Just weeks after debuting as an Italian eatery last fall, Jack’s Ranch suddenly went into the dark in January to rethink what Tysons Corner really wanted from the 11,000-square-foot newcomer. Turns out the mouth-watering beef beat bolognese.
Owner Steve Roberts, who also runs popular Arlington Texas barbecue restaurant Jack, will restart Jack’s Ranch on Friday, May 20, as a dedicated smoker for Central Texas-style grilling (1755 Tysons Central Street).
“What I analyzed is that what customers want is what we are very good at — they said they serve us smoked meats,” says Roberts, who steps in as lead to lead the reboot focused on barbecue.
Jack’s Ranch is also reopening its dining room next week without the original celebrity chef Declan Horgan. The Dublin-born finalist on season 19 of Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen The former executive chef at Kirwan’s on the Wharf recently moved elsewhere in Virginia, and is now at the helm of Rebellion Bourbon Bar + Kitchen in Fredericksburg. Alejandro Guerra, a Tysons hospitality veterinarian who opened Eddie V’s and Agora, is stepping up from his role as executive chef to lead the kitchen at Jack’s Ranch.
After a five-month hiatus, the revised restaurant is back with what Roberts calls “Cadillac” barbecue equipment: two SP-700 Southern Pride smokers that took time to approve. The large stainless-steel machinery will be tasked with dispatching premium Texas braised brisket, black angus short ribs, St. Louis pork ribs, pulled pork, beef, and smoked chicken. The generous portions of pulled pork and prime brisket also build a portion of sandwiches and burgers.
“We want to serve up the best barbecue, like you just got off the plane in Austin,” says Roberts.
He did so literally in April, traveling to the heart of Texas to get new tips and tricks for smokers from two of his toughest Austin friends: Leroy Lewis and Ricky Rodriquez of Stiles Switch BBQ.
“They have long been doing things right and have continued to tweak their own techniques. We take modern Austin barbecue and apply it to what we already know to create something amazing,” he says.
The list also shows a love for other popular Austin attractions. Smoked-meat-covered “Cyber Truck” nachos in “2-Motor” or “4-Motor” sizes pay homage to Elon Musk’s anticipated electric truck being built at Tesla’s new Austin Automobile plant. SXSW smoked beef pizza comes with homemade barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese.
Sampled meat dishes allow diners to choose a suitable barbecue side such as macaroni and cheese, cornbread and grilled broccolini. To play up Tex-Mex ties with regional barbecue style, there are tacos topped with Cotija cheese, grilled corn with eskets sauce, and a “Texas Twinkie” consisting of jalapenos wrapped with bacon and stuffed with brisket and cream cheese. Roberts credits other legendary Texan cooks at Lockert and Elgin for inspiring barbecues.
Despite the name that brings southwestern cuisine to mind, Jack’s Ranch was originally intended for regional Italian cooking. Roberts, honoring American cowboy John B. Omohondro’s Texas Jack, opened Jack Ranch as a poem for Omohondro’s Italian wife, Josephine Morlachi, a ballerina and actress from Milan.
Jack’s Ranch 2.0 omits dishes like foie gras gnocchi bomba and Calabrian sausage-covered oysters, but a little piece of its original identity lives on with three pastas, four brick-oven pizzas and a charcuterie and cheese.
He says the carved section of an Italian restaurant that hasn’t come off the ground is likely to be turned into a meat market.