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Cowboys rejoice!

Country-themed steakhouse replaces Varsity Grill

Steel Creek replaced Varsity Grill's movie theater with a big dance floor. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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With the closure of the Big Whisky Saloon in the heart of downtown Tacoma, many a cowboy were left with an achy breaky heart, though most in the know did not anticipate the country bar void to remain for long.

The demise of Big Whisky only meant bigger and better things for co-owner Jon Tartaglia, as he converted his sports bar up the street, Varsity Grill, into a bigger country-themed whiskey bar, the Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. After a little elbow grease and the addition of a whole bunch of whiskey barrels, Steel Creek opened its doors earlier this month.

Tartaglia and his team are still in the process of revamping the space, but there are a few big changes worth noting. One is the huge dance floor playing center stage. While the ambiance is clearly country with its whiskey barrel-lined walls and Jack Daniels wallpaper, there isn't a whole lot of action on the dance floor pre-dusk.

During the daytime hours, Steel Creek has a steakhouse vibe, featuring family-friendly dining with a menu that focuses on steaks, burgers and home-style entree favorites like mac and cheese. Executive Chef Roman Aguillon, formerly with The Green Turtle and Morso Wine Bar in Gig Harbor, created a very consumer, comfort-food friendly menu with flat iron, rib-eye, top sirloin and porterhouse steaks ringing in at $15.99-$27.99. Once Steel Creek spends more time on the range, I'll pop back in for a review.

Demure lighting throughout the place adds a warm, rustic ambiance. Paired with the dance floor and barrel-lined walls, Steel Creek has a well-executed country allure while avoiding backcountry vibes. Bonus: numerous flat screen televisions can be seen from every seat in the house for sports fans. Much of the service staff has been retained from either Varsity Grill or Big Whisky, and they were friendly, efficient, helpful and full of menu knowledge.

Though already open for business, Steel Creek is expecting some new additions, like pool tables, which were visible from the dining area but not quite ready for hustling, and a mechanical bull that will be located toward the rear of the dance floor and truly escalate the place to country bar stardom ranks. Entertainment will focus on DJ country-rock spins and line dancing.

Furthermore, the bar plays home to an impressive selection of brown liquor, boasting more than 100 whiskeys and bourbons in addition to a plethora of other choices and a nice beer selection. Surely this will make for entertaining late nights when the dance floor gets hopping and the place becomes 21+. Adult festivities will include line dancing and lessons, acoustic guitar giveaways, live music and more. The upstairs area for now will remain open for catered special events only.

So if you're looking for a juicy steak or hoping to get your boot, scoot and boogie on, Steel Creek is your Tacoma country bar go to.

STEEL CREEK AMERICAN WHISKEY CO., 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, 1114 Broadway, Tacoma, 253.627.1229

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