Full rack of Baby Back Pork Ribs and a Steak Sandwich at Cody's Beef 'n Beans (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Since 1988, Cody’s Beef ‘n Beans has served hand-cut steaks at an affordable price in a comfortable environment. In March, the restaurant celebrated its 30th anniversary and is ushering in the start of its new decade with a change in ownership. Though Cody’s Beef ‘n Beans recently switched hands, they’re committed to preserving one of the famous traditions that formed Cody’s.
“Well the previous owner, Rohn, his father, had a lot of butchering knowledge,” said Geoffrey Boucher, new owner at Cody’s. “He decided to take that and make a restaurant with it. We’ve been cutting our own steaks for 30 years. From what I’ve been told, Rohn’s dad was quick with the bandsaw.”
Unlike most steakhouses that receive their steaks already cut, Cody’s receives primal cuts and cuts them each by hand. They do it just like they did when they opened — with a bandsaw. Their selections include rib eye, porterhouse, top sirloin, and bacon-wrapped filets. They also grind their own hamburger. Their tender steaks have earned them the reputation, “It’s a cut above the rest.”
“I think people are excited about knowing where their food comes from,” Boucher said. “Knowing, hey, I cut this this morning — it’s that fresh. We’re local. Locally-owned. I’ve lived here my whole life. I think that’s big for people right now too, to support the local market.”
It’s not only the steaks that make Cody’s a unique pick for lunch or dinner. Their atmosphere is authentically Western, with the decor to prove it. A pair of wagon wheels fastens to a wooden beam, and monumental ox horns hang on the back wall.
Steak Sandwich at Cody’s Beef ‘n Beans (Credit: Jackie Tran)
“When I walk in, I’ve never seen another steakhouse that looks like this,” said Tyrell Potter, general manager at Cody’s. “It’s very mom-and-pop. And that’s the big aspect that we have here.”
Between the atmosphere and the quality of the food, the regulars agree. Cody’s points to the loyalty of their regulars as part of the reason they’ve been a staple in Tucson for the past 30 years.
“We have such great regulars,” Boucher said. “We’ve got 30 or 40 people who are here twice, three times a week. It’s a really fulfilling feeling, knowing that what you’re putting out, people come back for over and over.”
Boucher took right to the swing of things after the previous owners retired. Before making the move to ownership, he started as a dishwasher at Zona 78 when he was a high school senior. He worked his way into the kitchen and left at the end of 2017 around the same time that the owners from Cody’s retired. Now, any changes he plans to make to the restaurant are minor, mostly upgrading equipment and making procedural changes. As for the menu, he sees that some things have worked well how they are for a reason.
“I didn’t change the barbecue sauce. I think people would riot if I did,” Boucher said.
Full rack of Baby Back Pork Ribs at Cody’s Beef ‘n Beans (Credit: Jackie Tran)
While famous for their steaks and ribs, Cody’s offers a variety of other dishes including salmon, Pueblo Chicken, and their BBQ Pork Sandwich. Although the menu doesn’t feature anything modern or adventurous, its consistency and little touches such as house-made salad dressings and daily-baked bread have also helped cement Cody’s as a go-to neighborhood restaurant.
One of the flagship specialties, the Baby Back Pork Ribs features a sauce on the sweeter side and pairs perfectly with Malbec. The meat isn’t smoky, but easily yields to gentle pressure and flows with juice. The Steak Sandwich features a generous portion of tender top sirloin on a French roll with lettuce and tomato — simple, but it highlights the quality of the beef.
While portions are affordable and generous, save room for the Peanut Butter Fudge Pie. It features a perfect balance of crunch and light smoothness, a must for anybody who enjoys a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
As for the food that shares the restaurant name?
“A lot of our customers order our beef and beans,” Potter said. “Especially the regulars. And I’m talking the regulars that have been coming here since this place opened in ‘88. I’ve had conversations with regulars who are like yeah, I remember when this place first opened. And I’m like, wow, Cody’s didn’t just create a restaurant. It created a family.”
Cody’s Beef ‘n Beans is located at 2708 E. Fort Lowell Rd. For more information, visit codysbeef.com.