When one thinks of great food, they often think of places like France, Germany, and Italy. While most people don’t think of Texas for fine dining, you might be surprised by the delectable dishes you can get in the Lone Star State. And while you probably won’t find these dishes served in a Michelin Star restaurant, they are stick-to-your-ribs comfort food designed to satisfy your hunger and saturate your palate.
Here are 5 foods you simply must try when you travel to Texas:
Because of their proximity to the border with Mexico, Texas has become synonymous with tacos. In fact, tacos (and Mexican cuisine in general) is the second most popular food in the United States. It’s been reported that Mexican restaurants in America generate approximately $45 billion in annual sales. This rise in popularity for tacos and Mexican food is partially due to restaurants like Taco Bell and Qdoba, even though food enthusiasts don’t consider their offerings to be authentic Mexican food. And while places like Taco Bell have helped give rise to the popularity of tacos, the truth is if you want an authentic taco experience, you need to get away from the chains and go local. Thanks to the Mexican population in Texas, it’s easy to get delicious, authentic tacos with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and sauces. Think of it this way: if you want an authentic Philly Cheese Steak sandwich, you go to Philadelphia. And if you want a true taco experience, go to Texas.
If people now think of Tacos when they think of Texas, the mouth-watering BBQ offerings aren’t far behind. The tradition of BBQ runs rich in Texas thanks to the beef industry, which according to the Texas Department of Agriculture leads the United States in cattle production.
When we think about BBQ in Texas, it’s important to remember that not all BBQ is created equal. South Texas cooks place more emphasis on barbacoa, which is when slow-cooked over an open fire or a hole dug in the ground. Many cooks in West Texas prefer to prepare their meat on a grill, while Central Texas cooks tend to focus on slow cooking brisket over an indirect heat source. This means you will have to do a bit of traveling if you want to get the full BBQ experience.
It’s fair to say that BBQ is a religion in Texas, and it’s one in which you should partake in on your next trip.
Not to be overshadowed by BBQ and delicious tacos, authentic, Texas-style chili is another delicacy that you must taste at least once in your life. Unlike the chili you’re likely familiar with, true Texas chili isn’t made with beans or tomatoes. The only ingredients are beef, homemade chili paste and a variety of seasonings depending on the chef. What makes this chili unique is that it doesn’t assault the taste buds with an overabundance of flavors. Instead, you get an intense eating experience that will change the way you view chili.
Chicken Fried Steak
To call chicken fried steak a staple of Texas cuisine is an understatement — it’s iconic. This dish is so popular, the Texas State House of Representatives declared October 26 to be Chicken Fried Steak Day back in 2011. This delectable dish can be found in restaurants throughout the state, and much in the way people argue over New York versus Chicago pizza, people argue over the variations of this popular Texas dish that can be found throughout the state.
So what is chicken fried steak anyway? Some writers attribute the dish to German immigrants who settled Texas in the 19th century and came up with a way to make an unpalatable piece of tough beef something worth eating by frying it in lard. However other historians disagree and say it’s a 20th-century invention that came out of Kansas and Colorado and wound up in Texas where it became a state dish. Chicken fried steak is simply a piece of steak that’s battered and fried in the way one would fry chicken. The cut of meat originally wasn’t high quality — usually cube steak or round steak, but today restaurants use more expensive cuts such as tenderloin.
Once fried and crispy, the steak is served with a thick creamy gravy made from the drippings in the pan. Sure, it’s not the healthiest choice, but as long as you don’t make it a primary part of your diet, there’s no reason you can’t indulge in this delicious, fill-you-up meal now and then.
If there’s one thing Americans are good at, it’s taking something that’s probably not so good for you, and making it even worse for you. However, that’s not always a bad thing, especially when it comes to deep-fried Oreo cookies.
Almost everyone loves Oreo cookies. The combination of chocolate and sweet filling is a pure comfort that reminds us of growing up, watching Saturday morning cartoons, and dunking these treats in a big glass of cold milk.
So how do you make a delicious treat like an Oreo taste even better? Deep fry it, of course.
According to legend, the deep fried Oreo was invented by Charlie Boghosian, also known as Chicken Charlie, who specialized in “ fair food.” This treat became so popular; it’s now a staple at fairgrounds and amusement parks throughout the country. And, while not associated with Texas, per se, the fried Oreo is the perfect dessert to top off any one of the delicious meals listed here.
Texas is the kind of state that has something for everybody. There’s an abundance of the most gorgeous scenery you’ll ever see, and some of the best, most satisfying food you’ll ever eat. Just be prepared to loosen your belt a notch or two before you go to these amazing food courts and restaurants in Texas.