Chicken-Fried Steak and Eggs at Little Hip's

I walked into Little Hip’s (1809 Washington, 713-861-4411) around 10:45 a.m. and I was the only customer in the place. It’s a homey little diner and a great place to hang out. The food has occasional flashes of brillance (try the giant onion rings), but mainly it's just solid middle-of-the-road fare.

The waiter and the chef were standing around drinking coffee and shooting the bull. They said it was in between breakfast and lunch and they were already getting the chicken-fried steaks ready. So I requested chicken-fried steak and eggs. That combo is not on the menu, but the chef said, “What the hell.” I ate at the single table that sits on the sidewalk out front.

It was a pretty good CFS. I think the chef said he used pre-tenderized cube steaks. The peppery cream gravy was served in a monkey dish in the middle of the plate. The hash browns looked hand cut. He asked me if I wanted the eggs over top or on the side. I told him to put them on top.

The chef is so proud of his pinto beans, he went back inside and brought me a cup. I had to admit they were damn good. That gave me an idea. I have never tried the burger at Little Hip’s because the patty is cooked well-done on a grill (rather than a griddle). I hear the meat tastes dry. “Since you’re so proud of your beans, why don’t you put a San Antonio bean burger on the menu?” I asked the chef.

A bean burger has refried beans on top, sometimes garnished with Fritos and pickled jalapeños -- you can get one at Tookie’s in Kemah, as well as San Antonio. I think the beans would lubricate the grilled burger and solve the dryness issue. The chef looked skeptical. I doubt he’ll put it on the menu. But then again, he didn’t have chicken-fried steak and eggs on the menu either.

Do me a favor: If you find yourself at Little Hip’s and the place is empty, see if you can get the chef to make you a bean burger. Then tell me how it was. -- Robb Walsh

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