This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston® issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.
Steve Earle once said of our city and its lack of good chicken-fried steak: "Houston was always tough for chicken-frieds."
"The last fucking place you can get a decent chicken-fried steak is right over there," Earle elaborated in an interview with our own John Nova Lomax, indicating Texas to the west, down I-10. "There's one little pocket there: Schulenburg, Flatonia and La Grange. That's the last place in Texas you can get a decent chicken-fried-steak."
But maybe Earle just hasn't visited Triple A.
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 not your gussied-up faux-'50s servers found at places like 59 Diner. They 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 low-slung stools at the counter, order your CFS for breakfast 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.
The CFS here is battered and fried fresh with every order. As one of the waitresses once memorably told Robb Walsh, "We batter the chicken-fried steak from scratch; it's not the frozen kind." It shows, too, in the honest construction of the pounded-thin steak, the crinkly batter that adheres fiercely to every bite and crunches mesmerizingly under a sea of white cream gravy. This is CFS that you'd be proud to introduce to your grandparents, eager to show off to visitors as a representative of the great chicken-fried steaks across Texas. And you can walk it all off at Canino's right next door after you're finished, grabbing pastries at El Bolillo for dessert, in one of the truly great ways to spend a Saturday morning in Houston.
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The list so far:
No. 100: Chili cheese mac at Jus' Mac No. 99: Texas turkey sandwich at Spec's No. 98: Custard at Petite Sweets No. 97: Caprichos mixtos at Taqueria Monterrey Chiquito No. 96: Pineapple-wasabi burger at Lankford Grocery No. 95: Farmer's MKT Pizza at Phoenicia's MKT Bar No. 94: Potatoes at Money Cat Brunch No. 93: Breakfast tacos at Sunrise Taquito No. 92: Hot dog at Tacos D.F. No. 91: Avocado gelato at Frozen Cafe No. 90: Chicken sandwich at JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers No. 89: Beer-battered asparagus at Hearsay No. 88: Honey Badger omelet at Kraftsmen Cafe No. 87: Pastelitos de carne at El Jalapeño No. 86: Pancakes at Union Kitchen No. 85: Wild boar and crab pizza at Boheme No. 84: Breakfast croissant at BB Donuts No. 83: Pretzel at Anvil Bar & Refuge No. 82: Short rib sandwich at Shepherd Park Draught House No. 81: Grilled shrimp po-boy at Pappadeaux No. 80: Dahi puri at Shiv Sagar No. 79: Aporreado at Los Corrales No. 78: Oxtail francobolli at Aldo's Cucina Italiana No. 77: Tonkotsu at Cafe Kubo's No. 76: Spinach danish from Angela's Oven No. 75: Pupusas at El Petate No. 74: Pheasant dog at Sammy's Wild Game Grill No. 73: X-Tudo burger at Friends Pizzeria No. 72: Esparragos gratinados at Tintos No. 71: Gua bao at Yummy Kitchen No. 70: Geisha dog at Happy Endings No. 69: Oyster po-boy and gumbo at Goode Co. Seafood No. 68: Ceviche at Sirena Seafood No. 67: Caldo de mariscos at Taqueria Arandas No. 66: Banana pudding at Pizzitola's No. 65: Fried catfish and gumbo at Cafe-A-La No. 64: Soft-shell crabs at Banana Leaf No. 63: Macaroni and cheese at Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse No. 62: Torta burger at El Gran Malo No. 61: Black bean burger at Ziggy's No. 60: Parillada at Pampa Grill No. 59: Peanut butter and jalapeño jelly burger at Wicked Whisk No. 58: Eggplant involtini at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 57: Lone Star dog at James Coney Island No. 56: Sushi at Sushi Miyagi No. 55: Palestinian chicken at Al Aseel No. 54: Roast beef sandwich at Local Foods No. 53: Mexico City plate at Molina's Cantina No. 52: Tacos at Brothers Taco House No. 51: Branzino at Lucio's BYOB No. 50: Beef sweetbreads at Feast No. 49: Golden Doomba Special at the Rice Box Truck No. 48: Malted waffle at City Cafe No. 47: Banh mi bo kho at Cafe TH