Austin Answered: The case of the lost Austin chicken fried steak joint

12:00 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 Local
The Texas Tumbleweed on RM 2222 might be the place on a hill where Joan Randall remembers “absolutely fabulous chicken fried steak.” Contributed

Joan Randall of South Charleston, W.V., writes to our Austin Answered project: “I am a former resident of Austin — graduated from University of Texas in 1976 — and have fond memories of a great dive up a hill and climbing steps to get there. Absolutely fabulous chicken fried steak! And I believe one could also sit outside on a terrace. Maybe there was music, but I don’t recall that.”

We presented Randall’s case to our social media jury and received a gravy bowl full of responses.

Some readers nominated places that did not fit the entire bill, such as Hill’s Cafe (no hill), County Line (no CFS, at least these days), Convict Hill (legendary CFS, but no hill or steps), Dry Creek Saloon (no CFS, right?), Lone Star Cafe (no hill) or the Stallion (beloved for other reasons).

“The Stallion had awesome chicken fried steak,” Laura Woosley Duggan writes. “You just had to wash your utensils in your water.”

Others just wanted to endorse favorite purveyors of CFS, such as the Frisco Shop on Burnet Road, Hoover’s Cooking in East Austin, Maxine’s Cafe in Bastrop, or Hickory Hollow in Houston.

The contest boiled down to two lost Austin eateries: Texas Tumblewood on RM 2222 and Another Raw Deal on West Sixth Street.

The first was perched on a very high hill.

“The Tumbleweed was like part hidden chicken fried steak preserve and a kids’ tree fort,” Matt Curtis remembers. “It had a variety of stairs and rock paths that dotted the hillside and made it fun to run and hide while parents ordered beer.”

Another Raw Deal was located where the original Z Tejas ended up. So lots of steps and a small hill.

“I was a fry cook at the Raw Deal after it moved onto East Sixth proper,” writes Larry Seaman. “Yes, we had chicken fried steak.”

Sharron Bower Anderson had the best reply: “Dang it, now I want chicken fried steak!”