The Bucket List - Texas Monthly, March 2010

by Patricia McConnico, Stephen Harrigan, Don Graham, Skip Hollandsworth, Brian D. Sweany, and Pamela Colloff

"Driving the River Road, in far West Texas; having a drink at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, in Dallas; fishing for bass in Caddo Lake; eating a chicken-fried steak in Strawn; searching for a lightning whelk along the coast; and 58 other things that all Texans must do before they die."

"47. Eat a Chicken-Fried Steak at Mary's Cafe, in Strawn."

"The full Mary's experience begins with the inevitable hike in from wherever you parked on the dusty two-lane highway out front. (Do not arrive at noon or six p.m.) It continues with the wait for a table in the plain-Jane room, with its beige walls, black chairs, and beer signs. (Repeat: Do not arrive at noon or six p.m.) Once you place your order for a chicken-fried steak, things start hopping. Unless the place is slammed, your steak will arrive at supersonic speed in all its golden-brown, plate-lapping glory. Half an inch thick, tenderized on-site, it's cooked on a flat grill, the old-fashioned way. In other words, it's not one of those preposterously battered, preternaturally fluffy modern CFSs. Cut off a piece with your fork (knife unnecessary) and take a bite. It tastes of meat, not grease or batter. Dip it in the cup of generously peppered cream gravy that comes alongside. The flavors meld deliciously. By the time you finish your steak, choice of potato, and Texas toast, you won't be hungry again for a week. 119 Grant Ave., 254-672-5741."

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