Greetings from Texas!

Greetings from Texas! I have spent the past few days tooling around the state, reuniting with college friends in Dallas, visiting my grandmothers in McKinney, shopping for new cowboy boots in El Paso and relaxing in the big sky and vast landscape of far, far West Texas.

Of course, I’ve been eating myself silly—sometimes up to seven little meals in a day. For instance, one day started with a fried pie at Shirley’s Burnt Biscuit in Marathon, TX. I then had a mid-morning snack of a Frito pie at Alicia’s in Alpine. Next was the Marfalafel from the Food Shark truck in Marfa, followed by the Mexican plate at Alice’s. I gave my stomach a rest for a few hours, and then had a brisket sandwich at Mo’z in El Paso, a milanesa de res (Mexican chicken-fried steak) smothered in queso at Casa Jurado, and then concluded my eating day with a carne guisada taco from Taco Cabana. Needless to say, I slept very, very well that evening.

You may think I’m a glutton, but rest assured I do not eat this way when I’m back in New York. It’s just whenever I’m in Texas each meal and each bite is precious and I want to squeeze in as much good tastes as I can during my brief time at home. When I go to Texas, I have my usual places where I like to eat, but this time I branched out and ate at some new restaurants, too. Here’s a list of five new favorite dishes I sampled while I was at home:

Breakfast tacos: El Tacaso in Oak Cliff, Dallas. I enjoy my breakfast tacos with eggs, but sometimes I just want a fluffy flour tortilla stuffed with refried beans and spicy, crumbly chorizo. This cheerful restaurant at the corner of Westmoreland and Fort Worth Avenue serves breakfast tacos such as these in the morning, alongside a container of fiery thin tomato salsa for dipping. Not much English is spoken, but everyone understands the international language of good food.

Chile con queso: When we Texans talk of chile con queso, we are usually referring to orange processed cheese melted with Ro-Tel tomatoes. And don’t get me wrong—this is good, addictive stuff. But in northern Mexico, chile con queso means white cheese melted with sautéed green chiles. And this also is good, addictive stuff. Julio’s Cafe Corona in El Paso serves its queso this way—a big bowl of melted Monterrey Jack laced with spicy strips of sautéed jalapeno and serrano peppers. And while it’s soft enough to dip a chip into it, I prefer to ladle it into fresh flour tortillas.

Chicken-fried steak: Every day on my trip I ate a plate of chicken-fried steak. It was not my intent to do this, but it just kept appearing on menus and so I indulged. I have always been a bit dubious of chicken-fried steaks made with fancy cuts of beef or served with embellished cream gravy, but the chicken-fried hanger steak at Tillman’s Roadhouse in Oak Cliff, smothered in a poblano cream gravy was a real crowd pleaser. And Paul Petersen at the Gage Hotel’s Cafe Cenizo also offers a chicken-fried steak, his served with a jalapeno, chorizo and roasted-corn cream gravy. If I hadn’t been stuffed, I may have ordered another plate.

Barbacoa: I’ve wanted to eat at Carnitas Querataro in El Paso for quite a while. It’s a small chain of restaurants that serves up Mexican comfort food, with an emphasis on braised and roasted meats, as the name would suggest. While their symbol is a grinning pink pig, I found that their beef is equally delicious, especially their barbacoa, which in Texas is slow-cooked meat from the head of a cow. On my last day, after eating a breakfast of excellent red-chile cheese enchiladas, I asked my server to bring me a menu so I could order food for the plane. I got carnitas, but on a whim decided also to bring along a barbacoa burrito, which was a large homemade tortilla simply stuffed with pork-rich refried beans and strands of smooth barbacoa. Mid-flight when we were somewhere between El Paso and Dallas, I unwrapped my barbacoa beauty and everyone within a few rows of me asked, “What is that amazing smell? What are you eating?” Note to self: next time buy extra barbacoa burritos and sell them on the plane.

Frito pie: I stopped into Alicia’s Burritos in Alpine with the intent of ordering a breakfast burrito, but when I saw Frito pie on the menu, my plans changed. After my last post, I’ve had Frito pie on the brain (as have some friends of mine, to which I apologize if they still have not gotten their fix), and Alicia’s version did not disappoint. It was a cast-iron bowl filled with a mountain of crisp, tiny Fritos, topped with homemade chunky chili, melted cheddar and juicy diced onions. As I sat working my way through the bowl, I admired the decor of Elvis curtains and cheerful turquoise walls. After a while, I realized that this bowl would just not quit. I had ordered a small Frito pie, so I asked the waitress how big was the large. “That is a large,” she said. “We thought you looked hungry so we made you a large bowl instead.” You can’t beat service like that! (Though if they had known I was on my second breakfast they might have reconsidered.)

This concludes my travelogue. Next time, I will be writing of salads or fish—it is, after all, Lent. Plus my stomach could use a break. But was I ever happy while eating my way across the great state of Texas!

  1. OH Alpine! Marathon! Marfa! I miss Texas so much!

    That part of the state is so beautiful.

  2. First?! Really! Wow! If you write of fish, can you write of fish tacos? Or have you already? I’d love to learn to make those. Thanks for the great ideas of places to eat across Texas.

  3. When we lived in Idaho my husband and I would plan our trip back to Texas around family, friends and of course food! We’d hit our fave spot for chx fried steak, fave Tex-Mex and my dad would have a HUGE BBQ (Brisket, Pork, Boudin etc.) We deemed it “Meat Fest.” Now we are back in Texas and still ask for Meat Fest every Christmas.

    Glad you had a great visit in The Great State!

  4. Being a Texan living in Odessa, I just absolutely loved seeing this entry of yours. I made a mental note of certain places and will definitely try to stop in for a bite whenever I am in the area.

  5. I live in El Paso (from Houston originally) and Casa Jurado is fabulous for hangovers!

  6. What a comforting post. I’m not thinking you’re a glutton, I’m thinking you should keep up the eating and enjoy!

  7. What a wonderful food journey! Yum Yum Yum! I am a former Texas resident living in cold MN. The tales of your culinary travels have at least warmed my stomach!

  8. Anonymous

    I so miss Texas! Not a born-native but spent 17 very formative adult years there. Moved back to hometown area in PA almost 3 years ago but ache for the big blue skies, the open spaces, the accent, and definitely THE FOOD! Thanks for a brief respite to the place I still call “home”!

  9. I’m so jealous that you went to the Food Shark. Krista (one of the owners, I believe) was my jr high best friend’s little sister (yeah, I had to think about that for a minute). I have always wanted to go say “hi” the next time I was in town and remind her of the time that she froze our bras in papercups at a sleepover. 😉

  10. I live in McKinney! {But won’t be there until May…} You’ll have to let me know some good places to eat!

  11. Oak Cliff, huh? Brave woman!

    If you are ever in Dallas for the Farmers Market try the mexican place down there. They make some mean breakfast tacos, and have the best fried potatoes ever.

  12. I miss Taco Cabana so much. If they opened a 24 hours Taco C in Boston it would make a killing.

  13. Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy

    You should think about doing a little Google map with your picks 🙂 My mom lives in Las Cruces, NM – not far from El Paso so I’m going to check out one of these EP recs the next time I visit her! I am salivating 🙂

  14. Anonymous

    What a wonderful post! I’ve always wanted to see Texas and now I know where and what to eat.

  15. El Tacaso is really close to my Nana’s house. I’ll have to swing by next time I am in Dallas. The taco joints that don’t speak English are usually the best. Now that I’m back in TX I don’t do this anymore, but, as I’ve told you before, every trip home used to be spent eating non stop. Way to go!

  16. Anonymous

    Mouthwatering pictures and life-affirming narrative as usual! I have GOT to find a good frito pie tomorrow. We are probably in our last cold spell in Houston (50s) and that would hit the spot. So glad you got to visit w/your grandmamas!


  17. AnneFran

    After growing up in Texas, I moved to Seattle at the age of 27…I do the exact same thing – plan entire returns to Texas around my meals! First stop is usually a simple Bean & Cheese at Taco Cabana right off of Airport Road in Austin….thanks for sharing the love to even the fast-food chain TC's, as I find I miss them the most sometimes….

  18. Oh, my goodness! Now I will be longing for home for weeks. Iowa does NOT offer anything near Texican. It is definitely time to plan a trip to God’s country.

  19. Oh, how I miss Oak Cliff. I used to go to church there for a few decades (at Cliff Temple).

    Have you tried the Frito Pie at either Cowgirl Hall of Fame or R.U.B.? I like both of them, with either an accompanying Shiner at R.U.B. or a fresh fruit pureed margarita at Cowgirl.

  20. oh man, i miss TC’s…enjoy your time down there.

  21. Farmer Jen

    Brings back so many fond memories, and makes me hungry!

  22. Anonymous

    All those picks sound great, but you know what time it is! Crawfish time is here!

  23. That’s a lot of state you’re covering.

    It’s hard for me to read about all this gorgeous food, specially the chicken fried steak with poblano sauce (a winner!), and the frito pie. I got SO hungry while reading that my stomach is now rumbling.

    The Tex-Mex in DC is much better than what I had in NYC, possibly has to be with the number of TX license plates I’ve seen out here 🙂

    The other day I had probably the best guacamole made at table at a restaurant. The kitchen was not afraid of putting cilantro on everything either, and spicy really meant spicy 🙂 I was so happy!

  24. elizabeth

    I’ve been following your blog since I moved from Texas to Boston…and now back in Texas. Next time you’re in Dallas you’ll have to try the chicken fried steak at Matt’s Rancho Martinez!

  25. No issues with bringing that delicious food on the plane? I find it really depends on where you fly out of these days…

  26. Innkeeper Seely

    Chipoltes is a chain but does a mean barbacola. Worth checking out, many locations in NYC, heck we even have one in Little Rhodey.

  27. Just a Plane Ride Away

    “It’s just whenever I’m in Texas each meal and each bite is precious and I want to squeeze in as much good tastes as I can during my brief time at home.”


  28. I bookmarked on my Yelp both the spots in Oak Cliff. In very different ways, they both sound delicious. Thanks for the mentions – can’t wait to give the chicken fried steak a shot. 😀

  29. heck yeah i plan all my trips home around what i’m eating. i send my mom the itinerary in case she planned on cooking so that she can schedule that in accordingly.

    ah, i’m so jealous of you! and my boss who’s going to south by. man oh man.

    (don’t forget to get some bluebell)

  30. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blog post that’s made me as hungry as this one. All I want to do is go back home now for some real Tex-mex!

  31. knittinggalnokc

    I was in Marathon and Alpine a little over a week ago for a funeral. My mother’s cousin is Shirley although she no longer owns the Burnt Biscuit. I was disappointed to hear she had sold it. Anyway it was cool to open your blog and see you’d just been there. I fell in love with that area and want to visit again soon.

  32. It is obvious you enjoyed yourself and that is very cool!

  33. I’m also a displaced Texan in the Frozen North who eats her way through the state everytime we go down for a visit(every summer). Blue Bell ice cream, barbecued brisket, seafood, and anything Tex Mex. I felt your fulness! 🙂


  34. sometimes I just want a fluffy flour tortilla stuffed with refried beans and spicy, crumbly chorizo

    This is so, so true of me. And those enchiladas up top look absolutely heavenly.

    I have to admit, I’ve never had chicken fried steak. I think I’m missing out on something delicious.

  35. Susan from Food Blogga

    You’re not gluttonous; you’re just hungry for Texas. Have fun!

  36. Ninja Mom

    I’ve lived in McKinney for years! What, no good restaurant reviews from here? *LOL* Next time you’re here you should try Petra (W. of 75 on Eldorado). It’s got some amazing REAL Mexican food – Fish tacos, tacos al pastor, etc., and some mean churros. Love the blog!

  37. AnneFran- I do the same thing, when I go home to Austin. I pig on BBQ and good Mexican food while I’m there.

    I love hearing about good food and especially good Texas food. I’m making my list of places to go now for my Trip to Austin next week.

  38. I bet it’s nice to be visiting home and the local food scene.

  39. OMG. You just made me painfully homesick.

  40. Love your blog! I’m a Texan (from Odessa) living in cold Indiana. 🙂 I do the same thing when I’m home, going to all my favorite restaurants and ultimately, eating too much. You should try La Bodega Drive-Thru the next time you are in Odessa – awesome burritos, some of the best chile verde I’ve had!

  41. Anonymous

    Hi, Lisa,

    Two comments, diametrically opposed.

    1. Oh. My. Gawd. Chicken Fried hanger steak. Just took one out of the freezer, will make it this weekend.

    2. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, don’t tell the world about hanging tenders. Folks, you don’t want this cut. It’s difficult to find, and as it’s located very close to the kidneys it has a VERY strong flavor. You really don’t want to use this cut of beef.

  42. I’m from El Paso! Yay! I love Casa Jurado! But I must say you missed and old EP staple…CHICO’S TACOS!!! YUM!

  43. Alexis from Texas

    Thanks for you detailed descriptions of these long-forgotten treats. Reading is almost as good as eating, but without the guilt!

  44. I’m so jealous, and I live here.
    The only thing you missed was some excellent Tacos Al Pastor. Icing on the cake of your food travel adventure!!
    If you come through Austin, Dinner’s on me.
    Let’s explore.

  45. I am a Texan living in MA and just spent all night cooking a good southern meal for my husband to share at work today….brisket, potato salad, baked beans, Texas sheet cake and homemade biscuits for their sausage gravy breakfast. I sat down here thinking no food sounded good anymore and then I read this….I am soooo homesick now for good Mexican food. Thank you for allowing us to drool a little while living through your trip vicariously.

  46. tbsamsel

    Sure do envy you.

    We were going to go down next week to S.A. but the drought’s been so bad that there are literally no bluebonnets this year. They did have some rain yesterday.


    I was a kid in South Texas during the big drought of the 1950s when they had to burn prickly pear to feed the cattle. I’ve heard that this time it’s worse.

  47. Thanks for all the food tips. Duely noted. Will be back home in EP to visit in a matter of weeks. Can’t wait! I want to know how you went with the boots though. Did you find any? Any recs there?

  48. It’s pouring rain in Fort Worth this morning, and the forecast high is in the high 30’s-low 40’s. You’ve just clinched it for me: Mexican for dinner tonight. Now the only decision is where – Taco Cabano, Fiesta, El Asadero, Dos Gringos…decisions, decisions…

  49. Frito Pie for BREAKFAST??? OMG cracking me up. I thought I was bad! I’m in McKinney too and the food’s ok but it’s a quick trip north or east to small town yumminess.

  50. crazy4shabbychic

    WOW! Never been to Texas nor have I tried alot of the stuff mentioned – all I can say is, I gotta get to Texas!!!

  51. Miss Meat and Potatoes

    I am enthralled reading about your trip and food – and even more impressed you included the lovely Taco Cabana in your round up. I kid you not – every time we go back home to Austin Kris makes me stop there so he can get tortillas and queso as soon as we get off the plane – even it it’s 2 in the morning! Great post Lisa!

  52. Ms. Madrid

    I MISS EL PASO FOOD! Born and raised there, now I live in Dallas and have had a hard time finding good mexican food, Tex-Mex is just not the same. I knew I was out of El Paso when they served red enchiladas with “hormel chili” on top (they call it chile con carne here). What?! Are you serious??? Next time you go to El Paso, try Los Tres Gallegos, a family owned little restaurant with great flavor.

  53. pleintexasgirl

    I left South Texas for the first time in my life when I was 22. My new husband took me to meet his parents in Michigan. I drove to the grocery to buy food for some dishes I wanted to make for his family. Get this—No Wolf Brand Chili. No Rotel. No okra. No black eyed peas. No Tony Cacheres seasoning. I could not believe what was happening—how—or what did these people eat? That was 30 years ago and I still live in South Texas, I cannot eat anywhere but here.

  54. Anonymous

    Lisa’s grandmothers live in McKinney; both are formerly Oak Cliffites. So we seem to be one big family.

    McKinney now has 3 good bbq places and a special Mexican treat, San Miguel’s on University. But thank you, Lisa, for making your good biscuits on the trip.

    Grandma Jernigan

  55. Tipsy Gypsy

    We’re heading to Austin for 10 days in May. I can’t wait. I miss living in Texas so much. I’m in San Francisco now, and I’m a California native, but Texas really got into me. I’m sure I’m going to gain 5 pounds while we are there. But, at least I’ll get warm and a little more tan while I’m there too. Awwww. Sure miss Texas.

  56. When we lived outside of Texas (we live in S.A.), we used to plan our visits first at Jack In The Box (I know…I know….are those tacos really meat?!) and then Taco Cabana. Texas food….it’s the bestest.

    My current obsession is queso flameado ladled in my tortillas…… I think it’s Oaxacan cheese (or mozzarella for people not having a Mexican market) and chorizo…. The MIL makes it for me and it is crazy good…..


  57. Yay, You came to my corner of Texas. Glad you enjoyed our great food. I have to say I think El Paso has the best Mexican food in the state. Muy Mexican.

  58. Rhillian

    I’m jealous! I haven’t been home to the DFW area since Christmas, and I’m starting to sincerely crave some good Tex-Mex!

    Also “Chicken fried steak every day” sounds like a lot of my trips home, too. Just can’t resist when I know the closest thing I’m going to find here is at Brother Jimmy’s, and that just doesn’t cut it.

  59. Amy C Evans

    You’re killing me. You know that. And, for the record, I have all of the Frito pie fixin’s waiting for me at home. I’ve unintentionally been waiting for this cold and rainy Mississippi weekend to roll around, so I will be opening that bag of Fritos and pouring in some pie goodness real soon. Have I mentioned that Frito-pie-in-the-bag was a regular menu item at my elementary school’s cafeteria? Man, those were the days.

  60. BaconGrease

    wow I miss Taco Cabana (in San Antonio) sitting on the patio drinking margaritas and eating great tacos, while the kids ran crazy. In Richmond, Va now. my two wishes would be for a Taco Cabana, and that they brought back the taco de lengua.

  61. Marianna

    We are in Allen (south of McKinney)…newly relocated here actually. We are having a terrible time finding a good Mexican restaraunt here. Any to reccomend?

  62. Alexis Pond

    Yum…what a great post. I’ve blogged about on

  63. lisadelrio

    Those enchiladas are so beautiful they made me cry!

  64. ginger in virginia


    I grew up in Dallas at White Rock Lake. My mom’s maiden name is Jernigan and she grew up in Oak Cliff. Her dad’s name was Nugent….any chance we are related?

    Love your blog! Makes me homesick and hungry every time I read it!

  65. I feel your pain…I live in San Diego and just can’t find “real” barbecue here…every time I head back to Austin, first stop is at County Line on the lake. Yum, yum, yum. Thanks for making my mouth water!

  66. North and West Texas are lovely..but you are completely missing out of the BEST texmex in the state.

    Plan a trip to San WONT be dissapointed. We arent one of the top fattest cities in the US for nothing!

  67. catherine @

    The first time I saw chicken fried steak on a menu was in Denver–I couldn’t believe anything about it…and have been thinking about it ever since. Needless to say, it’s not on any menus in LA!

  68. masdevallia

    Glad you had such a nice trip home. Thanks for the food spots. If/when I make it to Texas, I’ll use your list as a travelogue.

  69. sally y. meisner

    dear lisa,
    How do you stay so thin? I just look at mexican food and gain a pound. I really enjoyed reading where you had been and where you had eaten. You mentioned Lent…where do you attend church in NYC?

    love and blessings, sally meisner, st.mary’s

  70. As a native New Mexican, now living in the northern D/FW area, I do the same thing when I go back to NM. It’s all about the food (and family). Every food stop is savored because I know that soon it will be back to the tex-mex. Still not loving the tex-mex after 20 years.

  71. As a native New Mexican, living in the northern D/FW area, I do the same thing when I visit NM. It’s all about the food (and family). Every food stop is savored because I know it will soon end and I’ll be back in the land of tex-mex. Still not loving the tex-mex after 20 years.

  72. Man, I really miss Taco Cabana! Good Mexican food is hard to find in Portland, OR, and Tex-Mex is non-existent.

  73. Anonymous

    I found your blog while I was surfing for a good recipe for biscuits, and am thrilled to see that you made it to our part of the world, and managed to find some of the best food it has to offer. Food shark is a ton of fun, but Alicia’s might be the best border food dive around. Next time, make sure to order a burrito named for one of the regulars with their hand-cut french fries. And let us know when you’re coming, so we can eat with you!
    Erin Aguayo

  74. Wonderful post – I love you pics. Thanks for sharing all the stuff you get to see.

  75. Jeez you might be thinking of doing some calisthenics when you get to NY.

    Thanks for making my mouth water .

  76. I love the “seat of your pants” adventure


    I can appreciate that. Whenever I am in the south I just want to taste everything. It is the flavors, see, they are all so rich and wonderful.


  78. I have tears in my eyes! I miss Texas sooooo much!

  79. This Texan that is trapped in California – soooo misses the food!!! California fajitas are served in this red sauce!! What is up with that??? And chicken fried steak?? – you do NOT put sausage gravy on chicken fried steak!!!! Sausage gravy is for biscuits!!!

    Another thing I miss about Texas food – the Cajun food!!! You simply can’t find that here…. sigh…

    OH wait… and Blue Bell ice cream!!! I can’t forget about Blue Bell!!! double sigh…

  80. Lisa Fain

    Howdy y’all–Good heavens there are just so many of y’all! So please accept my apology for not responding to each comment–I’ll just answer direct questions. Thank you for all the kind words–we all know why Texas food is indeed the best!

    Sara–Fish post coming up soon!

    Kara–I know Adam, the other owner. You need to go!

    Aaron–When were you at Cliff Temple? My grandparents went there for many years.

    Suzinoz–Yes I did–I got a red pair and a black pair with stars. Very fancy!

    Marianna–My family always goes to San Miguel and NinjaMom recommends Petra (W. of 75 on Eldorado). It’s got some amazing REAL Mexican food – Fish tacos, tacos al pastor, etc., and some mean churros. There’s also a Mexican grocery store off of HWY 5 that has awesome tacos.

    Sally–Good to see you! I’m not *that* thin. (Ha!) And I like the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

  81. After reading this post, and picturing in my mind’s eye what those lovely dishes look and taste like, I want to pack my bags and head off to Texas. Hope you have a terrific trip! 🙂

  82. I am a student at SMU and read your blog daily! Us college kids are always at Chuy’s and Banditos, but I would love to hear about anywhere else nearby that is good! My roommate is from mexico and is always complaining about the tex-mex where can I find her some real mexican food!

  83. Lisa Fain

    Sarah–Go along Westmoreland in Oak Cliff or Lemon near Love Field and you should find lots of Mex-Mex places.

  84. I’m from El Paso originally, and you have destroyed my productivity this morning with visions of Carnitas Querataro… mmmm. We actually had Frito Pie for dinner last night, and while satisfying, it just can’t compare.

    Thanks again for your amazing blog. This is my first comment, but I read it religiously and appreciate the little bit of home you bring to my cold DC office each week.

  85. Anonymous

    Wow, I NEVER thought I would read so much praise for a place like Taco Cabana. Perhaps living in South Texas all my life has made me take such places for granted. But here in San Antonio, the ONLY reasons you would want to eat at Taco Cabana are either because you’re from out of town and don’t know better, or because it’s 3am and you’re looking for something inexpensive to satisfy the post-boozing munchies. I was raised on the border, and I know what good tex-mex should taste like…and TCs ain’t it. Then again, if I had to move to the East Coast, I’d probably miss it too. : btw, their margaritas are nothing more than slushies…

  86. I’m so glad that I’m making my own pilgrimage back to Texas in a couple of weeks . . . because this post would have had me seriously pining. (I am sad that I won’t be visiting any of these places, though; sometimes TX is just too darn big.)

    The first meal in TX is ALWAYS Mexican food.

  87. Anonymous

    Casa Jurado–what a fabulous place! Ate there all the time when my parents lived in EP, and recently returned after a 15 year absence. The waiters remembered us! And the food was as great as ever.

  88. MissGreenTea

    West Texas is a breath of fresh air. I live in the valley (tip of Tejas), but my boyfriend used to live and work in Fort Stockton. We would take trips to Marathon…drink a few cocktails at the Gage and swim at Balmorhea. And I fell in love with Alpine. I need to visit there again soon. I wish he still lived there…

  89. I was at Cliff Temple from birth in '73 to departure from the area in '99. My parents still go.

    I second (or third?) the recommendation of San Miguel in McKinney. My grandparents lived in McKinney, and my aunt & uncle still do, and they eat there alot.

  90. Lisa Fain

    Aaron–Then you probably remember Dan Griffin. Heck your parents might have even known my grandparents! Small world!

  91. Toiling Ant

    WOW do I miss good Texas food.

  92. Anonymous

    My daughter shared your site with me and we had to laugh! When we vist Texas, we eat our way through the state as well, but not quite to the extent you did! You speak our launguage… kolaches, chicken fried steak, brisket, enchiladas!
    Could you please post a recipe for a decent Tortilla soup? The Whistle Stop Cafe’ in Tomball, TX serves a great bowl, but they are very guarded about their recipes.

  93. I just got back from a week in San Antonio, where I lived for 20+ years – I had a whole list of places to eat, and got to most of them. If I had had to choose one thing to eat, though, it would have been enchiladas verdes – green chicken enchiladas – which I finally got the day before we left. I’ve discovered that I can make my own breakfast tacos but my enchiladas verde just aren’t the same….

  94. Sounds like you had a grand time in Texas (which is where I live and we eat like you did several times a week – it's wonderful) I think it's funny I read your blog and love it – and live in Texas and while you were here in Texas… I was in Missouri! 🙂 We visited Springfield for niece & nephews basket ball play off games! 🙂
    Glad you had a great time – next time you are in be sure to try Matt's Rancho Martinez in Lakewood area – and not only is chicken fried steak to die for – it's 'cowboy style' but ask for the "Bob Armstrong" dip – its wonderful – and it's not on the menu… you have to know about it… it's layers of creamy layers of queso, guac, taco meat, sour cream and they bring it to the table hot and you mix it up … with hot chips… to die for…

  95. I love your site! I am a native Texan and after 35 years in the Lone Star state we have moved to PA. My quest for good Tex-Mex cuisine has been a very sad and disappointing experience. My husband and I have already started planning where we are going to eat when we go back home for Christmas.

    The photos of west Texas are great. I can just imagine the warmth on my face. Makes me want to go home!

  96. I just found your blog and well… the name sums it all up for me! I’ve only been in Illinois for 5 months but they have been sooo very long and cold! What I wouldn’t give for a decent Tex-Mex meal… chips and salsa, beef fajitas and a real margarita! Heaven!!

    Oh Blue Bell. Oh Shiner. Where are you?

  97. I have to say that the carne guisado taco from Taco Cabana is one of my guilty pleasures! I’m pimping your blog out on my column page. You rock!

  98. SimmerBright

    I love how every Texan has an opinion about Mexican food:) That said, I didn’t have time to read them all so pardon if I am repeating a sentiment. Best mole is Little Mexico on South 1st in Austin. YYYYUUUMMM!

  99. Julianne

    I grew up in McKinney and miss it so much! Moved to Georgia 8 years ago, and they just don’t do Mexican food here the “right” way. So, another vote from me for San Miguel. I remember when their building was a Del Taco restaurant with drive through… it’s come up in the world! 🙂

  100. Anonymous

    Love your blog, but just wondering if you had trouble with weight gain on your recent trip to Texas? I love Texas food, but have had to give it up and eat almost entirely vegetarian (very un-Texan) and that has put an end to my weight “problem”.

  101. oh my god, I eat like this when I visit Texas too. it is so hard not to. I feel ridden with anxiety on short trips–what foods must I eat before returning to NJ? how to cram them all in? what if the enchiladas taste different than last time I was here? worse, what if it’s been so long since I tasted enchiladas that the mythical vision I’ve had of them in my mind all these years is just a fantasy born of my expat status?!

    don’t even get me started on blue bell.

  102. Try out the Carnitas Tortas at Alvarados in North Richland Hills…Can’t go near Fort Worth without a pilgrimage there. The Pollo Asado is pretty damn good too, heck, everything on their menu rocks. There is one place I do miss too, years back when I lived in San Antonio, we used to go to the Leon Springs Cafe and have one of the best Chicken Fried Steaks. And if you want the BEST KC in the whole state, you have to go to Lowake.

  103. Anonymous

    Mo's in El Paso was always our
    favorite secret restaurant. I don't know how you found it but the queso there is just like you described white cheese with poblano peppers. Sorry Rotel, but it is much better. Try the chile rellenos next time. Thanks for the ideas on places to eat. I'm still in Texas and can visit a few.

  104. Twilight

    I make an old west/west Texas road trip at least once a year. It's the only thing that soothes my soul.

    One place you must stop next time is in Del Rio – Taco Torito. Oh my goodness those chunks of pork heaven in those homemade tortillas with all the fixins. Run by a mom and pop and their son…all these local construction workers/laborers were chowing down there at lunch.

  105. Amsterdandi

    I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who never seems to have enough Tejas time to fit in all the deliciousness (but eventually not my jeans). I usually have a "eureka!" or more like "doah!" moment on the return flight to Europe remembering I never made it to my papa's favorite breakfast place for sausage, biscuits and cream gravy, or dropped in to the neighbor's for amazing homemade venison tamales, or ate catfish and fried okra – geez I forgot to even have a Shiner…etc etc
    You can take the cowgal out of Texas, but… she will forever crave the #4 combo plate and unlimited tea refills!

  106. Amsterdandi

    By the way, does anyone else feel cheated by the no liquids on flights rule and it's severe limitation on the amount of salsa (or other must-haves) reasonably transported in checked luggage?

    I used to load my carry-on with as many salsa and various saucy products to keep me going for six months or so in Europe. Now, due to breakage risk and absurd weight charges, I have room for maybe two jars (bubble wrap doubles size) plus some small cans of precious verde at best. The rest is taken up by otc meds unavailable in Holland such as the villainous visine and naughty nyquil.

    Meanwhile, how frustrating! No mango habanero, even my Cholula consumption is measured. I'm relegated to Taco Bell packets horded by parents between visits. I resent having to walk past the airport Texas shops and ignore all the lovely, big jars of Renfro's saying si! si! Si!

    Federal authorities don't realize salsa is mother's milk to Texans and should be allowed under an *essential condiment* exception for any international flight leaving the Lone Star. The real crime is the stuff passed off as authentic hot sauce overseas, as well as all the oddball products with the word Texas on the label ha ha. Don't even let me commence on THAT one…
    Greetings from salsa-deprived Tex in Amsterdam 🙂

  107. DirtyShame

    While working on a construction job in central Illinois, us Texas boys decided we would treat the locals to our BBQ brisket…None of them had ever heard of eating BBQ brisket..On my last trip home, for Christmas, I brought back a full pickup truck load of mesquite..Another novelty here in Illinois….Each month our company gives all the employees a "safety lunch"…We had tried various brave caterers in the area to provide the meals, but at a construction site with over 200 employees seemed like a bit much..So we built us a decent BBQ pit from large bore pipe, started a fire with the mesquite and fed the pit with live mesquite coals..cooked brisket very slowly for about 10 hours…then rang the dinner bell..I tell you the truth, these local Illini….almost ate their fingers…Months later, they see we have mesquite wood left…and want to know when we are having BBQ brisket again..

  108. wyldtxn53

    Good God, YA'LL..after reading all your comments I was reading to jump on a plane and GIT ON BACK. Great Blog, great comments! I am a homesick Texas living in Foresthill, California out in the Sierra foothills. Not a bad place to be, but not TEXAS either. Discovered this site searching for a good recipe for carnitas..send them on if you have one. The one here sounds amazing. Question, does anyone know the name of the very good Mexican restaurant that used to be in the Galleria Mall in Houston. Question 2 – does anyone remember a restaurant in Odessa called Manuels? They had the best chicken suiza enchiladas I have ever eaten. Before I go print out the 2 dozen recipes I found here I wanted to say go see the new movie Julie and Julia much fun and the food..ahhh the food!! It is after all, ALL ABOUT THE FOOD. How do you say "Bon Appetit" in Texan?
    I will never read this BLOG while I am hungry again!!!

  109. I love it! I was born and raised in San Antonio and now live in the Northwest, what a fun post. My husband and I plan our trips around what food we must get in our tummies. Dear, sweet Carne Guisada…no one has ever heard of it up here! Now that fall is coming, I can spend a day over the stove making some meat and gravy perfection!

    Thanks for your blog, it is definitely a favorite of mine now!

  110. Charcoal House in San Angelo Texas has killer Chicken fried Steak fingers and the dipping sauce is ultimately addictive! I live outside the city and venture in every week for a bite! yum

  111. Anonymous

    I was excited to find that I am not the only person that has to eat her way across Texas. When we return there from Long Island my list is a lot like yours in what foods I have to make sure that I eat–except I must make it to Ozonas on Greenville in Dallas and oddly also to Sonic for limeade. Another must is a fried pie or peach cobbler. The peach cobbler is easier to find then a good fried pie.

  112. Tavern on the Concho

    Love the Trans-Pecos and the food from that area. Although Shirley remains a familiar face on the streets of Marathon, she sold her Burnt Biscuit a few years ago and sadly, the new owners felt the need to move to a larger location and 'Texan' it up quite a bit. It lost most of it's charm in transition . . . although their apricot fried pies still rule!

  113. Mark Daniel Miller

    ps – some of the BEST Frito pie i have EVER had the pleasure of having is back in my hometown of Austin, Texas at a li'l BBQ joint called Bert's They use the cut ends off of their (also amazing) brisket…as well as some of their link sausage sliced up, ranch style beans, jalapenos, fat-shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and their great BBQ sauce. it's a li'l bit of heaven.

    thank you for your site!! it's a breath of fresh air here in Manhattan 🙂

    PS – can we have a Texas-style dinner party some time for all the homesick Texans here in City? t'would be good fun, me thinks 🙂

  114. Melissa Gibbs

    OK I know this is an old post but I HAD to comment! I am from El Paso (living now in Ft Worth) and you mentioned all my favorite foods and restaurants. I was born and raised in El Paso so I am used to THAT kind of Mexican food. (the REAL kind) Casa Jurado, Carnitas Queretaro (pig face as my daughter calls it) and especially Julios. I CRAVE Julios queso and Tortilla soup. And the red chili enchiladas in El Paso…can't find those anywhere out here. (unless you know something I don't know)

    I just discovered your blog today and I fear I will be completely non-productive at work for the rest of the day!

  115. Blaine Walker

    Said before, "I must b from Texas!"!
    Road trip? Anyone?b

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