Eat Your heart out

Heaven with a side of gravy: Come on, you only live once

Heaven with a side of gravy: Come on, you only live once

Chicken-fried steak covered with chipotle cream gravy and served with macaroni and cheese and vegetables Photo by Jessica Spengler

According to lore, once upon a time in the Old West, cowboys cooked up less-than-prime cuts of meat by tenderizing them, coating them with flour and water and pan-frying them over an open flame. Over the years, with the help of Germans in Central Texas and the influence of traditional Southern cuisine (not to mention the addition of cream gravy), this dish became the iconic Texas classic, chicken fried steak.

When it's a taste of home cooking they're after, Houstonians still love their CFS. Here are the best places around town, from low-key to highbrow, to indulge in some cowboy cooking.

1. Barbecue Inn

The name of this Houston favorite since 1946 is kind if a misnomer, since although the barbecue is good, everyone we know comes for the chicken fried steak. Still family owned, this place serves up 1970s nostalgia as thick as the cream gravy that comes on the tender, crispy CFS. 

2.Ouisie's Table

Long known as one of the best in town, Ouisie's supremely battered and peppered chicken fried steak might only pale in comparison to the venison version.

3. Lola

Modern Heights diner Lola earns raves for their buttermilk-marinated breading and perfect mix of spices. 

4.Mel's Country Café

In Tomball, Goodson's gets all the press, but locals looking for CFS head to Mel's, which serves delicious, unfussy country food that's cooked to order. Plus the small (which still covers the entire plate, natch) runs you a mere $10.

5. Cleburne Cafeteria

The vast majority of customers here are regulars, and it's been that way for decades. Cleburne keeps an emphasis on fresh ingredients and the CFS here is comfort food at its finest.

6. Frank's Chop House

Chicken fried steak was invented to mask a subpar cut of meat, so imagine the deliciousness of one made from a chop house-approved slab. Heavenly.

7. Lankford Grocery

Only available on Thursdays for lunch, the CFS is thick and smothered in peppery gravy. In other words, delicious.