15 Signs You Grew Up Eating Tex-Mex Food

Categories: Mexi Meals

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A magnificent double order at Chico's Taco in El Paso

I know, I know: where the hell does a born-and-bred Mexican from California get off telling the rest of the world about the glories of Tex-Mex cuisine? But hear me out, world: I am Tex-Mex's most arduous non-Texan defender. I've crisscrossed most of the state doing research for my Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. Going there dozens of times over the past years on business and pleasure has endeared me to the state's food even more, from Chico's Tacos in El Paso to Torchy's in Austin, the Trompi-Burger at La Macro in Houston to some bomb-ass baby goat at a backyard in Brownsville. One of my mentors and pals is Robb Walsh, the James Beard Award-winning author and dean of Tex-Mex history who--believe it or not--once lived in Orange County, attending Sunkist Elementary in Anacrime just like yours truly.

In short, I know my Tex-Mex and what gets Texans salivating when it comes to their Mexican. So as you read this list, know I ain't speaking out of my Cali culo. And, as my final appeal to authority, I had this list approved by two proud Tejanos: our own Gabriel San Román (whose family has roots in El Paso going back to the late 1800s) and Associated Press New Mexico reporter Russell Contreras, who keeps threatening to sic La Santa Muerte on me because I didn't praise Tex-Mex food enough in my book--never mind that I devoted AN ENTIRE CHAPTER to it. May this be penance to get La Muerte off my ass, may the rest of the country finally realizing they're missing out on Tex-Mex's charms, and viva Tex-Mex!

See also:

15. You Know that Tex-Mex Food is Born in the Rio Grande Valley, Becomes Popular in San Antonio, and Gets Ripped Off in Austin

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Torchy's Tacos in Austin: Delicious, but breakfast tacos are from the Valley

It happened with fajitas, it happened with canned chile, it happened with breakfast tacos, and it'll happen again and again as it has for the past century. Austinites insist all their food developments are organic; San Antonians seeth at such usurping; the Valley just shrugs its shoulders. Meanwhile, the rest of the country can't tell Pflugerville apart from New Braunfels apart from Harlingen, or care about why Texans would care.

14. Salpicón is the Best Salad EVER

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Photo by Gabriel San Blogman

Those of us who live in Southern California mostly know salpicón as a ground beef salad served at Salvadoran restaurants. In Texas, though, salpicón turns into a salad fit for a Texan: meat, meat, and meat, with some vegetables thrown in. Most Mexican restaurants in Texas serve salpicón, while I've never heard of a Mexican restaurant in Southern California serve it. America's loss, as the meat is spicy, juicy and GANGSTA; far better than huevos rancheros, which have traveled everywhere at this point.

13. Flour Tortillas are Perfectly Fine for Tacos

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Taco de fideo at Taqueria Laredo in Houston

In California, we're used to our flour tortillas being big, the better to make burritos and quesadillas out of them. And when it comes to tacos, corn tortillas are the answer. In Texas, on the other hand, they make flour tortillas that are not only edible, but appear in different sizes. As a result, most taquerias have the option of flour or corn tortillas for their tacos, leading to hilarious expectations of Californians who think flour tortilla tacos are just burritos that exploded then get disappointed when they're not. HA!

12. It's Not "Chili"; It's "Chile con Carne"

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I won't get into the touchy argument of whether chili should have beans or not, but it's always great to visit Texas and see the American staple referred to by its original name: chile con carne. Even in the most gabacho Tex-Mex places, the chile con carne name reigns. And the Baylessistas claim Texas waters down Mexican food...

11. There's Nothing Wrong with Beans, Rice and Fajitas on Thanksgiving

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This one I've yet to try, but Russell swears by it. Those crazy Texans! And speaking of fajitas...


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80 comments
Burqueno_By_The_Bay
Burqueno_By_The_Bay

I grew up eating El Chico and El Fenix in Dallas then moved to Santa Ana as a teenager and now live in Albuquerque. I love the food from all three. But for Texas and Tex-Mex you have to mention Wolf Brand Chili. 

"Neighbor, how long has it been since you've had hot, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?. Well, that's too long".


ahrengrauer
ahrengrauer

Meh, Tacos Mareno in Santa Cruz is the best.


stranger929
stranger929

All I want is a few tacos and a burrito from Tacos de Anda, being from Anaheim our author should know that one. This tex-mex is killing me, I can't stomach any more 'pork green chili'!

oggarza
oggarza

y'all need to check out HomeState, 4624 Hollywood Blvd. in LA


halfwit2k
halfwit2k

"A magnificent double order at Chico's Taco in El Paso."


A double order of what?  Seriously, what IS that in the picture?  Flautas drenched in tomato sauce?  Because if that plate of nasty was ever served to me in Texas as something that was supposed to be an enchilada, I would slap the waiter,

halfwit2k
halfwit2k

Yeah, the writer of this article DOESN'T KNOW SHIT ABOUT TEX-MEX.

halfwit2k
halfwit2k

And what is that nasty thing in the picture from Chico's?  It looks like green tortillas topped with tomato sauce and unmelted cheese.

That looks more like Chicago Mexican food than Tex-Mex.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

halfwit2k
halfwit2k

Mexican food?  Meh.
Cal-Mex?  Pretentious.

New Mexico-Mex?  Nasty.

Tex-Mex?  Damned right!

halfwit2k
halfwit2k

Salpicon?  Lived in Texas all of my life.  Never heard of it.

ejunker
ejunker

Remember that doughty little English woman's rebuke of Tex-Mex? She was most informed about Tex-Mex by New Yorkers. That her "regional" knowledge of Mexican cuisine was anecdotally limited to a tiny radius follows the same path as New Yorkers' presumption of knowledge based on a few restaurants on a small island. Bravo Matt Martinez for straightening that out. Bravo Robb and now you for carrying it forward. A born Yankee and an Angelino, how 'bout that?


 You and Walsh need to hunt up Danny Vaughan and chase around a lot more together. It's ironic that the vocal proponents of the cuisines of Texas are three guys from elsewhere, but all three of you - like the legacy of all Texans - got here as soon as you could. And you don't look back.


Thanks!


E.

Linda Lucia Valdez
Linda Lucia Valdez

I am officially homesick and frickin' jones-ing for a plate of carne guisada. Thanks for the Tex-Mex props, especially since Tejas pendejos get more air time and print (Rick Perry, anyone?) than any progressive in the state. BTW, during the 80's I remember stumblin' into many a Taco Cabana after a night of clubbing outside the Houston loop.

Mario Sierra
Mario Sierra

Marc Baquero Jovan Gomez Ma Cecilia Armenta Sierra

Pedro Ochoa
Pedro Ochoa

There's plenty more to add. But it's good and straight to the point article

Stephanie Garrabrant-Sierra
Stephanie Garrabrant-Sierra

Dude, no Puffy Tacos? lol. After moving from Cali to Austin for 7 years, then back to Cali, the thing I miss the most are breakfast tacos - mainly because no one in California can make a flour tortilla like those handmade in Texas. Even HEB (Central Market) makes their own flour tortillas! Every time I go to Texas, I stuff my suitcase full of fresh made flour tortillas that live in the freezer until I can go back. I made my co-workers breakfast tacos last week and they agreed that they had never had flour tortillas like these! Ummm. Also - the green crack sauce you get at all the Rotisserie chicken places in Texas - never see that in California, but I learned to make it myself. Oh, and that smoked brisket taco! YUM!

tppbfan
tppbfan

We make our migas with cornbread…..

I always say my grandma created Tex Mex in Alvin Texas in the early 1950's at The Valley Cafe mexican restaurant.

Nolan Ryans favorite and all the Nasa astronauts  ate there.


Lori Jones
Lori Jones

I think Cal-Mex is bland. We Texans like our food hot and spicy!

Natalie A Salinas
Natalie A Salinas

I grew up in the RGV and I've never heard of #14, salpićon.

Linda Delarosa Miller
Linda Delarosa Miller

Hilarious! I grew up eating Tex-Mex but I didn't know it was Tex-Mex! Who cares what it's called, I can't wait for my next trip to Texas so I can eat eat eat. & in California I eat at La Abeja, taco trucks, El Torito for Sunday Brunch, take out tamales, etc. where I like...it's all good!!

Greg Pulte
Greg Pulte

Gustavo you really don't get Tex Mex. Torchy's for God's sake? Glad you recognized Ninfa, you obviously spent the afternoon in Houston but you missed the boat on all other counts. Cabrito is not Tex Mex, it is Norteno and it made its way across but it's rare to find it on a TexMex menu. Youl eft out the originators of Tex Mex, El Fenix and El Chico (as bad as these are today), and you didn't bother to include Mi Tierra, which is a shameful tragedy given Mi Tierra is everyone's favorite Tex Mex restaurant in the entire state. Migas are only found in gringo wannabe restaurants and not in Mex American Tex Mex places PARA NADA. It is also hard to claim El Paso has relevance in Tex Mex cuisine since it is far too isolated from all other places in Texas to have a real influence and too close to blue corn and green chile loving New Mexico , Nachos are its claim to fame. Tex Mex is an amalgamation of the Valley, San Antonio, Dallas, Ft Worth, Austin and Houston local restaurants some of which have been open for over one hundred years.

Jim Bodden
Jim Bodden

This gringo is grateful for ALL types of Mexican/Mex-related cuisines. Can't wait to try more Tex-Mex. (But Gustavo, that was Buffalo Springfield, not Crosby Stills and Nash.)

Nash Alvarado
Nash Alvarado

Right on Martha! Orale! Yellow Sheeze? Asco! Queso Mexicano de volada!

SoBe Herrera
SoBe Herrera

For one, we do have authentic mexican here in Texas! Has anyone been to my mothers house? No! Shes authentic! Cause we are from Mexico and we all still cook Mexican Style. No tex-mex chingaderas.

Cyn Rodriguez-Q
Cyn Rodriguez-Q

Ahh, Chico's Tacos.... the best place for the worst food...... I'll take a double with fries and a medium Dr Pepper with 2 sides of Chile, Thank you

Lino Quinones
Lino Quinones

I'll stick to my good ol' southern Cali spicy cooking, you putos keep your watered down texmex

Jose Garcia
Jose Garcia

You got it right. TexMex started in the RGV , el valle. Brownsville that is !! The rest is history.

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning

Thanks for including Laredo Taqueria in Houston in this. I bank right down the street from it, so every time I need to do banking I time it so that I can eat at Laredo. That joint is the bomb. But if you dig a little deeper, you'll find TacoNazo, maybe the best TexMex food truck in our fair city. Their fajitas con queso is the atomic bomb of local TXMX.

Michael Tolle
Michael Tolle

No one gets to blaspheme Knorr's sacred Caldo de MSG! No one!

Aileen Calor
Aileen Calor

No. 16- Your fart all smells the same but slightly different than that of a Mexican- TexMex beans.

Paul Texican Franco
Paul Texican Franco

My dear Cabron, so you're telling me that ONLY Cali, has "real" Mexican food???? Your respuesta is NO! wheter in Cali or Tejas, neither has real Mexican food. we can try to make it but le falta algo, es el agua.SOOOOOOO, to say that you know Mexican because you live in Cali, sin respeto, thats corect SIN respeto, you are WRONG! Las chingaderas what we eat here in the USA are ok but no where near as buenas as: the Biria i've had in Tlaquepaque, tortas en Guadalajara, falutas (not taquitos)flautas en DF, taquitos en Leon y queso fundido en Cd. Juares. Keep it real, the Texican!

BobLoblawsLawBlog
BobLoblawsLawBlog

No more Dublin Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper, in its infinite wisdom, decided to no longer bottle at the Dublin plant. Those little 8 oz. gems of Dublin Dr. Pepper are a very rare commodity and can go for upwars of $20.00 a bottle now. If you want to buy a case of them, contact David at Zlackets Deli in GG. Probably the last source of them in southern California.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Unfortunately, the better option lost the battle, Two Pesos.

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