When the team from At Home in Central Illinois visited Alexander’s Steakhouse we knew what to expect: great food, a fun atmosphere, great drinks and delicious desserts. Believe it when we say that we were still surprised. “Wow” was the first word uttered when we walked into the Champaign restaurant, located at 202 W. Anthony Drive. 

We were welcomed by-not-so-newcomer, James Welch, the new general manager who worked at this very Alexander’s location years back as a bartender. He brings experience and familiarity with the area, the staff and the customers. He knows what folks in Central Illinois crave: fresh and healthy salads, steaming baked potatoes, hand cut Idaho steak fries, or maybe sweet potato fries, veggies and other yummy sides and grilled Texas toast, along with a sizzling steak.

“In fact, your dinner includes all of this,” Welch said. 

When it comes to steak, they have the most extensive selections around; eleven choices including Kansas City Strip, filet, ribeye, T-bone, porterhouse or a top sirloin Santa Maria style, rubbed with Pappy’s choice seasoning, and so much more. All steaks are USDA aged Midwestern beef, hand cut daily by their own in-house butchers. You grill your own steak, too. And if you’re a little shy on the grilling side, they will grill your steak for you for a slight upcharge.

“Our grill side chef will cook your steak for $2. But, our Early Bird Menu includes us grilling your steak for you for free,” Welch said of the menu that saves “early birds” money on regular menu items. The Early Bird menu is available Monday through Friday before 6 p.m. and all day on Sunday. 

There’s also surf and turf that includes a 6 ounce filet and South African lobster tail. 

In fact, if seafood is what you crave, no problem. Shrimp, Atlantic salmon, grilled swordfish, join the South African lobster in sea fare options. There are also teriyaki chicken breasts — 100 percent all natural with no added hormones or steroids, and fresh cut pork chops, seasoned and grilled, served with BBQ sauce on the side. They also feature veggie skewers and specialty kabobs of “butter knife” filet or teriyaki steak. 

Alexander’s Steakhouse has thirst-quenching drinks: Pepsi products with free refills, coffee tea, iced tea or milk, specialty sodas, and bottled waters. Maybe a cocktail, a beer on tap, or perhaps a glass of wine will hit the spot after a long day. 

Perhaps a bottle of wine from their extensive wine list to be shared by your party is in order. Alexander’s Steakhouse has over 60 varietals. They have something for every wine connoisseur from champagnes and sparkling wines, chardonnay and other white varietals, pinot noirs, cabernet sauvignons — like the celebrated “Cakebread Napa” — other red varietals like zinfandel, chianti and shiraz. 

“Our desserts are excellent, too,” Welch said. 

Their desserts are a marvel, too, and made in-house for freshness and flavor. 

“If you haven’t had our skillet cookie, then you have to try it,” Welch said.

It’s a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie, topped with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream. There’s enough to share, too. 

Alexander’s Steakhouse’s desserts also includes key lime pie, New York cheesecake or hot fudge sundae. 

“Key West lime juice is used in the pie,” Welch said. 

Welch said they are more than a restaurant. They are a destination for relaxation. 

“One of the things I like about us is that we have a place where people can kick-back, truly relax and enjoy their dining experience,” he said. 

Welch said there is no rushing at Alexander’s Steakhouse. 

“We plan our customers staying an hour to an hour and a half,” he said. 

Alexander’s Steakhouse is a place where the fun of a backyard cook-out is brought indoors. Customers pick out their own piece of meat, cook it on the open pit grill, and embellish it with seasonings, spices, melted butter and more. 

“People often strike up a conversation with each other while grilling. It gets to be really fun,” he said. 

While waiting, snack on Alexander’s “extras”: deep fried calamari; onion strings breaded in Cajun spice, piled high and served with their famous dipping sauce; shrimp cocktail; sautéed or deep fried mushrooms; or potato skins, fried crisp and loaded with cheddar cheese and bacon. 

Need a great gift? Gift cards are available in any denomination. Or perhaps you need a place for your next gathering. Alexander’s Steakhouse specializes in serving groups of all sizes, including rehearsal dinners, birthday parties, retirement, anniversaries or just a family get together. They customize menus to include personal photos, specific menu choices and their unique interactive concept is sure to make any event memorable. 

The grill was fired up and ready to cook some great steaks. Andrew Bishop, a cook and jack-of-all trades at Alexander’s Steakhouse prepared a New York strip, a T-bone, and a ribeye for the visit.  

“Our steaks are the best. I eat one every day,” he said as he seared the steaks. 

Alexander’s Steakhouse is open Monday through Friday at 4 p.m., plus Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. Questions? Call them at 217-359-1789 or go to alexanderssteakhouse.com.