“Steak Week” started off an amazing experience at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar and then continued with Longhorn Steakhouse. While not exactly a week’s worth of dining at steakhouses, both restaurants gave me plenty of steak leftovers for the next day. After four days of having steak, I made sure my fifth day would end at a steakhouse I considered one of my favorites since childhood. That place is Charlie’s Steak House in Oak Grove, Kentucky.
Located on a stretch of highway between Hopkinsville, Kentucky and Clarksville, Tennessee, Charlie’s is easily visible by the iconic billboard of a cow mounted on the top and side of the building. To the average person, one might be afraid to step into the premises because Charlie’s definitely doesn’t look like a place that serves good food. Even on the inside, the outdated interior is fashioned like an old diner complete with cheap tables, chairs, and wood paneling. The staff wears outfits that resemble clothing from the Baby Boomer era. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you somehow arrived from a modified DeLorean DMC-12. The only things missing are Doc Brown and Marty McFly.
Still though, the atmosphere is a part of the charm because it still has the same look and feel as it did when I first arrived in back in the early 90s. Some people have even been going there for 30+ years and state it still looks the same to them.
Open Monday through Saturday from 4 PM to 9:30 PM, this locally owned steakhouse is the best in the area. It is well advised that you try & get a reservation when you go (especially for the weekend). I’ve seen lines of people out the door waiting to get seats. This time though, there was no line and we walked in right when they unlocked the doors. Being the 3rd party to be seated, I thought that Charlie’s popularity was no more. However after about 15 minutes of being seated, I stand corrected. The dining hall started filling up quickly and by the time we left, a line of customers were waiting for a table.
Charlie’s is known for their monstrous steaks that overshadow any other steakhouse I’ve visited. For the past 20 years, I’ve only had four things at Charlie’s and can’t speak for anything else on the menu. They are the steaks, the baked potato, the salad, and strawberry shortcake and this time was no different.
All steaks at Charlie’s come with either French fries or a baked potato and a spring salad or a wedge salad. This time around I ordered the Charlie’s Special Porterhouse Steak ($28) that weighs between 26 to 30 ounces. My wonderful parents who accompanied me for this visit ordered the Super Sirloin for Two ($39.99), a beastly steak that weighs between 2.5 lbs to 3 lbs.
Prior to the meal, you can munch on a basket of various Lance crackers and a saucer full of Land O’ Lakes butter. While not much of an appetizer, these will tide you over until your meal arrives.
The salads at Charlie’s are quite simple and nothing to write home about. The default salad is mixed greens, shredded carrots, canned mushrooms, canned beets, and a heaping pile of shredded cheese and croutons. Personally I hate beets so I always ask to leave those out. As for the dressings, Charlie’s doesn’t offer anything notable except for their homemade “Blue Cheese” dressing with huge chunks of bleu cheese.
When our steaks came, they were served still sizzling on hot metal plates. Accompanying the steak was your other side, in which mine was a fairly large potato with two plastic ramekins of butter and sour cream and chives. Nearly covering the entire 8 inch plate, these large slabs of 1 inch perfectly cooked bovine meat were just waiting to be devoured.
The steaks at Charlie’s are seasoned with a simple combination of garlic, butter, and salt. That simple combination makes the flavor go a long way but if you really need it, A-1 is available upon request. Being the steak purist, I needed no contamination from any kind of sauce and left it as is. Each bite was juicy & buttery with a nearly limitless supply.
For dessert, we had the strawberry shortcake. You’d think that after our meal we wouldn’t have room for dessert but for some reason, Charlie’s is the only place in the world where I can eat a 1.5+ lb steak and still have room for dessert. This simple shortcake square was drenched in a strawberry sauce with loads of whip cream neatly surrounding it. Large enough for two to three people, the shortcake was soft with an angel food cake-like sweetness.
As for the service, I think that it’s a hit or miss depending on who you get. Of the dozens of times I’ve been there, this last visit was the best. Our waitress was a sweet elderly lady who definitely knew how to treat customers. We genuinely felt that she cared about us.
My father firmly believes that Charlie’s Steak House serves the best steaks in the world. Do I agree with him? No, but they come pretty close. If you’re in that area and you love steak, I would recommend that you go to Charlie’s Steak House. When you go, keep in mind that you’re not at a five-star steakhouse because if you do, you’ll be disappointed. Charlie’s is a “hole-in-the-wall” that delivers delicious steaks in huge portions that will leave you and your stomach extremely satisfied when you leave.
14850 US 41A South
Oak Grove, KY 42262
Bill Total: $78.47 For Three