Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's 10 Best Chicken-Fried Steaks

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Growing up, chicken-fried steak was my favorite meal. I always requested it on my birthday and when my family dined at Luther's BBQ (may it rest in peace), there was no doubt in my mind I would order the CFS with crispy onion strings, corn and Texas toast.

Ask any Texan what they think about chicken-fried steak, and they'll most likely respond with enthusiasm and joy while describing the battered and fried thin steak, served with a creamy gravy, an array of vegetables and mashed potatoes. There's nothing healthy about this meal, and that's why it is so good.

If you're going to spend your calories on a CFS, it might as well be an awesome one. Here are the ten best chicken-fried steaks in Houston. Happy eating, y'all.

10. Canyon Creek Canyon Creek's chicken-fried steak is much darker than most varieties -- a clear indication that it was fried a bit longer. But, despite its extra greasiness and possible longer cooking time, it is still an excellent steak. Canyon Creek is not a fancy schmancy restaurant, but it steps up its CFS by topping it with a savory mushroom brown gravy instead of the typical white cream gravy. Soft mushrooms, browned coating and tender steak make a winning combination.

9. Hughie's Tavern and Vietnamese Grille Hughie's has received much praise for its chicken-fried steak, or "country fried chicken" as labeled on the menu. The steak is tender, but the batter, unlike a traditional CFS, doesn't stick to the meat. Peel off sections of the crispy, crunchy coating -- the frying oil just explodes in your mouth, and that's not a bad thing. In case you didn't have enough meat, the gravy includes sausage bits, adding an extra element of chew and spice. Make it a fusion meal with mashed potatoes and a spring roll, or top your CFS with a fried egg.

8. Ouisie's Table You wouldn't think that such a beautiful restaurant and wedding venue would be home to one of the best chicken-fried steaks in Houston, but it is. The CFC is a staple dish at Ouisie's Table and it's no secret why it is no longer a Tuesday special; customers showed their love and desire for this Texas classic and Ouisie's decided to add it to the every day menu (breakfast included). Thin, tender steak is coated in a crispy yet soft crust, and served with your own side of black pepper milk gravy. Ouisie's pairs its CFS with "the works," -- mashed potatoes, black eyed peas, mustard greens and Lucy's corn pudding. You know, the four Southern food groups: peas, greens, corn and taters.

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7. The Republic Grille The Republic Grille recently opened in The Woodlands, and is killing it with its Texas cuisine. More specifically, with its chicken-fried steak. You won't find an absurd portion on your plate, allowing you to finish the whole thing. It's a tender steak with a crunchy exterior smothered in cream gravy. Paired with the soft sweet potato cakes and asparagus, you might think you're eating something healthy.

6. Frank's Americana Revival Take Mai Pham's advice and order the chicken-fried steak at Frank's Americana Revival. Down-home comfort food is what this restaurant does best, and this CFS is a testament to that. Frank's Americana Revival used to be Frank's Chop House and in 2010 the chicken-fried steak made Robb Walsh's list of 100 favorite dishes. A giant slab of battered and fried steak is covered with a classic pepper-cream gravy, and served with traditional whipped potatoes and vegetables. It's impossible not to order it when you see plate after plate served to surrounding diners.

5. Beaver's Beaver's is a place you want to kick back with a beer or mixed drink and nosh on something you know can't be good for your health. The CFBS, chicken-fried beaver steak (not beaver meat) is a signature item at chef Monica Pope's casual eatery in the Sixth Ward. It's a thick steak coated in a buttermilk batter, creating a hearty, crispy exterior. Next, it's smothered in a bacon-mushroom cream gravy, which soaks into each and every bite, softening the chewy steak. And like every good CFS, this one comes with a slice of Texas toast so you can dip it in the leftover sauce -- you won't want to let it go to waste.

4. Kelley's Country Cooking Sometimes you just need a classic chicken-fried steak from a classic Southern restaurant doing it the old-fashioned way and serving it with stick-to-your-ribs sides. Kelley's Country Cooking serves up a giant portion of thick, chewy steak coated in a light batter allowing the meat to shine. You also get three sides, along with your choice of gravy (if you don't choose cream, you're just wrong). A plate of Kelley's CFS almost looks like a Thanksgiving plate, especially if you throw in the cornbread dressing. But, this is Texas right? Go big or go home.

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3. Max's Wine Dive If you're a fan of cognac and a medium-rare steak, you're going to absolutely adore Max's Wine Dive's chicken fried ribeye. Yes, it's a whole ribeye battered and fried. The steak is tender, slightly pink and melts in your mouth, but the crust and gravy are what make this dish so divine. You could eat pieces of the crispy, crunchy batter dipped in the spicy, cognac brown gravy and be a happy camper. The huge piece of meat is served with oily haricot verts and roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

2. Hickory Hollow I've always thought the best chicken-fried steaks come with a side of Texas toast; you need the bread to soak up all the extra gravy. Thank you, Hickory Hollow, for agreeing with me. This CFS at this Heights barbecue restaurant is covered in a super thick buttermilk batter, perfectly fried and served with your choice of two sides. To balance the meal, I like to add green beans and corn; it's classic and pairs wonderfully with a thick, chewy chicken-fried steak covered in cream gravy.

1. BRC Gastropub BRC Gastropub serves a modern twist on classic chicken-fried steak by coating the meat in a jalapeno and potato chip batter. It's served with cream gravy, two eggs (medium over easy), cubed potatoes heavily seasoned with paprika and a giant cheddar biscuit with bacon jam. Add some of that sweet and savory jam to the CFS; the crunchy potato chip crust combined with the tender savory steak, spicy jalapenos and bacon jam is like a party in your mouth. Oh yeah, don't forget to burst open the egg yolks for extra creaminess. It's a greasy breakfast-for-dinner meal you will absolutely adore. Remember, calories don't matter when it comes to chicken-fried steak.

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