There are many different ways that the legacy of Texas Jack Omohundro is obvious in the world today. Texas Jack's Wild West Outfitters in Fredericksburg, Texas, is named after the famous cowboy turned actor. Memorial signs in Palmyra, Virginia, where Texas Jack was born, and Leadville, Colorado, where he died remind visitors of the outsized role Jack played in the popularization of the cowboy in American history. Posters, playbills, and some of Jack's guns fill museums and private collections across the country. And in Washington D.C., two restaurants are named after and pay homage to America's first cowboy star.
Texas Jack's BBQ in Arlington and the new Jack's Ranch in Tysons celebrate the legacy of one of America's most renowned frontiersmen in the most appropriate way, with Texas-style beef barbeque and good drinks. Texas Jack was a fan of both. It was the longing for beef by easterners that sent Jack to Texas from his home in Fluvanna County to find his fortune, and that earned him his name when a group of hungry easterners dubbed him "Texas Jack" when he arrived at the head of a herd of longhorn cattle to feed the hungry citizens. Jack himself got his start as a cattleman cooking for other cowboys at Sam Allen's ranch on Buffalo Bayou, so he would appreciate what the culinary artists at Jack's Ranch can do with a set of beef ribs or a full packer brisket.
Jack's Ranch, like Texas Jack's BBQ, was founded by Steve Roberts. When he was preparing to open a barbeque restaurant in Virginia, he went looking for a name, knowing only that he wanted to honor his father, Jack. A late-night Google search led Steve to Texas Jack Omohundro—a famous Texas cowboy, named Jack, born just over 100 miles from Steve's new restaurant. It seemed like the perfect fit. But the more Steve learned about Texas Jack, the more he identified with him. Steve's father, Jack, was a western man, who competed in rodeos back home in Montana. With Jack's Ranch, Steve wanted to celebrate the parallel stories of two Jacks, his father and John Omohundro. Steve also wanted to celebrate Texas Jack's wife, the beautiful Italian prima ballerina Giuseppina (or Josephine) Morlacchi. The restaurant's styling and decor were all selected with an eye to the shared lives of Texas Jack and the Peerless Morlacchi, who lived together at their farmhouse in Billerica, Massachusetts.
To cater to what Texas Jack referred to as "you 'beef-eaters' of the rest of the country," Jack's ranch features slow-cooked Texas prime brisket, Black Angus short ribs, St. Louis pork ribs, pulled pork, beef sausage, and smoked chicken, all issuing from the restaurant's pair of SP-700 Southern Pride smokers. To reflect Josephine's Italian influence, the menu also includes several pasta selections, four brick-oven pizzas, charcuterie, and cheeses.
The first trip Texas Jack made to the D.C. area with Buffalo Bill and their dramatic combination was in May of 1873, where The Scouts of the Prairie played at Wall's Opera House. Jack's family made the trip up from Palmyra, and Jack's youngest brother, Malvern, later wrote that "Jack paid all expenses. Not one of us was allowed to spend a cent for anything." It's easy to picture the hospitality and charm of Texas Jack when sitting down for a delicious meal of Texas-style barbeque at the restaurant that celebrates him and bears his name—Jack's Ranch.