A few years ago we had a friend visit from Philadelphia. She had never been to Texas but had heard about our famous chicken fried steak and was eager to try one. We explained the basic concept: it’s a piece of steak, pounded to make it thin-ish and tender-ish, dipped in milk, flour, salt and pepper, then deep fat fried. It’s served with country white cream gravy with a side of mashed potatoes. Popular history suggests that German immigrants to Texas imported the basic idea of a wiener schnitzel to their new home on the prairie. What could go wrong?
We took our visitor to Lulu’s Bakery and Cafe. As we were seated, she watched the wait staff trundle HUGE plates of meat to the adjoining tables. Slopping-over-the edge-of-the-platter hunks of meat. Meat bigger than your head. Her Yankee sensibilities shocked — “I could NEVER eat all that!” — she scanned the menu and primly ordered a chicken fried steak sandwich, assuming it would be a more modest lunch-sized portion. When it arrived, she wept. It was the same gigantic slab of beef . . served on a bun with lettuce and tomato. Everything really is bigger in Texas!
To drive the point home, we suggested a cinnamon bun for dessert and you can imagine her horrified expression when the three-pound (1.4kg) pastry was delivered:
You’ll find chicken fried steak all over San Antonio but don’t fall into the trap of ordering one with a cheese and jalapeño sauce — they are good, but not authentic. Lulu’s (918 N. Main) is the iconic downtown spot. From the event hotel, turn right onto Cesar Chavez then make an immediate left onto Santa Rosa. In about three blocks, just before Columbus Park, turn right onto W. Martin and, after a few more blocks, turn left onto N. Main. After a few more blocks you will pass under the PanAm Expressway (I-35) and you will see Lulu’s on the right. It’s about 1.5 miles (2.3km), a half hour walk from the hotel.