Tripping On Babe's Chicken-Fried Steak

Categories: Eat This

Babe's Patio Entrance.jpg
The mystical portal to chicken-fried steak.
Well, I finally made it to Babe's. What kind of food critic lives in Dallas for nearly two years and doesn't check out the chicken fried steak blessed by Sam Sifton himself? I didn't stop by the Roanoke location like the former New York Times food critic recommended, but I did follow his direction to order both the steak and the fried chicken -- more on that in a bit.

On a rainy Saturday, well past 2 p.m. the wait for a table at Babe's in Carrollton was still longer than 20 minutes. "Frankie, party of two!" The call animated two old ladies in velvet pants and black sneakers. They slipped in the front door as a few customers slipped out, most with a clear plastic bag filled with chicken and biscuits in tow. The steamy bags taunted me with the delicious smell of deep-fried poultry. I was ravenous when my lonely party of one was finally invited inside.

Babes CFS Tunnel Vision.jpg
CFS so good it gave me tunnel vision.
I almost second-guessed Mr. Sifton's instructions after I told my waitress I wanted both the fried chicken and the chicken-fried steak. She raised her eyebrows inquisitively, gesturing with her hands like she was about to catch a basketball. "It's about that big," she warned me. It was almost 3 p.m., and I still hadn't had lunch. I assured her I'd be OK.

A few moments later she came back with my "salad" and biscuits, neither of which I can endorse. The biscuits were bready and bland and the salad was merely a pile of iceberg lettuce swimming in a sweet but vinegary dressing. Clearly, this was the laziest salad I've ever been served, but I was sitting in a restaurant that fries their green beans in bacon fat. Babe's is not a garden-fresh veggies kind of place.

Everything was set straight when my mountain of deep fried splendor arrived. I tapped my fork against the crust on the outside of the steak and reveled in the satisfying sound. The crust was so crisp it took considerable force to drive my fork through it, and with one bite the chicken-fried steaks I've previously enjoyed in and around Dallas receded forever into mediocrity.

I pulled hard on my unsweetened ice tea and took a second bite, this time with a bit of pepper gravy served on the side in a ridiculously large bowl. The breading crunched against my molars and reverberated in my head like an army of tiny jackhammers. I grabbed a jalepeño, pricked it with my fork and squeezed it gently over the golden breading. As I took the next bite, laced with a vinegary piquancy, which I tempered with more pepper gravy, the room began to recede. The loud and boisterous diners shifted to a muffled mono, the waitresses spoke like Peanuts' parents and time began to slow. I was floating on a cloud of velvety mashed potatoes. I was having an out-of-body chicken-fried steak experience.

I can't tell you if I ate the steak in three minutes or I ate it in 20, but I will tell you I ate the entire thing. And as my surroundings came back into focus the plate of fried chicken that remained looked comparatively unimpressive. It was good, flavorful and juicy, but try as I might I couldn't recapture the grease-laden dreamland of my not so distant past.

I must have another of these chicken-fried steaks. Next time, I'm going to Roanoke and I'm taking lots of beer. Babe's is BYOB.


Location Info

Babe's Chicken Dinner House

1006 W. Main, Carrollton, TX

Category: Restaurant


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27 comments
DirtyP1
DirtyP1

I've lived here over 10 years now and still don't understand the fascination with Babe's. Maybe I've had way too many good CFS living in south Texas for so long, but Babe's seems so sub par and overrated. Another place they own, Sweetie Pie's in Decatur, has much better CFS than Babe's does.

1dailyreader
1dailyreader

I've been to the Arlington Babe's and did not like it at all.  Chicken's not my favorite food for one thing and I had CFS, not enough gravy, and you're right about that salad they serve, it's just soooo sweet and hard to eat. I don't know if the potatoes are packaged or hand mashed fresh but I didn't like the taste.  Even the corn was on the sweet side.  I guess I won't be back to Babe's - any of their locations after two bad experiences.

goodhugh
goodhugh

Bubba's near SMU serves the same food but has a drive-thru.  :)  

John Baugh
John Baugh

their mashed potatoes and gravy should have a town named after it

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

I'm quite content with the delicious (spicy) fried chicken from Popeyes. Five thighs, (my favorite) a tub of cole slaw and biscuits for $6.99 with a computer generated coupon.

hix.miblue.john
hix.miblue.john

I really think the fried chicken at the Walmart Deli is better and less greasy and a lot less costly with no waiting. 

JustSaying
JustSaying

I am not a fan of Babes. Their fried chicken is no better than what you can get at a grocery store deli. And that Carrollton location creeps me out. When the waitresses started singing it really made me feel like I was having sunday lunch at the Davidian compound. And all the wood framing in there started making me nervous.

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

"What kind of food critic lives in Dallas for nearly two years and doesn't check out the chicken fried steak blessed by Sam Sifton himself?"

The kind that tends not to leave the bubble area??????

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I tried the smoked ribs at the Babes in the CHill, not bad at all.  Dry rub, with a side of sauce if you so desire...I did not.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Next time maybe don't go with the fan-fic style of writing?

Babe's is very good CFS. But that was a kinda creepy write-up.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@Twinwillow I'm with you. I will take Popeyes spicy over Babes fried chicken every single time. I read an article one time in which a bunch of chefs were asked what their fast food guilty pleasure was. Sure, you got some food snobs that said that they refused to eat anything from a place with a drive thru window. The ones that actually answered the question almost always answered Popeye's. You know why? Cuz thats some gooooood shit.

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

@romeolipschitz @Twinwillow Schmuck, Don't you have anything intelligent to offer other than your endless negative asinine opinions of what people comment on. Obviously you're a very lonely miserable little dickless twerp. Really, Khatru, oops, sorry wrong blog. Crawl back into your asshole and give it a rest. And, what has NY got to do with Popeye's anyway? 

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

@romeolipschitz @Twinwillow 

Is that the best your little pea sized brain can come up with?

As we like to say in the neighborhood I grew up in,

Vai a farti fottere tu pezzo itzig ebreo di merda.

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