6 Reasons to Love Texas Food

Texans take their food as seriously as they do their football.

ocated in a well-worn, roughhewn, two-story establishment, Stingaree stands next to the Intracoastal Canal. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

ocated in a well-worn, roughhewn, two-story establishment, Stingaree stands next to the Intracoastal Canal. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many Winter Texans and other visitors to the Lone Star State have the good sense to agree with them—that Texan food is that of the gods.

1. Texas Oysters

Texas may be best known for beef, but its bay oysters rank second to none. Texas oysters are impeccably fresh—whether served on the half shell with a kiss of salt air and Texas hot sauce or shucked for a sauté or creamy stew.

We love Oysters Jubilee from Stingaree Restaurant at Crystal Beach on Bolivar Peninsula, just a short ferry ride from Historic Galveston. As its name suggests, Oyster Jubilee is a celebration of everything oyster. It’s a colossal dish of over 30 oysters prepared in every conceivable way.

2. Tex-Mex

Tex-Mex is the product of both Spanish and Mexican recipes coming together with American foods. Tex-Mex is the name given to food that is heavily influenced by Mexico and the cooking of Mexican-Americans, and blends available foods in the United States with traditional Mexican food. Tex-Mex has its roots in Texas—hence, the name.

Some credit noted food authority Diane Kennedy for drawing the line between authentic Mexican food and Tex-Mex. At any rate, Tex-Mex can be considered America’s oldest original food!

3. Fried pies

For the best fried pies anywhere, head to Shirley’s Burnt Biscuit Bakery in the Big Bend town of Marathon© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For the best fried pies anywhere, head to Shirley’s Burnt Biscuit Bakery in the Big Bend town of Marathon© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A favorite treat from the Rio Grande to the Red River, this delightful, portable dessert has been popular in the Lone Star State since cowboys first worked trails and ranches, and it can be found in every vintage Texas cookbook. The gold standard, then as now, is apricot, thanks to a tartness that plays well against the mellow pastry.

For the best anywhere, you’ll head to Shirley’s Burnt Biscuit Bakery in the Big Bend town of Marathon, where former ranch cook Shirley Rooney has folks lined up at the crack of dawn for her precious fried pies.

4. Sarah’s Cafe

When our route takes us through Fort Stockton, we stop for a plate of some of the best Mexican food in West Texas. In business since 1929, this friendly little joint is run by the descendants of Sarah Ramirez Nuñoz, who serve up sturdy, cheese-loaded enchiladas, tacos, chalupas and nachos, day and night, in her tradition.

5. Tamales

The tradition of making tamales at Christmas began long ago in South Texas.

Grandmothers, mothers, aunts, children, and neighbors would gather for days on end to produce a hundred dozen or so tamales for friends and family to eat at holiday gatherings. Cooking and assembly teams would be broken into particular duties for masa and filling preparation, separating and cleaning the corn husks, and finally rolling, tying, and steaming the luscious bundles.

6. La Brisa Mexican Bar & Grill

When you’re in the Kemah/Seabrook area south of Houston and have a craving for excellent authentic Mexican food and great margaritas, try La Brisa. It’s a short drive just down Highway 146 south from Kemah, towards Bacliff.

The happy hour margaritas are only $2.00. You won’t find better food in the entire Clearlake area. It’s one of the best places to get the real thing. Great prices and prompt service! The food comes in huge portions.

The only drawback is the shortage of parking. Well, there’s actually a lot of parking, but there’s a lot of cars there all the time.

For excellent authentic Mexican food and great margaritas, try La Brisa. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I love their red salsa as well as the green, guacamole salsa that they serve with warm chips at your table. I ordered their shrimp enchiladas, which was outstanding.

Note: This is the second in an ongoing series on Why I Love Texas Food

Part 1: What’s to Love about Texas Food

Worth Pondering…

You Can’t Spell Texas without H-E-B

Now Houston ain’t the same without its Channel to the Bay.
And Mayo ain’t the same without the Cinco holiday.
You can’t have Aggieland without the whoop!
And you can’t have tubin’ without the Guadalupe.

You can’t play Hold ‘Em unless you add the Texas,
And you can’t spell Bexar County ‘less you know just where the X is.
You can’t have the handle without the Pan.
And Padre ain’t Padre without a lotta sand.

There’s so much to love about Texas,
That’s why Texas is home for me.
Can’t find any place on Earth like Texas.
And you can’t spell Texas without H-E-B.

—Written and sung by Jack Ingram

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