The Beefsteak Tradition: What is it?

At Merrill & Houston’s, we’re all about honoring history and making memories. In honor of our 10th anniversary, we’re hosting a throwback Beefsteak dinner party that pays tribute to Beloit and the hard-working people who helped build it. And when we say throwback, we mean waaaay back. We’re talking pre-and-post prohibition era.


So, what’s a Beefsteak dinner? Glad you asked. Beefsteaks are a 150-year-old culinary tradition that began in New York in the mid-1800s as an event for working-class men (and eventually women). The all-you-can-eat steak dinner was typically set up by an organization looking to raise funds for politicians or even celebrities. Don’t be fooled - Beefsteaks were not fancy affairs. Diners usually sat on old crates or barrels in warehouses, bars or back alleys.


Here’s where it gets fun. Beefsteak dinners were served banquet style with no frills, no utensils and no napkins. Waiters would bring out trays of thinly sliced meat and bread for diners to eat with their hands. Guests wore aprons and butcher hats and when things got a little messy they could wipe the grease off on their aprons. You ate (and in pre-prohibition times, drank beer) until you had your fill.


Sounds pretty fun, right? We’re bringing the Beefsteak tradition to Beloit and adding our classic Merrill & Houston’s flare to it, hosting a one-night-only dining experience.


Here’s what you can expect:

  • Dine in our three seasons riverside porch at candlelit tables

  • All-you-can-eat steak, freshly baked bread and fries

  • A variety of endless New Glarus beers, served only in Wisconsin

  • A variety of endless wines, available upon request

  • Traditional butcher hats and aprons, yours to keep!

  • Live music

  • Utensils and napkins not recommended, but available upon request

Get ready to travel back in time for this special event where jazz-age glamour meets blue-collar simplicity. So roll up your sleeves, leave manners at home and indulge in a dining experience that takes guests back to the pre-and-post prohibition era for an all-you-can-eat Beefsteak dinner party.


For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.