Why chicken fried steak is such a Texas thing
Honestly, it wasn’t until I left Texas that I even realized chicken fried steak was a “Texas thing.” I assumed everyone ate chicken fried steak, but apparently, some of y’all consider it a southern delicacy.
Whether you call it “chicken fried steak,” “chicken fried,” or even “CFS,” one thing is certain: chicken fried steak is definitely a Texas favorite. It was first introduced to Texas by German and Austrian settlers around the turn of the 20th century. Of course, my ancestors referred to it as wiener schnitzel, and the dish was originally fried veal. The purpose was to use up tougher cuts of meat, pound them out thinly, and deep fry them for crunch. It was also a great way to stretch your meat reserves.
As the years passed by, the Germans made schnitzel out of readily available proteins, but steak seems to be the one that really caught on. Over time, Texans adapted this recipe into the breaded and fried dish we all know and love today—accompanied by a slathering of home-style white gravy, naturally. In fact, I’d argue that the white gravy is what makes this dish more “Texas” than “German.” If it doesn’t have gravy, in my opinion, it just isn’t a proper chicken fried steak.
Chicken fried steak has been a staple in Texas for so long that it’s a nostalgic dish for most of us. In fact, it was the first meal I ever cooked for my husband! Texans even love chicken fried steak so much that the Texas State House of Representatives declared October 26th “Chicken Fried Steak Day.”
The 8 best places to get chicken fried steak
Is your mouth watering for chicken fried goodness? Good! Here are a few tried and true places around San Antonio that will serve you a proper chicken fried steak, Texas-style.
Good Time Charlie’s
Good Time Charlie’s has been a San Antonio staple for over 40 years. It’s the perfect place to chow down on burgers or onion rings, but man, their chicken fried steaks are awesome, too. The breading isn’t too thick and Charlie’s makes the gravy just how I like it: sturdy enough to stay in one place and flavorful enough to complement the steak beautifully. Served with toast, green beans, and mashed potatoes, Good Time Charlies’ chicken fried steak is a must-try San Antonio classic.
- Address: 2922 Broadway at Mulberry, San Antonio, TX 78209
- Website: Good Time Charlie’s
I frequently pass by the Josephine Street restaurant on the way to the Pearl. A delightful bread box of a building, it’s known for both its awesome chicken fried steak and drinks. Stop by for happy hour Monday – Friday from 3 – 6 pm for cheap drinks and good conversation. The chicken fried steak itself is served simply with a side of mashed potatoes, cream gravy, and Josephine Street’s signature onion ring.
P.S. I love this part of town, but it can get a little sketchy at night. I recommend taking an Uber to this restaurant or going with a friend if you’re out past 8 pm.
- Address: 400 East Josephine Street, San Antonio, TX 78215
- Website: Josephine Street Restaurant
M.K. Davis Restaurant
The downtown M.K. Davis Restaurant has been a San Antonio icon since 1956. While it’s renowned for its chicken fried steak, M.K. Davis also specializes in Tex-Mex goodies and ice-cold beers. The chicken fried steak is served without the bells and whistles: just a simple side salad, french fries, and smothering of gravy.
- Address: 1302 N. Flores St., San Antonio, Texas 78212
- Website: M.K. Davis Restaurant
Alamo Cafe is another Tex-Mex spot that serves something for everybody. You can choose between their 3-ounce or 6-ounce chicken fried steak, which comes with your choice of two sides: french fries, mashed potatoes, or green beans. Of course, if that sounds like a carb overload, you can also get your chicken fried steak with a side salad.
P.S. If you’re in the mood to let your hair down, try Alamo Cafe’s Chamoy Margarita with your steak. With a chili salt rim, it’s the personification of San Antonio in a glass.
- Address 1: 14250 San Pedro Ave San Antonio, TX 78232
- Address 2: 10060 IH-10 West San Antonio, TX 782302
- Website: Alamo Cafe
Let the bright neon lights of this 1950s-themed diner guide you to chicken fried steak heaven. Since 1982, 410 Diner has specialized in comfort food so good it tastes like your grandma is working in the kitchen. The hand-breaded chicken fried steak is absolutely massive, guys. Come hungry or bring a friend, because this big boy takes up an entire plate. Be sure to pair it with sides like mashed potatoes or fried okra for more Texas goodness.
P.S. If you’re in the mood for more adventurous fare, try 410 Diner’s fried chicken livers or calf’s liver.
- Address: 8315 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 78209
- Website: 410 Diner
Charlie Brown’s Bar & Grill
Charlie Brown’s is the epitome of a neighborhood sports bar. You can shoot pool, watch the game, or sip on a cold beer while you chow down on their tasty chicken fried steak. Enjoy your steak with Texas toast and your choice of one side: salad, green beans, mashed potatoes, veggies, mac ‘n’ cheese, fries, tots, or onion rings (I think the mashed potatoes are the best option with the gravy, but you do you). The great thing about Charlie Brown’s is that they have some of the most flavorful white gravy in town, so if you’re a gravy connoisseur, this is the spot.
- Address: 11888 Starcrest Drive Suite 101 San Antonio, TX 78247
- Website: Charlie Brown’s
Bobbie’s Cafe has been around since 1972. It’s known for its pie bar (yes, a pie bar), but the chicken fried steak is nothing to shake a stick at, either. You can order chicken fried steak for breakfast or dinner at Bobbie’s, which is cool. If you order it in the morning, you can add two eggs—any style—to your plate as well as hash browns, a biscuit, or toast.
Uh, and if you’re into liver, Bobbie’s is famous for its liver and onions, too.
- Address: 6728 S. Flores San Antonio, Texas 78221
- Website: Bobbie’s Cafe
Spechts is the quintessential Texas restaurant. It features live music, a patio, cold drinks, and great food. I’m a sucker for their fried pickles, but the 8-ounce chicken fried steak is obviously a must. You get your choice of two sides, which includes fries, onion rings, slaw, mashed potatoes, asparagus, mac ‘n’ cheese, cilantro lime rice, green beans, or a salad.
- Address: 112 W Specht Rd, San Antonio, TX 78260
- Website: Spechts Texas