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Texas Chicken Fried Steak

  • j

I don't see any postings on Chicken Fried Steak. I'm on a hunt for the best. So far, I'm ashamed to say, it's in Deadwood, South Dakota in a casino. Please send suggestions. Looking for something that compares to Schubert's in Giddings or the Cottonwood Inn in La Grange.

PS: What's the real difference between chicken fried chicken and fried chicken.


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  1. d
    David Pearlman

    Best I know is at Babe's Chicken Dinner House in Roanoke, which also has the best fried chicken I've ever had.

    Don't know the difference between fried chicken and chicken fried chicken; I've never seen the latter. Since chicken fried steak is steak cooked like fried chicken, I didn't think there could be a chicken fried chicken, just a fried chicken.

    4 Replies
    1. re: David Pearlman

      I'm no expert, but a little cafe that I frequent does have "chicken-fried chicken" on the menu. It's a chicken cutlet - fairly large boneless breast of chicken - treated and prepared like a "chicken-fried steak" and served that way, too, with cream gravy, side of fries or mashed potatoes, etc.

      Does seem silly, doesn't it. But still. If I ordered "fried chicken," I'd expect the regular, bone-in pieces - leg, thigh, breast with bone, wing, etc.

      1. re: ChrissieH

        Not so so silly, though. As discussed above, chicken fried chicken is boneless and thus it's a matter of knife and fork versus the hand held models. It's more of a sit down restaurant item. The real "plus" for me is that you get the fried, crunchy stuff on both sides of the eatable part of the chicken piece. We also do the same thing with boneless thighs at home.

        1. re: ChrissieH

          That's exactly my experience. Chicken fried chicken is usually the boneless breast where fried chicken is the bone in pieces. I would ask for clarification when ordering though to be sure.

        2. re: David Pearlman

          I'm from Texas and never heard of Chicken Fried Chicken until I moved to Georgia.
          I believe the diff in Fried Chicken and CFC is that CFC is a flattened chicken breast that is then fried like CFS.
          Jack C.

        3. There are lots of posts about Chicken-Fried Steak. Just look further down on the Texas thread. There are several places where folks have taken up the chicken-fried debate and discussed it AT LENGTH.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChrissieH

            now, now chrissie you are well known as a cranky rock goddess (and um, vegetarian?) but play nice with the newbies. you know how many times we get, "whats the best restaurant in times square?" asked over on the manhattan board? ;)

            i liked the cfs at HOOVERS but i do not go for that white gravy stuff on it. i've had it at THREADGILLS too and someplace in hill country maybe BUSBEES BBQ in bandera? maybe i have not tried the greatest examples of cfs i'm not sure from this thread sounds like no. ok, rock on homegirl my wife just saw you at the beacon theater great show-ha!

          2. Chicken fried chicken - boneless chicken breast "chicken fried" but served with cream gravy makes it chicken fried chicken instead of just fried chicken.

            Best I've had to this point is Hoovers on Manor in Austin.

            1. Country Inn in Brenham has best CFS I've had in Central Texas. It is far better than anyplace in Austin. Agree with poster below on Babe's Chicken Dinner House in Roanoke (just north of Ft. Worth) near Texas Motor Speedway. Best fried chicken I've had since the Chicken Shack in Waco and Youngblood's in Austin closed...

              4 Replies
              1. re: Howard Coone

                Regarding the Country Inn in Brenham, I whole heartedly (one word?) agree but will go one step further and say it's the best I've ever had anywhere. If you can finish a large portion, you're a better person than I. Hoover's is the best I've had in Austin but not orgasmic. Don't believe what the (Austin)Chronicle says (ROs?...don't waste your time making the trek) or think that Threadgill's CFS is even one tenth as good as it was say 7-8 years ago.

                1. re: Lou

                  Finish a large order, you mean the TWO large steaks? No way, that plate feeds me, my wife and three old with some left over...

                  1. re: Lou

                    I agree that Hoover's isn't the best I've ever had, but is the best I've had in Austin in the last several years. The first time I had CFS at Hoover's, I drove over to Threadgills and threw rocks at the place.

                  2. re: Howard Coone

                    I have never had the CFS at the Country Inn in Brenham but I have had it at the original Country Inn in Somerville and it was fantastic. The small CFS hung off the plate and was perfectly prepared. The place is not fancy but the food was very good.

                  3. West Grey Cafe in Houston used to serve up a fine CFS. I haven't been in years so I don't know what it is like now.
                    On Fridays Langford's has a great CFS as well.
                    For fried chicken you aint lived until you had Frenchy's Cicken on Scott Street near UH.

                    1. In the Dallas area the best I have found is Babe's. Either the one in Roanoke or the one in North Garland. Roanoke has a better atmosphere but Garland has a bigger menu (all good that I've tried) plus very good dessert. Their chicken fried steak is A+ but the main thing is the GRAVY is real. Made with meat drippings and has flavor. Not that thick, white tasteless pasty stuff you get at the chains and most other places.....yuk.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: LindaH

                        Babe's has great CFS. However, I prefer the one in Sanger. Ponder Steak House, Ponder, TX is also very good.

                        1. re: myjunkster

                          For a cowboy style chicken fried steak try Mary's Cafe in Strawn. I would sya they have the best I have ever had. Very tender (fork tender) and flavorful. I believe they have 3 or 4 sizes and they are quite large. It is well worth the trip from Dallas/Fort Worth to the west to Strawn. I actually tried Babe's and Mary's on the same day and found Mary's to be superior. The fries on the side at Mary's were also better than the side of mashed potatoes you get at Babe's. The gravy at Mary's is definitely housemade and at Babe's it was reconstituted packaged (Roanoke location).

                          Also to answer the PS. Fried chicken vs chicken fried chicken. Chicken fried chicken is a chicken breast pounded flat and prepared the same way a chicken fried steak is. Fried chicken is a whole fryer chicken cut into pieces, dredged in flour and seasonings, and then fried. The recipes for fried chicken depend on what region you are in (i.e. some places brine the chicken before frying, others soak it in buttermilk, other like Babe's and the former Brother's just dredge and fry)

                          1. re: myjunkster

                            I'll chime in on the goodness of that gravy at Mary's, which is unmistakenly housemade. Unfortunately, I wasn't as excited about the chicken fried steak as mine was not fork tender and included the gristle that cubed steak is known for. It was also different than what Babe's serves in that Mary's is pan-fried rather than deep fried. The pan frying technique will not permit the thick crust, so the "steak" is meatier in nature, and yes, lends for more flavor ESPECIALLY with that fabulous gravy. When I saw the salad, I really didn't think I'd enjoy it as it was chopped fine, resembling cole slaw. But it was well chilled and retained a nice crunch and tasted really good.

                            I stopped in on a return from Lubbock. If I were to be out that way again, I'd definitely make a second stop, but wouldn't make a special drive. However, it certainly is representative of small town "cafe America" and for that ambiance, it can't be beaten.

                            I have been wanting to return to Ponder. I was there years ago and remember it being iffy, but don't remember why. Thanks my, for putting it back on my radar. If I remember, I believe they also have pan-fried T-bones and homemade pie????? And the aroma as you wait outside for a table would make you swoon!

                            1. re: CocoaNut

                              Nix the CFS @ Ponder Steak House. Went there for lunch about a month ago - very unremarkable from the steak to the gravy to the fries - nice crust (deep fried) on the steak, but no flavor (required lots of salt and pepper) and the meat was tougher than I remembered. The gravy was the pkg'd stuff - again no flavor.

                              1. re: CocoaNut

                                amen found the same thing when I ate there a couple of years ago.

                        2. God bless the crunchy stuff!!

                          1. Although I love Hoover's CFS, my favorite is at the 290 Cafe on 290 East in Manor. The CFS completely covers the plate and is seasoned and fried perfectly. The sides are uniformly supurb as well.

                            The best reason to eat at the 290 Cafe is the funky rural atmosphere of the joint. Farmers and workers from East of town gather at lunchtime to confab and visit.

                            1. Truly - now I REALLY mean this - the bestest, bestest cfs I've ever had is in Hearne (outside of College Station) at Johnny Reb's. Way the heck in the middle of no-whare, but oh-my-god!!!!

                              1. The best CFS can be had at The Hickory Hollow in Houston, Texas.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: JDB

                                  the best in dallas is metro diner off gaston. it is sooo good

                                  1. re: JDB

                                    Not any more ! Way back, 15-20 years ago, The ORIGINAL (and then only) Hickory Hollow on Fallbrook Drive, had some of the best CFS's in Houston. Real gravy and good, thick steaks battered and fried just right. Now that location and the one in the Heights serves thin steaks that are not much thicker that the batter itself and "gravy" that comes in a package from some place up north. Good atmosphere though but can't eat that.

                                  2. Just had the best CFS I've ever had -

                                    At a new place, Tony's Soul Food restaurant, 1201 (I think) East 6th in Austin.

                                    1. Chicke fried steak is a piece of steak fried like fried chicken.

                                      1. Best I've had recently is Steak Angus in Mesquite. They have the creamy (NOT CHALKY) gravy, and the rolls are to die for.

                                        1. For quantity: Lulu's Bakery and Cafe - San Antonio
                                          (website gone)
                                          For quality: O'Brien's - Bergheim

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: RGVHound

                                            Stopped at Hill Country Cupboard in Johnson City for a chicken fried steak yesterday. Breading very crispy, meat was flavorful, a little tough. Gravy well executed, mixing the Mexican topping (cheese & thickened salsa) with the gravy was a nice result. Onion rings, and fried green tomatoes were good as well.

                                          2. mels in houston suburbs....not sure which one. maybe magnolia. can cut it with just your fork, don't even need a knife, slightly spicy breading, lyle lovett's favorite spot, i've seen him there numerous times. shady grove in austin has a good one too.

                                            1. The chicken fried steak at Olenjack's is out of this world. It literally can be cut with a fork, has a nice tasting, meaty inside with a flavorful, crunchy outside and no discernable oiliness from the deep frying. The aged cutlet of meat is obviously a grade or 2 above the traditional cubed/minute steak that is traditionally used. Unfortunately, the sides of mashed potatoes and corn didn't pass muster. The potatoes were overly stiff and the corn held no flavor - next visit, I'll definitely ask if they allow subs.

                                              The warmed bread is great - tender on the inside with a wonderfully delicate, but crispy thin crust at the edges.

                                              Olenjack's is in Arlington at Lincoln Square. For those who follow the chefs, Brian Olenjack is chef/owner. The restaurant is casually upscale.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: CocoaNut

                                                Oddly enough the best I've had in a while is Charleston's, in Fort Worth. Charleston's is not too bad copy of Houston's. In fact they do a really good job on everything I've tried so far. Their CFS is great. It is cooked pefectly has a wonderful crust and the gravy has real flavor. It is not just warm white paste. If you are in the area give it a try, I'd say it's worth the calories.

                                              2. They have great ones at Del Rancho in Allen TX and Chubby's in Plano. I don't know if they are chains but I think they are both in other places around the Dallas area. Not fancy places but have very good chicken fried steaks made from real steak=not that pressed stuff.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: s.JEAN

                                                  I have to agree on the CFS at Del Rancho. Best in Dallas. And they now have chicken fried chicken as well, though I always get the steak version.

                                                  1. re: kruxter

                                                    I wonder at your claim that Del Rancho's CFS is the "Best in Dallas". How many other places have you tried? I haven't been to all the places in Dallas, but I'd certainly put it below Cowboy Chow's, although it's also cheaper. The beef is well tenderized but it's also a fairly cheap, flavorless cut. The breading is the best part, nicely seasoned, and crispy but not "lacerating" around the edges where it's dry. In the middle, where it wallows under a pool of bland, margarine flavored, dingy colored gravy, it loses it's crunch, although it does manage to adhere nicely to the beef. All in all it's edible, but not worth more than a 5 minute drive out of your way. Probably around a C or C+ on Scott's scale.

                                                    Plus I can't say I'm big on the "charm" of placing your order through a telephone that the waitress listens to over a speakerphone...talk about awkward...

                                                2. Just after the turn of the millenium I was required to be in Seabrook on several occasions. I discovered the best CFS at the Classic Cafe and ate that, there, several times. I'd like to know if they're still that good after all this time and Ike.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: waistedinkerrville

                                                    Raven's Grill at Texas Star Golf Course in (of all places) Euless, TX (Mid Cities between Dallas and FW) has a crazy good hand breaded CFS. This is not your mother's CFS... it is hearty, heavy and off-the-hook-greatness soaked in gravy served with a side of smashed potato. You shouldn't order this one on the turn; reserve for a lackadaisical afternoon without the clubs, or the very least the 19th hole. This is a hang off the plate taste treat that will please the most discriminating bastard on your Xmas list. Where else but Texas can you find a CFS and a creme brulee and wine at a golf course but in Texas? menu below:


                                                    1. re: DallasDude

                                                      They do a pretty jam up good job on breakfast also......

                                                    2. re: waistedinkerrville

                                                      Not sure about Classic Cafe but T-Bone Tom's in Kemah has one of the best CFS in the bay area.

                                                      1. re: swamp

                                                        I really want to try T-Bone Tom's ever since another poster gave a review about it. It is going to be on Guy Fiere (sp?) Diners, Dives & Drive Ins. I'm sure it will be packed after that shows, so I think now is the time to go! And I do love a good CFS. How is the gravy?

                                                        1. re: swamp

                                                          T- Bone Tom's is probably my favorite CFS in Texas. I need to get over there again soon. I have never had anything else there. I could say that about several places though. I also really enjoy the CFS spud at Randy's smokehouse on Hwy 3. So unhealthy but sooo good.

                                                      2. If you're in the North Dallas area then you try Del Rancho in Allen. If you are in the Garland area the try Babe's..

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: kruxter

                                                          Skip Del Rancho. Any sit down restaurant with a "Texas" focus will have better. It's the worst gravy I've had on CFS since I was eating in a grade school cafeteria.

                                                          1. re: luniz

                                                            What is it? Kind of like Sizzler steakhouse (not even sure there's any still around - so I guess depending on age, you may not remember them)

                                                            1. re: CocoaNut

                                                              It's a fast food place that focuses on burgers and sandwiches. The other stuff may be good (I'm not going to spend money trying to find out) but the CFS was not impressive. It would be edible without the gravy, but probably not top 20 for Dallas.

                                                        2. Johnny 5-0, Salt Grass Steak House has the Best Chicke Fried Steak I have ever had. If you can muster the courage to order CFS at a steak restaraunt, you will be pleasantly surprised.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: majorgreg

                                                            A chain restaurant having the "best"??? Oh come on now?? ;-)

                                                          2. The new restaurant on Henderson Ave in Dallas called Park does a very respectable version. It's relatively new and probably scene-y and the CFS there is $17 iirc. But it's pan fried and an excellent cut of meat, with a respectable sauce. Probably not better than Mary's, but enough to make the 2 hour drive less worthwhile.

                                                            1. Any CFS joints with a sausage (especially if it's spicy) gravy, a red pepper gravy, a spicy black pepper gravy. or something with a pan sauce base for that meaty flavor? Anything to avoid the usual, bland as hell, sawmill gravy. Close to Houston would be good, but will travel for great food. Great biscuits would be a plus.

                                                              1. So far the best chicken fried steak that I've had is at Goodson's Cafe in Tomball, Tx. It is just slightly northwest of Houston. It has even been featured on the Food Network. I live fairly close to Tomball, and when out of town guests come, that is the only place they ever want to go every time they are here.

                                                                10 Replies
                                                                1. re: janmor58

                                                                  hey all, Need some help with this..............................Being a canadian, with zero CFS experience, was wondering what the theory behind this dish is? doesn't this just completely mask the flavour of a great steak? or.is it a way of covering up a lower grade of steak? Even here in canada the thought of battering a steak is considored absolutly crazy. Would appreciete your thoughts

                                                                  1. re: NorfolkGuy

                                                                    It is usually a cheaper cut like round steak. I have heard of chicken fried ribeye, but never tried it. When tenderized and cooked properly, it is tender and delicious, like the one I make. Being in Canada, the only way to get a proper one is to make it yourself. If you see one in a restaurant north of say, Oklahoma, or east of Port Arthur, Texas, I'd avoid it.

                                                                    1. re: NorfolkGuy

                                                                      NG, your questions are well asked. A properly prepared, seasoned and "gravied" CFS is truly a culinary work of art. The floured exterior is used neither to mask nor cover up a lower grade of meat, but rather enhance the flavor and texture. Round steak or other lesser cuts are typically used, but depending on the restaurant, sirloin may be used.

                                                                      Correctly prepared, the steak is mechanically "tenderized", folded over on itself, tenderized again and again, sometimes to the point of being pulverized. It is then dredged in a seasoned flour prior to being skillet fried in a fair amount of oil - but not so much to deep fry. Once browned and cooked through, the steak is removed and the pan drippings are used to create a white, cream gravy - flour, milk or water, salt and lots of pepper.

                                                                      Other preps involve a batter (as you suggested) and deep frying.

                                                                      1. re: CocoaNut

                                                                        The only way I differ is I tenderize my own with a meat cleaver, pounding both sides first with the larger "teeth". Then I flour it, and pound in the flour with the smaller "teeth." I also dip it in milk and egg, and then back in flour. It comes out tender and crunchy. That's the way mom did it.

                                                                        1. re: CocoaNut

                                                                          Thanks for the replys, have always been interested in this particlar southern dish.
                                                                          I hadnt realized the meat was so "handled", pictured taking a 12oz new york strip and dipping it in batter and deep frying it. Much thanks for all your clarifications and now now im hungry!!

                                                                          1. re: NorfolkGuy

                                                                            "Handled" indeed, I think CocoaNut put it right, the meat is virtually pulverized. I know it's ready to fry when little bits of meat and flour are flying around the kitchen.

                                                                        2. re: NorfolkGuy

                                                                          Being a fellow Canadian, I share your curiousity. I can't say that I've tried a lot of CFS since I've been here (I'd like to enjoy a few more years yet), but I LOVE the CFS at TIllman's Roadhouse in the Bishop Arts district of Dallas. They use hangar steak, and it's juicy and tender - and surprisingly ungreasy. Sitting on top of a bed of mashed potatoes and green beans with bacon....I'm drooling already. Plus, it's a fun little joint in an eclectic neighbourhood.


                                                                          1. re: NorfolkGuy

                                                                            Also, this might help your further understanding - CFS is probably a riff on the Weiner Schnitzel's brought to TX by German immigrants in the 1800's.

                                                                          2. re: janmor58

                                                                            We ate at Goodson's about a month ago and it was just average. Nothing there was worth the drive. The steak had very little flavor. Huge breading that was decent but a little greasy in places. I wouldn't go back, even for a free meal. The service was very good.

                                                                          3. Ok -- The HIdeaway on Dunvale in Houston has GREAT chicken fried steak!!! Its actually a hand cut rib eye steak that is battered and deep fried. WAAAY yummy!!!! Served with fresh mashed potatoes and fried okra. You would never believe that this was actually being served at a bar! The price is right too ($8). Its not on the menu, but just ask and they will whip one up for you!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: stwilhelm

                                                                              just had a pretty good version at a new place out in Mesquite called Jessie's, from the guy that used to own Texana Grill in Arlington (back in the 90s)


                                                                            2. Dahlia's Cafe on 29 in Liberty Hill has a fantastic chicken fried - crispy and delicious. There is also an option for jalepeno cream gravy. I highly recommend the fried okra, green beans and mashed potatoes sides. I'm drooling just thinking about it all.

                                                                              1. WOW! Schubert's in Giddings, what a blast from the past. I'm from there and my Dad used to take me there when I was little for the chicken fried steak since it was my favorite dish.

                                                                                I can't say I can recommend anywhere in Dallas - I don't eat CFS that much but always WANT to! (try to be virtuous)

                                                                                A few years ago there was an article in the Dallas Morning News about how to cook CFS the right way and Ginnie from Ginnie's Bishop Grill (RIP) was featured. I can't find it online though.

                                                                                I don't really care for the CFS you see most often now - giant crunchy breading with a dried up crunchy piece of meat floating detached in the center of the breading with a plop of gloppy package gravy on top. I think the breading should be dense and stick to the meat - hopefully well tenderized.

                                                                                I am DYING to try the CFS at Youngblood's Stockyard Cafe in Amarillo ever since I saw how it was prepared on Man Vs. Food. Luckily my brother in law lives there and we will visit soon.

                                                                                I bet the CFS at Bubba's would be worth a try. Their chicken is excellent.

                                                                                I haven't had it in years, and don't really remember, but the CFS at Sodolak's in Somerville would be worth a try - of course it will be GIGANTIC. If that's not good at least you can get some chicken fried bacon!

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: sline

                                                                                  Video and accompanying recipe for CFS at Ginnie's Bishop Grill (OB):


                                                                                  Recipe for peanut butter pie from same:


                                                                                  1. re: CocoaNut


                                                                                    THAT is traditional chicken fried steak with cream gravy.

                                                                                    I'm so glad I watched it for the hot milk for gravy tip. Maybe now I can make some non-lumpy gravy now.

                                                                                2. OOps, I meant Babe's, not Bubba's.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: sline

                                                                                    Babe's and Bubba's are one in the same. I also notice a place called Sweetie Pies Ribeyes in Decatur (where ever that is).


                                                                                  2. I have to agree with 'LewisvilleHounder' about the CFS at Mary's Cafe in Strawn. It is the ONLY thing I order when I go there and it is the best I've ever had. I've never had a negative fork-tender experience, although I would think at some point it would be inevitable. I don't know what they do to their meat prior to cooking, but all my visits have been extremely consistent in quality and taste. When I want CFS, I go directly to Mary's!

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: spammie5

                                                                                      I'm with Spammie and Hounder too. Mary's Cafe in Strawn, TX..hands down the best CFS I have ever eaten...and I include the gravy in that opinion. Went there yesterday as a matter of fact and as always, it did not disappoint.