Hickory Hollow is the type of place that many outside the state probably think is how Texans usually eat: huge plates of chicken fried steak or barbecue in rustic, Western settings. Hickory Hollow does this type of cooking well, and it’s a great value here. The restaurants are informal, counter-service places with friendly staffs that have hit the right notes since 1977.
The chicken fried steak is the biggest draw, and a great indulgence. It comes in three sizes. The medium-sized portion, advertised as “Big enuf fer a Texan,” is served on a thin metal plate that is the diameter of a hubcap. The plate is large, nearly the breadth of a saddle blanket. It seems most male patrons are challenged into ordering this size (they can’t get the small or the Cowgirl’s Meal, can they?). As large as these are, it is surprisingly easy to finish; a testament to the quality. The chicken fried steak is tasty and tender, such that it can be cut with a fork. It’s not heavy as most other versions, nor is the accompanying gravy. Chicken fried steaks come with a baked potato, or well-prepared mashed potatoes and a trip to the salad bin. The salad is nothing special, iceberg lettuce with several add-ins and dressings, but everything is very fresh.
In addition to the chicken fried steak dinners, Hickory Hollow also serves steaks, hamburgers, fried catfish, barbecue, and even an entree salad and vegetables for those seeking to eat more lightly. Hickory Hollow barbecues beef brisket, sausage, ribs and chicken. The brisket is a tad dry and usually just passable at best for the Houston area. But, the sausage, similar in style to kielbasa, is very juicy and flavorful with a hint of smoke. There are pork ribs and barbecued chicken. Barbecue is available as plates or sandwiches. The plates come with a couple sides from the fairly long list among: baked beans, green beans, potato salad, cole slaw, mashed potatoes, fries, and okra.
Though value is pervasive throughout the menu, there are also several family-style dinners for four adults that might be even a better deal. Another attraction is that the Heights location has live music on the weekends.
101 Heights Boulevard (north of Washington) 77007, (713) 869-6300
8038 Fallbrook Drive (just east of Sam Houston Race Park) 77064, (281) 469-5323
18537 FM 1488 (north of FM 1774, in Magnolia) 77354, (281) 356-7885
Copyright Mike Riccetti. Adapted from Houston Dining on the Cheap, and used with permission.
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