Word is getting out about a newly opened restaurant in Argos, and the word is that Owner Mike Faylor knows what he is doing at Town Square Tavern & Eatery.
Faylor is not new to the culinary game, and that experience means his food does not disappoint. He owned a pizza restaurant in Culver and operated Papa Mike’s food truck.
He opened his new restaurant earlier this year, and it is becoming known for a variety of dishes, especially the smoked meats carefully prepared, low and slow. Cuts like prime rib, ribs and pork take time to achieve the tender, falling-off-the bone quality that fans of smoked meats appreciate.
Faylor smokes his prime rib for seven hours. He claims it is the best prime rib in the area, and says his customers have equated his prime rib with upscale dining. It takes so long to prepare that it is only served on Friday and Saturday.
“When people think of barbecue, they think of turning on a gas grill and cooking it fast,” Faylor says.
Faylor perfected his meat-smoking skills while cooking at home. “I just enjoyed doing it at home,” he says. “I fooled around and fooled around with it for the last 20 years. Having a passion for something like that doesn’t always make sense, but it shows in the results.”
While smoking meat on a grill is Faylor’s specialty, his eatery has more to offer diners. In addition to the prime rib on Friday and Saturday, he also features an all-you-can-eat walleye dinner on Friday as well as several daily specials.
His menu features favorite starters like pickle chips, breaded mozzarella sticks and pulled-pork nachos. There are smoked chicken wings, Papa Mike’s brisket Philly sandwich, and hand-pulled pork. Sandwich options include a variety of burgers and paninis, and there are also salad options, including spinach salad and smoked chicken salad.
To complete the dinner experience, there are four desserts available. The standout, according to Faylor, is his wife Lori’s bread pudding. She uses her grandmother’s secret recipe to make a craveable, custard-like bread pudding that customers want to take home in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Faylor says this bread pudding has won over many customers who had not previously been fans of this traditional dessert.
“Lori is the heartbeat of this place,” Faylor says. They have been married for 34 years.
Lori also makes the whiskey barbecue sauce featured in several menu selections. It is one of the only sauces served. The smoked meats come without sauce, as Faylor prefers using a dry rub to flavor the meat.
Faylor tries to keep the price of his daily specials affordable, at about $11. “While dealing with high-end meats, things can get pricey, but it’s important to keep things affordable for the community,” he says. “This is affordable. People can come in here and leave satisfied without spending a lot of money. Creating a better community has to be that way – unintentional. People come out to have an amazing meal, but if the byproduct of it is helping to keep small towns like Argos running, well, why not?”
He also has a growing carry-out business. An event room is available for private parties and seats about 100 people. Catering is also available, either through the restaurant or from Faylor’s food truck.
For Thanksgiving, he is offering smoked turkey as a catering option for his customers. His priority, however, is the restaurant.
“This is our heart and soul,” he says. “If the lights are on and we are open, I’m going to be here.”
There’s also a full bar and craft beer available.
Faylor is committed to sourcing his produce and ingredients locally as much as possible. He partnered with his landlord to plant a small orchard just four blocks from the restaurant, with a large vegetable garden coming in the spring. It’s part of a slow move to a farm-to-table approach that partners quite well with the meats he stakes his reputation on.
His hope is that this will make the restaurant a destination.
“When I come in and see families enjoying their meal or customers coming back again, that means a lot to me,” he says.
Town Square Tavern & Eatery is located at 110 South Michigan Avenue in Argos. For more information, call 574-948-1439.