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Cheap Eats: Silver Saddle

Mario Alva, son of restaurant owner Jane Alva, grills steaks and burgers at the Silver Saddle Steak House, where all the meats are fresh cut daily.

Mario Alva, son of restaurant owner Jane Alva, grills steaks and burgers at the Silver Saddle Steak House, where all the meats are fresh cut daily.

What: Silver Saddle Steak House

Address and phone: 314 E. Benson Highway, 622-6253

Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. weekdays, 2-10 p.m. Saturdays, 1-10 p.m Sundays

What was ordered: Quarter Grilled Chicken ($6.95), 7-ounce Top Sirloin ($7.95), two soft drinks ($1.95 each) for a total of $18.21 including tax, well within our Cheap Eats goal of a meal for two for less than $20.

Comments: The focal point of the main dining room at this venerable steakhouse is the steel and brick mesquite-wood grill and pit.

You can watch the cooks pull steaks from the windowed fridge above them and grill them. In addition to the floor show, you get a special bonus – you’ll smell like mesquite-grilled carnage for the rest of the day.

My companions requested the second dining room on a recent visit because they actually didn’t want to smell like a steak for the rest of the day (go figure), and I reluctantly acquiesced. They may not have wanted to smell like a steak, but they didn’t pass up the chance to devour one, as the Saddle offers a daily special of a 7-ounce top sirloin served with beans, rolls and a side (fries, cole slaw or salad) for $7.95.

The Saddle is an old-school, Western steakhouse that hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1980 and is all the better for it.

The lunch-special sirloin is a cute-looking little thing that’s surprisingly substantial and of good quality angus beef. It hits the spot just right for lunch, and the accompanying ranch beans have a good smokey flavor and a nice spike of spicy heat to them. The salads, cole slaw and bread rolls are nothing more and nothing less than what you’d expect at an old-school steakhouse, but in the context of the the A-1 steaks and beans, this is a great value.

The Quarter Grilled Chicken comes as a leg and thigh of charred chicken with wide-cut ranch fries, beans and rolls. I found the chicken to be a tad on the dry side, possibly due to the fact that this particular piece was a little skimpy on the meat. The great smokey mesquite flavor was a plus and worked well with the side of tangy barbecue sauce.

I should have known better than to order chicken, because ordering anything but steak at Silver Saddle is like ordering a corn dog at a Sonoran Hot Dog stand.

As good, inexpensive and quick as the Saddle is for lunch, the place really shines at dinner. The Vaquero is a pound of T-bone steak, the Vaquero Grande is a pound and a half, and they’re mesquite grilling enough of those babies on any given night to have even your shoe laces smelling like steak. It’s the gift that keeps on giving from the steakhouse that keeps on going.

Service: Tableside service is professional and prompt.

Bar: Full

Children’s menu: Yes

Web site: lazy8motel.com/ steak_house.html

Most recent health inspection: An “excellent” rating Nov. 5, 2007. No critical violations were reported.

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