After reading your comments and tallying your votes for the most underrated greasy spoons in Houston, I've come to a conclusion: We don't have enough greasy spoons here. There are several big ones that get all the credit and a few lesser-known ones with small but devoted contingents of fans.
So here's the plan: Some of you need to get together and open some new diners around town. The greasier, the better. Then, maybe, in 30 to 40 years, said diners will have enough history and enough of a fan base to be counted among the best greasy spoons in town. You have a while, but this is no easy task, so I suggest you start soon.
In the meantime, here are the spots in town that you think are the most underrated--and the greasiest.
5. Frank's Grill The Frank's Grill waitress greets her regulars by name with their favorite breakfast beverage in hand, and the Frank's Grill line cook moves like a magician, seemingly creating hefty breakfast platters out of thin air and a few turns on the griddle. This funky old diner on Mangum specializes in breakfast of the serious eggs-and-meat variety. There's steak and eggs, chopped steak and eggs, pork chops and eggs, and chicken-fried steak and eggs, as well as egg-and-bacon sandwiches for dainty eaters. But it's not just breakfast that impresses here. Chicken fried steak is served with a bowl of cream gravy on the side, just like mom used to make.
4. Triple A Restaurant Speaking of chicken fried steak, the CFS at Triple A is the stuff of legend. Katharine Shilcutt described it (and Triple A) well when she wrote, "Triple A is a relic of an era long since past, of no-nonsense diners with worn linoleum floors and the employees' paste-brown lockers in full view of the dining room. The waitresses here have actual names like "Flo," and are warhorses who've worked here for the entirety of their lives, and they are not about to put up with your crap. Take a seat in a booth or at one of the impossibly low-slung stools at the counter, order your CFS with a side of eggs and coffee, and don't bother the regulars: That's the mantra here at Triple A, which has been serving customers in identical fashion since television was still in black and white."
3. Chapultepec Lupita Because this is Houston and because we're obsessed with Tex-Mex cuisine, it makes sense that we'd count a Tex-Mex stronghold among our favorite greasy spoons. It's open 24 hours, which means you can get inexpensive Tex-Mex standards like chilaquiles and huevos rancheros and then progress to quesadillas, tamales, enchiladas and an excellent mole if you just stay put from breakfast through dinner. The food is authentic, heavy Tex-Mex, perfect for soaking up the booze from a late night bender or starting the day on a high, hearty note. And that jukebox? It plays music day and night, but the best tunes to emerge from its old speakers are Latino disco.
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2. Waffle House Affectionately known as WaHo by the regulars (or is that just me?), the Waffle House chain of restaurants has established itself as a staple across the American Southeast and Midwest. The first one opened in Georgia in 1955, and since then, diners have become addicted to the waffles (of course) as well as the smothered, covered, etc. hash browns and eggs prepared quickly and with a smile, any way you want them. Can you find better eggs or waffles in town? Sure, you probably can. But for the price, the speed and the convenience, Waffle House is one of the best. There's a reason there are now hundreds of locations across the country. As far as greasy spoons go, this is about as classic as they come.
1. New York Bagels/New York Coffee Shop The Facebook page for New York Bagels pretty much sums it up: "A diner, deli, bagel shop, bakery and coffee shop all wrapped up in one great experience." This is the place to go for the best bagels in town. The coffee shop adjacent to the bagel shop serves the bagels made next door as well as a whole host of other diner-style items like club sandwiches, eggs, pancakes and toasty home fries. The décor is dated, but, fittingly, so are the prices. Unless you're in a hurry and just want to grab some bagels to-go, sit down at the coffee shop and enjoy a meal for around $5. Chat with the owners, Jay and Eddie, should they be up front greeting customers (which they often are), and thank them for bringing a little slice of New York City here to us in Houston.