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City Café

19 N. Main St., Elgin, TX - (512) 285-9898
Posted By Michael Stern on 8/25/2010 2:34:00 PM
In our never-ending search for the perfect chicken-fried steak, we hit a high standard at a table in the City Cafe. What a beautiful hunk of food! Gnarled and crusty, golden brown with a brittle crust and a thick ribbon of tender meat inside, this was an exemplary steak. Jane ordered the large version, which turned out not to be bigger, but rather, two full-size steaks! On the side were fine mashed potatoes and black-eyed peas and, of course, a bowl full of cream gravy.

The first thing you see when you enter is the pie case just below the cash register. Wowee! The meringues are spectacularly tall; ice box cakes also are extremely impressive, if not outrageously sized. Texas has so many other wonderful specialties, especially in this part of the state, that it's easy to forget what a great pie lode it is. The City Cafe is a vivid reminder.

It is an ancient building on a raised-sidewalk street with a big awning out front for shade, and while it has been remodeled and modernized in recent years, its airy brick-walled dining rooms resonate with a century of history. Starting as a drug store, then a bakery and a barber shop, it became the Elgin Cafe in 1910. According to a little history lesson on the back of the menu, cowboys used to ride into town, tie up their horses on the dirt street outside, and come into the café for a cool beer.

Note: in Spring, 2010, the City Cafe acquired new owners. We have not been back since then, but the proprietor promised to keep the menu 90% the way it has been, with some additions of Mexican fare. We would love to hear a report from anyone who gets to the City Cafe before we do.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

While chocolate icebox pie costs fifty cents less than the magnificent meringues, it delivers a huge flavor payload. The crust tastes just like crumbled Famous Wafers made moist and even more luxurious.
"While chocolate icebox pie costs fifty cents less than the magnificent meringues, it delivers a huge flavor payload. The crust tastes just like crumbled Famous Wafers made moist and even more luxurious."
Michael Stern





Chicken-fried steak dinner at the City Cafe.
"Chicken-fried steak dinner at the City Cafe."
Michael Stern


The crust supporting this lemon meringue pie is fine and flaky, and the meringue on top is a tender cloud. I love the extreme yin-yang of sweet and tart in the filling.
"The crust supporting this lemon meringue pie is fine and flaky, and the meringue on top is a tender cloud. I love the extreme yin-yang of sweet and tart in the filling."
Michael Stern


Elgin bakes in the summer sun; awnings over the sidewalk in front of the City Cafe are a practical way to keep cool.
"Elgin bakes in the summer sun; awnings over the sidewalk in front of the City Cafe are a practical way to keep cool."
Michael Stern


Heavenly coconut pie: cool, creamy, and sweet ... and loaded with shreds of coconut
"Heavenly coconut pie: cool, creamy, and sweet ... and loaded with shreds of coconut"
Michael Stern


That is a large plate being eclipsed by not one, but two full-size chicken-fried steaks. The menu describes this as large and yes, indeed, large appetite is required! I like that the City Cafe serves its gravy (not pictured) on the side, thus insuring that the crust stays crisp. Rather than pour it on, Jane dipped her steak into the gravy, forkful by forkful. Those mashed potatoes alongside, by the way, are real.
"That is a large plate being eclipsed by not one, but two full-size chicken-fried steaks. The menu describes this as large and yes, indeed, large appetite is required! I like that the City Cafe serves its gravy (not pictured) on the side, thus insuring that the crust stays crisp. Rather than pour it on, Jane dipped her steak into the gravy, forkful by forkful. Those mashed potatoes alongside, by the way, are real."
Michael Stern


The raw brick walls inside the City Cafe remind you that this place is closing in on its 100 year anniversary. The map of Texas is just above the pie case.
"The raw brick walls inside the City Cafe remind you that this place is closing in on its 100 year anniversary. The map of Texas is just above the pie case."
Michael Stern


main dining room
"main dining room"
paul campbell



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