Is it a breakfast food or a dinner entree? Some questions about chicken fried steak will really never be answered, but there's one thing a lot of people agree on: It's delicious. From the texture of the creamy gravy hitting the crunchy breading to the blend of spices that hit your tongue on each bite, a well-done chicken fried steak can be a thing of beauty.
With several Valley spots offering the dish, we selected two of our favorites to duke it out for deep-fried beef supremacy. One spot is known for its chicken fried steak while the other serves a wide variety of delicious meals. One location only serves breakfast, the other doesn't even open until lunch. Which does it better? Find out below.
In This Corner: Over Easy
The Setting: Over Easy is a pretty classic casual breakfast spot in the Valley. Since there are a few locations, none of them typically end up with the ridiculous waiting times of some other trendy breakfast restaurants. We happened to eat this meal at the North Scottsdale location, which has the added bonus of both bar seating and a patio to make up for the slightly smaller actual dining room. Every location we've been to looks more or less exactly like you'd expect from your local breakfast/brunch spot.
The Good: Let's start with the gravy. Between the comforting thick consistency and the slightly peppery (but not overpowering) flavor, we'd put this gravy on pretty much anything and everything if we could. Somehow, despite the massive smothering of gravy, the breading on the chicken fried steak itself manages to stay super crispy. It's not exactly a normal "fried chicken" style of breading, it's a little flakier than that, but that's not a complaint, as it was both tasty and maintained its crunchiness. There's nothing worse than soggy breading, so we greatly appreciated that kitchen magic. Oh, and there are chunks of sausage in the gravy. Because, you know, who doesn't need more breakfast meats?
The Bad: The only knock we have on the chicken fried steak itself is that the meat was a little tougher than we would've liked. There's a certain toughness to be expected with the dish, but this was just a touch beyond that. If it'd taken a few seconds left to chew, we wouldn't mind. We ordered the dish with hash browns and scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese. Neither was bad, but we probably should've gotten the eggs over easy or over medium instead, and we've had better hash browns before (including at previous trips to Over Easy).
In The Other Corner: Texaz Grill
The Setting: You know that little bar/restaurant that looks like it should be full of cowboys? You know, the one where the servers tend to be very nice older women who call you things like "hun" and "sugar" and the walls are covered in random signage and a few animal heads? That's what Texaz Grill is like. It's not uncomfortable or dirty by any means, but it's probably not the type of place you'd take a date you were trying to impress. In our experience, it's mostly empty during the week, but fills up quick with families looking to get their fix of fried meats for dinner on the weekends.
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The Good: When the chicken fried steak at Texaz arrives at your table, you're either super excited, or you know you've made a terrible mistake. There's no two ways about it, it's one of the biggest plates of food you'll ever see. The two fried slabs of beef manage to keep their tenderness surprisingly well, considering the size, and the gravy is certainly flavorful and plentiful. Instead of getting a salad with it, ask for the corn and mix it into your mashed potatoes for a perfect sweet side to counteract the massive plate of gravy and meat sitting in front of you. Realistically, there's no reason not to share the dish. Very few people will be able to finish it on their own.
The Bad: Remember what we said about soggy breading? Yeah, the unfortunately bland breading became soggy relatively quickly, and on a piece of meat that size, there's a lot of sogginess to go around. Taste-wise, we grew a bit tired of the flavors by the time we were done with the first piece, so a little more diversity in the spices might not hurt the dish.
The Winner: The real winner is whichever restaurant happens to be open when you're in the mood for chicken fried steak, because you can't really go wrong with either. Head to head, we have to give the nod to Over Easy for two reasons. Their gravy is amazing, and their breading never got soggy.