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The Lone Star state is currently undergoing a kind of culinary revolution. If the only things you know about Texas cuisine are big portions and BBQ, you’re in for a treat. The state is taking its southern American and Latin roots and mixing them with inventive new concepts to create a refreshing new gastro scene. If you’re interested in doing a culinary tour of Texas, we strongly recommend visiting the Big Three: Austin, Houston, and Dallas. All within a few hours of one another, a jaunt through the region will leave you salivating for more. Without further ado, this is Texas food you need to try:
Texas’ notoriously hip cultural capital, just three hours south of Dallas, is a haven for foodie travelers. Like much of the state, Austin is known to mix new experimental cuisines with old traditional ones, and many of these dishes are served out of food trucks. With more than one thousand trucks rolling around the city at any given time, you’ll have your hands full locating them all. They tend to converge in clusters around the city, so your best bet is to head towards their gathering spots. Here are our suggestions:
Pangea Lounge – On East 6th street you’ll find Way South Philly’s cheesesteaks, Artessano’s Colombian Arepas, Bua Loy Thai Cuisine, Aimee’s Super Fantasmo Greek dishes and Masala Medley’s Indian varieties.
Rainey Street Food Trucks – Some favorites at this truck park include the fried chicken at Ms P’s Electric Cock, the gyro sandwiches at Big Fat Greek Gyros, and the Mexican-inspired chile lemon wings from Tommy Want Wingy.
If you’re after a more conventional dining experience (i.e. sitting down) without sacrificing the variety, try Fareground, Austin’s best modern take on a food court. Some other favorites worthy of mention are Texas Chili Parlor, Guild, and Pool Burger.
Less than three hours southeast of Austin lies Houston, Texas’ most populous and ethnically diverse city with a culinary scene competing for global respect. Houston’s Mexican influences combine with Vietnamese, Cantonese, Polish, Punjabi, and traditional southern comfort in a mouth-watering culinary melting pot. If your palate isn’t shy of new flavors, touring Houston’s foodie scene is a must. Here are some of our favorite options.
Pho Binh Bellaire – a delicious Vietnamese restaurant with seven locations around Houston serving delicious pho and traditional Asian dishes.
Polonia – Pierogi, golabki (cabbage rolls), original polish sausage, bigos (hunter’s stew), and Golonka (pork shank) — diving into Polish cuisine at Polonia is an experience in the culture and history of one of Eastern Europe’s proudest cultures. They aren’t reinventing the wheel here, just serving up delicious food in an old-timey, family-owned ambiance.
Underbelly – Perhaps Houston’s best spot exemplifying the city’s diversity is this downtown gem boasting beef tendon chicharrones puffs sitting alongside vinegar pie, Korean braised goat dumplings and Gulf bycatch.
Ever since the Southwestern food craze with it’s stuffed peppers and cowboy ribeyes exploded on a national level, Dallas has been toying around with redefining its identity as a food hub. While historically it has shriveled in comparison to other Texan cities in the arenas of BBQ and ethnic cuisines, today Dallas is making a name for itself with creative new menus that simultaneously pay homage to their southwestern roots. Here are some of the city’s highlights.
Zaap Kitchen – Specializing in Laotian and Thai cuisine, this fusion hotspot offers Asian classics ranging from tom kha, pad thai, Panang curry, and Khao poon, a Laotian coconut soup with chili paste, chicken, and noodles.
Cattleack Barbeque – One of Dallas’ best spots for brisket and sausage also offers patio and picnic seating. But be ready to stand in a line — there’s free beer — and don’t forget the restaurant is only open Thursday through to Saturday from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm
Mudhen Meat and Greens – For the best farm-to-table option in the Dallas area, Mudhen is a DIY restaurant with a build-your-own-bowl menu with 40,000 different combinations. Even better, all the ingredients come from locally-sourced farms around the greater Dallas area.