The great American truck stop has its roots in the south. You need look no further than the menu to confirm this. T-bone steak and eggs, chicken prepared at least four different ways, bread and potatoes both standard issue for every meal and then there’s the crowning jewel. The combination of beef, breading and white gravy that leads to the chicken-fried steak.
The history of chicken-fried steak can be traced back to 1911 and a small Texas town called Lamesa. The story goes that a short-order cook at Ethel’s Home Cooking restaurant didn’t see the comma in an order written as “chicken, fried steak” and thought the order was for one dish. Seems kind of odd that the cook would prepare a brand new dish instead of asking the waitress to clarify, but we are talking about Texas. Anyway, the chicken fried steak was a hit, and it’s invention is celebrated to this day in Lamesa, Texas with the annual Chicken-Fried Steak Festival. But you don’t have to travel to Lamesa, Texas to sample the town’s creation. The chicken-fried steak soon found its way all over the country.
The secret to a delicious chicken-fried steak is bringing everything together just right. The steak is flattened and tenderized. The seasoned breading must compliment the beef. And the steak has to be smothered in white gravy with mashed potatoes and roll on the side. Other favorite sides in the vegetable clan include corn, pinto beans and fried okra. But there’s little room on the plate for side dishes. The sides have to come in their own containers when you’ve got a hubcap sized chicken-fried steak spilling over the sides of the plate.
You can find a chicken-fried steak such as this right here in the River Valley at a fine eatery in Clarksville called South Park Restaurant. South Park sits next to Interstate 40, and has been feeding truckers and local folks with a hankering for southern comfort food since the 1960s. With great food and fantastic service, it will be serving truckers and local folks for many years to come.