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Alamo Cafe (San Antonio), home of the worst cfs in Texas

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I stopped at Alamo Cafe on I-10 for lunch today without realizing that it was a Mexican restaurant. I had a Hamburger in mind, but settled on the chicken fried steak because from somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I had remembered someone praising it. And besides, the waiter assurred me that it was a popular item.

What arrived at my table was was a strange concotion that oozed grease and water with every attempted bite. The said liquids so overwhelmed any flavor this piece of meat might have had, that even the globby and thick white gravy (which I wound up spooning off) could not compensate for it. And to add insult to injury, the green beans side was of the canned variety, another water soaked mess that had long ago lost any nutritional value that nature had granted it.

Thankfully, the waiter offerred to bring out some grilled vegetables, but they turned out to be greasy also. Then, seeing as I had barely eaten, he had the good sense to remove the cfs from my bill. Discussing the cfs, he mentioned that it was not really steak but, rather, ground beef, batterred and fried like cfs. Which might explain why it was so liquidy: In order to keep its shape, a flattened ground beef patty would have to be frozen and thawed out while frying; hence the water content, right? I guess Alamo Cafe does good Mexican food...

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  1. Given your experience with the CFS, would you be surprised to hear that their Mexican food is terrible, too? Yet for some reason, Alamo Cafe constantly wins "awards" for their flour tortillas—despite the fact that S.A. is full of more delicious options.

    1. If you want good CFS, try the Tip Top Cafe on Fredericksburg.

      2 Replies
      1. re: saeyedoc

        Never heard of using ground beef for chicken fried steak.If I did that at home I would form it into patties and cook it first,then dip in batter and fry.
        Alamo Cafe is mainly Tex-Mex.Trying to think of some other places for cfs.
        I try to avoid eating it since fried foods give me an upset stomach.I had one at Jim's that was alright.

        1. re: saeyedoc

          I second Tip-Top Cafe, bring cash, I don't think they take Credit Card.

        2. I remember Alamo Cafe being pretty good about 20 years ago - when there was one location on San Pedro. Today, I only go under duress, which means family dinner out where my brother's kids can run around like lunatics. So, other than terribly mediocre food, the second reason I don't got to Alamo Cafe is because it's full of screaming children. But I digress ... If you want a really good chicken fried steak, I vote for Josephine Street Cafe.

          1 Reply
          1. re: SAgal

            I'll second Josephine Street Cafe. Wish I got into town more often.

          2. People have accused Barbecue Inn in Houston of using ground beef patties for their CFS. It's fork tender, free of gristle and you get 2 pieces that are round - shaped like thick hamburger patties. I haven't had it since the suggestion was made in another forum but it seems plausible and not such a bad idea so long as it doesn't come out like yours. Some people think it's great but I've found all the foods at BBQ Inn bland so I haven't been in several years. According to Robb Walsh when John T. Edge of the Southern Food Alliance came to Houston to promote his book on fried chicken he wanted to go to BBQ Inn - for the CFS, not the fried chicken.

            1. I'll put J&J's Steakhouse (kerrville) cfs up against anybody's for the worst of all time trophy.

              2 Replies
              1. re: waistedinkerrville

                I might tend to disagree with you on the J & J worst CFS and not even leave Kerrville. I had a CFS at the Riverstone in K'ville and it couldn't have gotten any worse. I had to spit out about half of the meat, which left a disgusting looking mess on my plate, because I could not chew it. The crust had a very odd shape, not even closely resembling the shape of the meat and had several colors, one of the a dark brown like the batter had fried more done at these places. Not only was the CFS bad but it was also ugly which certainly triumphs mere poor quality tasting food.

                1. re: singlemalt

                  Lot of time passed between visits to this board. You probably know by now that the best CFS in Kerrville is Billie Gene's and the Lakehouse, not in that order.

              2. Respectfully, you are mistaken! First of all Alamo Cafe isn't a Mexican Restaurant, it's Tex-Mex and there is a difference. Though most places claiming Mexican are also Tex-Mex. At any rate....

                Alamo Cafe has the BEST chicken friend steak I have ever had. I order it everywhere I go in the hopes of finding one as good (since I don't live in San Antonio anymore) and no place has even come close. The quesadillas are also out of this world, partly because of the world's best tortillas. Yes, the tortillas are not only deserving of any awards but also free.

                The I-10 location is usually a way worse dining experience than the 281 location however. Screaming kids are present along with a borderline rude wait staff. At 281, you will suffer a much longer wait but it has always been worth it.

                1. Not only did J&J Steakhouse have the number one baddie in cfs , they had the worse everything. They even had mis-spellings on their daily special board....and wouldn't change it! Give all that, they are now closed.

                  Haven't tried Riverstone's, but everytime I pass the place I wonder how they stay open. No cars in the lot.....only one or two at the separate bar bldg. Hmmmmm.

                  1. Hmmm... I used to work there as a kid and we did'nt use frozen meat. We had to weigh and then pound that damn ground beef out every day and all cooked to order. Granted the green beans were canned but we spruced that up adding bacon and onions to it. Everything else was made fresh! I worked at I-10 back in the 90's.

                    1. I have to agree with the Alamo Cafe worst CFS in town sentiment. Alamo Cafe was a mediocre place to get homestyle food many years ago but it is no longer worth going there - for anything. Tip Tip and Josephine St both have very good CFS. Some folks really like that place that used to be downtown - Jailhouse or something like that. Shaq used to take his laker buddies there for CFS whenever they were in town.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: san antonio eater

                        Yeah Lulu's is still around, I saw an ad in the paper for Lulu's Jailhouse Cafe.
                        I ate once at Alamo Cafe on San Pedro years ago, but don't even remember how it tasted. Most places around here do chicken fried steak.
                        Haven't tried Bud Jones on S.W.Military or Tip Top.
                        I'm not a real fan of it, but will eat it once in awhile.We never made it at home, and only eat it in restaurants.

                      2. I know this will sound like heresy but I have to say I love Chili's (yes, whack me here, but try it) CFS. They use angus beef, somehow manage to develop an airy, crunchy and for an hour- relatively greaseless- flavorful, pepper-speckled crust. The gravy? Thick, rich, flavorful, not gummy, get it on on the side. The masheds are good. The corn on the cob, a feast for buttery overcooked, golden cob lovers like me...seriously. Chili's the chain. Good CFS. Now I bend for my whipping. On another note, try the milanesa con papas at Lisa's. It's Mexican-style chicken-fried steak, pounded thin, no gravy, thin crust. Truly a good dish if executed well. The papas usually come simply fried in chunks.