The Guilty Pleasure: Chicken Fried Steak Where To Get It: Texaz Grill, 6003 N. 16th St. (at Bethany Home Road) Price: $12.95 What It Really Costs: So big it's two guilty pleasures for the price of one.
In restaurants, the trend is take a humble comfort food and turn it into an upscale dish. Sometimes, it works incredibly well. Other times, you wish they hadn't even tried. There's one dish in particular that has to stay humble: chicken fried steak. Any attempt to fancy it up ends horribly. Friends have told me about restaurants elsewhere that do a Kobe rib eye version. I'm sure it's tasty, but my Texas roots scream to me that it's just wrong.
The whole point of chicken fried steak is to take a cheap cut of meat and transform it into something delicious. This ain't haute cuisine. This is truck stop diner food par excellence. A properly done CFS should reflect the generous nature of Southern hospitality and be big enough to hang off the edge of the plate. There's one place in town I can always count on to deliver the goods: Texaz Grill.
The interior of Texaz perfectly channels the experience of an old-school roadside diner. The walls are plastered with license plates and old Mexican bullfight ads. Most of the ceiling is occupied by an impressive collection of trucker hats. The lack of Food Network promotional materials is a testament that Guy Fieri's production team wouldn't know a real diner, drive-in, or dive if one walked up and bit it on the ass.
Just one look at Texaz's chicken fried steak tells you that they've done it right. These babies are obviously made in-house, not just carted off the back of a Sysco truck. The crispy breading has numerous crags and crannies, all the better to hold cream gravy. And, true to proper form, the steak covers most of the real estate on the plate. I wish that the kitchen would sprinkle on a little salt and pepper before cooking (it goes farther that way than when sprinkled on top after cooking), but at least they warn you on the menu that they do this.
Once you've plowed through some of the dinner, a surprise awaits: There's a second piece of CFS hiding underneath the main one. Too much of a good thing? Maybe. But that's why to-go boxes exist.