Each month at On the Town, we bring you Impact Lists― an unscientific compilation of fun things to do, eat or see in the Northwest Houston, Tomball, Magnolia and The Woodlands areas. This month we discuss the best places to find that favored Texas dish, the chicken fried steak.
Located in Northwest Houston, The Backyard Grill serves up a variety of home cooking, ranging from catfish to burgers to pork chops. They also have several chicken options, but their chicken fried steak platter ($9.99) is listed under the "favorites" portion of the menu, and is served with fries or mashed potatoes and toast. 9453 Jones Road, Houston. 281-897-9200, www.thebackyardgrill.com
Brick House Tavern
Stuffed fried olives, deviled eggs topped with bacon and meatloaf sliders are a few of the distinctive items you will find at this Northwest Houston bar and restaurant. For more classic flavors, however, Brick House serves a renowned chicken fried steak with a sausage infused cream gravy. By straying away from traditional bar food, no menu item is lacking in flavor or creativity. 12910 Hwy 290, Houston. 713-462-0576, www.brickhousetavernandtap.com
Located in a strip center along FM 1488 in Magnolia, Eden Cafe is a hidden gem that has quickly garnered a reputation for authentic home cooking in a family dining style atmosphere. The diner’s menu pulls from a variety of cuisines, including Italian, Mexican and even Cuban dishes. But its bread and butter is its southern style dishes and, as with any self-respecting southern diner, Eden Cafe’s chicken fried steak, or as it is listed on the menu, “Country Fried Steak,” is a popular choice. It’s served with country gravy and a choice of two sides that vary from the traditional, including fried plantains and creamy jalapeno corn. 33418 Egypt Lane, Ste. 16, Magnolia. 832-934-2800, www.edencafe.net.
Goodson’s Cafe in Tomball is on the Mount Rushmore of chicken fried steak diners. Their claim of serving “The Best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas” is not just boasting. The long-running television program “The Eyes Of Texas” gave Goodson’s the designation in the 1990s and since then, the restaurant has been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Deep Fried Paradise” and “America’s 101 Tastiest Places to Chowdown.” Perfected by Goodson’s original owner “Ma” Goodson in the 1950s, the recipe has been passed down through generations and owners. Goodson’s CFS comes in two sizes: large ($9.99) and small ($8.99), and both are significant portions, with the large unable to contain itself to the plate it’s served on. It comes with the standard two sides, but also its own bowl of gravy and a basket of stick-to-your-ribs yeast rolls. 27931 Business 249, Tomball. 281-351-1749, www.goodsonscafetomball.com.
Since 1977, Hickory Hollow has taken pride in their barbecue and comfort food. With classics like chopped beef sandwiches and perfectly paired sides, the menu has something for everyone. Their chicken fried steaks range in size from “small cowgirl” ($10.79) up to the “large rancher” ($13.79). Order individually or by the pound. Catering and reservations for private parties are available. 8038 Fallbrook Drive, Houston. 281-469-5323, www.hickoryhollowrestaurant.com.
A favorite for Magnolia locals, Kitty’s Cafe has made a name for itself with what the owners call “true southern homestyle cooking.” Chicken fried steak is served throughout the week, but on Tuesday customers can get a special deal which includes salad, dessert and tea for $7.50. All food at Kitty’s, from the chicken fried steak to the onion rings, is made fresh and hand-breaded after it’s ordered. While the competition is fierce, the owners of Kitty’s Cafe say they are confident their chicken fried steak is the best in Magnolia. 18904 FM 1488, Magnolia. 281-252-4160, www.misskittyscafe.com
L&T Family Dining Cafe
L&T Family Dining Cafe co-owner Lynne Moden makes the bold claim that her restaurant has the best chicken fried steak in town. While we'll leave that up to you to debate, the diner has a loyal following and a large part of that is due to this signature dish. L&T's chicken fried steak is served in two sizes: 4 ounces ($9.50) and 8 ounces ($10.95) and comes with country gravy and homemade mashed potatoes. 18535 FM 1488, Ste. 150, Magnolia. 281-252-4482
Named after the city where it started, the Magnolia Diner specializes in classic American southern dishes, including pork chops, catfish and chicken fried steak. Listed as “Country Fried Steak” on the menu, this entree is fried with the restaurant’s own country gravy and served with garlic bread and two sides ($9.99). The mini chicken fried steak dinner goes for $7.29. Magnolia location: 18423 FM 1488, Ste. G, Magnolia. 281-356-9197. Montgomery location: 19784 Hwy. 105, Montgomery. 936-582-1788. www.magnoliadiner.com, @magnoliadiner
Mel’s Country Cafe
Known for its homestyle cooking, Mel's Country Cafe offers large-sized portions at reasonable prices. Along with burgers and catfish, the no-frills eatery is famous for its hand-breaded “just like grandma’s” chicken fried steak, which comes in large- (8 ounce, $10.95) or giant- (16 ounce, $19.95) sized portions with two sides. And the chicken fried steak options don't end there. Mel's also offers a chicken fried steak sandwich ($5.75), steak fingers dinner ($10.95) and even a chicken fried steak salad ($7.50) for those wanting some greens with their fried meat. 24814 Stanolind Road, Tomball. 281-255-6357, www.melscountrycafe.com