Culpepper Cattle Co., the third iteration of the iconic restaurant located in Rockwall, is set to open Friday, September 29. This version of the concept comes from UNCO, the hospitality company behind popular DFW concepts such as HG Sply Co., Leela’s Wine Bar, and HERO by HG Sply Co. Co-CEO of UNCO, Elias Pope, frequented the Culpepper growing up nearby and once the second iteration of the restaurant closed it became a passion project to give it new life.
Pope explains, “Having grown up near Culpepper and now living in Heath, I have many childhood memories eating there with my family. I even took my prom date, my now wife, there 25 years ago for dinner. I couldn’t bear to see it close after all those great memories over the years. It posed an exciting opportunity to take an already iconic restaurant and infuse it with our passion for hospitality.”
The original Culpepper Steakhouse was opened in 1982 by Michael “Dobber” Stephenson and quickly became a special place where the community gathered. Local country music artists would often play at the restaurant including sightings from Waylon Jennings and Randy Travis. In 1992, Bob L. Clements purchased Culpepper and managed it for the next 30 years. He had a vision for finer days and brought the best-known chefs from around the country and introduced fine wines, seafood, and live Jazz to the Rockwall scene. In 2023, UNCO took the reins for its third installment – Culpepper Cattle Co. (C3)
“Culpepper Cattle Co. will still have the essence of what was already magical about the place – the airplane embedded in the wall, the museum-style animals, the river rock lodge inspired fireplaces and columns throughout,” Pope continues, “It’s more than just a restaurant; this place is a tribute to timeless memories, authentic flavors, and the true spirit of Texas.”
The reimagined concept features East Texas provisions including fresh Tex-Mex, USDA prime steaks, and classic Texas home cookin’. The menu was created by consulting chef Danyele McPherson who made sure to keep classic Culpepper menu items that she knew guests would love but also introduce new yet approachable fare like Tex-Mex she knew would also be a hit with guests.
The menu offers appetizers such as Fried Green Tomatoes served with charred poblano ranch; the Crab Stack – fresh lump crab, lime, mango, cucumber, cilantro, and avocado, served with warm tortilla chips; and Nachos with choices of bean and cheese, chicken or fajita steak.
Guests can indulge in entrees including Sizzlin’ Fajitas with choice of chicken, steak, shrimp, combo or the Cadillac with jalapeño cheddar sausage; C.A.B. Filet, Prime Sirloin, Prime Ribeye, The Culpepper Classic – C.A.B. petit filet and fried lobster with mashed potatoes and lemon butter; Smothered Chicken – BBQ glazed chicken breast, jack cheese, caramelized onions and pico served with crispy onion strings; Shrimp Tacos – cajun fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato and remoulade on flour tortillas served with fries; Chicken & Sausage – chicken breast served with jalapeño-cheddar sausage, served with mashed potatoes.
Comforting housemade sides to pair with entrees include crispy onion strings, baked sweet potato, french fries, mashed potatoes, baked potato and mac & cheese.
The drink program focuses on tequila from producers who have a passion for sustainable agave harvesting. Pope says of their margaritas, “We do margaritas the way we enjoyed them in aguas; made with amazing tequila, fresh lime juice and sweetened with a splash of OJ.”
Several margaritas are available with options such as the signature Muchacho Grande – a strong and bold margarita with Arette blanco, cointreau, citrus and freshly squeezed orange juice; Slightly Sandía – watermelon-infused Lunazul blanco, montelobos mezcal, aperol, lime, jalapeño; Lowland – Arette artesanal blanco, cointreau, sotol, lime, green bell pepper, cucumber; Avo-Suave – Lunazul blanco, cointreau, lime, fresh pineapple juice, avocado cordial.
A martini selection is also available featuring drinks like The Cowboy Cosmo, with hibiscus-infused lunazul blanco and cointreau; and the Guavatini – made famous at Tina’s Continental, with New Amsterdam gin, campari, combier pamplemousse, lime, fresh pineapple juice and guava.
A must-have signature cocktail is the Rockwall Riviera, Pope’s take on a Culpepper classic cocktail. Pope explains, “Back in the Dobber days, Culpepper was one of three restaurants on what was dubbed “The Rockwall Riviera”, the Lake Ray Hubbard Shoreline. Those who had the pleasure of visiting remember the great times and perilous hurricanes. In reverence to those days, Hurricanes are back and better than ever as the “Rockwall Riviera”!”
In addition to the regular drink menu, the restaurant will offer a “Legendary Locker” program where guests can become members that have their own personalized liquor lockers displayed prominently in the halls of the restaurant. The “locker legends” can enjoy a locker with a 6-bottle capacity, a locker featured in the Founders Bar, member pricing on all bottles, member-only events, access to rare spirits and wine for a yearly membership fee.
The space has been partially remodeled while keeping the history and quirkiness of the concept intact. UNCO has added a few new elements including warm amber chandeliers, white stucco on the walls, authentic Mexican blankets adorning the walls, and 12 “marker plaques” around the restaurant to give people a chance to explore like they’re at a museum.
The 11,000 square foot dining room seats 420 while the 20,000 square foot of patio seats another 450. Three main bars are throughout the indoor space including “The Beatle Bar” in the main dining area, which is a circular bar said to have originated from The Beatles’ local Caven Club in Liverpool. The “Rattlesnake Bar” in the main bar area takes its name from its origins where they used to serve mice to live rattlesnakes while taking bets at the bar. Lastly, the “Founders Bar” is located downstairs. The patio features one bar, the “Muchacho Grande” serving up margaritas to those dining and drinking outside.
Pope says, “Up to this point, UNCO has only done new concepts. This is our first time purchasing something with such a storied history. We welcome the community to Culpepper Cattle Co., where you’re always in good company.”
Culpepper Cattle Co. will open for dinner Monday – Friday and Brunch, Lunch and Dinner on Saturdays and Sundays