Who knew that there was a Virginia, Nebraska? Probably lots of folks in southeastern Nebraska, but it was new to me when our son-in-law suggested road tripping there for dinner Friday night. He had queried Facebook for suggestions of small town diners to sample, and got three suggestions for Terry's Steakhouse in Virginia. After posting that was where we were going, he also got the suggestion to make reservations. Make reservations? Virginia has 67 people in it! Turns out that was excellent advice. You do, indeed, need reservations if you are to enjoy the delicious food at Terry's any time before midnight or so. Although, we heard a local relate that they have an excellent waitlist tradition - A six-pack of off-sale beer and a cell phone number. You can draw your own conclusions from that, because Nebraska Outback would be the last one to advocate breaking Nebraska's open container law.
It takes about an hour to get to Virginia's from Lincoln - south on Highway 77 to Beatrice, then east on Highway 4/136 about 14 miles, then south at the junction of 4. Trust me - it is well worth the drive! We always try to sample local bars/diners on our travels, and Terry's is the perfect example of what we're hoping to experience. Sadly, we're generally disappointed, but there are gems out there!
Terry Mencl's uncle opened the Mencl Tavern in 1948. Terry has owned it for 22 years, adding a full service restaurant to the mix in 2002. The walls are lined with paintings of historic Virginia, which was once a thriving pioneer community. About all that is left now is Terry's Steakhouse and the grain elevator.
The accolades of Terry's Steakhouse are seemingly unending. It has been voted as having the best prime rib in Gage County by the Beatrice Daily Sun for three years running, Jeff Korbelik, the restaurant critic for the Lincoln Journal Star has featured it a number of times, even naming it #5 in his top 10 of out-of-town eateries.
So just what makes Terry's so great? One word: HOMEMADE! On the Salad Bar, you'll find all homemade salads. If you're lucky, like we were, Terry will be hungry for a traditional Czech dish - Noodles, Cabbage and Bacon, and you'll find a stew pot of it on the counter. Also on the counter will be several pans of homemade desserts. But don't just be satisfied with them. Ask for the homemade Banana Cream Pie or signature Snicker's cheese cake. You'll need the hour-long trip home just so you can get a start on digesting all of that goodness.
They don't skimp on the entrees either. Our table had a couple of different fish specials, hamburger, and chicken fried steak, and everyone raved about their meal.
The hometown friendliness was evident throughout our evening. The servers, the owners Terry and Kay Mencl, and the patrons all welcomed us with open arms. It was a delightful experience.
When you go:
(402) 688-4286 (yes, phone for reservations!)
4th Street 2 Ave
Virginia, NE 68458