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Food Texas Is Known For (Tasty Selection!)

Texas is one of the largest states in the U.S. and is well known for its cultural diversity. The Lone Star State is a melting pot of ethnicities, leading to it becoming an excellent culinary destination. Since it shares a border with Mexico, many people associate Tex-Mex with the region. 

While Texas is the birthplace of Tex-Mex food, there is a broader range throughout the state, from Texas barbecue to Cowboy Caviar. Interestingly, many of the regular foods you eat, like hamburgers, corn dogs, or chili con carne, were created in Texas. It’s most certainly a culinary hub!

Food Texas Is Known For - Texas News, Places, Food, Recreation, and Life.

Food Texas Is Known For

Depending on who you ask, Texas cuisine can be represented by a selection of foods. However, much like any culture, the flavors of Texas are influenced by its inhabitants and neighboring regions. 

The Food Texas is known for mainly comes from Mexico, Native American culture, and African-American cultures, as well as southern and Cajun cooking traditions. Texas food is generally packed with flavor and usually incorporates meat. Although, you can always find vegan and vegetarian options in major cities. 

In this article, we take you through the food Texas is known for so you know exactly what to look out for on your upcoming trip. We’ve divided the piece into lunch, dinner, and snacks so you have all your bases covered. Finally, we list some of our favorite restaurants in the state to add to your culinary itinerary. 

Dinner Food in Texas

When it comes to dinner in Texas, your options are virtually endless. From fish to pasta, and from pizza to burgers, the standard of restaurants meets and even surpasses many other states. However, if you want to make your meal authentically Texan, there are certain dishes we recommend. 

Texas Chicken Fried Steak and Gravy 

Chicken fried steak is a perfect example of classic Texas food. They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and when it comes to CFS, this saying is most definitely true. It generally comes in a large portion and is somewhat rough around the edges, but it’s undeniably delicious. 

Chicken fried steak isn’t actually chicken at all. It’s normally made from beefsteak of some variety, like cube steak or sirloin. It gets its name from the cooking process. The steak is tenderized, seasoned and coated, then fried. Essentially, it’s prepared in the same way as southern fried chicken.

The coating gives the steak a crisp yet fluffy texture on the outside but once you break through the batter, your pallet is met with juicy beef that bursts with flavor. While you can find CFS and gravy in many restaurants, it’s one of the classic Texas food recipes that’s well worth trying at home. 

You can have chicken fried steak with a variety of sides. However, our personal favorites are mac ‘n’ cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, or salad. 

Smoked beef brisket sandwich - Texas News, Places, Food, Recreation, and Life.

Brisket Sandwiches 

Brisket is synonymous with Texas. If you haven’t tried it before, go ahead and slide it to the top of your food list. It’s that good, trust us. Brisket is a large and tough cut of beef that contains a lot of fat and firm connective tissue. Usually, people would avoid this type of meat. 

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However, many moons ago, Texans figured out a way to turn this tough cut into some of the softest, most tender, and most delicious meats on the planet. First, it’s heavily seasoned, then it’s cooked in a smoker for up to 12 hours. In total, a 16-pound brisket can take around 20 hours to prepare. 

Fortunately, Texas is full of pitmasters who do the hard work for you. There are few more satisfying meals after a day in the Texas sun than a sumptuous brisket sandwich with all the trimmings and sides. There is no right way to serve a brisket sandwich, it’s totally up to the creator. 

However, most restaurants use similar ingredients, like a brioche bun, cheese, onions, pickles, and slaw. Toss in a side of fries and mac ‘n’ cheese, and you’ve got yourself a five-star Texas dinner. The fatty brisket blends beautifully with the soft bread for perfect, mouth-watering bites every time. 

Tex-Mex

Tex-Mex is an umbrella term that encompasses a long list of foods and dishes. It’s one of the country’s oldest cuisine categories and was created by Tejanos, who were the early Mexican-American inhabitants of southern Texas. The Tejanos took traditional Mexican dishes and adapted them to the region. 

While certain fast-food chains may have degraded the reputation of Tex-Mex somewhat, from the source, this food is extraordinary. Chili, queso, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, and burritos are all examples of delicious Tex-Mex that have spread around the globe. 

Research suggests that Tex-Mex first made a splash in San Antonio. Naturally, you can find truly authentic Tex-Mex all around the city. However, it has spread a lot over the past 100 years and we’re now seeing the next stage of the Tex-Mex evolution in the form of Mexican fusion restaurants. 

But, if you want the real original Tex-Mex, check out the Old Borunda in San Antonio. It first opened in 1887 and is believed to be the first and oldest Tex-Mex restaurant in the state. 

Lunch Food in Texas 

In Texas, lunch is just as good as dinner. At least, that’s what we think. Why wait all day to sample the local grub if you already have a Texas-size appetite? So, if you’re fueling up for a busy afternoon exploring the Lone Star State, here are our top recommendations for lunch. 

Food delivery service smoked meat assortment - Texas News, Places, Food, Recreation, and Life.

Texas Barbecue

Technically, brisket is one of the main components of Texas barbecue. However, due to its deliciousness, we decided to give it it’s very own heading. That said, virtually every piece of barbecue could have its own section on our list. The range of textures and flavors from different meat cuts is mesmerizing.

The main reason we recommend Texas barbecue for lunch is that many popular smoke houses run out of popular meats very quickly, meaning they’re closed by dinner time. So, to ensure you get exactly what you want, it’s better to hit the barbecue joint early. In fact, breakfast is often the best time to get your hands on some smoked meat. 

Something you should know before visiting is that Texas barbecue differs by location. Central Texas barbecue is the most common style and is distinguished by salt and pepper rubs and side sauces. Sauce rarely touches the meat before it’s been cooked, allowing you to add different flavors as you please.

In East Texas, barbecuers frequently used tomato-based sauces and they favor pulled pork dishes more than in other regions. Southern-Texas-style barbecue has a strong Mexican influence and features more diverse spices and sweet sauces. In the West, the meats tend to be smoked rather than grilled.

Be warned, Texas barbecue is designed for meat lovers and doesn’t usually cater to the vegetarian audience. The portions are big so make sure to arrive hungry. During high seasons, barbecue restaurants are often the busiest in the state so you may have to wait in line for a little while. 

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Chilli Con Carne

Chili con carne, which translates to chili with meat, is one of the original Tex-Mex dishes that was first created in San Antonio. It became popular among the working class, with Tejana and Mexican women. San Antonio’s “Chili Queens” were famous for providing affordable and delicious chili stew. 

From here, chili stands began to pop up and after a short while, chili con carne was a popular staple around the state of Texas. At its core, chili con carne is a simple dish, consisting of beef, chili, tomatoes, and beans. With quality ingredients, these components are enough to make a hearty and delicious meal. 

However, because of its popularity over the years, locals began to host chili competitions to see who could make the best in the area. So, nowadays, the recipes tend to be more complex. Although, as a restaurant goer, this is perhaps the best outcome you could hope for. 

Slice of pecan pie - Texas News, Places, Food, Recreation, and Life.

Pecan Pie

At some point, we had to include a dessert on our list. So here it is, Texas’ official state dessert, the pecan pie. While you can now get pecan pie in virtually every state, it was first made by a local Texas woman. The recipe spread after she sent it to a church to be included in their cookbook. 

Pecan pie comes under the sugar pie category and it consists of Karo syrup (or brown sugar and molasses), eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and the title ingredient, pecans. The base features a traditional crust. However, some like to alter the filling by adding bourbon or whisky.

While you may be tempted to take a stab at baking a pecan pie yourself, it’s definitely one of our recommended Texas foods to try in a restaurant. If you see it on the menu, go for it. But if you want to try the best in the state, consider these restaurants: 

  • Goode Company BBQ (Houston)
  • Emporium Pies (Dallas)
  • The Salt Lick BBQ (Driftwood)
  • Killen’s Barbecue (Pearland)
  • Pappas Bros Steakhouse (Houston)
  • Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant (Galveston)

Snack Foods Unique to Texas

One of the most enjoyable aspects of a city trip is trying the local snacks as you explore. In Texas, sometimes snacks are enough to keep you going the entire day. Texan restaurants tend to be generous with their portions, and we’re not complaining. 

Much like the rest of its cuisine, Texas snacks are mouth-watering. So, whether you’re feeling peckish at a bar or you need some fuel for an activity-filled afternoon, set your sights on these delicious and unique Texas snacks. 

Queso and Chips

Queso and chips, often just referred to as queso, is one of the unofficial Texas dishes. Another Tex-Mex creation, it’s believed to owe its origins to the Latin American women of San Antonio in the late 1800s or early 1900s. The exact details of where it came from are somewhat mythical. 

Queso is made from chili peppers and processed American cheese. Some restaurants add spices or secret ingredients but truthfully, they’re not necessary. This simple dish is the ultimate crowd-pleaser and goes perfectly with a couple of drinks. It’s a perfect appetizer or party snack regardless of the occasion. 

Texas Sheet Cake

Texas sheet cake is the epitome of Southern cooking. Created to feed the masses, it’s essentially a large brownie that can be sliced up and served to big groups. Traditionally, Texas sheet cake is a chocolatey-fudge flavor, but today you can find it with a host of alternative ingredients. 

A cake that brings people together, the dessert perfectly represents Texan hospitality. To boot, it’s moist, gooey, and delicious. Our recommendation is to go to a local bakery for this treat. It’s a traditional homemade cake so you’ll want to get it from a Mom and Pop shop.

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Texas Toast

Texas toast is usually served as part of a more complete dish, but here at Texas View, we also enjoy it solo. It differs from regular bread in that it’s more buttery, has a square shape, and comes in significantly thicker slices. Served with butter and some dip, it’s a perfect snack. 

The most common way to eat Texas toast is alongside barbecue, pulled pork, fondues, or with fried chicken sandwiches. It’s also frequently used in Texas restaurants for French toast. They say it was first served in 1941 at the Pig Stands restaurant.

Traditional kolaches with strawberries - Texas News, Places, Food, Recreation, and Life.

Other Notable Texas Foods

So far, we’ve touched on several of the Texas classics, from barbecue to sheet cake. Unfortunately, it would take hundreds of blog posts to list all the wonderful and weird Texas foods. So, below, we’re going to list some other top bites worth trying when you’re in Texas. 

Do some research ahead of your trip for more details on what these foods consist of. Although we like them all, some may not be to your taste. Depending on where you look, you can find each of these options on a Top 10 Texas Foods list:

  • Kolaches 
  • Texas Caviar
  • Fried Anything 
  • Migas
  • Pralines
  • Tamales
  • Frito Pie
  • King Ranch Chicken
  • Texas Hash
  • Corn Dogs
  • Texas Trash
  • Southern Fried Okra

Famous Places to Eat in Texas

As the largest state in the country, there’s no end to the number of wonderful restaurants. Although Texas has unique cuisines, it’s also pretty good at other food styles. While it’s hard to narrow the list down to just a few, here are some of the most famous places to eat in Lone Star State. 

Although there are some authentically Texan places on the list, it isn’t all barbecue and brisket. This goes to show the cultural and culinary diversity that the state’s food scene has to offer. The restaurants are located in various cities, so you might need to plan a few trips to get to them all. 

The Salt Lick 

Location: Driftwood

Type of food: Barbecue

Type of restaurant: Traditional smokehouse restaurant

Franklin Barbecue

  • Location: Austin
  • Type of food: Barbecue
  • Type of restaurant: Traditional smokehouse restaurant
  • Notes: One of the most popular restaurants in the city so you may need to arrive early and wait in line to get a place. 

Big Texan Steak Ranch

  • Location: Amarillo
  • Type of food: Steak, burgers, ribs, and meat
  • Type of restaurant: Texas-style steakhouse

Kreuz Market 

  • Location: Lockhart
  • Type of food: Barbecue and sausage
  • Type of restaurant: Old school smokehouse restaurant

Gaidos 

  • Location: Galveston
  • Type of food: Seafood
  • Type of restaurant: Traditional restaurant

Ninfa’s

  • Location: Houston
  • Type of food: Mexican and Tex-Mex
  • Type of restaurant: Traditional restaurant

Fearing’s 

  • Location: Dallas
  • Type of food: “Elevated American Cuisine”
  • Type of restaurant: Upscale dining
  • Notes: Located inside the Ritz Carlton. Reservations recommended. 

BCN Taste & Tradition

  • Location: Houston
  • Type of food: Spanish fine-dining
  • Type of restaurant: Spanish

Himalaya 

  • Location: Houston
  • Type of food: Indian and Pakistani
  • Type of restaurant: Casual dining
  • Notes: Laid back, BYOB set up

Hugo’s

  • Location: Houston
  • Type of food: Mexican
  • Type of restaurant: Upscale modern Mexican fare
  • Notes: Shaken margaritas prepared tableside

Cured

  • Location: San Antonio
  • Type of food: New American cuisine
  • Type of restaurant: Rustic-chic
  • Notes: Craft cocktails freshly prepared

Mixtli

  • Location: San Antonio
  • Type of food: Modern Mexican
  • Type of restaurant: Modern restaurant

Ray’s Drive Inn

  • Location: San Antonio
  • Type of food: Tex-Mex
  • Type of restaurant: Family-friendly casual dining

Lucia

  • Location: Dallas
  • Type of food: Italian
  • Type of restaurant: Rustic, cozy, with 1920s decor

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