Hill Country Cupboard

Bar-b-q | Smoke House | Southwestern | Steak | Tex-Mex
One of the best

Like Diogenes searching for an honest man, we are always on the lookout for the perfect chicken-fried steak. We’ve found some excellent ones (and too many mediocre ones). One of the finest is served at the Hill Country Cupboard in Johnson City, Texas. This big barn of a restaurant by the side of the highway claims to serve “The World’s Best Chicken Fried Steak,” backing up that claim with the humorous parenthesis, “(NEARLY 3 DOZEN SOLD).”

Texas Hill Country is where some of the best chicken-fried steaks are made and served (and most likely the place where the chicken-fried steak was invented decades ago by European immigrants who used American beef to make a cutlet similar to wiener schnitzel). Therefore, in this neighborhood, a claim of primacy is quite a boast.

The boast is justified. No need for a knife here; a fork will crack through a golden brown crust that is rich and well-spiced, an ideal complement to the ribbon of tender beef inside. Alongside the slab of crusty protein comes a great mound of skin-on mashed potatoes; and of course, there is thick white gravy to blanket the whole shebang. It is possible to get a “Mexican chicken-fried steak,” which is covered with spicy sauce and melting cheddar cheese: not a terrible idea, but neither is it an improvement on the excellent simplicity of the basic formula.

The Cupboard is a place where locals eat. Two airy dining rooms are crowned with circulating fans, illumination provided by fluorescent tubes shaded by what appears to be burlap feed-sack material. Service is no-nonsense; checks are put down on the table along with the meal.

What to Eat
Hill Country Cupboard, Chicken Fried Steak
Chicken Fried Steak
The portion of mashed potatoes looks small only because the steak is so huge. This is an unusual photo because there is no gravy on the steak or on the potatoes. We asked for gravy on the side, so as to study the crust before pouring it on. It is a lovely, crunchy, delicious crust!
Hill Country Cupboard, Ice Tea
Ice Tea
This is not a trick photo. Hill Country Cupboard serves its tea in giant-size glasses.
Hill Country Cupboard, Chilaquiles
The Monday breakfast special is chilaquiles, scrambled eggs mixed with tortilla strips and grilled onions, topped with Swiss cheese.
Hill Country Cupboard, Pie
If you enjoy custard pies, Hill Country Cupboard's slightly tart buttermilk pie is worth seeking out.
Hill Country Cupboard, Huevos Rancheros
Huevos Rancheros
We think of Hill Country Cupboard as a lunch/dinner place, but they serve up fine breakfasts like this huevos rancheros, sided by big, spuddy home fries.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday8am - 5pm
Monday8am - 5pm
Tuesday8am - 5pm
Wednesday8am - 5pm
Thursday8am - 8pm
Friday8am - 9pm
Saturday8am - 9pm
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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