Ridgway's Legendary True Grit Cafe

Legend and reality meet in Ridgway, where the True Grit Cafe serves up home-cooked western fare to John Wayne afficionados and genuine cowboys alike.

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Chicken Fried Steak

The star of the show at the True Grit Café is undoubtedly the chicken fried steak. Owner Tammee Tuttle said the restaurant served 5,300 chicken fried steaks in 2012, and while she hasn’t tallied up the total number from last year, it might have been even more popular then.



2 6-8 oz cube steak (tenderized round steak)

1  cup flour

1/4  tsp salt

1/4  tsp coarse ground black pepper

1/2  cup 2% milk 

vegetable oil


White Gravy:

4  Tbsp shortening

4  Tbsp flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 ½ cups milk


Serves 2

To make True Grit’s chicken fried steak, pour milk into a wide, shallow bowl. Mix salt, pepper and flour in another wide bowl. Dredge steak in flour mix, pressing down to flatten out steak. Dip steak into milk. Dredge steak in flour mix again, flattening out with the palm of your hand. Heat oil in deep frying pan on stovetop at medium-high. Fry in hot oil that covers top of steak. Cook about five minutes, flip steak, then cook another 5 minutes, until steak is golden brown. Place on paper towels for a few minutes to absorb excess oil. Top with white gravy and pair with your favorite sides.

To make gravy, melt shortening in saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt and pepper. Cook until smooth and bubbly. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling on medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir and boil 1 minute.


Cranberry Salad

True Grit Cafe uses a secret ingredient on its home fries and in its salad dressings: Seasoning Dirt. Well, maybe it’s not exactly secret – you can buy True Grit Seasoning Dirt at the restaurant or at shop.truegritcafe.com – but the list of 11 ingredients that go into the mixture is proprietary. When the Tuttles took over True Grit nearly two decades ago, they inherited special herb combo and continued using it. The cranberry salad is a delightful combination of sweet and savory flavors, perfectly complemented by a homemade vinaigrette using Seasoning Dirt.


 2  cups mixed greens

1/8  cup crumbled feta cheese

1/8  cup dried cranberries

1/8  cup sugar-roasted sliced almonds

1  boneless, skinless chicken breast or salmon fillet  

tomato or cucumber slices


Balsamic Vinaigrette (makes appr. 30 servings):

1/3  cup Seasoning Dirt   (available from True Grit Cafe)

1/4  cup fresh minced garlic                                                     

3  cups balsamic vinegar                                              

6  cups olive oil


Serves 1

To make the salad, mix crumbled feta, cranberries and sliced almonds in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture on top of a bed of mixed greens on dinner plate. Grill chicken breast or salmon fillet and place on top of salad. Serve with homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Slices of tomato and cucumber can be added, if desired.

(This story originally appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of Colorado Life Magazine)

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