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Tico's Steakhouse: A Valentine's Day Institution in Jackson

by Susan Marquez

This article was originally published in the Feb./March 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI

For over thirty years, Tico Hoffman has served steaks, seafood, and other dishes at his steak house on County Line Road in Ridgeland. Tico’s Steak House opened in April 1989 and is still as popular today as ever. It’s a celebration restaurant – the kind of place you choose for birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, and Father’s Day. But it’s also a middle-of-the-week restaurant for those nights when you don’t want to cook, but you really want to sit down for a good meal. Sometimes you need to treat yourself, and you should. You deserve it. Tico’s is a comfortable place to give yourself permission to enjoy one of life’s pleasures.

Tico is a former player on the amateur golf circuit. Always with a smile on his face, the affable restauranteur works the room, greeting customers and making sure they are enjoying their meals. His easygoing demeanor makes everyone feel at home. “I learned this business by working in it,” he says. After college he went to work for Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Baton Rouge. He transferred to the Ridgeland location of Ruth’s Chris at Northpark Mall. “I was there for ten years when I decided that I could do something on my own.”

Tico opened his restaurant in a former fish house on County Line Road in Ridgeland. “Originally, there was a putt-putt golf course on this site,” he says. The building started as a fish house, and then it was a couple of other things, including a barbeque place called Natchez Landing. “There used to be another building in front of it, but it was torn down years ago.”

The building has a lodge-like feel to it. The rustic wood walls are covered in golf and other sports memorabilia. There are a few private rooms off the main dining area. The overall vibe is laid back and comfortable.

While it was slow at the start, once people learned about the high-quality steaks served at Tico’s, they started coming, then they came back time and time again. “We work hard to keep our quality up. We get our meat out of Chicago,” says Hoffman. “We hand cut everything except the Porterhouse steaks.”

Always tender and juicy, Tico’s regulars say the steaks are consistently good. Steaks are cooked to order, and a variety of toppings can be added if desired. While steak is the main event at Tico’s, not everyone cares to eat beef. “We always have a couple of seafood specials each night, and the seafood is always great,” he says. “We also have veal, lamb, and pork chops, as well as chicken.” And fresh Maine lobster is flown in regularly as well.

"Some people’s diets change, and we have a little something for everyone," he says. "One of the things we have done over the years is to begin offering a smaller filet in addition to our 12 to 14-ounce filet. The smaller eight-ounce filet is very popular.”

Hoffman’s son, Jack, is now helping run the restaurant. One of the menu items, Jack’s Fried Crab Claws, is named after him. Other appetizers include shrimp cocktail, shrimp remoulade, stuffed mushrooms, marinated crab claws, homemade onion rings and fried cheese sticks. A different soup of the day is offered daily.

All salads are locally farmed, and the dressings are made in-house. In addition to the daily fish specials, fried shrimp and shrimp scampi are menu staples. Sides offered are sweet potato, baked potato, hand cut fried, skillet potatoes with onions, potatoes au gratin, broiled tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, creamed spinach, asparagus au gratin or grilled asparagus.

If you have room for it, ask your waitress about desserts. Tico’s offers a full bar with generous sized cocktails, and a curated wine list. The steak house is a popular spot for legislators and lobbyists when the Legislature is in session, so reservations are always a good idea.

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