Seriously, did someone just claim to have found the world’s best steak? Yep, and that person is me! Before you begin rolling your eyes and claiming I have no clue what I’m talking about, please give me a moment to explain.
Credentials: First off, I’m no lightweight vegan who whines about their kale portion sizes being too large. Rather, I’m a 250 pound carnivore with a voracious appetite for medium-rare, juicy ribeye. And yes, I have eaten at places other than Logan’s Roadhouse and Cracker Barrel. A previous job had me train in Chicago for several months at a time and I took full advantage of their per diem stipend while dining at some of the highest sought after steak houses in a town that many consider to be the Mecca of meat. Aside from that, I’ve visited highly reviewed places all over the country in my continual quest for a perfectly cooked piece of beef. So…yes, I know what a good steak is and trust me, this place has it.
My friends, let me introduce you to Big Mike’s Steakhouse in Orange Beach, AL. Disclaimer: I have no clue who Big Mike is or where he came from, but I’m more than happy to give this man his due for developing his God-given talent of serving ribeye. Before we get in to the actual meat, let me set the stage for you a bit.
Atmosphere: Located off the east bound lane of Canal Rd, Big Mike’s definitely isn’t white tablecloth, but calling it a dive isn’t truly accurate either. On a scale of 1 to 10 with a 1 being where you’d go when you’re not dressed up enough to get into a tractor pull and 10 being Ruth’s Chris, I’d say Big Mike’s falls in somewhere around a 4. But hey, this is the beach, not Hollywood.
The parking lot is dirt and gravel and there never seems to be enough spaces. Luckily though, next door is a business that closes at 5 and people use their parking lot for overflow. The building has a rustic wooden frame and finish with a tin metal roof, which gives it a lodge or hunting camp type feel. As soon as you enter the door there is a hostess station immediately on your left, a bar no more than 10 feet in front of you, and bathrooms directly to your right.
What’s odd is a restaurant of this size having bathrooms that are just single-person facilities. This creates a little awkwardness as you’re standing in line to be seated and have to constantly shuffle this way and that to accommodate the line beside you full of those waiting to use the toilet. Not to mention, knowing there is a line waiting behind you whenever you have to visit the loo yourself doesn’t provide for much privacy. The tables are covered in paper and changed for each new guest with crayons provided for kids (and adults) to doodle while they wait.
In general, the atmosphere is rustic and cramped, but clean.
Bar: Big Mike’s has a large bar, but no draft beer which I find a little surprising considering the size of the restaurant and the quality of their food. Bottled beer and mixed drinks are the theme here, but personally, I wouldn’t complain if the beer were just a little bit colder. While wine is available, don’t go asking for a sommelier. After all, this is a steak house, right? So leave your pretentiousness at the door (or in the gravel parking lot).
Service: I’ve never been to Big Mike’s when there wasn’t a 90 minute wait to get in. To circumvent that, I’ve learned to show up at 4:30 and wait in line to be seated as soon as they open at 5:00. While a 5:00 dinner isn’t exactly ideal it does beat waiting an hour and a half smelling the grill while half-starved and constantly having to get on to your kids for throwing rocks in the parking lot. Despite the packed conditions, every time I’ve been seated my waiter/waitress was always on top of their game. My drink order was taken promptly and my food always came out in a reasonable time.
Food: I’ve eaten here multiple times and have tried both their fried mushrooms and smoked tuna dip as appetizers; both were a delicious precursor to the soon-to-come main event. You’re also given a refrigerated pre-made side salad with your dressing in a cup on-the-side.
When it comes to entrees, I’ve only tried 3. Once, my wife wasn’t able to finish her Ahi Tuna, so me being the wonderful gent that I am, I offered to polish it off so she wouldn’t feel embarrassed. Needless to say, she never felt a twinge of embarrassment as I found the tuna to be fresh, perfectly seared, and absolutely delectable.
The other 2 entrees I’ve tried have both been Big Mike’s ribeye offerings: the 16 oz Ribeye and the 24 oz Big Mike Ribeye. Both are prepared in the same mouth-watering way; the only difference is size. I always order my steaks cooked the proper way, medium rare (anything more and you’re just ruining the meat by drying it out). The ribeyes are brought out the way they should be, hot and sizzling, with a lump of butter sitting atop and cooked to the perfect temperature.
On a side note, Big Mike’s predecessor in the same location, a steakhouse by the name of Diamond Jim’s, offered much the same menu, but their steaks were over marinated in Dale’s; it was like swallowing a salt tablet with every bite. Luckily though, Big Mike’s didn’t make the same mistake. Their ribeyes are marinated to perfection; they’re flavorful, juicy, and have just a hint of smoke flavor. While some other places are all sizzle and no steak, here again Big Mike’s came through by having the best cut of meats available. Each steak contains the perfect amount of marbled fat; they’re seared to perfection, crispy in all the right places, while being succulent and juicy on the inside. Truly, their steaks will take you to taste bud nirvana.
Big Mike’s full menu can be found here.
Conclusion: If a mouthwatering, thick cut of well-marbled piece of beef, cooked to perfection, is what you’re in search of, then look no more, because Big Mike’s Steakhouse has what you’re seeking. The place is well-priced, well-staffed, friendly and serves the best steak in, yes, the whole world. Big Mike’s is just another example of what makes Baldwin County great and why I enjoy Selling the Coastal Lifestyle.
About the Blogger
The above blog was brought to you by Phillip Barham of Alabama Coastal Living. Aside from writing about all things relating to living in Coastal Alabama, Phillip is also a full-time realtor. He is passionate about where he lives and enjoys helping others find their own piece of paradise, so they too can Live the Coastal Lifestyle.
Phillip can be reached at Phillip@ALCoastalLiving.com.