Newcomers often ask what chicken-fried steak is about.
In Fort Worth, it’s about $5 on the right weekday.
The low price is a special every Monday and Wednesday at Theresa’s Dixie House Cafes in Fort Worth or Saginaw, one of the best places to celebrate Texas Chicken-Fried Steak Day Oct. 26.
Former state Rep. Ralph Sheffield of Temple, once owner of a steakhouse, persuaded fellow lawmakers in 2011 to agree on a holiday for chicken-fried steak.
“I did it because Texas has the greatest chicken-fried steak in the world,” Sheffield said then.
For a high-end, top-of-the-line cowboy chicken-fried steak, try it somewhere like Horseshoe Hill Cafe in the Stockyards, Lucile’s, Michaels Cuisine or Reata. downtown in Sundance Square.
For the acclaimed No. 1 chicken-fried steak in Texas — pounded, floured and griddled the old-fashioned way — drive an hour west to Mary’s Cafe, 119 Grant Ave., Strawn.
But for a good, everyday chicken-fried, here are a few of the best places to celebrate Texas’ eighth annual Chicken-Fried Steak Day:
▪ Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ might serve the best basic chicken-fried steak inside Fort Worth ($10.95). It’s now offered daily along with barbecue (and a $5 cheeseburger special Tuesdays); 7709 Camp Bowie Blvd. West, 817-731-2278, facebook.com/BillysOakAcresBbq.
▪ Or it might be at Star Cafe, a 38-year anchor on West Exchange Avenue in the Fort Worth Stockyards. The Star serves a blockbuster $8.95 special with a biscuit at lunch Tuesdays, or a $14 platter daily; 111 W. Exchange Ave., 817-624-8701, facebook.com/starcafefortworthtx..
▪ The 10 Babe’s Chicken Dinner House locations serve family-style platters of chicken-fried steak, or smoked or fried chicken. The sides, salads and biscuits are family-style, too. Locations include 230 N. Center St., Arlington; 120 S. Main St., Burleson; 104 N. Oak St., Roanoke; or opening any day now at 6711 N.E. Loop 820, North Richland Hills; babeschicken.com.
▪ The three Fred’s Texas Cafe locations serve chicken-fried steak a choice of three ways: with cream gravy, queso and guacamole or taco beef and cheese; 915 Currie St., 3505 Blue Bonnet Circle or 2730 Western Center Blvd., all in Fort Worth, fredstexascafe.com.
▪ The 90-year-old Paris Coffee Shop serves a tender, lightly floured and fried chicken-fried steak weekdays at lunch, with a half-order available for seniors; 704 W. Magnolia Ave., 817-335-2041, pariscoffeeshop.net.
▪ Another excellent lunchtime chicken-fried special is served daily at Vickery Cafe, on West Vickery Boulevard facing the railyard between Montgomery Street and South Hulen Street . It’s sliced New York strip, pounded and buttermilk-battered; 4120 W. Vickery Blvd.. 817-731-9933, facebook.com/VickeryBlvdCafe.
▪ Ranchman’s Cafe, in Ponder north of Texas Motor Speedway, is a picture-perfect Texas cafe. It celebrates its 70th anniversary on Thanksgiving Day. Ranchman’s serves a classic, old-school floured and fried round steak for about $11; 110 W. Bailey St., 940-479-2221, ranchman.com.
▪ The four Dixie House Cafes serve a bargain $4.99 chicken-fried steak — or chicken, even better — Mondays and Wednesdays. It’s less than $10 at lunch and dinner any day; 3701 E. Belknap St., 5401 S. Hulen St. or 6200 E. Lancaster Ave. in Fort worth, or5401 Blue Bound Road in Saginaw; dixiehousecafes.com.
▪ In North Richland Hills, Campfire Kitchen Texas Grill serves an impressive chicken-fried steak for about $10, or sometimes for $8 on special; 6751 Rufe Snow Drive, 817-849-5567, campfiregrilltx.com.
▪ In Arlington, the definitive chicken-fried steak is at Mac’s Bar and Grill, 6077 Interstate 20 West, macsteak.com. Or try the distinctive chicken-fried steak with a crush-potato-chip coating at Tom’s Burgers and Grill, 1530 N. Cooper St., tomsburgersandgrill.com.
By the way, chicken-fried steak wasn’t invented in Texas. The first references in print are from Colorado Springs, Colo.
It’s not even clear whether it came to America with Germans as schnitzel or with Celtic immigrants, who fried everything in the Deep South.
Talk it out over a CFS.