Chicken-fried steaks are mammoth at Creekside Grill. Photo by Jeff Prince.

Creekside Grill, 10400 FM 730 S, Azle. 817-270-3222. Open Thu-Sun. All major credit cards accepted.

Azle and Weatherford are 20 miles apart, connected by a scenic strip of FM 730. When I say “scenic,” I mean lots of little hills, cedar trees, and cactus, along with the occasional gas station and small business.

What’s been missing for years along that stretch – hell, forever – is a great restaurant. People who live between the two cities have had to drive to one burgh or the other to find a quality place to sit down for food. Some years back, a restaurant along the FM 730 strip started as a “country cooking” café that served what tasted like Wyatt’s Cafeteria leftovers. That restaurant changed names several times before a good but not great Mexican food place called El Torito finally settled there several miles outside of Azle. A burger and snack shack called Outskirtz Grill is near the Weatherford city limit.

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More recently, the Creekside Grill opened on the strip next to Church Road. The basic metal building looks like a big brown barn and isn’t really impressive despite the owners’ adding rock to the façade and sprucing up the place with basic landscaping. I’m less interested in what a building looks like and more interested in what comes out of the kitchen. 

In that regard, I’m pleased. The food rocks.

I’ve eaten at Creekside three times now and have enjoyed the food, price, service, and atmosphere on every visit. The interior was clean and uniformly furnished with matching wood tables and chairs and lush booths. By Azle standards, this place is like a Del Frisco’s. In a shed. 

The menu is small, mostly consisting of a few cuts of tender steak (prime rib, rib-eye, and fillet), chicken-fried meats, pork chops, hamburgers, and sandwiches, all certainly better than anything you will find at your average chain restaurant. 

My most recent chow-down was with my parents. For $7.95, my mother got a half-order of the chicken-fried steak that came with one side. The trimmed-down entrée was the size of a regular order at most other restaurants. I’m still a growing boy, so I got the full order of chicken-fried chicken covered in cream gravy. The serving was huge and flavorful, the gravy thick and hot, the baked potato loaded, soft, buttery, and tasty, and the Caesar salad dressed with a wonderfully tangy dressing. Everything tasted fresh. I don’t think anything was frozen except perhaps the appetizer of jalapeño poppers, which were still very good. The old man got a chicken sandwich with hand-cut fries and, despite the large portion, managed to clean his plate. Only mom didn’t eat all her food, despite getting a half-order. I sent her to her room without dessert. 

Another customer said his rib-eye was as good as any he has eaten in a Fort Worth restaurant. He didn’t look like a guy who spent much time at Del Frisco’s, but country boys know their steaks.

As for service, I asked my waiter on a subsequent visit if there was anything to read lying around. Phone service is spotty inside the metal building, and I couldn’t get online. He looked around the restaurant but couldn’t find a newspaper or magazine. I thanked him for his effort. A minute later, he came by the table with a personal copy of “Catcher in the Rye” that he had grabbed from his car. 

It is comforting to see a home-cooking restaurant serve fresh, filling, and scrumptious vittles at a fair price on this formerly barren wasteland of FM 730. I live out that way and am well on my way to becoming a weekend regular.

Creekside Grill

16-oz. rib-eye steak $28.95

Blackened redfish filet $15.95

Chicken-fried chicken $9.95

Quarter-pound hamburger $7.95

Nachos $7.95

Cherry cobbler $5.95