know you can see what it was like on the trail over a hundred years ago with a custom longhorn trail drive?
Spend anywhere from a half day to two days on an actual trail drive. There aren’t many things that are more “Texas” than a herd of longhorns. Whether you root for the Aggies or the Longhorns, just about everyone in Texas can agree that longhorns and ranches are an icon of the state.
Vacation on the Ranch
Want to bring the family away from the urban sprawl for the summer vacation? Have you ever stayed on a ranch? The Y.O has room for families traveling in an RV, as well as places for tent camping. If you want to experience the authenticity of living in an 1880s style cabin, the Y.O. makes it easy to experience the rustic feel of a true working ranch with a few luxuries like a hot tub and swimming pool.
You can also think about timing your visit to coincide with a fun ranch event like Adventure Camp or one of the Basic Hunting Camps held in June and July each year. The kids might also like to attend Junior Guide School for a few weeks in the summer or the JROTCC program in June.
Take the Y.O. Home With You
If you’re lucky enough to live within easy driving distance of the Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse in Dallas, you can enjoy the authentic Texas-style steakhouse whenever you want. If it’s a bit of a drive for you to reach the ranch or the steakhouse, you can take a little part of the Y.O. Ranch experience home with you with a gift from the official shop.
One of the first things people miss when they leave Texas is the food. There are dishes in Texas that you can’t find anywhere else, and when you do find them, they’re just pale imitations. Certainly, no other state does steak like Texas. Whether you’re a native or a visitor, you’ll want to experience the traditions and history of the Y.O. Ranch with a wildlife adventure at the ranch and a visit to one of the state’s most authentic steakhouse experiences.