Best Chicken-Fried Steak (2005)

AllGood Café

We've never understood this state's passion for hunks of inferior beef pounded flat with a mallet, dipped in batter, tossed into a frying pan, then drenched in white gravy that resembles that gooey grade-school paste. Yes, we've tried it. No wonder it took Laura Bush so long to find a replacement White House chef; no classically trained culinary artist can bring themselves down to the prez's level. But AllGood Café breaks tradition by starting with decent tenderloin and deep-frying the cut in a vat of peanut oil. This creates a light, crisp, almost tempura-like crust. So light, in fact, that the beef actually stands out. Even better, they use a deft hand when seasoning the thing, so each bite reveals a balance of flavors. A drizzle of gravy completes the dish. It doesn't leave that "I've just guzzled a few pints of melted lard" feeling common to most chicken-fried steaks, so perhaps true Texans shun the dish. For the enlightened few with roots outside the state, the version prepared by AllGood is worth a drive into the heart of Deep Ellum.


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