In the past 20 years that Tico’s Steak House has been around, there has been a trend towards eating less red meat. But people still get that craving for a good steak, and Tico’s Steak House in Jackson serves them up with style and elegance.
Tico Hoffman, owner of Tico’s Steak House, said a memorable steak starts with getting top quality beef. The restaurant purchases corn-fed beef out of Chicago. It is fresh, never frozen. It has been aged for 21 days, and it is hand cut.
“We haven’t changed any of that in more than 20 years,” Hoffman said. “Obviously, we have a pretty good eye on the quality. It is cooked with an overhead gas broiler at 1,800 degrees. The high temperature seals the juices inside the steak. And we serve it on a hot plate.”
One change over the years has been the serving size. Smaller sizes of steaks are offered. Eighty percent of people order their steak medium rare, 10 percent well done and only 5 percent rare.
“Most people want a warm, red center,” Hoffman said.
It used to be only 16-ounce steaks were served, and now 12- and eight-ounce steaks are also an option. That is good because you are going to want to save some room for the side dishes. One of the most popular sides is potatoes au gratin. Potatoes are boiled, cut up, chilled overnight and cooked with cheese sauce. There are also baked potatoes for the traditionalists and skillet potatoes with onions.
“Our creamed spinach au gratin is also very popular,” Hoffman said. “A lot of people like our broiled tomatoes, which have a simple syrup on top. We also sell a lot of sautéed mushrooms. Asparagus and broccoli are also favorites.”
One tip is that the sides are so large, couples often ask to have them split, which the kitchen staff is happy to do.
Steak is obviously the main draw, but there is also the option of live Maine lobster. And a “sleeper” choice is the 12-ounce pork chop.
Tico’s is a white tablecloth restaurant, but Hoffman says you don’t have to dress up.
“It is casual, but efficient,” he said. “We have friendly, home style service.”
The restaurant has cedar walls and a high-beamed ceiling with décor that is reminiscent of a hunting lodge. Years ago when Henry Holman sold Jitney Jungle, he had an elk head in his office. Holman, a frequent diner at Tico’s, offered the elk head to Tico’s because his wife wouldn’t let him put it in the house. That led to others offering their hunting trophies. There is also a sailfish on the wall that was caught by Hoffman.
Hoffman attributes a lot of the restaurant’s success to long-time employees. Manager Christy Baswick has been with Tico’s from day one, and manager Sherril Widdig has been with them 16 years. Two of the main cooks, Caleb Williams and Sharon White, have been there more than 15 years.
Hoffman enjoys visitors from out of town and out of state, but is also proud of being a local’s favorite.
“You get to meet all kinds of interesting people,” Hoffman said. “A lot of our customers are repeat customers.”
»» Tidbits: Tico’s Steak House, 1536 East County Line Road, 601-956-1030, Average price meal for two: $75 to $100.
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