by Steven Doyle
Shuffling in and finding one of the few remaining seats at the bar, a popular spot for the regulars, you grab a menu and peruse knowing that you will order the chicken fried steak. But you scan the menu with the thought you may discover a new Texas favorite, but alas you do not. Nothing new has been invented in the past hundred years that might exceed the perfection of a slab of tasty beef pounded thick and hand breaded and deep fried. The craggy crisp layers are an exciting place for unctuous creamed gravy to lay rest in anticipation of your first bite.
And it happens. No faster than your order is placed does your warm plate arrive. You are offered warm biscuits and fresh cornbread. For a few brief moments there is nothing wrong with the planet. All problems are solved; life is good.
Lucky’s Cafe is the resting place of its previous restaurant, Phil’s Diner. It has always been a neighborhood location for sustenance both human and culinary. Your bar neighbors are glad to discuss a full range of topics from sports to local politics. And these same neighbors are ordering the chicken fried steak. Breakfast is served all day, so at times the CFS will share a plate with a few sunny eggs.
Originally opened by master restaurateur Gene Street, Lucky’s is now run by the same restaurant group which operates III Forks, El Chico and many others. In the past few years the restaurant joined the farm-to-table movement and sells fresh eggs from Vital Farms, Coombs maple syrup, Windy Meadows chicken and those beautiful Homestead grits that are so easily identified.
The menu update has been a collaboration project between newly appointed Lucky’s chef Adrianna London and Chef Billy Caruso, the Executive Chef at III Forks in Chicago. London comes to Lucky’s with a long history with Consolidated Restaurant Operations, Inc., the parent company for Lucky’s. She started with the company in 1989 at El Chico, and later traveled internationally to train cooks for the company in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Cairo and across the US. The collaboration with Caruso is particularly fitting, as the CIA alum had been tapped by the noted 24 Diner in Austin to formulate its farm-to-table menu.