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.
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.
Modern Heights diner Lola earns raves for their buttermilk-marinated breading and perfect mix of spices.
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.
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.
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.
Only available on Thursdays for lunch, the CFS is thick and smothered in peppery gravy. In other words, delicious.