Meat 'n' Potatoes

Daisy Mae's offers perfectly prepared steaks in a relaxed, Western setting

Daisy Mae's Steak House is about as honest as any restaurant can be: Daisy Mae's calls itself a steakhouse, and that's exactly what it is--with a cowboy twist, mind you.

This is the kind of place where you get both a potato and all-you-can-eat beans with your steak; the kind of place that wraps the baked potatoes in aluminum foil; the kind of place where salad is a bowl of iceberg lettuce with one onion slice, one tomato and one hunk of cucumber. Heck, there's even a smoking section! You almost feel as if you've stepped back into a more easygoing time.

We enjoyed our first visit on a Sunday evening. The place wasn't crowded, but the folks at the dozen or so filled tables seemed like they'd been there before. We were able to watch the steaks cook on the outdoor mesquite grill, thanks to a large window. Open kitchens have nothing on Daisy Mae's cooks. It was hot work, and the cooks were kept busy.

Décor is, of course, casual Western, except for the hundreds of dollar bills stapled to all the walls. Each bill has a message on it from a satisfied diner. And the diners come from all over the United States.

Service, too, is accommodating and truly friendly. The waitress joked with John about asking for more water, and when we mentioned that it was too hot in the room, they immediately turned down the thermostat.

John ordered the 16-ounce T-bone ($19.95), and I ordered the house special 14-ounce rib eye ($20.95). We also ordered chips and salsa ($1.75) from the small appetizer menu. All meals come with a salad, cowboy beans and a baked potato: There's lots of food to feed any hungry cowperson.

We also had a drink apiece--beer for John ($3.25), and a glass of pinot noir ($6) for me. Surprisingly, the wine list is balanced with well-known labels, featuring something for every taste--even sparkling wines and house wines by the carafe!

The chips were too salty, and the salsa was a tad mild for our tastes. Our salads, too, were pretty ordinary. But our steaks were a totally different story. Tender, juicy, perfectly seasoned ... you couldn't ask for more from a Western cut of beef. The sides were relatively plain, but that didn't really matter.

Somehow, we had room for dessert. We ordered the chocolate grande ($3.95).

The waitress explained that the price was $1 less than stated on the menu, because there was a new supplier, and the slices were smaller. That tells me two things: This dessert was not made in-house, and the folks at Daisy Mae's care more about the customers than making the big bucks. The cake was chocolate through and through. I should've ordered a cup of coffee to round it out.

We sat in the bar/smoking section on our Friday-night visit. This time, we ordered the buffalo wings ($6.95), a full rack of baby back ribs ($20.95) for John, and the center-cut boneless pork chop ($14.95) for me.

The wings had a nice twist in that they were grilled. Like the beef on our previous visit, they were well-seasoned (the heat comes from chili powder, I think), and mesquite smoke stood out. We asked for bleu cheese instead of the ubiquitous ranch. It was at our table almost instantly.

The salads followed, but then things slowed down. Whether it was from the huge parties in the other rooms (including the UA basketball coaching staff) or the fact that my thick chop took a tad longer to cook, I can't say. We didn't mind, though; it was Friday, and we wanted to relax. The only downer was my wine selection: It was called Rustler's Red ($6.50), and even though it was described as a dry wine, it was a bit sweet for my taste.

John's ribs could've won a gold medal in a rib-cooking contest. The barbecue sauce on the side was smoky and, again, perfectly seasoned. I used it to jazz up my chop, which was tender and tasty but needed just a little something more.

We ended up taking leftovers home as well as a piece of the house apple pie ($3.50). The crust was thick and melted in your mouth. The filling held plenty of apples and was just sweet enough. Plus, it's made in-house by one of the chefs.

So if you've got a hankerin' for some mesquite steak cooked up nice and juicy, head out to Daisy Mae's. And if you've got out-of-town guests who want to experience the "Old West," dinner on Daisy Mae's patio under a starlit sky is just about as close as you can get these days. Also, if you're in Sierra Vista, there's a Daisy Mae's at 332 N. Garden Ave.

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