Chow Bella: Steve Freidkin of TEXAZ Grill On Great Texas Restaurants, the Terlingua Chili Cook-Off and His Last Meal On Earth
Freidkin with his beloved Tito's
Phoenix New Times
June 11, 2013
This is part two of my interview with Steve Freidkin, owner and operator of TEXAZ Grill. If you missed part one, where Freidkin dished about chicken fried steak, his favorite local deli and two local chefs he admires, read it here.
What's your guilty pleasure?: Jack in the Box tacos (please don't tell anyone).
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Chow Bella: Steve Freidkin of TEXAZ Grill On Chicken-Fried Steak, His Favorite Local Deli, and the Two Local Chefs He Most Admires
Steve Freidkin and his Texas-only juke
Phoenix New Times
June 10, 2013
This is part one of my interview with Steve Freidkin, owner and operator of TEXAZ Grill. Come back tomorrow when Freidkin dishes about his favorite places to eat in Texas, the Terlingua Chili Cook-off and his last meal on earth.
When Steve Freidkin and his partner Jim Mitchell opened their Texas-style steakhouse on 16th Street and Bethany in late 1985, they didn't even have chicken-fried steak on their menu. Freidkin grew up in the beef business in Texas and Louisiana, so running a steak-centric restaurant seemed like a no-brainer.
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Chow Bella: Texaz Grill's Chicken Fried Steak Is a Classic Phoenix Guilty Pleasure
Phoenix New Times
March 5, 2013
In restaurants, the trend is take a humble comfort food and turn it into an upscale dish. Sometimes, it works incredibly well. Other times, you wish they hadn't even tried. There's one dish in particular that has to stay humble: chicken fried steak. Any attempt to fancy it up ends horribly. Friends have told me about restaurants elsewhere that do a Kobe rib eye version. I'm sure it's tasty, but my Texas roots scream to me that it's just wrong.
The whole point of chicken fried steak is to take a cheap cut of meat and transform it into something delicious. This ain't haute cuisine. This is truck stop diner food par excellence. A properly done CFS should reflect the generous nature of Southern hospitality and be big enough to hang off the edge of the plate. There's one place in town I can always count on to deliver the goods: Texaz Grill.
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Chow Bella: The Password to TEXAZ Grill's Secret Dessert
The not-so-secret ingredients in TEXAZ Grill's mystery dessert.
Phoenix New Times
February 11, 2011
Cluttered with old license plates, ball caps and business cards tacked to the ceiling, TEXAZ Grill is the town's finest redneck watering hole. But underneath the award-winning chicken fried steak and ham buns this restaurant is hiding a secret. See, there's a dessert so simple and so frighteningly "country" that it isn't listed on the menu.
It's called The Doctor in Dixie, a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream in a little Dixie cup with Dr. Pepper syrup poured on top. You know, the stuff that mixes with carbonated water in soda machines to form your favorite pop. You don't have to know a secret handshake or a password to get your hands on this backwoods sundae. You just have to ask for it by name. Whisper "The Doctor in Dixie" to your server and you'll get this delicious dessert for just $1.50. Sweet!
Chow Bella: 100 Favorite Dishes
56: Chicken Fried Steak at Texaz Grill
Phoenix New Times
July 28, 2010
We're working up our appetites for our huge Best of Phoenix issue, out September 30, with daily servings of Chow Bella's 100 Favorite Dishes from across the Valley -- in no particular order.
Number 56: Chicken fried steak at Texaz Grill
Don't bother wearing tight pants to Texaz Grill. This place is devoted to the down-home eats of the Lone Star State, and portions are just as huge. To really get the full experience, you have to eat with abandon.
Because why would you want to exercise restraint when faced with chicken-fried steak that's practically bigger than the plate they serve it on? It's the house specialty here for good reason.
Texaz takes a tender slab of beef, double-dips it in batter, fries it to a golden, gently crispy state, and then blankets that baby with creamy country gravy. The pleasure definitely outweighs the guilt here, but if you need a little liquid courage to forget about that diet you're blowing, just wash it down with a few Shiner Bocks and you'll be fine.
Chicken fried steak satisfies stomach and soul
Michael McNamara/The Arizona Republic
Chicken fried steak packs a wallop of fat and calories, but its devotees don't seem to mind.
The Arizona Republic
Mar 11, 2009
Chicken-fried steak is not for the faint of heart.
This Frisbee-size meal - a tenderized beef cube steak coated with seasoned flour, fried in a skillet and smothered with gravy - appeals to those with he-man appetites and no fear of artery-clogging fats.
One serving of CFS, as it is affectionately called, contains a boatload of saturated fat, about 35 grams. But to the legions of devoted eaters, chicken-fried steak is worth every heart-threatening bite.
"We have regulars who come in here and only order the chicken fried. It's comfort food at its best, a meal with a following as loyal as it gets," said Steve Freidkin, owner of TexAz Grill, a Phoenix eatery with an outdoor sign that tracks its sales of chicken-fried steak (more than 700,000 and counting) since opening 23 years ago.
Phoenix landscape architect Carlton Beckstrand, a Texas native who has been eating CFS at TexAz since Day 1, goes so far as to call the meal "comforting health food."
"I think it's a health food, because the worst thing our bodies face, especially today, is stress, and this dish touches you in a place that's home. It takes away the stress. It takes you back to a happy place," said Beckstrand, who considers the TexAz CFS the best west of the Pecos River.
That place that's home most often is Western or Southern states. Texans like to take credit for CFS, while Oklahomans claim it as their official state dish. The precise origin of the dish, however, remains as fuzzy as its name.
An oft-reported tale credits a dense short-order cook in a small cafe in Lamesa, Texas, for confusing a waitress' order for chicken and fried steak to mean frying a steak like you would fry a chicken. Although entertaining, the story is not true. A newspaper reporter wrote the story as a spoof that, unfortunately, many people still believe.
Food historians credit the dish to European immigrants who knew how to make tough meats palatable. Think Wiener schnitzel, a tenderized veal cutlet, coated with flour, eggs and bread crumbs and fried.
At first glance, CFS might look like a simple country meal that anyone with an iron skillet, pounded beef, flour and grease can make. But connoisseurs of the dish know it needs the right ingredients and technique.
Real chicken-fried steak starts as round steak that's pounded thin or run through a tenderizer, dipped in buttermilk, then dredged in flour, salt and pepper. It's fried in melted shortening in a cast-iron skillet to achieve a crisp, brown edge, but never a hard or thick crust. Finally, a milk or cream gravy is made from pan drippings.
This dish screams for a side of mashed potatoes, which is the standard at TexAz. If customers want a little green on their plate, the cook adds a jalapeņo pepper.
On any day of the week, Freidkin's restaurant is jam-packed with customers who appreciate CFS for its pedestrian, down-home appeal.
"You have to understand," he said, "we don't do al dente in Texas. We eat what we like - real food."
In Search of 50: The Quest Begins With Texas
Phoenix New Times
Apr 18, 2008
Phoenix is a town of drifters. It is a home to adventurers. It's rare to meet a native, but common to meet someone originally from the East Coast or The Midwest or even a different country all together. As a result, much like America at its best, Phoenix is a melting pot of cultures and ideas.
With this as my inspiration, I found myself standing in front of Texaz Grill at the corner of Bethany and 16th St.
-- click here to read the full review! --
Best Local Treasure (Open More Than 20 Years)
May. 1, 2007 05:47 PM
6003 N. 16th St., Phoenix
Since 1985, this shrine to Texas has been dishing out 10-gallon-size portions of Lone Star roadhouse fare. Naturally, the emphasis is on beef, pardner. That means filet, rib eye, New York strip, prime rib and T-bone. But most of all, it means what may well be the best chicken-fried steak west of the Pecos: thin, lean and handsomely crusted, served with the kind of stick-to-the-ribs mashed potatoes that can help a cowpoke work all day on the range.
Carolina's Mexican Food
Monti's La Casa Vieja
Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico
Los Dos Molinos
El Chorro Lodge
Vincent on Camelback
TASTE OF TEXAS
Jason Kiningham, Special for the Rep
PHOENIX GRILL DEDICATED TO LONE STAR COOKING
October 28, 2004
"Over 566,782 Chicken Fried Steaks Served."
That's what the sign reads outside
TexAZ Grill at 16th Street and Bethany Home Road in Phoenix. And it's
true -- owners Steve Freidkin and Jim Mitchell have been keeping track
since 1985, when they opened the place.
Back then, it was called Lone Star Steaks, a one-of-a-kind Texas-style steakhouse that promised "great food, from a
real Texan, done one meal at a time."
Seems they weren't the only ones with the idea however -- a
Kansas-based restaurant conglomerate with a very similar name moved
into town and threatened to take them to court to stop using the words
Instead of spending money on lawyers or the risk of being confused with a national chain, they changed their name to
TexAZ Grill (officially pronounced tex-azz), the result of a contest put forth to loyal customers.
Once inside, it's apparent that this is no chain restaurant.
The theme of Texas is everywhere you look. Stuffed armadillos behind the bar. Texas artwork and posters on almost
every inch of the walls. Trucker hats on the ceiling. A collection of Texas chili cans by the kitchen. And my
favorite, a vintage jukebox in which every song contains the word "Texas" or is sung by an artist who was born or
died in the Lone Star state.
Many of the title sleeves are signed by the artists who've come in to dine -- names like Willie Nelson, George
Strait and Tanya Tucker.
The Texas theme carries over to the food, of course, and just about everything is made from scratch.
On the lunch menu, you'll find the signature chicken-fried steak, a
double-dipped cube steak fried to perfection and served with homemade,
skin-in mashed potatoes with peppery sawmill gravy, corn and a
buttermilk biscuit -- a filling meal to say the least for a mere $6. It
is no surprise why they've sold so many.
Other good lunch choices include the chicken-fried chicken, fried
catfish and Southern-style pork chops (all $6 each). My pick though, is
the chopped BBQ Brisket sandwich ($5) -- tender slow-smoked beef
shredded on a sesame seed egg bun and topped with a homemade tangy
barbecue sauce. A truly delicious taste of Texas, but you may want to ask for extra barbecue sauce on the
If you're in the mood for a slightly lighter lunch, try the chef's
salad ($5.50), turkey club ($5.50) or grilled chicken sandwich ($5).
Die-hard American traditionalists will find comfort in the 6-ounce
hand-formed beef burger ($5) served with TexAZ fries -- large,
home-style chunks of potatoes, not the skinny shoestring variety found most places.
Supper here consists of
a somewhat simpler menu. There are no appetizers -- sorry, no hot wings
or jalapeno peppers -- and no specialty salads. Just a down-home
offering of dishes, with a major emphasis on meat.
Steaks are the star attraction and choices include filet ($17), rib-eye ($14), New York strip ($14) and Texas T-bone
There's also smoked prime rib available in two cuts (regular, $14, and
Mulligan, $17) if you're lucky enough to catch it before they run out.
A standout item on the menu is the homemade chili. It's an award-winning Texas recipe chock-full of meat (no beans)
served in a heavy mug ($2) or bowl ($3) with grated cheese, onions and a hot pepper.
If you're daring, there's a collection of Texas hot sauces at the bar.
Dinner portions of the chicken-fried steak are $10, along with catfish ($10), pork chops ($10) and beer-battered
My favorite items on the dinner menu, though, and probably the most healthful, are the kebabs. Plump pieces of
chicken breast ($10) or juicy filet ($14) skewered with grilled onion,
green pepper, mushrooms and tomato. They're cooked in a tasty butter
sauce, but if you're calorie-conscious, order them "dry" without the
Every dinner is served with a house salad with homemade ranch or honey-mustard and choice of potato, mashed or
Plan to come thirsty, too. There's a nice selection of beers, including Texas' Lonestar and Shiner Bock. Plus one of
the best-tasting house margaritas in town (order a top-shelf or Patron
margarita for an extra-special kick). And if you like your drink spicy,
the house Bloody Mary will turn your ears red.
There are a couple of
downsides worth noting: Parking can be tough in the tight-spaced lot
out front, and there is often a decent wait for a table, especially on
Reservations are only accepted for parties of six or more. But once seated, service is usually fast and
My preference is to try for a seat at the bar, which is fashioned from
an old shuffleboard table. Here there's little wait for a cold drink,
plus pretzels and spicy peanuts to snack on. There's also a stack of Texas magazines to peruse, and a humorous
bumper stickers with such sayings as "Honk if you've slept with Jim
Bakker" and "Grow your own dope, plant a man." Plus, you never know
what kind of character you might sit next to.
|These incredible edibles are simply irresistible|
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 11, 2001 12:00:00
Is it possible for a restaurant to do one dish too well? I'm starting to think so.
Sometimes, no matter how deep, how tempting and how well-crafted the rest of the menu is, I'm so hooked on one standout specialty that I simply can't bring myself to try anything else.
Here are 10 dishes so good that I've mentally ordered them the moment I walk in the door.
Chicken-Fried Steak at Texaz Grill, 6003 N. 16th St., Phoenix, (602) 248-7827. Sure, the T-bone and filet look good. But the he-man-size chicken-fried steak is a proven winner, tender enough to cut with a fork, encased in crisp batter and bathed with thick, peppery country gravy. Great skin-on mashed spuds alongside, too.
SPIRIT-SOUTHWEST AIRLINES IN FLIGHT MAGAZINE 1998|
WHERE TO EAT STEAK-PHOENIX
I guess we can forgive these guys for the improper spelling of our great state-they do make a fine chicken-fried. Steak, that is. And have been doing so for thirteen years. This place is top-to-bottom Texas-with gimme caps on the ceiling, Lone Star longnecks, and thick, meaty Texas-style chili, which comes with chopped onions and cheese. (What? No Fritos?) Besides the diner-style fare, TEXAZ also grills up T-bones, ribeyes, and New York strips, cut daily on the premises from USDA choice aged beef. There also are barbecue brisket and catfish. Expect a wait for a seat here. You can amuse yourself with the visual overload of Texas memorabilia, all lit by the warm glow of neon. Smoked prime rib (The Mulligan), $16.95. AE, MC, V.
NEW TIMES BEST OF PHOENIX RESTAURANT GUIDE 1996
For ten years, TEXAZ Grill was called Lone Star Steaks. But when a national steak-house chain with a similar name recently moved into the Valley, it forced a name change.
What's in a name? Not much. Whatever the moniker, this place oozes with friendly, down-home charm.
There's nothing mysterious about the straightforward cowboy menu. Except for a catfish plate and a couple of chicken dishes, TEXAZ Grill deals in beef.
If you're thinking about converting to a sprouts-and-berries diet tomorrow, consider making your farewell to animal protein with the T-bone tonight. It's full of juices and flavor. The eight-ounce filet mignon doesn't have the bulk of the T-bone, but for steak lovers who prize tenderness, it's the best option.
But I got the most pleasure out of one of the joint's least expensive platters. TEXAZ Grill's he-man-size chicken-fried steak is out of this world--fork-tender meat encased in crisp, puffy batter, moistened with a ladle of thick, peppery gravy. And the side of mashed potatoes--honest-to-God mashed spuds, with pieces of skin blended in--is good enough to distract you from the beef.
Following up steak dinners with rich sweets may not be nutritionally correct, but it is primally satisfying. TEXAZ Grill serves up two homemade crowd-pleasers: a dense bread pudding, drizzled with a hard-hitting whiskey sauce, and a pecan pie Southern cooks would be proud to claim as their own.
High-value meals and genuine neighborhood warmth turn TEXAZ Grill into a destination cowboy-country steak house. No bum steers here.
ZAGAT SURVEY 1998
They're still serving the "best chicken-fried steak" around insist fans of this "fun", "funky" steakhouse filled with Texas memorabilia; beef buffs also give the nod to the "light and fluffy" burgers that make them "want to go again."
DONALD DOWNES THE BEST RESTAURANT
You've got to get here early on any night to beat the crowd. Unlike other steak places with enough seating for complete towns, this site is small. Fairly plain outside, the inside with its wooden tables, chairs and booths is decorated in one-of-a-kind, early good-ol'-boy style. Check out all the stapled-to-the-wall doo dads: caps of every description, license plates from a dozen or more states, business cards papering an entryway wall and creeping across the ceiling, a wall of cans, packets and boxes of chili fixin's shelved by an elbow-room-only bar, and bumper stickers expressing an array of feelings. It's rustic, noisy, crowded, friendly and serves damn fine steaks. If you've been looking for THE best chicken-fried-steak in the Valley, stop looking. It's here.