The richness of Texas history is best illustrated in the slogan, “six flags over Texas.” Later the name of a Texas and Georgia chain of amusement parks, the phrase refers to the fact that at different periods in Texas history, six nations reigned over the land (specifically, Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States of America, and the Confederate States of America).
But the history behind the “six flags” doesn’t account for the heavy German and Czechoslovakian influence during the Republic’s formative years or the ranch-hand concoctions of the 19th Century. By the time that Texas returned to the Union after the Civil War, the land’s best dishes were well under way to becoming legendary.
Chef Karen Davison of Plano is proud of her Texas culinary heritage. Here are her top picks for best Texas cuisine and where to find them.
Tex-Mex foods are Spanish-Mexican meals with a Texas spin. Compared to generic Caucasion renditions of Mexican dishes across the United States, Tex-Mex is unique and claims the origin of many classic “Mexican” foods.
Tex-Mex tacos are among the best in all of North America. Even Mexican tourists clamor to Tex-Mex food trucks and taquerias across southern and central Texas.
Texas is also the founding region for the Frito pie. This easy DIY entree (Texas chili over Frito chips) is also a professional dish in certain parts of the state.
And don’t forget those beef fajitas with chile con queso!
According to Karen V. Davison, the best places to find quality Tex-Mex are Austin, San Antonio, and the Rio Grande Valley.
The barbeque tradition goes back farther than the American West. German immigrants are often credited for establishing the Texas Trinity — ribs, brisket, and sausage. Dry rubs, slow cooking, and open-fire cooking are among the most popular ways to experience Texas barbeque.
There is hardly a beef dish in Texas that will disappoint. From brisket to steak to chili, Texas beef can delight the pickiest barbeque enthusiasts, notes Karen Davison.
Hot links are another barbeque favorite. Formerly a sausage made from unwanted farm animal parts, today’s Texas hot links come primarily from beef and pork.
Texas barbeque ribs are also hard to beat in a cook-off even for those hailing from Kansas City and North Carolina.
Diners can find the finest barbeque in eastern and central Texas.
As Americans and Europeans settled the region in the early 1800s, most arrived in Galveston by way of New Orleans. The French-Spanish-African hybrid influence is present in Texas cajun foods today.
The chief cajun dishes in Texas are Gulf oysters and crawfish. Served in true Cajun style, these two seafood entrees rival those of Louisiana, Florida, and the whole Caribbean.
Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi, and all along the Gulf coast, Texas cajun is plentiful, says Karen Davison. Rumor has it that the Golden Triangle (Orange, Port Arthur, and Beaumont) is “crawfish central.”