Speakeasies came about during prohibition, providing hidden spots to enjoy libations outside the prying eyes of the law. But to those who’ve visited, it’s no secret that Chef Ryan Puls is weaving magic in his family’s steakhouse located in unincorporated Sacramento, Nebraska. Housed in a red brick building emerging from surrounding cornfields, the long-time establishment beckons both locals and curious visitors.
The space is dim, utterly nostalgic, and cozy. White tablecloths and seamless service collide with a friendly Cheers vibe where “everybody knows your name.” A private back room accommodates around 80 and is in frequent use for graduations, holidays, and other events.
Puls worked at the restaurant (previously owned by his father) during his teen years but headed to Seattle to pursue an audio recording career. Missing the industry, he began an internship at a high-end French bistro, learning the art of charcuterie. The native Nebraskan found his way home in 2012, took over the eatery in 2013, and hasn’t looked back.
“The Speakeasy is very meat forward, what we’re known for is our steaks,” explained Puls. The accomplished chef sources beef from local farmers and treats it with the utmost care. Unique cuts are dry aged before kissing the flat top to get that craveable, old-school sear.
Along with beef, the restaurant features house-cured and smoked pork belly, sourced from Jon’s Naturals in Iowa. “My father taught me how to cut meats, his grandpa was a butcher…Dad talked about eating tongue and head cheese for breakfast, they really used everything.”
Puls and his wife enjoy traveling and trying cuisines from Omaha to Montreal. Hamburgers are a favorite, hearkening from a time at his father’s carhop burger and shake joint. Burgers at The Speakeasy are ground from quality steak trimmings and finished with creative toppings. Fresh seafood features include Faroe Islands salmon, Canadian walleye, and Puls hopes to soon introduce a catfish entrée.
Puls is effusive in his praise for Erica Fitzgerald, front-of-house manager. “She’s amazing, over the top taking care of people, and mixes the best dirty martinis around.” The two collaborate on The Speakeasy style craft cocktail menu, including a barrel-aged Manhattan.
Most weekday customers hail from Phelps County, but weekend visitors come from afar, including fast-food weary travelers just off the interstate looking for delicious food and a spot to relax. “I’m proud of how well we’ve done,” shared Puls.
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