Eats Beat

Let’s talk chicken-fried steak: Here’s a new one in a South Cooper Street cafe

Chicken-fried steak with a light batter and real gravy at CJ’s Henhouse in Arlington.
Chicken-fried steak with a light batter and real gravy at CJ’s Henhouse in Arlington.

The brunch boom is everywhere.

New cafes from Colleyville to south Arlington are finding the secret to big business lies in three little words: “brunch all day.”

They’re not old-time diners or coffee hangouts. They’re serving artisan waffles or elaborate French toast.

But at CJ’s Henhouse near the Arlington-Mansfield border, a new brunch cafe also serves an old-fashioned specialty:

A good chicken-fried steak.

CJ’s is a hybrid of new and old. It’s the place to stop for eggs Benedict seven days, wheat-nut waffles or a veggie burger.

But it also has a menu section bluntly labeled, “Fried steaks.”

CJ’s chicken-fried steak is notably tender and lightly floured, not breaded beyond recognition. On a recent visit, the steak was easily cut with a fork and the crust was the perfect match for a real-deal pepper gravy.

With homemade mashed potatoes and a vegetable, it’s $8.89. Or try the “Rooster on the Roof” breakfast version with eggs and “sloppy” hashbrown casserole.

CJ’s chicken-fried is in nearly the same class as heralded Mac’s Bar & Grill, considerably more expensive.

CJ”s also serves chicken-fried chicken or “sloppy” chicken over hashbrowns and eggs. For variety, there’s a chicken “Romano” with roasted red pepper sauce.

There’s a full lunch menu with burgers, sandwiches, a chicken Caesar and specials such as a hamburger steak.

But you may be tempted to order brunch all day just for the wheat-nut pancakes or waffles, the breakfast tacos ($2.29!) or the tres leches waffle.

To show you how good CJ’s is, there’s an “Ultimate Waffle” ($8.72), but it isn’t even the ultimate waffle on CJ’s menu. (Chicken-and-waffles sells for $8.89).

One warning about CJ’s: It’s only been open a month, and the service is painfully slow, particularly on weekends.

Wait a while to go, or be prepared to wait a while.

CJ’s is open for breakfast and lunch daily at 7807 S. Cooper St., 817-200-6374,

More new daily brunch cafes:

Beacon Cafe 287, between Saginaw and Rhome, is a larger version of the popular Hicks Field restaurant, Last weekend, a Father’s Day “bacon bonanza” included bacon burnt ends with breakfast. Don’t count on that every week, but it’s always good; 12721 U.S. 287 North, 817-809-8606.

Burleson Brunch House, near the Burleson-Joshua border, has 11 different omelets and an impressive selection of contemporary brunch dishes (yes, including avocado toast). It’s open for breakfast and lunch daily in Lakewood Plaza, on Texas 174 at the south edge of Burleson, 4 miles south of Interstate 35W; 682-730-1391.

Townhouse Brunch, new in Colleyville, promotes “fruit explosion” French toast; breakfast and lunch daily, 5509 Colleyville Blvd., 817-398-4187,

Benny’s Cafe, also in Colleyville, is a spinoff from a Benny’s in McKinney. There’s a large menu of breakfast and lunch choices; 4712 Colleyville Blvd., 682-325-4702.

Seven Mile Cafe, now open in north Fort Worth, expands on the excellent Denton and Keller restaurants. It’s open for breakfast and lunch daily at 6300 North Freeway (between Fossil Creek Boulevard and Western Center Boulevard), 817-778-0911; or check the waitlist at

The gold standard of brunch cafes remains Snooze an A.M. Eatery in Fort Worth, where the morning selection includes craft cocktails and a full bar; 2150 W. Seventh St, at Harrold Street, 682-350-9970,

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.