Mary’s Café in Strawn has been called “the mother church” of chicken-fried steak. I attended services there Sunday before last with Bud Kennedy, a columnist for theFort Worth Star-Telegram
who has been writing about CFS (among other things) in that paper for over 20 years. Bud learned at the feet of another
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writer and perhaps the greatest CFS bard of all time, Jerry Flemmons. In the Flemmons-Kennedy school of CFS writing, you have to eat a lot of the legendary examples of the genre before you hold forth. Sort of like studying art history before you are allowed to paint anything. Mary’s in Strawn is first on the list of legends. Many argue that this is the best chicken-fried steak in Texas.
I got a large CFS, and it overlapped my plate on several sides. It came with excellent hand-cut French fries and peppery cream gravy. The batter was thick and while it held on to the meat pretty well, it wasn’t stuck like glue. The meat was tenderized round steak with plenty of flavor. You might like a CFS with sirloin or some other expensive cut of meat better, but the original idea was to make a cheap piece of meat delicious.
And in the category of ungussied-up chicken-fried steak, Mary’s Café has few equals. – Robb Walsh