Eats Beat

A chicken-fried steak topped with cheese fries? Steakhouse serves up the ‘works’

The “Works” at the Prickly Pear is a large chicken-fried steak topped with jalapeno cheese fries.
The “Works” at the Prickly Pear is a large chicken-fried steak topped with jalapeno cheese fries.

Yes, that famous TV chef has a new restaurant in town.

And another barbecue place opens almost every day.

But let’s talk about a country steakhouse and cafe named the Prickly Pear.

Bart and Melody Peugh’s family used to make sausage. Now they make lunches, smoke meats and grill steaks almost every day for hundreds of diners from across five counties.

Last Sundays, for example, the lunch specials were smoked brisket, 2-inch pork chops or turkey and dressing.

That’s why patrons drive for miles to a roadhouse in rural Johnson County on Texas 174 south of Cleburne near Rio Vista.

The Prickly Pear has been around a few years. I’ve been hearing about it from readers everywhere from Grandview to Granbury.

There’s smoked brisket, chops or chicken depending on the day.

The simple country-cooking menu also offers the usual catfish, fried or grilled chicken breast, burgers and chicken-fried steaks, mostly for $8-$12.

Every restaurant seems to have one extreme-food item these days, and the Prickly Pear is no exception.

“The Works” is a “secret menu” item: a large chicken-fried steak on toast with fries, cheese, bacon bits and jalapenos on top ($12.99).

Basically, it’s a chicken-fried steak and cream gravy covered with cheesy fries.

If you like chicken-fried steak, you’ll like the Prickly Pear’s. And if you like dipping your fries in the cream gravy, why not go ahead and put it all right on top?

There are healthier choices at the Prickly Pear, sure.

There’s smoked chicken as a special several days a week, a grilled boneless pork chop, grilled salmon as a special and a grilled chicken salad.

Friday is catfish night. The specials other nights include that 2-inch smoked pork chop, enchiladas or quesadillas.

Homemade desserts include pies, cakes and cheesecakes, including a “chocolate eruption” cake.

Unlike many country cafes, it has a full bar.

The Prickly Pear is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, lunch Sunday at 4001 Texas 174 South between Cleburne and Rio Vista.

It’s about a 45-minute drive south of Fort Worth via either the Chisholm Trail Parkway or Interstate 35W; 817-556-0252,

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Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 15 Texas Legislature sessions. Since 1985, he has also written more than 2,000 “Eats Beat” columns about Texas dining, restaurants and food.