Sr. Plata’s Chicken Fried Steak Trail

Bruce “Sr Plata” Silver Enjoys Chicken Fried Steak at the Central Grill

Author Larry McMurty said it best, “Only a rank degenerate would drive 1,500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken fried steak.”   For Texans, chicken fried steak is a religion, one they preach with great enthusiasm.  You might think my friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver is as Texan as they come, but he’s a proud born-and-bred Californian.  He loves chicken fried steak more than anyone I’ve ever met.  Over the past few years, he and I have journeyed across the metropolitan area in search of the best chicken fried steak we can find.  Below, we share his impressions of the some of his favorites.  Click on the restaurant name to launch a thrilling review.

RESTAURANT SR. PLATA’S ASSESSMENT
 K & I Diner
I have to say this was one of the best chicken fried steaks I have had in New Mexico. It was large, thick (not flattened as some other places do it), and delicious. The country gravy had no meat so it met the Sephardic requirement. Eggs were surprisingly cooked perfect and the hash browns were tasty (I forgot to order extra well done which I normally do for extra crispness).
Lindy’s Diner
My chicken fried steak 1/2 with vegetarian gravy and with chile mixed with eggs and extra crispy hash browns brought comfort food to the next level. We came at an off hour so it was quiet and I could take in all the history. I thought I was back for a moment at The Pantry downtown L.A.  One of the best breakfasts I have had in a long time!
Mannie’s Family Restaurant
We have gone to a lot of places for chicken fried steak and I think I found the best in the state so far (please let me know of anything better). This was a solid piece of meat that had a really great cream gravy (sorry, no oinker for me) that was thick and delicious and of course I requested and received crispy hash browns and the much needed egg over medium. This had a very good thickness whereas other places are flat and taste like cardboard or like Church’s Chicken (yes, I go there cause its close)
Millie’s Restaurant
The chicken fried steak (1/2 gravy, 1/2 green chile) was good but the portion was way too small on Lo carb ( no toast, no hash browns, no good stuff, etc) thus why I had to add a burger.
Vick’s Vittles Country Restaurant
Had great Chicken Fried Steak and Mash Potatoes that had awesome green chile gravy! Very good and no pork!! Had food Cauliflower as an additional side. A lot if meat, not a lot of breading, just the way it should be.
 66 Diner
Pancakes and Chicken Fried Steak are 2 of my favorite foods that bring great comfort to me. I would tell my Dad back when how much I loved it and he would laugh and say how chicken fried steak was a people for those that couldn’t afford steak during the Depression (Beef Ribs as well…). Interesting segway to what I ordered, you can see that above as well. 1st, it was one of the best Chicken Fried Steaks I have had in this State (of course I say that each time I try it with my Friend Gil. But this, not an abundant amount of flour, a great amount of steak (in fact a very large piece) cooked to a golden brown, absolutely beautiful, just simply melted in my mouth ( hmmm, instead of Chicken and Waffles, how about Chicken Fried Steak and Pancakes, now that would be a Treat!). And of course, I can never make up my mind on toppings so I had to have the brown gravy (vegetarian) and the the quest with Chile (just reread Gil’s description of my meal and realize what I just wrote doesn’t do justice (yes, I slathered!). I must admit combining both is the only way to go (okay, its one of many ways, you could also get the white gravy).
Western View Diner & Steakhouse
Joined Sensei on the Chicken Fried Steak trail in the Land of Enchantment and found this CFS quite good! Actually, since I don’t eat pork, I had to change the topping to both green and red chile. The Chile was good but it overpowered the CFS so had to assume how it would be with gravy. Feedback to the owner is to have white or brown gravy with no meat.
Spinn’s Burgers & Beer
Celebrated with Spinn’s Chicken Fried Steak, it was excellent! A lot of good meat that was different than other places those claimed big were squashed like a massive pancake, oh no, this was nicely seasoned, floured correctly, enough food for Sr Plata to be full and something I want to have again. It came with very good mashed potatoes, not sure if they had the skins but were loaded with gravy that had no meat and yes, brought joy to my stomach.
Central Grill and Coffee House
 As Gil alluded to, I am on a search for the ultimate Chicken Fried Steak in the Land of Enchantment! I have to say the CFS at the Cenral Grill was great tasting! It was the most tasting like fried chicken that I had. Yes, gravy had no pork bringing a smile to my face, a little more pepper added would be great. I do wish it was bigger, it’s really hard to find restaurants meeting all metrics for: Quality, Taste, Size, Gravy / Chile and Extras ( crispy well done hash browns, eggs cooked beautifully over-medium
Vic’s Daily Cafe
Made it to Vic’s on Sensei’s recommendation since he knows how much I love chicken fried steak, well, it was great! I was borderline on ‘low carb’ so I had the flour-based gravy on the side but I had to cheat. The bummer was that I learned when I paid that I should have had the green chile gravy that would have made it totally awesome.
Copper Canyon Cafe
This was one of the best Chicken Fried Steaks in the Land of Enchantment, it was close to a 1 in the Quality/Quantity Plata ratio and that is pretty darn Good! As Gil explain, it was very large, many restaurants I have been to have kept me hungry when I left but not at Copper Canyon! And sooooo Crispy, hmmmmmm! A white gravy, no pork, very Happy so it passed that test. I ordered the green chile on the side but as you see in the Pics above, Sensei had it right on his Steak, I first wanted to taste it first with Gravy [GREAT] then I added some green chile (which had a delicious bite, a bit hot without burning my tongue but was one of the best green chiles found at a restaurant) [GREATER].
Mac’s La Sierra Coffee Shop
Continued and getting close to finalizing the chicken fried steak trail and I must say the gravy here when you mix with the requested green chile is quite good. The steak, I enjoyed but alas, still not big enough for Sr Plata to walk away fulfilled. I had the usual 2 fried eggs and hash browns, mixed together with a little green chile, which was nice. Gil and I shared an order of the steak fingers, unfortunately I am thinking of Mac’s Steak in the Rough and this was no Mac’s. Anyways, I would like to come back, Gil said the pancakes were really good. This place was hopping with just regular people on Central and I felt part of the community…
Cocina Azul
I have been pondering many weeks what to say about my brunch with Sensei. Well 1st its always Awesome to have the opportunity to break almost Challah with my dear friend and 2nd, the Chicken Fried Steak was marvelous and extremely delicious! Did someone say ‘Geen Chile’, this gravy was perfectly smothered all over my beast, yesterday beast! My eggs over medium were perfectly cooked ( addeded that to my CFS and the hash browns made a great accompaniment to the entire meal. I thoroughly agree with Gil regarding the vanilla, the vanilla in the Pancakes made no sesnse, such a distraction, I really craved good pancakes and was sad instead.
The Kitchen by 135 Degrees
Another hidden Albuquerque gem is ‘The Kitchen by 135 Degrees. Hannah and Nates definitely has a great challenger for the breakfast and lunch crowd! I honestly hope the best for this month old restaurant located on Osuna near 2nd. Gil gave an expert expose on this eatery but the pictures don’t do it justice. I love Chicken Katsu. This Chicken Fried Steak was like experiencing Steak Katsu, top quality meat covered in, Bruce say it, PANKO. It was definitely a change from the ordinary and each bite was like having the 1st. It was very sad when it was gone…the saving grace was it was that it was ‘big’ my-oh-my! I had my CFS with Green Chile which was quite excellent with a good bite, 1) First recommendation is that they provide a gravy without sausage. Lorenzo (Hermano to Sr Plata) would have been in hog heaven. Hopefully they will offer a variety of gravies. The place is very young yet and I am so glad they graciously accepted Sr Plata’s recommendations. Another one 2) is to offer Pancakes, Waffles, etc. but they have a great reason why they don’t serve them. They are looking for the right high quality yet affordable syrup. What a great answer and making it worth my weight. They are considering Japanese Pancakes, which are a slightly bit thicker. My mind is racing about what could be the start of the Pancake / Crepe New Mexico Trail! Before I forget, I loved both forms of potatoes. For those who like potato latkes, you have a place in Albuquerque. I would recommend sour cream or apple sauce added to the menu for those “latkes.” And lastly, they serve delicious seed grain bread fresh from the bakeries of Whole Foods here in ABQ that has a live bakery in action. Oh, The Kitchen is the only place I know in New Mexico where the butter is melted on the toast. That’s normal for L.A. but most places here can’t seem to comprehend the concept. ALL, please lets make this Highly Successful. Let me know how you fared and let the owners know of this very special food blog…. Sr Plata Out
Bacon Jam
Joined Sensei on this trip to Candelaria and being the Sephardic I am, I chose no bacon (sorry you pork lovers out there). But, we met one of the owners, and he said it would have been very easy to make me white gravy without the Bacon. Oh well, next time. The food was quite good and at an extremely reasonable price, a taste of a true diner. The chile had a bite to it, so if I was to have chicken fried steak without the gravy, the chile makes it a 2nd best. It was funny, our server looked at my CFS and said it looked empty without something covering it (ok, there goes an LOL even though I don’t like doing LOLs). The 2 baby pancakes were quite cute. As Sensei said, having larger ones would have been awesome, but it did give us a chance to try as much as possible at the same low price. The papas were so-so. Making them roasted with caramelized onions would give them some much needed pizazz. And sorry to say, some of our food was not as hot as other food was. I think they are still trying to get their process perfected as Bacon Jam has only been open for 8 weeks or so. They want to open a diner on the West Side which I hope they do (Breakfast/Lunch) close to the Corrales/Rio Rancho area, if anyone has ideas where they could go, please comment in this blog. And, I want bloggers to come try this diner as my palette is limited to the non-pork dishes. Oh, if new cousin Jessie from Washington reads this, please check out if Gil has been to any restaurants you may have gone to (see his U.S.A. Restaurant Index) and let us know your M.O …. Sr Plata out.
Nick & Jimmy’s
It’s kind of hard to add much more to what Gil already said, but in totality if what you get, this was a Great Chicken Fried Steak dinner! Yes, it was priced a bit high but did you see the pic of the plate and add one delicious salad to it? Unbelievable! I love Panko and on the steak, exquisite! Sampling the potatoes was great to do, as gratin was best. The small amount of cinnamon added to the coffee was excellent. One suggestion, they need more wait people. Our server took our order and brought our food then the check. Not once did she check up on us and between Gil and I, we need at least 3 cups of coffee each. Except for the lack of attentiveness, a great place to eat. It was my 1st time there…
The Owl Cafe
There had been comments by those I do not know to try Chicken Fried Steak from the Owl, so Sensei and I made it there not too long ago. I would rank this as mid-range as I found it had just too much breading to my liking, I am spoiled on lightly breaded Panko. I unfortunately struggled when the waitress, who was extremely nice to us, said it was delicious but frozen. Yes, most meat will be frozen but I make believe the cow is in the parking lot. Mashed potatoes were nice and buttery. The coffee was just ok. A hint of cinnamon would spice it up. My depression started when we asked for a side of pancakes after hearing they were great. Unfortunately, they stop making pancakes at lunch time, big mistake. Love the style inside and the malts were tempting but since I’m watching what I ingest, CFS pushes the limit…

11 Comments on “Sr. Plata’s Chicken Fried Steak Trail”

  1. Just had one of the best chicken fried steaks I have ever eaten at a place in Benson AZ. The Farmhouse Bakery and Restaurant. We find ourselves wishing that it was in Rio or Bernalillo so we could go more often.

    1. Im so exited that your going to try it. Effingbar & Grill is at 5300 Sequoia Rd near Mimmos which is on Coors near I40. Your going to love it.

  2. Sr. Planta

    I like your Trail very much. Chicken fried steak is my favorite to. Im surprised you havent been to Effingbar & Grill. There monday special all day long is Chicken fried steak. Its excellent!

  3. Señor Plata, have you tried the country fried steak at The Range? It’s quite good, with your choice of white, brown or green chile gravy. The green chile gravy wasn’t overly hot, but hot enough to get your attention. It’s served with real mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. In my case, it was green beans.

    Another great place is Cocina Azul, but that’s a breakfast dish, with eggs (of course), hash browns and toast. The green chile gravy for that is quite a bit hotter than at The Range (Cocina Azul doesn’t mess around with their chile) and it’s got bits of chicken in it. Even better? Breakfast is served all day.

    Happy eating!

  4. Aha Sr. Plata! Per your “youthful” love of Ship’s Coffee Shoppe out Westwood, CA http://tinyurl.com/ydf2f329 way back when, must ask how their Chicken Fried Steak would’ve compared to ABQ’s, i.e. given the agricultural improvements in chicken and steak raising over the years? Be that as it may and in terms of price: I randomly chose our ABQ’s Vick’s Vittles to look up what ya’d pay for a dinner with the fixins = $8.95. http://www.vicksvittles.com/menu/dinner/
    According to this 1971 Ship’s menu http://tinyurl.com/yaut6eyy (click to enlarge) theirs would cost ya a Buck & ninety-five cents. Using a common inflation calculator, e.g. https://www.usinflationcalculator.com/ , and assuming all portions are equal, Ship’s “should” be selling theirs for a whopping $11.53!!!…if it existed today….I.e. such a bargain you have in ABQ!

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