The Five Most Influential Cities in the Development of Mexican Food in the United States
|Big D's big chain|
Many people will moan and howl about the inclusion of Dallas, whose contributions to Mexican cuisine--the streamlining of the Tex-Mex combo plate at the city's venerable franchises, El Chico and El Fenix, the headquarters for Frito-Lay and its Fritos (after their creation in San Antonio), the invention of the frozen margarita machine--some will consider heresies. But let's be real, people. Without Fritos, the spreading of Mexican food in this country would've been stunted by a good decade. Without Tex-Mex, most of America wouldn't have their first taste of Mexican food until today, when actual Mexicans live across the United States instead of just on the border. Without the frozen margarita machine, Mexican restaurants wouldn't have exploded the way they did back in the 1970s. There are many reasons to hate Dallas--but it ain't the food. And let's not even get started on the glories of queso...
2. Greater Los Angeles
El Torito. Taco trucks. Taco Bell. The nation's first famous Mexican chef (an American, of course). Regional Mexican cuisine as an industry. Canned menudo. Doritos. The canning of chiles. All of these innovations came from Los Angeles and its surrounding environs, from Ventura (the original home of the Ortega Chile Company) to San Bernardino (where Taco Bell has its roots) to Disneyland (Doritos) to San Pedro (canned menudo) to Encino (El Torito) to, you know, actual Los Angeles. We dominate the course of Mexican food in this country--and yet we don't hold a tortilla chip to...
1. San Antonio
|Too bad the puffy taco never went any further than the Alamo City and Whittier...|
It's not even a close contest--San Antone is the Everest to everyone else's Balboa Peninsula. This is the city that gave America one part of its first Mexican obsession (chili con carne), whose ever-clever gabachos gave the world the first packaged Mexican dinner (via William Gebhardt) and combo plate (the "Regular" supper of Otis Farnsworth), and whose ever-clever Mexis gave America packaged chips AND masa harina (the same family). Nachos first became popular here, and ballpark nachos were invented by the cousin of Johnny Cash's first wife. And so, so much more--read the book!
Follow Stick a Fork In It on Twitter @ocweeklyfood or on Facebook! And don't forget to download our free Best Of App here!