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Best Cheap Steak 

5 ox. Filet at the Bamboo Hut

There's a lot to love at the Bamboo Hut. There's the idea that it's out on Highway 40 in Independence, past a few strip clubs and no-tell motels; just driving there feels sexy in that seedy, wrong-part-of-town kind of way. There's the fact that, inside, it feels like a wood-paneled, basement rec room -- which calls to mind the dens of inequity where those of us of a certain age used to drink our parents' booze and make out back in the '70s. There are the hardened yet cheerful waitresses, who really do call us "hon" and remember us on our second visit. There are the pepper poppers and turkey fries and thick Texas toast oozing salty butter. But most of all, there are the cheap steaks. We're partial to the little filet -- on the menu it's called a "5 ox. Filet." (We love typos on dive-bar menus.) Just $9.95 buys a salad and a sizzling metal tray holding a massive baked potato with two overflowing paper cups (one for sour cream, the other for butter), a couple of slices of that Texas toast and a beautiful piece of perfectly cooked, soft, red meat lined with smoky bacon. We're old enough to buy our own liquor now, and at Bamboo Hut, the Budweiser cans come freezing cold. After dinner, we still enjoy making out in the rec room.

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