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Jun 9, 2009 07:58 AM

Best Chicken Fried Steak in Austin and the Hinterlands

Time to revisit the epic question that all Austin hounds crowd to the plate over:Where do we go to get the best CFS?

For the sake of argument let's include the outlying areas of town as well.Spicewood,Burnet,Taylor,Webberville,Bastrop,Kyle et al should all be considered.

Need I say if the Chicken Fried Steak was assembled in some far off factory,individually quick frozen,then rolled into town via freezer truck it's not up for consideration?

What's Chicken Fried Steak without gravy? Obviously the gravy needs to be a cooperative effort with a fine cow,preferably Holstein or Guernsey but others will be considered if the argument is sound.

Here's an old post with lots of recommendations to get the ball rolling.

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  1. Cover 3 makes an amazing CFS with green chile cream gravy. However, they make it with tenderloin instead of pounded flank or some such. Crust is crunchy and flavorful, just the right amount of salt and pepper.

    I also like the chicken fried venison at Mesa Ranch. However, I haven't had it in over six months...

    3 Replies
    1. re: amysuehere

      I haven't tried them all obviously but Hoover's is my favorite out of the places that I've sampled CFS (Threagills, Hyde Park Bar).

      1. re: nypb

        2 Cents: There's a reason people search out Lola's and Galloway's and the like. That reason is Hoover's. I decided to give it another shot last night (it's close) and the food is just an embarrassment. Luby's would commit Hari kari if that was the best CFS they could come up with. I'll spare you the agony of dessert.
        service is top notch however.

        1. re: NWLarry

          Going to have to agree with you NWLarry. I didn't respond to Troy (further down in the post) about Hoover's because I've never found it to be as good as the CFS was at Good Eats. If Hoover was the head chef at Good Eats, me must've decided to change the recipe for his own restaurant.

    2. The best CFS I've ever had was at Louisiana Longhorn Cafe in Round Rock. The worst CFS I've had was at Louisiana Longhorn the next time I went expecting the orgasmic experience I'd had previously. They'd switched to cheaper meat, or had completely forgotten to tenderize.

      Whoever said "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" was certainly not interested in chicken fried steak.

      1 Reply
      1. re: stephanieh

        I had the same experience with their gumbo. Took a whole bunch of coworkers back telling them how good it was- then I was served a bowl of glue!

        Anyhow, sticking to the topic, the cafe at Freescale/Motorola had a damn good cfs, but with the reduction in staff, there was a reduction in the cafe output and size.

      2. The CFS at RO's outpost (on hwy 71) is tasty. Part of the effect comes from the extreme hunger that develops as you wait 35-40 minutes for it to pan fry. Also, for a quick and cheap fix, dare I say... LUBY's? A LuAnn platter is down to $5.99 on weekdays, even less if you're a senior.

        8 Replies
        1. re: thereman

          Blanco Bowl is as sweetly old fashioned as an old timey southern "Chat and Chew".

          I love sitting at a good lunch counter.I miss terribly the Woolworth chain which featured[at least in The South]meat and 3 style foods along with towering club sandwiches,greasy burgers[they griddled the buns using mayonnaise as the fat]and made to order ice cream delicacies.

          Blanco Bowl opened in 1947.I can't be sure but it feels like little has changed in the years that have followed.

          I'm greeted pleasantly upon walking in,seat myself at the lunch counter and begin reading the menu.

          It's classic southern fare with all the Chicken Fried Steak,Fried Eggs,Biscuits and mashed potatoes you could hope for.The daily special is roast beef in brown gravy with mashers and a vegetable option.I have other plans however.The recent revival of the cfs thread on the Austin board has filled me with a hankering for a good pounded steak drenched in cream gravy and this cafe's prospects seem very promising.

          Part of the appeal of sitting at the counter is the opportunity to mix it up with the staff.I'm rarely happier than when I'm surrounded by a passel of middle-age country girls and I'm in heaven when they're waitresses.

          I've landed smack in the middle of a gabfest.Half the girls are about to get off after a long day[it's 2 pm and they've been there since 6am]and they're gamboling about like school girls planning their afternoons and evenings with all manner of hi-jinx.

          One nice lady tells me the owners had to change the opening time on Sunday morning cause the gals party so hard on Saturday night they were having a hard time making it in to work on time.

          My platter arrives and it's a beauty.A chicken fried steak the size of a nearby tabletop is somehow on the plate along with fresh-cut french fries and a classic iceberg salad[with ranch of course].

          The steak is perfectly fried,encased in a crispy dredge with plenty salt and black pepper.The gravy is genuine,real deal,cow-based cream gravy.The best I've had in the Austin area.It's hard for me to pass up mashed potatoes with my CFS but when I realize Blanco Bowl serves homemade french fries all bets are off.I love these fries.Homely cut,pleasantly mealy inside with a good light brown crusty outer,these are the kind of potatoes I dream of.

          The food and the atmosphere are pure old-time Texas smalltown.In other words as good as it gets in the good old USA.

          In my quest for the perfect chicken fried steak Blanco Bowl's going to be tough to beat.It's the best I've found in the area.The one two punch of atmosphere and chow put it at the pinnacle for me.

            1. re: scrumptiouschef

              Interesting; googling "Blanco Bowl" returns, other than kitchen items, only scrumptiouschef's posting above.

              1. re: thebodytx

                Try searching Blanco Bowling Club Cafe.

                1. re: sighmesigh

                  Sorry for being so vague about where it is.


                  All the info you need as far as map,phone number etc.Definitely worth a small trip out of Austin proper.

                  1. re: scrumptiouschef

                    Definitely going to have to check it out. Seems like a good place to stop for lunch along the way to Fredericksburg or Boerne.

                    1. re: verily

                      The quest continues.

                      I remember the old days of the Texas board[Austin didn't have one]when a CFS thread would ignite a firestorm of replies.Everybody had an opinion and the discussion would get hotter than hell as hounds volleyed back and forth on the merits of their favorites.

                      Everything eventually changes and nowhere is it writ larger than when "high tea in Austin" outstrips chicken fried steak for fervency of response.Don't think I don't like a good high tea now and again but my daily bread leans more in the direction of steak,potatoes and Red Diamond than what they were serving up at Bawdsey Manor before the close.

                      At six dollars and fifty cents the CFS lunch platter at Broken Spoke is a very good value.They've sold smooth out of mashed potatoes though and that ends up being a good thing as the french fries[though commercial]are excellent.Big,thick-cut steak fries cooked crispy in clean frying oil are hard to come by in Austin.They get even better when dragged through the gravy puddling up on top of the steak.

                      The hand-breaded cubed steak is in need of some seasoning as it skews towards the underseasoned side of country cooking.A little salt and pepper helps immensely.The steak itself has a good chew to it.The side of the fork will cut it if you bear down but a little elbow grease is required.

                      A salad topped with Hidden Valley Ranch and a scoop of canned corn make the meal a complete blue plate.The salad is iceberg with a little red cabbage,crisp and fresh and better than what you might expect from a honkytonk.I love Hidden Valley so the dressing is just fine.The canned yellow niblets gets alot better once I put a few pats of actual cow's butter,salt and some black pepper on them.

                      A slice of cold light bread is tossed on the plate as well.An icon like the Spoke not putting a hunk of griddled Texas Toast on their CFS platter is criminal.James White should be ashamed of himself.Don't cut the brakes on a meal that could be a feast by such half hearted foolishness.

                      Atmosphere is pure Texas.The Spoke's been sitting down on Lamar since 1964 and it shows its' age-in a good way.It's cool and dark and if music,instead of Fox news had been playing one would imagine it would've been Merle,Lefty,Spade and Conway.It IS Austin,not the Austin of 2009 whatever that is but a peek into a mirror back when this town was full of joints with gravel parking lots,ice cold Pearl on tap and fried steak with a side of Doug Sahm about to take the stage.

                      1. re: scrumptiouschef

                        It sounds like the nostalgia is better than the food......a meal that amounts to a TV dinner. You wrote it up well, however!

          1. My favorite CFS remains at the Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls. I just haven't found a place that beats it. I am, however, always disappointed in the sides, bread, etc at the restaurant. The pie is great, but that's about it.

            1. Just returned from Dahlia's, in Liberty Hill. Husband says "Best CFS ever"! Tender beef, breading that doesn't fall off when you cut the steak. The jalapeno cream gravy is a nice step up from the usual cream gravy (which is also available). Freshly made sides include snap beans, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, fried okra that is obviously not from a bag. Large, clean, airy room, friendly and attentive wait staff. Also has nice outdoor seating under beautiful old oaks, live music on occasion. We're going back!!
              Must explore the nice list of pies, and some sort of brownie/ice cream extravaganza.
              Wine, beer, cold fresh iced tea, too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: j_o_J

                I have been meaning to write about Dahlia's on this thread but just haven't taken the time. I did write about it on the Texas board a few months ago when we first discovered it. The CFS is hand breaded and fried to a good crisp. The jalepeno gravy is obviously made from scratch and has just the right amount of heat. My favorite side by far is the fried okra. Soaked in buttermilk and then coated with cormeal, it is delicious. It is better than my momma's even (don't tell her!). You can actually taste the okra and the breading just gives it that yummy crunch.

                I have tried the pecan pie and it appeared to be made fresh and was delicious. We love this place. We have also tried the chili cheese burger (yum), grilled chicken (still juicy, yum), onion rings (can't remember much, so I'd say average but good), and green beans (fresh and cooked perfectly - not to mush). They are closed on Sunday and Monday, so don't make the trek out there on those days. But definitely go!!!