November 6, 2005
We first visited Jack's years ago, en route to Dunsmuir, California. Jack's holds mythical status among Northern California old-timers. They do not advertise, business is word-of-mouth. If you didn't know it was there, you wouldn't give it a second glance. So, on that particular trip, we made a special stop to have a steak at Jack's.
The building is ancient white stucco with neon that glows to passersby. This part of town is quiet, and as we approached the door, we weren't even sure anyone was inside. The windows are blacked out; not a sound could be heard.
When the door opened, though, it was like another world. Music blared from ancient speakers, crackling and buzzing. The place was so full we barely fit inside. We paused to allow our eyes to adjust to the dim lighting. I mean dim. Candles on the tables provided most of the light. Chasmo finally spotted the hostess and got us on "the list." We looked for a seat at the crowded bar that shares space with about ten dinner tables. I have never waited less than an hour for a table at Jack's, but the bartender is friendly and pours with a heavy hand. Seats at the bar are hard to come by, but they do open up, so be patient. Keep this in mind if you need to eat now--there is always a wait.
The menu is limited--steak, in varying cuts, served with potatoes, green salad and bread. The salad is family style, mixed with dressing and left on the table. The real treat is the meat. The secret may be a special ingredient, a local beef supplier, an old grill, or a combination of these. I don't know. It melts in your mouth. It was close to two inches thick, and cooked so perfectly I thought I was dreaming. This is, hands down, the best steak we have ever had. Highly recommend.
Some warnings: The restrooms are scary. The people are friendly--don't be surprised if a stranger plops down beside you and asks where you're from. The staff is moving at breakneck speed, but will make sure you get what you need right away. And it is loud. Between the music and the big crowd packed into a tiny place, it is not a place to go for a quiet evening with the wife. Think boisterous. Think party. Think roadhouse. Think best steak you have ever had.
From journal Redding, CA--Two Days on the Road