#176: Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse

Last night I was joined by my friend Justin for dinner at Tahoe Joe’s.  This steakhouse is located at the corner of Taylor Rd and Roseville Pkwy, surrounded by the biggest concentration of Roseville hotels I can think of.  They opened their first location in Fresno in 96 and have grown to just under 10 locations in the central valley since then.  I’m not sure how long the Roseville location has been here, but I feel like it was before they had completed the Roseville Parkway / I-80 overpass.  I haven’t been here to eat in quite a long time, though I did visit the bar with a group of people after a wedding a year or two ago.

We arrived just before 7PM to a crowded parking lot.  There is a medium-sized patio which had gas heaters cranked up but no one to warm.  We headed through the doors and into the very warmly lit interior.  Wood is the theme here (ski lodge), and there’s a lot of it.  All of the divider walls that create different sections, booths, the bar, canoes, you name it.  A big stone fireplace in the waiting area is both a neat decoration as well as a place to sit.  If you were to immediately turn to the left after walking in you would find yourself in the bar area.  Here a big rectangular bar dominates the space, framed with wood and surrounded by tables on one side and booths on the other.  We did not visit the bar this evening, but if I recall, they have a decent liquor selection and a somewhat poor beer selection.  I cannot comment on the wine.  I’m sure they have some but I didn’t even look at that section.

We approached the host’s counter and were greeted immediately by the two or three people standing there.  The place looked packed but we were sat immediately.  I’d say 70% or more of Tahoe Joe’s is booth seating.  Some are larger than others.  If my memory is correct, I think this is the restaurant that has removable dividers between some of them, allowing larger parties to be seated in booths.  I didn’t see any of these last night though, so maybe I’m mistaken.  We were sat in a section of regular tables and had a 4-seater to ourselves.  Almost instantly after sitting and being handed menus, our server Matt was at our table to introduce himself and take our drink orders.  I needed a moment to look at the beer selection.  He named off around 10 or so beers they had on draught and I consulted the menu for the bottles.  Nothing too impressive.  Justin had ordered a Long Island Iced Tea (or a Tahoe Tea, according to the receipt) [$8.25].  When this was delivered I went ahead and ordered a 22oz draught Shock Top [$7.50].

Justin’s tea was very, very sweet and had absolutely zero alcohol taste to it.  I suppose that’s the point of a LI iced tea.  My Shock Top arrived quickly in a very tall and skinny mug.  Unlike my recent Shock Top at Diamond Plate, this one had a fairly thin slice of orange so I was actually able to taste the beer.  I hadn’t taken a serious look at the menu yet, so I told our server that I still needed a couple minutes.  I was going to get a steak for sure, it was just a question of which one.  I settled on my usual, a ribeye, rare.  This comes in 14oz [$25.99] or 22oz [$29.99].  14oz seemed like plenty, and it comes with green beans and a choice of a baby greens salad, mixed greens salad, caesar salad or soup and also a choice of a baked potato, mashed potatoes, vegetable rice pilaf or fries.  The host had informed us that the soup was clam chowder, so we all know that I chose that.  For the other I picked the baked potato.  Justin ordered the Twin Petite Filets (two 5oz bacon-wrapped filets topped with your choice of garlic butter or Gorgonzola cheese) [$28.99].  He went with the Gorgonzola and when asked how he wanted his steak cooked he questioned “rare+?”.  Matt described their medium rare as red throughout with a warm center, which is what Justin went for.  He also asked if they had Béarnaise sauce, which he is always on the hunt for.  They unfortunately did not have it.

We chatted for a while and just about five minutes after ordering, a few things arrived.  We received a basket with two small sourdough rolls, Justin’s Caesar and my chowder.  Wow.  This was a seriously huge bowl of clam chowder.  This could be an entree on it’s own.  It was also incredibly delicious.  I may have just found one of my top clam chowder’s in Roseville.  I had some fresh black ground pepper added to it, and overall the soup had a significant peppery flavor to it.  I do not believe that the small amount that was sprinkled on top in front of me was what gave it that.  Anyway, this was a totally awesome, creamy, flavorful, massive bowl, and I devoured it knowing that I would be hard-pressed to finish my main dish.

15 minutes after the soup and salad had arrived came our steaks.  Matt set Justin’s twin petite filets in front of him.  My baked potato sat ready to accept toppings.  He had a little carrier with small bowls of butter, sour cream, bacon and chives.  I enthusiastically said “all of it,” when asked what I’d like on the potato, and he went to work.  I don’t know if this is his normal serving amount or if it was due to the way I said it, but he seriously piled all four toppings on.  Like no kidding, nearly a ice-cream scoop sized amount of butter to start it off.  I’m not complaining, it was pretty epic, but man, that was the most toppings I’ve ever seen put on a potato in front of me at a restaurant.  Usually I’m kind of thinking in the back of my head, “c’mon, scoop a little more bacon on there”.  Nope, not this time.  Plenty of bacon (there is, in fact, such a thing).  Ha!

With the potato loaded, Matt headed off and we went to work.  Cutting into our steaks with our standard issue steak knives we each found them to be cooked just as we had wanted.  Mine met the description of “red throughout with a cool center” perfectly.  This ribeye was fairly easy to cut and had fewer big chunks of fat than I usually see in one.  It was extremely flavorful.  Let’s be honest here, it was almost certainly slathered with butter just before leaving the kitchen, but it was delicious nonetheless. I somehow ate the whole thing along with about half of my butter-soaked potato and a handful of green beans (you know, because I’m trying to watch my figure).  Justin commented that his entire meal was good.

Overall I was extremely pleased with this dinner.  Total damage was just over $70.  The drinks were a little overpriced in my opinion.  Everything else seemed reasonable for what you got.  Our server was on top of things.  He seemed to show up right when we needed him, never too soon or too late, like he was reading our minds.  I rarely go to steakhouses that often, maybe once or twice a year, but I’d probably put Tahoe Joe’s at or very near the top of my list (Suede Blue is coming up soon, so I’ll get to see how our local steakhouses compare nearly side by side).


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