Where’s The Beef?

Review of Cardenas Markets’ T-bone steaks

Cardenas Markets is a relatively small chain of mid size Mexican supermarkets in California. They have regular groceries, an expanded section of Mexican and Latino groceries, as well as a bakery and deli which offers a small variety of hot meals. I discovered it when it joined Instacart during the first year of the pandemic. I have since ordered from it occasionally, it’s the only market serviced by Instacart that carries empanada shells (albeit the Goya brand).

I don’t usually order beef at Cardenas – though I was very happy with the beef chuck I got from them over the summer -, but their T-bone steaks were on sale ($6/lb), so I decided to give them a try. I was grossly disappointed.

A T-bone steak gets its name from the T-shape form in which the vertebra is cut. It includes a strip steak on one side, and a filet mignon or tenderloin in the other. It’s supposed to let you indulge in the tenderness of the filet and the flavorfulness of the strip, without having to compromise for either. They are supposed to look like the photo below, which I took from the Cardenas page at Instacart. What I got, is what you can see in the photo above. It was basically a bone-in strip steak with little to no tenderloin. I felt ripped off – $6/lb is super cheap for a T-bone (but supermarkets often have loss leaders), but I still expect to get a T-bone when I order a T-bone. If you are going to put a photo of a T-bone and call it a T-bone, make it a T-bone

Cardenas Beef T-Bone Steak
The second problem was that the steak was cut very thin. As Cardenas does not indicate the grade of meat they sell, I’m going to guess they are “select,” the grade with the least marbling and therefore toughest meat. If these are particularly tough, it makes sense that they cut them thin. But be forewarned that that’s what you get.

Now, flavor-wise they weren’t bad. They were pretty generic, tasty steaks. The type I did grow up eating as everyday fair for lunch without giving it much thought. Nowadays I expect a little more from a steak, of course, though for $6/lb perhaps I shouldn’t.

In all, I wouldn’t buy them again.



Note: the link to Instacart is a referral link, if you subscribed immediately after you click on it, I might get $10 credit and you would as well. You probably can get a better deal elsewhere, though.

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