STRAWN – There are hundreds of things to know about Mary’s Café in Strawn, Texas, but none are more important than confirming it’s the “Home of the World Famous Chicken Fried Steak.”
“I once had a couple who had been on a cruise in China when they read about Mary’s here in Strawn and how good our chicken fried steak is,” Mary Tetter said. “They decided they were going to come and see for themselves.”
What they saw is 33 years of dedicated work started by a single mother who has cooked her way into people’s hearts around the world.
What the couple tasted is almost beyond description, and if they are like most folks as soon as they got into their vehicle, the top button of their pants was immediately undone.
If you leave hungry – it’s your fault.
In 2017, the café served up 52,000 pounds of chicken fried steak or roughly the weight of nine new Ford F150 pickups. If only residents of Strawn ate at Mary’s Café, they would have to eat approximately 80 pounds of chicken fried steaks per year to match that total.
Served piping hot from the kitchen, the golden-brown battered chicken fry dwarfs the platter it is served on, and before it hits the table, the thought comes to mind about remembering to ask for a to-go plate.
“I think about 80-percent of our customers leave with a to-go plate,” Tetter said. “My philosophy has always been to cook good food, serve it hot, and make sure there is plenty of it.”
While Mary’s chicken fried steak may have the top billing, there is plenty of other items to tickle one’s palate, and they also test your belt line.
“Our hamburgers and hamburger steaks are some of the other favorites of my customers,” Tetter said.
It’s almost a love-hate relationship because if you order the Texas Hamburger, it will take some time (20-25 minutes) to hit the table because the burger is colossal.
“They weigh two pounds before we put them on the grill,” Tetter said. “So it takes time to cook them all the way through.”
Despite the warning, new customers sometimes get upset at the length of time it takes to cook a burger. Then again who can blame them as platters of chicken fried steaks and other food passes by their table wafting smells of southern fried goodness all around?
Once that first bite of tasty burger is consumed all is forgiven. The simple solution to not having to wait with a watering mouth is to give the café a call before arriving and ordering in advance.
The menu is filled with variety including the Downtown Special featuring a small chicken fried steaks, two cheese enchiladas, charro beans, salad, and French fries. The meal is dedicated to the memory of long-time customer Downtown Danny Brown.
“I enjoy my work because of the people who come here,” Tetter said. “They aren’t just my customers. They are my friends, and I want to treat the like family and make them happy.”
Open seven days a week from 11 a.m.- 11 p.m., Marys Café is located at 119 Grant Ave. in downtown Strawn.