We won’t beat around the bush. Archie’s Waeside serves splendid steak, some of the best in the Midwest, some of the best anywhere in America. The meat is choice and prime; it is hung and dry-aged in a back room of the restaurant. Steaks are grilled so they get a little crusty on the outside. They are overwhelmingly juicy and exude the full, resonating character of corn-fed beef. Even the filet mignon, usually a tender cut that is low on flavor, virtually sings with the authority of blue-ribbon protein. Bone-in ribeye is deliriously succulent. A few years back, at the suggestion of a tipster in the know, we ordered an off-the-menu item, the Benny Weiker, named for a good customer of years ago who used to be a cattle buyer in the Sioux City stockyards. It turned out to be an eighteen-ounce, center-cut, 21-day dry-aged filet mignon that was simply the most handsome piece of meat we have ever seen presented on a plate.
A steak-eaters’ destination since Archie Jackson started it in 1949, Archie’s is now co-owned by Bob Rand, an oenophile who regularly travels to Napa Valley to build the restaurant’s wine list; but if you really want to see his passions rise, get him talking about what exactly makes a great steak. He loves to describe the dry-aging process – how the meat sheds moisture but absorbs the flavors of the marbling – and he will tell you that he believes in cooking a steak at a fairly low temperature (450 degrees), which runs counter to conventional wisdom that says 1000 degrees is what you need to sear it and seal in its juices. All we know is that Archie’s steaks burst with juice when severed with a knife.
Archie’s is a big, happy restaurant with capacious booths and hordes of happy customers who come from miles around to enjoy what is a Siouxland prize.