Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Taylor’s Steakhouse in Dumas is Dry Aged to Perfection.

If you manage to get down to Dumas and are looking for an epic dinner, head west out of town on Highway 54 until you see a set of stores that appear to be an old grocery store. Inside that plain interior, you'll find what might be the best steak in all of Arkansas, at Taylor's Steakhouse.

Charles and Dorothy Taylor opened Taylor’s Grocery in 1954. The original shotgun-style country house was pretty small, but it functioned like a traditional country store, a place to buy dry goods and foods and share a little gossip. In 1961 the Taylors moved the operation a quarter
mile closer to town into a larger building. They sold that store in the 1970s and opened up a third spot – and in 1983 the fourth moved happened, placing the business where it is now, far from the outskirts of Dumas.

Now, I mentioned grocery store. Taylor’s has always been a place to get a bite. Country stores often had a back counter and a kitchen, and you could pick up a sandwich to take with you when you picked up your bait for fishing or were heading out to the farm.

The 1983 opening of Taylor’s included not only groceries but sporting goods, bait, tackle and just about anything for living in rural Arkansas. It did so well, that Chuck Taylor (Charles’s son, who had by this time been working the grocery store quite a while) opened a liquor store adjacent to Taylor’s (local ordinances did not allow liquor stores and grocery stores to share the same building).

“My mother has always made barbecue. We’ve always done barbecue,” Chuck Taylor says. “You know, when the grocery store sales declined, we branched out and bought equipment and started doing hamburgers and po’boys and the lunch thing, sandwiches and fried fish, shrimp, oysters… and then it started to grow, so we started taking out grocery shelves, taking out sporting goods and adding tables and chairs for people to eat.”

That little spot on the road from Dumas to Monticello started to pick up steam.

“We started out with two tables, and lunch just took over. We became full of tables – we still sold chips and drinks and stuff like that, knick-knacks,” Chuck shares. In fact, Taylor’s cheese dip took on a great deal of notoriety, with people dropping by to pick up dip to take home. The restaurant even developed a big burger called the Double Bertha, which folks would try to eat in one setting.

But burgers weren’t where the Taylors wanted to stop. Chuck and his wife Pam had plans.

“It’s always been our ambition to do a nighttime restaurant. So we started planning on it. We have a daughter in college now. We wanted to get her out of high school because she had activities at school – she was a majorette and we went to all the football games. We kinda held onto the lunch thing until we got her graduated. I perfected my recipes the whole time, for porterhouse steak, crawfish enchiladas, the whole time we knew we were going to do this.

“Once we got her graduated, we let the liquor store license expire and took in the liquor store as part of the restaurant,” Chuck continues. “We connected the two buildings, remodeled and started doing the night thing (in October 2012).”

Chuck Taylor worked out his dry aging process over the years. While he’d always worked with the grocery store and liquor store, he made a living by supplementing with other jobs –as a cook in a duck lodge during fall and winter, surveying rice levies in spring and summer. “I started aging beef on a commercial scale when I worked a year at the Yellow Dog Lodge,” Chuck says, “I studied up on that while I was doing lunch, too. I got that perfected, I hope.”

Taylor’s steaks have quickly gained renown, not only for their flavor but for their size. Kansas bone-in ribeyes and T-bone steaks run 25-28
ounces. There’s also a 31-25 ounce Porterhouse steak for two. Once the day’s supply is gone, they’re out. There are other great dishes, such as that crawfish enchilada plate and two different lush versions of bread pudding. Of course, there’s the cheese dip. “Our cheese dip is legendary. That’s one of our claims to fame,” he chuckles.

So, with all that history, you're probably wondering about the dining experience. Within the tin-clad walls at Taylors, you'll be seated at a table, either a traditional table in the heart of the restaurant, or one of the
large party tables to the left of the entrance, which are afforded a great view of the dry aging steak facility.

There are many steaks on the menu, but the night we went, Grav and I chose to split the Porterhouse for Two. It came with salads for both of us with
homemade dressing (I chose blue cheese), two side dishes (we chose asparagus and grilled zucchini, bread and butter. These were all ample servings, but they didn't come close to matching the massive slab of meat presented to us.
We ate it down to the bone.

No, literally, DOWN TO THE BONE.

The steak was absolutely magnificent. It was perfectly spiced and needed nothing to improve it. It was cooked close to rare (or, as I usually say, medium rare, closer to rare) and it glistened. There were angels singing when this came to the table, though the tune was more likely to have been O Fortuna from Carina Burana than the Hallelujah Chorus.

Taylor’s has also become known for a magnificent pair of bread puddings – including a chocolate version that often runs out. Many order theirs with their meal so they won’t miss out on the popular dessert, since it takes a while to cook. The Arkansas Delta has its share of great bread
puddings, and this chocolate beauty deserves high ranking amongst the best.

You may be wondering, how does an upscale restaurant manage to make it in deep, rural Arkansas? “Anytime you step out of the loop of interest, as I told my wife
Pam, you realize that you had to draw from a lot of different areas," Chuck Taylor says. "You can’t just make it on Dumas. The food has to be excellent. And it is, and we draw from everywhere – Little Rock, Texarkana, Mississippi, Fayetteville… the Panola people have come up from Louisiana. We’ve had a Saturday night where everyone in here was from DeWitt or Stuttgart. Pine Bluff, Monticello, you name it. People come, they love it, they say ‘we will be back.’ That one person might tell ten people, and they come and they go tell 10 people. It’s kinda like a chain letter, word of mouth is the best thing there is.

“It’s kinda like Field of Dreams,” Chuck tells me, referencing the Kevin Costner movie. “You build it, they will come. Yeah, it’s a dream of mine to do this, but it might become a nightmare, too,” he laughs. Something tells me with the great product he has and this growing restaurant, Chuck Taylor is going to be laughing all the way to the bank.

You’ll find Taylor’s Steakhouse on Highway 54 west of Dumas, headed towards Monticello. It’s open Thursday 5:30-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 5:30-10 p.m. The official address is 14201 Arkansas 54, Dumas. Call ahead if you wish at (870) 382-5349.

Taylor's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon


  1. I love little spots like this, especially in Arkansas. And that bread pudding. oh my!!

  2. During my many travels prior the retirement, I had the good fortune to visit Jakes Steaks in St. Louis, Larsens in Los Angeles, Cattlemans in Fort Worth, Etc. I Love Steak, "Good Steak". Chuck Taylor's Steak House has them all beat HANDS Down. Chuck has always had an eye for Perfection. He hit the BullsEye, Again.


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