Speedys/The Steer

Departing from Lyle’s Southtown abode, we headed east looking for food to eat at a place we’d never been before. Preferably, a place we’d never heard of. After driving a five-mile lap past unappealing places or now vacant spaces that once billed good food, we changed our trajectory and headed west.

Speedy’s Chicken is located on S.W. Military Drive among a sea of fly-by-night businesses, payday loan predators, fast food franchises, and the necessary H-E-B. The white exterior of Speedy’s has the nondescript look you associate with a space that’s been through several tenants. The interior walls of Speedy’s are this beach bathroom looking white tile coupled with occasional lines of smaller red tiles. I commented to Lyle that it felt like I had entered a locker room.

I’m predictable when it comes to chicken strips. Bill Miller’s is my usual choice because it’s relatively inexpensive, large portion, and the chicken’s battered in-house. That being said, I’d like to switch my allegiance to Speedy’s Chicken. I ordered the # 1, which comes with three (gargantuan) chicken strips, one side (I got french fries), dinner roll, side of gravy, and a gas-station sized soft drink. All for five dollars and some change.

The Diet Coke I sipped on while I waited for my order was flat, but fountain drinks are often inconsistent. Within five minutes, I had my meal in front of me. The cumulative size of the three chicken strips could easily hold its own against any mainstream competitor – Bill Miller’s, Popeyes, Church’s, etc. The strips were generously battered, but not to the point that it overwhelmed the chicken. Gravy proved creamy, but not too thick. I wasn’t impressed by the french fries that lacked in salt. Then again, I’d rather a fried chicken establishment concentrate a majority of its energy on the namesake chicken rather than defrosted and eventually grease-dropped french fries.

In short, if you are looking for above average fried chicken at a decent prize, hurry to Speedy’s Chicken. Order the iced tea, according to their menu it’s 46-cents. (Does it not come with ice? Because right next to tea on the menu it reads there’s a charge of 46-cents for a cup of ice.)

I’m glad I wore athletic shorts to eat. Forget luxury, spandex is a necessity after consuming the generous portions at Speedy’s.
Lyle and I decided to stop in for a few beers at The Steer, a dull, boxy looking bar we passed on the way to Speedy’s. I had my doubts about going in for several reasons. One, it had no windows. Two, it looked like a seedy strip club that, assuming the strippers walked to work, had less than five cars in the parking lot. (Digression: Who wants to be that guy who finds out he’s just walked into a deserted strip club at 3:30 on a Monday afternoon?)

Laughs were shared, but Lyle and I eventually walked into the Steer. Coming inside from the blinding sun light proved disorienting for a moment as my eyes required adjustment. As soon as you walk into the Steer, a seat at the bar is less than five foot steps away.

Beer selection is sparse, Corona might have been their fanciest beer. There was a Bud Ice sighting, you know, the good stuff. After sitting at the bar for about five minutes with beers in hand, and the handful of other patrons glued to the Maury Povich show, Lyle and I opted to play pool. A game of pool costs 75-cents, which doesn’t sound bad. However, that doesn’t include the opportunity cost of having to go find the sole piece of cue stick chalk.

Admittedly, I don’t know if I have much to say about the Steer. Would I go back? Probably not. Between the meager beer selection, suspect television programming, the man who requested country on the jukebox, the lingering smell of smoke that glues to you worse than the awful baked smell one wears when they leave a Subway restaurant, and the child left sitting in the corner while his father drank at the bar, it was only as good as the company one brings.

My opinion of the Steer is meaningless. For the few patrons I saw while I was there, it was their comfort spot. A place to find a sliver of community. Silence and shade from the rigors of daily life.

The Steer was a place I’d never been to nor heard of.

I found what I had sought.

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