Come on to Kemah!

Thursday, February 23, 2012 by The Texas Travelin' Man

About 30 minutes south of Houston, right off I-45, is the small, coastal town of Kemah, part of the grouping of towns called Bay Area Houston.  Kemah is known for its bustling boardwalk, nestled along Clear Creek Channel which opens up into Galveston Bay.  The area is a charming Gulf Coast destination that gets millions of visitors each year.

Back in earlier days, Kemah used to be a rustic shrimping port on Galveston Bay where youKemah Texas travel information could buy some fresh shrimp and a beer and sit by the dock on an afternoon to watch the boats come in.  During the 90s, a developer built the boardwalk and brought in amusement rides, restaurants, shops and carnival games and turned it into a tourist attraction.  I do have to admit, it is somewhat "touristy", but to me, that's not a bad thing.  On a recent sunny day in early February, I was one of those tourists enjoying a stroll along the Kemah Boardwalk.

The Kemah boardwalk is essentially an amusement park featuring some great rides, such as The Boardwalk Bullet, a 96' wooden roller coaster.  It reaches speeds of 51 mph and gets so close to the water's edge, it feels like it will fling you into the bay! You'll also find midway games, theme shops and souvenir stores.  There are plenty of restaurants along the boardwalk, and most have seats overlooking the water.  All of the restaurants are good and of course, they all offer plenty of seafood dishes.  You won't get a fresher catch anywhere else.  In addition to the rides and midway games, there are often events or festivals going on at the Boardwalk.  Check the Kemah Boardwalk website for up-to-date information.
Aquarium Kemah Texas info
I started my afternoon in Kemah with lunch at the Aquarium Restaurant.  This restaurant offers many attractions beyond its good food - they feature a 50,000-gallon, floor-to-ceiling aquarium housing more than 100 species of tropical fish and sharks, and Stingray Reef, where you can touch and feed live stingrays. They've also added a Rainforest themed exhibit with piranhas, snakes, scorpions, tarantulas.  Under the blue glow of the huge aquarium, I enjoyed a New Orleans Po-Boy with shrimp which was really fresh and tasty.   If you don't feel like a sit-down lunch, another great option is to check out the food vendors along the boardwalk.  You'll find the expected carnival type fare along with some unique items worth trying.  Just "graze" your way through and sample a few items from different carts.

After lunch, I thought about going on the Bullet, but decided that wasn't best done right after a big meal, so instead, I meandered along the boardwalk, enjoying the relaxing sight of boats floating slowly by.  I checked out some of the shops, which are what you'd typically expect to find in a touristy area - souvenirs, Kemah T-shirts, beach wear.

There's no entry fee for the boardwalk, but the rides cost $4-5 each.  If you think you will be going on several rides, your best bet is to get an all-day pass.  The cost is $20, but with a little pre-planning, you can sometimes get discount coupons.  In fact, right now in February, there's a Wintertime Blues promotion on the Kemah Boardwalk website which offers an all-day pass at $5 when you buy one at regular price. During other times of the year, check the Houston Chronicle for discounts coupons or search online.

Still in the neighborhood at dinner time?  You can certainly try one of the other many restaurants along the boardwalk, but what I'd recommend is walking a few blocks over to Highway 146 and eating at T-Bone Tom's, a down-home, family style restaurant where the food is really good and really plentiful.  You can get seafood here, but when a place has "T-Bone" in the title, your best bet is usually the meat and that's for sure true here.  I started with an appetizer of "Armadillo Eggs", which aren’t eggs and they're not from armadillos, either. These are large jalapeños, stuffed with brisket and deep fried.  Served with a creamy dipping sauce, they are really fantastic.  I could have made a whole dinner of these, but I also had to try their ribeye steak.  This was 14 ounces of choice, tender beef, bathed in some sort of magic marinade with a pineapple tang to it.  It was truly a memorable dinner. (we covered T-Bone Tom's a few years back during our quest for the best chicken-fried steak.  Read about it here.)

Overall, Kemah is the perfect family getaway. It's a paradise for children and a romantic date for couples.  There’s lots to do during the cooler months and it’s a great destination during the warm months when the water activities and refreshing Gulf breezes keep you cool.  Make a day of it!

>> more travel information about Kemah 

TOUR TEXAS: The Open Road is Calling

Sunday, January 1, 2012 by The Texas Travelin' Man

 

It’s a new year, a leap year. A whole new 366 days to explore the adventure to be found on Texas back roads, on Main Street, and in the heart of Texans who make this the greatest state in the Union.

On my calendar for this year are blogging and photo trips to new craft breweries such as the Karbach Brewing Company in Houston, and established wineries from Bernhardt in Plantersville to the Fairhaven Vineyards in Hawkins.

Minor League baseball will be played for the first time in Sugar Land when the Skeeters take to the diamond at Constellation Field this spring. I plan to be there to cover the action. 

I’ll be heading over to Grand Saline to check out the reptilian action at the East Texas Gators & Wildlife Park, paying my respects at painted churches, and continuing the search for the best catfish kitchen in the state. So much to see, so much report . . .

sour root

In 2011 Texas highways led me to some mighty fine food, new friends, little known historical spots, and quirky attractions. Quality time spent with retired railroad man Bobby Jack Middleton in Hearne and Frank the hobo in Tomball was unexpected. The thick chocolate malt that I found at The Diner in Corsicana brought back childhood memories, while hearing first person accounts of the ghosts of Galveston, San Antonio and on The Lex in Corpus Christi was chilling.    

Coming face-to-face with “Old Sparky”, the infamous electric chair at Huntsville’s Texas Prison Museum, was thoughtful provoking, and visiting the graves of men who fought for the Texas military during the American Civil War was humbling.

I loved touring the Tee Pee Motel in Wharton with its rows of cone-shaped lodges, a throwback to the day when the family summer vacation was made in a station wagon and Route 66 was more than just a tune on the AM radio.

Sampling Dr Pepper made from the original sugar laced recipe in Dublin was sweet . . . pun intended. The Sterling McCall Cadillac Museum in Warrenton was a nice surprise and exploring the historic Fulton Mansion near Rockport was really cool for a fan of architectural design.

Then there were the churches, big and small. The stained glass at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Round Top was “heavenly”, and the tiny Saint Martin’s Catholic Church on Highway 237 was so . . . small.

The mom-and-pop restaurants that I visited in 2011 were no less than awesome. The T-bone steak at San Antonio’s Josephine Street Café easily went head-to-head with the fried shrimp at the Laguna Reef in Flour Bluff. Barbecue at Holders in Dobbin was just as good as the original “pig sandwich” at the Pig Stand on Broadway in the Alamo City. And, the burger at the Chicken Oil Company in Bryan is still at the top of my list . . . well, at least for now.

My Texas getaways were seriously good in 2011. Maybe this year you’ll hit the road to create your own Lone Star adventures and meet a character or two.  I certainly plan to keep on pick-up truckin’ across the state on my own as a Texas trekker. It’s just too much fun not to!

Listen . . . the open road is calling. Can you hear it?  

mike





  Michael Baxter is the Texas Travelin' Man


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TOUR TEXAS: Spirits in Old Town Spring

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 by The Texas Travelin' Man

Just north of Houston is the community of Spring. Once a thriving hub of railroad traffic, Spring played host to those who rode the rails as well as those who laid them.

Today the little village is known as Old Town Spring and its oak lined streets are laced with quaint shops, tea rooms and themed venues featuring the best in live Texas style music.

After more than 100 years, Wunsche Bros. Cafe & Saloon, one of my favorite eateries in southeast Texas, still sits along side the railroad tracks in Spring serving up chicken fried steak, juicy burgers, sauerkraut balls and the coldest beer around. But the beer isn't the only reason that Wunsche Bros. is known as the most "spirited" spot in town. It has more to do with the resident ghost that wanders the hard wood floors late at night after the music done and the two-steppers have headed home.

Wunsche Bros

Charlie, the resident specter of Wunsche Bros., is thought to be the ghost of Charlie Wunsche, son of the town's founder. Along with his brothers Dell and Willie, Charlie built the two story Wunsche Bros. Hotel & Saloon in 1902 and apparently upon his death decided to never check out.

I was told that Charlie is more into pranks and mischief than anything else, by the cafe's long-time manager Roxanne Allen. "We have never felt threatened by Charlie, just a little uneasy at times," she said. "You just feel like . . . someone's watching you when you know that there is no one there."

Whenever remodeling or construction is being done on the old landmark you can count on Charlie making his presence known. Coffee machines will start and stop on their own, nozzles for the soft drink dispensers will mysteriously disappear only to reappear weeks later, unlocked doors will not open as if being held by someone on the other side, chairs rattle and move about, and strange shadows move along the old hallway upstairs. "Without a doubt, it definitely gets weird around here sometimes," Roxanne joked.

The only confirmed sighting of Charlie was by a former waitress named Ilona Langlinais around Halloween in 1984. Back then the upstairs was used to seat overflow from the busy downstairs dining room. Ilona was carrying a fresh pot of coffee down the infamous upstairs hallway when she noticed an older gentleman dressed in a dark suit and hat sitting alone at a table off to the side. She walked over to the man and asked, "would you like a cup of hot coffee?"

No sooner had she spoken than a chilling wind swept around her and the man seated at the table vanished before her eyes.

Roxanne thinks that she may have seen Charlie herself one night after closing. "Our whole staff believes that Charlie watches out for us," she said. "I had locked up late one night and was walking to my car parked in the dark behind the cafe, when I had this strong urge to look back over my shoulder at the building. That's something that I never do. But, when I looked up at where the liquor room used to be on the second floor I saw a shadowy figure of a man staring out the window at me." Though not frightening the event was unnerving Roxanne said.

All of Wunsche Bros.' staff have a special respect for Charlie. After all he did build the place more than 100 years ago, and they certainly don't want to offend him.

"Charlie is friendly. He watches over us and that's just how we want to keep it," Roxanne said with a grin.

mike






Michael Baxter is the Texas Travelin' Man

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Chicken Fried Steak Review: Raffas in Kingwood, Texas

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 by The Texas Travelin' Man
RaffasThis is a great looking restaurant with great food and service, overlooking Lake Houston. They have a fantastic Sunday Buffet Brunch for $17.95. Not to be missed.

They do serve a Chicken Fried Steak and I was ready for it to be one of the best. It wasn’t. It was very good, but there were a few things lacking.

Here is the recipe. They serve lunch on Friday and Saturday, and have several lunch specials. One of them is  Chicken Fried Steak. They use sirloin, which is pounded thin and was very tender and juicy. It was covered with a crispy, lightly seasoned breading. The problem was it didn’t cover all of the steak. You don’t want bare spots on your Chicken Fried Steak

Raffa's Chicken Fried SteakAs you can see by the picture, I forgot to get the gravy on the side. They serve it on a bed of average mashed potatoes and top it with a Tasso ham gravy. They top that with fried onion strings. The portion is 5 ounces and that’s plenty.

The cost is only $8.00. The Chicken Fried Steak  at dinner is $9.00 for the petit (5 oz), and $17.00 for the large (10 oz).   The Tasso gravy was a nice twist on the usual white gravy, but it could have been spicier. The fried onion strings were very good.

Raffa’s is a great looking restaurant with great service, and one of the best restaurants in Kingwood.

Raffa's Waterfront Grill

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.


It's the Texas Travelin' Man
URating Legend

Chicken Fried Steak Review: Humble City Cafe in Humble, Texas

Saturday, February 19, 2011 by The Texas Travelin' Man
Humble City CafeThe next time you find yourself in downtown Humble, make sure you leave time to eat at the Humble City Café. You'll have a great meal. It’s as local as local can get. The building dates back to 1914 and once housed a pharmacy, post office, bus stop, and grocery store. The Humble City Café opened in 1995.

I’ve been to the Humble City Café several times but I’ve always ordered their hamburgers which are fantastic. Since I’m not looking for the Best Hamburger in Texas, I ordered the Chicken Fried Steak. On their menu it says “the best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas.” Well it isn’t.

Here’s the recipe. You get a choice of “The whole thing” which is 8 ounces of a tenderized round steak at a cost of Humble City Chicken Fried Steak$13.39 or “only half” which is 4 ounces at a cost of $11.39. I got smart and ordered the “only half” (it’s a shame the cost wasn’t “only half”). The meat was thin, juicy and very tender and only had a little grease on the bottom. The white gravy needed help. It was thick, but lacked pepper. Once I added the pepper it was better. The breading was crispy and covered the entire steak and didn’t fall apart when I dug in. The breading could have been more seasoned. You get 2 sides (from a choice of 19 sides) and I chose mashed potatoes which were not worth the calories. I even put butter, salt and pepper on the mashed and it still didn’t help.

I had the green beans which were the best I’ve had to date. They were crunchy and smoky with pieces of bacon and had a little kick to it. They start you off with a choice of rolls or a cast iron skillet of homemade corn bread. Get the cornbread. It comes with regular butter and a cinnamon butter. The cinnamon butter is very heavy on the cinnamon. 

They have specials everyday for lunch and a buffet Sunday morning.

Humble City Cafe

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

The Texas Travelin' Man
URating Legend

Chicken Fried Steak Review: Carriage House Café in Houston, Texas

Thursday, February 10, 2011 by The Texas Travelin' Man
The Carriage House Cafe in HoustonIf you want to experience a restaurant that looks like it just arrived from the mid 1800’s, you’re in luck. It’s not far from Sam Houston Race Course and the building was used to build and restore buggies and carriages. There are still several around the building and inside.
There are antiques all over the restaurant including several antique armoires. If you like stuffed animal heads on the wall, the Carriage House Café has them.  

One of the readers of the blog recommended this as having the best chicken fried steak in Texas.  The restaurant looked to be the perfect setting for this, but the results were not to be.

Here’s the recipe. When you enter, you have to work yourself around to find the counter where you order and pay for your meal.  They have 2 sizes of the chicken fried steak. “The Traditional (small, if you can call it that) is an 8 oz. portion for $8.95, or you can get “Ol Billy Bob’s Button Bustin” Chicken Fried Steak which is 1 lb for $11.95. DO NOT GET THE LARGE ONE. Let me repeat. Do Not Get The Large One. You will hurt yourself.



You also have a choice of one side and the salad bar, or two sides. I chose two sides. MashedThe Carriage House Cafe Chicken Fried Steak Potatoes and onion rings (they were out of green beans). You receive a number and then find a seat. The salad bar, utensils and beverages are way in the back of the restaurant. The salad bar looked very basic. Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion, peppers, pickles, grated cheese, with several choices of dressings.

So back to the meal. They use a round steak and they pound it way to thin. The crust was very crispy and nicely seasoned. There was no grease factor. The meat was a little chewy. The mashed potatoes needed lots of salt and pepper, but they were very creamy. The white gravy was thick and peppery. The onion rings were thin rings of perfection. The best thing I ate.

This is a fun, old time Texas funky restaurant and it will warrant a return visit (I’ll order something else next time).
Carriage House Cafe - URating: 3 Udders
Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

The Texas Travelin' Man
URating Legend

Chicken Fried Steak Review: Seabrook Classic Cafe in Seabrook, Texas

Thursday, January 27, 2011 by The Texas Travelin' Man
Seabrook Classic CafeIf you are in the Seabrook area looking for a Chicken Fried Steak, head to Kemah and T Bone Tom’s and bypass Seabrook.

I ventured out to the Seabrook Classic Café to continue my search for the Best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas. Well, it didn’t happen. Here are the facts. The waitress had no idea how big the Chicken Fried Steak was. She showed me with her hands how big she thought it was. She did say it’s prepared to order. The roughly 6 oz Chicken Fried Steak had a nicely seasoned breading, but the breading fell apart after each cut. The meat was thicker than most, and was just okay.
Seabrook Classic Cafe Chicken Fried Steak Plate
The mashed potatoes were tasteless, but the green beans were good. Here is a major nay, nay. They put the watery green beans on the same plate as the Chicken Fried Steak which meant the bottom of the Chicken Fried Steak was soggy and tasted like green beans.

The white gravy was very thick, peppery and probably the best part of the meal.  It also came with Texas toast (it actually looked like Delaware toast) The cost is $10.00.
Seabrook Classic Cafe: URating - 2 Udders

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.


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Chicken Fried Steak Review: Rudi Lechner's in Houston, Texas

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 by The Texas Travelin' Man
It’s a new year (Happy New Year) and my search continues for the Best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas, and I’m willing to try it almost anywhere (except for a chain). So when someone asked me if I have tried the Stuffed Chicken Fried Steak at Rudi Lechner’s, I said no, and then followed it up with the following question: What is it stuffed with? It turns out it’s stuffed with Swiss Cheese (and Jalapenos, if you want). Rudi's Chicken Fried Steak

So off I went to see if this was udderly acceptable.
This 30 plus year old restaurant sits right off of Westheimer in the Westchase District of Houston.

Rudi Lechner’s is a classic German Restaurant that looks like it was transported from Germany with all the trimmings you would expect. Appropriately dressed wait staff, who are very good at what they do, very friendly service, and a great selection of German dishes.

They start you off with zucchini bread and a very crusty (the way I like it) small, sliced white bread. Now they didn’t tell me it was zucchini bread and I thought it was  pumpernickel bread, so my immediate reaction was why is it so sweet. Once they explained what it was, I couldn’t get enough of it.

Rudi Lechner's RestaurantNow for Stuffed Chicken Fried Steak. I’m not a big fan of swiss cheese on my food so I was a little apprehensive. The Stuffed Chicken Fried Steak looked great, smelled great and yes, it tasted great. No grease on the bottom of the Chicken Fried Steak and after the first cut, the swiss cheese just oozed out. It was a little overpowering. The small side of mashed potatoes were plenty (especially after I had my fill of zucchini bread). They were seasoned perfectly and the addition of very thin sliced fried onions was a perfect match. Back to the Chicken Fried Steak. They use a flank steak which surprised me as flank steak can be tough, but, I guess if you pound it long enough it becomes tender. It was so tender that I didn’t need the steak knife. The meat was perfectly seasoned as well. The white gravy that came with the Chicken Fried Steak was referred to as a cream cheese gravy. It’s actually a béchamel sauce with cheese added. Very good.


In fact if you want to try and recreate the Stuffed Chicken Fried Steak, here is the recipe. Fun at Rudi's

I’m a big fan of German food and I will return next time to try more of their German dishes. I will probably go on a Wednesday evening when they have a buffet.

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

The Texas Travelin' Man
Rudi Lechner's Restaurant in Houston, TX: URating of 3 Udders

URating Legend

Who has the best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011 by The Texas Travelin' Man
For over a year now I’ve been traveling the roads of Texas in search of that Texas delicacy, Chicken Fried Steak. Okay, it’s not a delicacy, but it’s Texas. Some people call it Country Fried Steak, but they’re not from Texas.

Here is the ritual I go through every time I order a Chicken Fried Steak.
1.    I always ask how big it is. When they put their fingers together to make a circle I then ask how many ounces.
2.    I ask for the gravy on the side (I forgot a few times)
3.    When the Chicken Fried Steak arrives, I give it the smell test.
4.    I then look at the bottom to see what kind grease is there.
5.    I take a couple of photos
6.    I taste it without any gravy
7.    Then I taste the gravy without the Chicken Fried Steak
8.    I then taste the mashed potatoes and green beans
9.    After all that, I cut a piece of Chicken Fried Steak, dip it in gravy and repeat several times (I did not repeat several times on a few of my finds)Moo Thunder

You think this job is easy. It is, but you have to take the bad with the good.

Thanks to everyone who helped me with their suggestions on where to find the Best Chicken Fried Steak. Everyone has their opinion on who has the best, but when I first began this quest I stated you can have your opinions, but mine is right.

What kind of Champagne goes with Chicken Fried Steak? None. Beer goes with Chicken Fried Steak. Which one?

So, take a look at the list of all the Chicken Fried Steaks I reviewed in 2010 from the Best to the Worst and go out and see if you agree with me. I know you will.
URating Legend

URating - 5 Udders:
Udderly the best
URating: 5 Udders for Georges


URating - 4 Udders: Excellent
URating: 4 Udders for Hickory Hollow
URating: 4 Udders for T Bone Tom's
URating: 4 Udders for Max's
URating: 4 Udders for Mel's



URating - 3 Udders: Very Good
URating: 3 Udders for Madison'sURating: 3 Udders for Bubba'sURating: 3 Udders for Wunsche BrosURating: 3 Udders for Novrozky'sURating: 3 Udders for Ellm Creek CafeURating: 3 Udders for GristmillURating: 3 Udders for Good Time Charlie's
URating: 3 Udders for Willie's


URating - 2 Udders: Good
URating: 2 Udders for Goodson's
URating: 2 Udders for Neal'sURating: 2 Udders for Lulu's


URating - 1 Udder: Just OK

URating: 1 Udder for Strack Farm
URating: 1 Udder for Florida's


URating - 0 Udders: Udderly not worth the calories

URating: 0 Udders for Angry Dog

2010 Yearend recap and Predictions for 2011

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 by The Texas Travelin' Man
This has been a good year for my quest for the best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas. Here are some of the highlights for 2010:

•    I didn’t get sick from eating Chicken Fried Steak
•    My Cholesterol did not jump sky high
•    I can still fit into my clothes
•    I found the Udderly Best Chicken Fried Steak (5 Udders) George’s in Waco
•    I found the Udderly worst Chicken Fried Steak (0 Udders) The Angry Dog, Dallas
•    I found the most expensive Chicken Fried Steak, Max’s Wine Bar, Houston
•    I found the largest Chicken Fried Steak, Hickory Hollow, Houston

In my next post, you will find a recap of all the Chicken Fried Steaks I’ve consumed, with all the ratings and all the info you need to enjoy what Texas does best, Chicken Fried Steak.

The search is not ending, in 2011 my goal is to find at least Five 5 Udder rated Chicken Fried Steaks. That means I will have to go to at least triple the number of restaurants I went to in 2010. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. With your help the best Chicken Fried Steak restaurant will be found.



So what can we expect in 2011? Don’t bet the farm on these but I was pretty good at predicting what would happen in 2010.

So here is what I see in 2011 for Texas:

•    Hotel occupancy will continue to increase, but there will still be great bargains to be found.
•    You will visit as many Texas cities as possible 
•    The best deals will be on Luxury Hotels & Resorts. There are plenty of them throughout Texas.
•    So many Texas attractions, so little time 
•    Car Rental rates will continue to increase their rates but not as drastically as in 2010. There are some smaller, less known car rental companies you may want to look for. EZ Rent a Car in Dallas, for instance.
•    You will eat only in local Texas restaurants. Break to chain.
•    I still believe Southwest Airlines will finally begin charging for bags now that they have seen the Billions of dollars the other airlines have made.
•    Airline prices will rise throughout the year.
•    The highest room rates will still be in San Antonio, so if you see a deal, grab it.

Travel Tips to help you save money:

•    Compare rates on a site like www.kayak.com
•    Once you find a hotel you want to stay, look on their website to see what rate they have. If you feel it’s too high, call the hotel, ask for the manager, tell him or her you will be visiting the area several times in 2010 and you would like a lower rate. Example. If the lowest rate is $100, ask if they can extend a rate of $75.00. The worst that can happen is they say no. They may say I can give you an $80 rate. You just saved $20/nt. (and you may just get an upgraded room).
•    If you have to rent a car, try not to rent it from an airport location as it usually costs more.
•    Book a tour package. They will save you time and money.

Happy New Year from the Texas Travelin’ Man and TourTexas.com

The Texas Travelin' Man

Chicken Fried Steak Review: Georges Restaurant in Waco, Texas

Sunday, December 19, 2010 by The Texas Travelin' Man
Georges Restaurant in Waco, TexasIt’s interesting how life goes to extremes. In my search for the best chicken fried steak in Texas I went from finding the worst Chicken Fried Steak to finding the best (so far) within a 24 hour period. I won’t discuss the worst (see The Angry Dog) but I have finally made it to the top of the Chicken Fried Steak mountain. This was my second visit to George’s Restaurant in Waco. I was there over a year ago but didn’t post my results, even though it was very good. This time it was Chicken Fried Steak nirvana.

Here is the recipe for the best Chicken Fried Steak. The place reeks of what Texas style comfort food  should be. The wait staff is very attentive and is ready to make your visit the best it could be. But let’s get to what they do best. You have a choice of a small Chicken Fried Steak which is 4 oz at $7.99, or the large which is 2/4 oz CFS’s for $9.99. This comes with two sides. Even though it’s only $2.00 more for the large, please think twice before you do. Well I take that back. I ordered the large and ate all but two bites, and that was after I ate three of their famous Crazy Wings which is chicken, jack cheese, jalapenos, wrapped in bacon and of course deep fried.

URating: 5 Udders!

They use an Angus round and pound it where it’s so tender and juicy. The breading is slightly salty and has a nice pepper flavor and comes out crispy, stays on the steak and has no grease on the bottom. I chose garlic mashed potatoes which were so creamy and had a nice garlicky flavor and green beans which were fresh and had a great smoky taste. They start you off with hot rolls as well.

Listen to "Georges Bar" by Pat Green .

Georges Restaurant - URating: 5 Udders!

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

It's the Texas Travelin' Man
URating Legend

Chicken Fried Steak Review: Angry Dog in Dallas, Texas

Monday, December 13, 2010 by The Texas Travelin' Man
My search for the best Chicken Fried Steak continues and, unfortunately, I found one of the worst Chicken Fried Steaks to date.

On the Angry Dog menu it says, “A full half-pound of West Texas tradition”. Well please let the tradition stop.

Here is what I found. The Chicken Fried Steak looked like it came out of the freezer that you could buy at one of the big box stores. It tasted even worse than that. Now, no one there could verify this, but I’m going purely on taste and look.
Angry Dog Chicken Fried Steak
The Chicken Fried Steak comes with a house salad and French fries. Both tasted fine. The white gravy was thick but tasteless.  There is not much more I can say except the Angry Dog is a great looking place with great music, but I would suggest staying with their specialties, Their Angry Hot Dog and their hamburger which have won several local awards.
Angry Dog URating: 0 Udders
Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

It's the Texas Travelin' Man
URating Legend

Chicken Fried Steak Review: Hickory Hollow in Houston

Monday, December 6, 2010 by The Texas Travelin' Man
DECEMBER SPECIAL: Buy $100 gift certificate and receive a $35 gift certificate ($50 certificate gets you a $15 certificate). This offer is good until Christmas.

Hickory Hollow has three locations in the greater Houston area, Fallbrook, The Heights, and Magnolia. I went to the Fallbrook location which is on the backside of the Sam Houston Race Course. Hickory Hollow was voted as the best Chicken Fried Steak according to the readers of the Houston Press. They were right on the money.

Hickory Hollow RestaurantHere is the recipe. Hickory Hollow had the Chicken Fried Steak as a special so I ordered it. The sign said medium. I paid at the counter got my hand vibrator and found a seat. After a few minutes the LARGEST Chicken Fried Steak appeared after my hand held vibrator went off. I just didn’t realize that their medium was HUGE. You can see by the picture how big it is and that it’s served on a pizza plate.

The size was a little decieving as I began to chow down. They had 2 steak cutlets (they refer to their steak as cutlets) breaded together which made for a lot of extra breading (as you can see by the after picture).  Here are your choices when it comes to Chicken Fried Steaks at Hickory Hollow:
  • Small (Plowman): $8.29 (5 ounces)
  • Medium (Hired Hand): $9.99 (8 ounces)
  • Large (Rancher, The Saddle Blanket): $11.49 (10 ounces)
  • They all come with:  2 sides and a visit to the salad bar
  • Poboy: $5.79 (2 ½ ounces)
  • Kids portion (fries, drink and a sweet treat): $4.29 (2 ½ ounces)
  • Note: They also have the Chicken Fried Stek as past of their combo plates (5 ounces)
Back to the meal. The breading had a great color and had a great crunch, but didn’t have a lot of seasoning, and it didn’t stay on the steak. The steak was thick, tender and juicy and there was no grease..  The mashed potatoes were good but a little dry. The green beans were great. They had smoked ham pieces and onions in the green beans which just set it above others I’ve had. Now for the best part of the meal. Their Texas River Bottom Gravy. You dip your Chicken Fried Steak into their Texas River Bottom Gravy, put it in your mouth and wait for instant gratification. This gravy should be bottled and sold at the counter. This is a brown gravy (I guess you could have figured that out by the name and the picture). I did find out that it begins as a roux (flour & oil, and carefully mixed until it gets a light brown color), a chicken base and seasoned with pepper.

CFS - Before and After

I also brought home some of their sliced brisket and their bbq sauce to enjoy the next day. There was one problem. It didn’t last until the next day. Both were also great.
URating: 4

Who is that mapped man?  It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

The Texas Travelin' Man
URating Legend

Chicken Fried Steak Review: Strack Farm Restaurant in Spring, Texas

Monday, November 29, 2010 by The Texas Travelin' Man

I’m still searching for Texas’ best Chicken Fried Steak and I reached out to the Strack Farm Restaurant in hopes I would find an udderly great one. It didn’t happen.

Strack Farms Restaurant Chicken Fried Steak ReviewHere are the Ingredients

The restaurant had the perfect look, the perfect price, but when it showed up it had the wrong look.

As you can see by the picture, it had practically no breading on it. It looked like it was dusted in flower and deep fried. You have two options at Strack. Large portion for $9.49 or the lunch portion (which is what I had and is ½ the size) for $6.49. They use a round steak that is so thin that it has no bite and is dry.

It comes with French fries or mashed potatoes, the vegetable of the day and Texas toast. I had the mashed potatoes which were excellent and the corn which was ok. The so called Texas toast was more like Oklahoma toast. Not as big as Texas toast should be. The gravy was thick but had no taste.

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

The Texas Travelin' Man

Strack Farm Restaurant: URating 1

URating Legend

Chicken Fried Steak Review: Bubba's in Dallas, Texas

Monday, November 8, 2010 by The Texas Travelin' Man
Tour Texas and check out our chicken fried steak review from Bubba's in Dallas, TexasWhere can you find an old Texaco gas station turned Art Deco restaurant in Dallas?  Bubba's is a fast food looking restaurant with a drive thru, but also has a great looking restaurant with a black and white checkered floor and red and chrome chairs.

When you enter you place your order, pay and have a seat. They will call your name when it’s ready. It will take a few minutes as it’s not fast food. The music was great old time rock n roll which helps past the time while they are preparing your food. So guess what I ordered? You got it. I ordered the large Chicken Fried Steal with mashed potatoes and green beans.
Chicken fried steak review from Bubba's in Dallas, Texas
Here’s what I didn’t like about Bubba’s. The plate the food came on.It was plastic and was divided in three sections. Looked like a camp plate. Now for the meal. It was very good. There were two CFS’s that had no grease on the bottom, good green beans and very good mashed potatoes. The white gravy was perfectly seasoned and was the thick, crunchy breading. The meat was tender and juicy. It also came with two yeast rolls. Another plus for Bubba’s. There was a bottle of honey on the table which was the perfect accompaniment for the rolls. I ate it all (except for a couple of green beans.

When I asked you all to let me know who has the best CFS in Texas, I received several responses for Babe’s. I wasn’t near a Babe’s but I went to Bubba’s and when I read they were related, I was good.
Bubba's chicken fried steak review

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

Tour Texas with the Texas Travelin Man.

Tour Texas chicken fried steak review: URating Legend.

Chicken Fried Steak Review: Goodson’s Café in Tomball, Texas

Monday, November 1, 2010 by The Texas Travelin' Man
Goodson's Chicken Fried Steak ReviewThis was my 2nd visit to Goodson’s Café because my first visit was discouraging and several readers have said it has the best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas. The menu says it’s the best, a sign on the window says it’s the best and even the “Eyes of Texas” proclaimed it the best. Well the “Eyes of Texas” needs a new seeing eye dog.

I’m not sure what the problem is with Goodson’s, but I have my own ideas. I arrived at around 11:45 am and got back into my car around 11:55 am. After I ordered the Chicken Fried Steak, with green beans and mashed potatoes, and with the gravy on the side, it took less than two minutes before it showed up. Obviously the Chicken Fried Steak is not made to order. I am guessing they do their own breading of the steak, but it’s probably far enough in advance that it doesn’t hold up.

Goodson's Chicken Fried Steak Review - Before        Goodson's Chicken Fried Steak Review - After

The staff each had their own idea of what the Chicken Fried Steak consisted of. The waitress said the small was 6 oz and they use round beef. The hostess said the small was 8 oz and the large was 10 oz, and they use top round. Either way it just doesn’t work.

Here’s the details. The meat was dry and a little chewy. No gristle.  The batter was very flaky,  crisp and lightly seasoned. It was so flaky, it didn’t hold onto the steak. There was no grease on the bottom. The big bowl of thick white gravy was good, but just not seasoned enough. The mashed potatoes were the worst I’ve had to date; little seasoning, dry and lumpy. The green beans were just okay. They were way overcooked, but most of the green beans I’ve had were overcooked.

Goodson's Cafe - URating of 2 - Tomball, TX

The small Chicken Fried Steak is $8.49 and the large is $9.79. It comes with 2 sides.  They also have a CFS sandwich @ $6.99

Attention Tomball Residents: If you want a great Chicken Fried Steak, go to Mel’s in Tomball. It’s twice as good.

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

It's the Texas Travelin Man
 

For clarification purposes, the comment below says that Goodson’s has the best chicken fried steak in Texas and it is from one of my blog posts.  But, if you read the blog - that was a comment from a reader, not from The Texas Travelin’ Man.

Goodson's Chicken Fried Steak Review - old post

Tour Texas URating Legend

Chicken Fried Steak Review: T Bone Tom's in Kemah, TX

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 by The Texas Travelin' Man

This is the classic looking place where you would expect to find a great Chicken Fried Steak. What’s even more special about T Bone Tom’s is you will find a mixed bag of wonderful menu items. They have seafood, BBQ and unique appetizers that will have you coming back for more.

T Bone Tom's Chicken Fried Steak ReviewOne of their own creations is the Armadillo eggs. These are big pickled jalapeno peppers that are stuffed with their homemade brisket and their homemade bbq sauce covered in a seasoned flour coating and deep fried. You get 4 to an order with a side of ranch dressing. They also make their own polish style smoked sausage  and serve it sliced with their bbq sauce.

Now,  the reason for my visit. Their Chicken Fried Steak. They have 4 options to choose from. The Chicken Fried Steak sandwich with steak fries for $6.99 (they say it’s the best in the world), a small Chicken Fried Steak with a choice of 2 sides for $9.99 (Monday is the special of the day for $7.49),  a large Chicken Fried Steak for $13.99 and a kids Chicken Fried Steak fingers with curly fries for $5.49 (I wish someone would serve Moe or Larry fries just once).

 
T Bone Tom's Chicken Fried Steak Review - URating 4.They use top round steak at T Bone Tom’s and tenderize it to the point of  being fork tender. The portion size is 7 oz which is just perfect. They season the flour, coat the steak a few times then drop it in the hot oil. The result is one of the best Chicken Fried Steaks to date. The crispy coating  was perfectly seasoned and the meat was thin, juicy and tender with no gristle.  I lifted the Chicken Fried Steak to sop up the grease puddle, but there was none.

You have several choices of sides and to keep things consistent I went with mashed potatoes and green beans. Yes, the white gravy was on the side.  The mashed potatoes were excellent. They were a little more seasoned than I would have liked, but there were none left on my plate. The green beans tasted like they were just picked from the garden, and served. The constant with most of the green beans I’ve had with my Chicken Fried Steak is bacon. The bacon here was cooked  properly. The white gravy was perfectly seasoned and it had  great consistency.




As you may have noticed in my other posts, I do like a good smoky brisket and theirs looked and smelled great. I took a pound home with some of their bbq sauce and it didn’t disappoint. Smoky and tender.
 

T Bone Tom's Chicken Fried Steak Review: URating of 4

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

URating Legend


50 Years of Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas - You Could Go Free

Monday, October 18, 2010 by The Texas Travelin' Man
It’s Wurstfest time again in New Braunfels, but this is a special year. It’s Wurstfest’s 50th anniversary and it’s a golden time to visit.

The dates for Wurstfest’s Golden Anniversary are October 29 – November 7, 2010. The cost for admission is $8.00

The Texas Travelin’ Man wants to send 130 people (65 couples) to Wursfest this year as my guest and I’ve made it easy.

For the first 65 people who send me:
1) a suggestion (posted on this blog) on where to find the Best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas then;
2) send an email to Tickets@TourTexas.com with their name and mailing address, I’ll send them 2 tickets to Wurstfest 2010.  (1 pair per family per address, please.)

Here are the Chicken Fried Steak places I’ve been to so far, so hopefully you will give me other options.

To learn more about last years Wurstfest, read my blog.

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

It's the Texas Travelin' Man

Chicken Fried Steak Check In: Neal's Restaurant in Spring

Friday, August 27, 2010 by The Texas Travelin' Man
Neal's Restaurant

Neal's Restaurant - Chicken Fried Steak ReviewA lot of people suggested I go to Neal’s in Spring for their Chicken Fried Steak, so I did. The interior has lots of animals hanging from the walls and it’s the kind of place that you would expect to find a good CFS. Lots of people sitting near me ordered the CFS as I did. You have some choices to make. Every day the CFS is one of two specials. You get the CFS, 2 veggies and dessert for $6.47. This is what I recommend if you have to have the CFS. The other options are a CFS sandwich with fries for $6.29, or the small CFS for $8.99 (4 oz) or the large for $10.99 (2-4 oz patties). You also get a choice of 2 sides.



I ordered the large. That was my first mistake. I chose Neal's Chicken Fried Steakas my sides, green beans which were average, and their potato casserole which is like a twice baked potato with cheese and onions  baked in a casserole. This was the best part of my meal. The breading on the CFS was very good and there was no grease on the bottom. The meat, it turns out is pounded thin and then folded over in some places. If you look at the left patty you can see the hump. CFS’s shouldn’t have humps. Camels have humps. CFS doesn’t stand for Camel Fried Steak. The meat was good and tender. The seasoning was very light on both the meat and breading, but they totally forgot to  season the gravy. It was difficult to dip the Chicken Fried Steak in the bland gravy. I even tried to doctor it up, but it didn’t work.
Neal's Restaurant Chicken Fried Steak Review

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

The Texas Travelin' Man


URating Legend

4 Udder Chicken Fried Steak at Max's Wine Dive

Friday, August 27, 2010 by The Texas Travelin' Man
Chicken Fried Steak Review: Max's Wine Dive

At Max's Wine Bar for the Chicken Fried SteakWhen I read that a Dive in Houston was serving a Prime NY Strip Chicken Fried Steak with Truffle gravy I thought I found Chicken Fried Steak Nirvana. It came close but, I did find a Dive that I will go back to several times for the rest of their unique twist on comfort food menu (and a return visit to their CFS).

Just a few minutes from downtown you’ll find a 4 year old 73 seat dive (this is the hippest dive I’ve been to) where you can find some great wines and gourmet comfort food. You know how I feel about chains, and Max’s will soon have three locations. That does not constitute a chain. Their Austin location opened June 2009 and San Antonio will open October 2010.
Red Velvet Pancakes at Max's Wine Bar
I decided to make my first visit to Max’s Wine Dive for Sunday Brunch. Their Chicken Fried Steak  for Sunday Brunch was only $16.99, while their dinner price for the same is $24.00 (there are a few differences in the gravy and the sides).

Before I get to the Chicken Fried Steak I want to talk about something that really caught my eye on the menu. Red Velvet Pancakes with a lemon cream cheese frosting and a side of maple syrup. The photo displays their small portion (which is not on the menu, but if you ask nicely, they will make them for you). Wonderful, but we shared the small and it was plenty.

Now back to the reason I came to Max’s Wine Dive. The NY Prime Strip Chicken Fried Steak. This is one of the smallest and most expensive Chicken Fried Steaks I’ve had, but with Prime  Beef, and truffle gravy, you will pay more. My only mistake was to not have the truffle gravy on the side. I’ve mentioned this in the past that you need to order the gravy on the side. I have to read my blog more often to remember this.

Max's Wine Bar's Chicken Fried Steak earned a healthy 4 on the URating.

The Chicken Fried Steak is marinated in jalapeno and buttermilk and is surrounded  by a seasoned flour breading. It tastes great. Do not share this. There’s not enough to go around.

The meat was tasty and tender and did I tell you it was Prime Beef? You actually chew a solid piece of meat that hasn’t been pounded to death and there was no gristle.  The (white) truffle gravy is made with black truffle cream. Why not? Truffles are somewhat of an acquired taste, but I acquired that taste years ago. You can put truffles on my Jello and it would be the best Jello I’ve had.  I wasn’t sure what I should do with the 2 fried eggs, so I just put them on top of the Chicken Fried Steak (did I say it was a piece of Prime NY Strip?), and dug in.  The home fries were crispy with some onion and jalapeno. Very good.

Max's Wine Dive scored a 4 on the URating.

Who is that mapped man? It's the Texas Travelin' Man.

The Texas Travelin' Man


URating Legend