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AllGood Cafe executes chicken-fried steak with NASA-like mathematical exactness. The tenderloin steak, hand-pounded thin, is fried in peanut oil, which sheaths it in a crunchy armor. The scratch gravy (made from a stock of roasted chicken bones) is decadent, peppered with heart and rich homemade flavor that will give you palpitations. With green beans and a side of homemade mashed potatoes, it’s a sublime dish that tastes exactly of the state that you love.
There are so many joyous bullet points about the CFS at Tom’s Burgers & Grill. The fried crust is made of Ruffles potato chips. It’s one of seven secret ingredients (another teaser: the steak gets a buttermilk bath). Tom’s Burgers serves chicken-fried steak in three ways: the good old-fashioned way, with garlic, red mashed potatoes and Texas toast; between slices of buttered, toasted brioche; and for breakfast with two eggs, hash browns, and toast. The eponymous Tom says “we make them fresh every morning and sometimes again before the dinner rush.” Salty and crispier than your wildest CFS dreams, this has got to be one of the most unique CFSs in Texas.
This version of CFS is so crunchy that one bite will shatter glasses. The recent uptick in Dallas earthquakes has been mistakenly attributed to fracking. It’s not fracking, it’s the crunch of Ellen’s chicken-fried steak. Ellen’s is top round, dipped in seasoned flour (self-rising flour makes for fantastic crust here), and deep-fried. Get the creamy gravy served on the side. Mow through pieces, dipping your delicious wedges into gravy along the way, and you’ll experience Richter scale-registering happiness.
You know the power of Norma’s, a staple on Davis St for more than half a century. If chicken-fried steak is a superhero dish, then Norma’s version is Batman. It takes inside round steak cuts -- Norma’s confirms they run it through a tenderizer four times -- dipped in a mix of egg, milk, and flour spiked with hush-hush ingredients. It’s the original, punch-to-the-face good diner-style fried steak.
Carrollton (and other locations)
If you think of your plate like a clock, Babe’s chicken-fried steak spans 12 hours. This plate-sized, juicy, and fork-tender steak is a masterpiece. It’s a delicious slice of the moon. Babe’s superpower comes in the form of the crust. Few things crunch like the breading at Babe’s. You’ll feel the power of it from brain to feet. Juicy steak hides modestly in that fried crust; dip it in the gravy bowl for a dish that transcends space and time.
Very good things happen to the chicken-fried steak at Ozona. After a bath of buttermilk and flour seasoned with secret ingredients, Ozona has been known to put cutlets under the baskets in the deep frier. Queso sometimes is ladeled on top. The Travel Channel says Ozona’s CFS is the “stuff of legend,” and authority Robb Walsh featured it in his epic list of lovable CFS. Chicken-fried steak will always be the stuff of Texas legend.