Favorite Finds

Restaurants You Shouldn't Miss

G & M Steakhouse

626 N. Lamar, 472-2172

Daily, 7am to 3pm

Two other customers are in the restaurant with me. One has been coming weekly for 17 years; the other two or three times a week for 12 years. They ask how long I've been eating at G&M. Sheepishly, I answer "this is my second time." I am their new best friend. Both rush to tell me their favorite dishes. The fellow sitting next to me opines that the Spanish omelette is the embodiment of perfection. He gushes over the spicy stuffing, the perfectly fried hash browns, and the tender Texas toast. "But watch out for the hot sauce," he warns. "It's really spicy." The cook grins.

The other customer stops savoring the chicken fried steak just long enough to utter his disapproval of eating breakfast in the afternoon. (Since G&M serves breakfast all day long, you can always get your eggs.) He raves about the crispy but not greasy crust on his steak. More impressive to me was the way the cook took a big spoonful of roux and put together a cream gravy in a fry pan placed on the griddle. This is not your normal short-order place.

The cook, a son of the owner, has been working at G&M since he was a child. His father has owned it for 18 years. Given his knowledge, I want his recommendation. Without even thinking, he recommends a Philly cheesesteak. Now to be fair, I have had Philly cheeses in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and all along the East Coast. This is not a Philly cheesesteak. It is, instead, a G&M cheesesteak, and it is wonderful. The chef pulls out a sirloin steak, trims the fat off the edge, and cuts it into chunks about one inch long and one half-inch wide. He tosses these onto the grill with some onions and peppers and lets the whole conglomeration sit there. When the beef just starts to develop a little caramelized edge to it, he flips the mixture over to cook on the other side. At this point, he pulls out some beautiful, hand-cut potatoes and drops them into the deep fryer. These are not little fast food fries; they are about the size of a Marks-a-Lot. A hamburger bun hits the griddle. They position cheddar cheese on top of the meat and then scoop everything onto the bread; the fries are neatly stacked and lunch is served. Delicious.

The menu is on the wall. Newspapers are sitting on the bar stools. A piece of "art" sits on a chair leaning against the wall. Service is friendly but aimed at functionality. G&M has 24 seats, about a third of which are at the counter. The cooking is done right in front of you. This is not fancy dining; it's a "joint." Half the fun is being in a place that is so proudly contrarian and anachronistic. I wouldn't take my grandmother, but I'll go back with some friends.

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