If you're looking for big food, you need The Big Steer. Located at 1715 Adventureland Drive in Altoona, this family owned and operated restaurant has been in business for over 25 years. Even before we moved to the Des Moines area, we had eaten at The Big Steer several times. It had been awhile since our last visit though, so we ditched the turkey leftovers and headed to Altoona the Friday after Thanksgiving.
If you're a little confused about the location, look for this giant steer out front. It's quite the local landmark.
The Big Steer has a nice little bar right off the entrance. On busy Friday and Saturday nights it gets pretty packed, but the bartenders are friendly and quick to get you a drink. They feature several cocktails, beer, wine and even ice cream drinks for after dinner.
We went with our usual pre-dinner vodka tonic.
The decor at The Big Steer is decidely midwestern steakhouse - we've been in several steakhouses in Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota that look very similar. An upscale 'fine-dining' experience it's not, but you'll get an impressive quality meal, exactly what a steakhouse should be.
They offer a wide variety of menu items - everything from appetizers, fish, seafood, Iowa pork including ribs, fried chicken, a few Italian dishes, and sandwiches. But their claim to fame is beef and their specialty is "Iowa's Finest Prime Rib of Beef," so yeah, we ordered beef.
We started off with a half order of onion rings. Yes - that is a HALF order pictured below. These onion rings are thinly sliced, lightly battered and crispy fried - and you get a lot of 'em. They were tasty.
We each had the house salad - crisp, cold greens tossed in just the right amount of creamy house dressing. I love the little bits of melba toast throughout the salad. You're also treated to a mini-loaf of fresh bread - it's always hot from the oven, a nice touch.
I ordered the 16 oz. ribeye - it was huge! Grilled exactly right with a deep pink center, it had the perfect bits of charbroiled goodness that set off that melt-in-your-mouth beef flavor.
And what else would you have but The Big Steer's famous au gratin potatoes? Full of chunks of salty ham and covered in cheese, these really are a swoonworthy side dish.
Grant had the signature Prime Rib of Beef. It was a big hunk of beautifully marbled beef, expertly prepared to a rosy pink medium rare. They have really mastered the art of roasting beef.
A side of hash browns with onions and Grant was good to go.
We needed a big red wine to accompany all of that beefy deliciousness, so we enjoyed this bottle of Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel.
And I really have to mention the superb service - our server, and I feel bad that I did not ask for her name, was outstanding. She gave us time to finish our drinks and take a look at the menu, made sure not to put our order in until we were done with our appetizer, checked on us when needed - I was very impressed at her ability to give us a great dining experience.
The Big Steer also features Daily Specials - you'll find Walleye on Tuesday nights, Filet & Crab Stuffed Shrimp on Fridays, and their long running Saturday night special is Filet & Lobster. Check their Facebook page for more details.
Don't hesitate to try dinner at The Big Steer - even though it's not a fancy place, you'll get great food and excellent service. Let us know if you go!
The Big Steer
1715 Adventureland Drive
Altoona, IA 50009
Mon - Thu 5pm - 9pm
Friday 5pm - 10pm
Saturday 4:30pm - 10pm
Sunday 4:30pm - 8:30pm
Menus and more information here