As we continue to celebrate Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day we wanted to pay homage to the very best Texas has to offer. To find Mary’s Cafe you will need to barrel west on I20 to Strawn, Texas. Strawn is about 90 minutes from Dallas, but well worth the drive. This made our jumbo list of CFS, and once you savor the flavor you will understand why.
One a recent visit we pulled in curbside 30 minutes before Mary opened her doors, but were invited in none the less once she spotted us sitting in our car. Our waitress was busy making her tables ready and offered up a tall glass of iced tea she had just brewed, and that took some of the road dust off our palates as we stared down the menu.
We were told when we pulled up in the parking lot that Mary went ahead and put a chicken fried steak in the frying pan once she saw our car. She’s special that way. Although the menu is quite extensive, for the most part that is what most folks order. The steaks come in three sizes, all bodacious. The small order could effectively feed a couple; the medium could satisfy a small family. We have not actually eye-balled a large order, but can only imagine that it is a giant haunch of beef that would make even the best cattle rustler envious. All orders come with a large bowl of gravy.
Until recently the only choice you had as a side was a baked potato and fries. The fries are a massive pile of home cut potatoes, and the baker is equally massive as are most things at Mary’s. She now offers a side of mashed potatoes with the meal, along with a small dinner salad.
The wait for the meal wasn’t long. Remember, Mary anticipated our order.
The CFS was as tender and delicious as we remembered. This is not the heavily battered beef plate served by most places. Mary gives the steak a dusting of flour, but that is where the similarities to most chicken fried steaks end. These babies are pan fried, whereas most are cooked in the fryer. The difference is more beefy flavor and also means the steak has to stand up on its own and can’t be camouflaged behind a thick crust.
Although there was little to no room left after our CFS, our waitress mentioned pie. We refused. Then we waited to be asked again, because it is rude to refuse a second offer of pie.
For those with jumbo appetites, Mary offers an all-you-can eat CFS on Monday nights after 6pm. God bless you should you attempt that madness.Mary’s Cafe 119 Grant Avenue Strawn, TX