Once a brothel, Jack’s Bar & Grill is now a must-visit for steak and fries. Opened in 1938 by World War I pilot Jack Young, the restaurant changed hands twice but never lost its charm or popularity. As soon as you open the door, the sound of laughter and merrymaking pour out onto Sacramento Street. Step on in for an unfussy dive-bar-cum-steakhouse that’s run by a group of die-hard employees, many here for over three decades.
It’s dark and cool inside, which is a blessing in the summer when Redding regularly reaches over 100 degrees. Try to get a table at one of the coveted red leather booths topped with a single lamp, white paper placemats, and a plastic basket of Saltines. If you’re lucky, Linda will be your waitress. She’s been here 30 years and loves the place as much as you’ll love the steak.
Yes, do order steak. Don’t worry about appetizers … partly because there aren’t any, and partly because every meal comes with a huge salad and side dish. Ah, the sides! Long, golden-brown French fries; a baked potato that arrives with seasoned skin and 20 pats of butter; chive sour cream that locals know to ask for at the beginning of the meal (to go with the Saltines).
Salad dressings are housemade, and Linda brings you a side of blue cheese dressing even if you don’t order it. It tastes more like a delicious creamy ranch with chunks of blue cheese: great for dipping French fries.
Filet mignon comes lightly charred and tender inside. Jack’s Stack is a stew-like dish with bits of filet, New York strip, and top sirloin sautéed with onion, peppers, and gravy. It’s served over sourdough garlic bread that soaks up the gravy and gets lost in the massive serving of meat. We ended up taking most of Jack’s Stack home. It was even better the next day.
Finally, fried chicken. It is slightly salty, thickly-breaded, and crunchy on the outside: nothing fancy, just good fried chicken.
The staff is like family, and treats regulars as part of the brood. Everyone’s catching up, shaking hands, and hugging. Tourists also tend to stumble in, often loud or sun-kissed after a day at Lake Shasta. The dive-y look is tempered by friendly service.
My parents used to come here before they were married, and it stands true as a perfect spot for date nights—as well as family gatherings and reunions. I can’t wait to go back.