Taste the Best of Texas: Popular Dishes at Central Texas Diners

Take a trip to the Lone Star State and discover classic dishes, such as pecan pie, fried chicken fillet, cowboy chili, and plenty of barbecue. Texas is a large state and its unique cuisine reflects the wide range of ethnic and cultural groups that live in it. From Mexican to Southern, African-American, Native American, and European influences, Texas has a variety of flavors to offer. Walnut cake is popular in nearly every state in the South, but Texas is the only one that claims it as the state's official dessert.

The first known pecan pie recipe was presented to a St. Louis cookbook written by a Texas woman in 1898. The brisket came to Texas through German and Czech immigrants, many of whom were Jewish, and they brought with them the traditional methods of cooking Easter breast. Texans and immigrants soon began to exchange cooking methods, and eventually, Texas smoked brisket was born. Smoking prevents the meat from drying out and also gives it a lot of flavor with less seasoning.

Today, brisket is synonymous with Texas and you'll be hard pressed to find a barbecue restaurant without it on the menu. The International Chili Society (yes, it's a thing) holds that Texas chili (also called traditional red or chili con carne) is any combination of meats, red chilies, various spices, and other ingredients, but not beans and non-vegetable fillings like rice or pasta. And that's the official word about Texas chili. You know Tex-Mex, but are you familiar with Tex-Czech? At the end of the 19th century, Czech immigrants brought kolaches, a traditional cake consisting of fruit preserves wrapped in a puffy dough, with them to the small rural communities of Central Texas. Over time, it evolved into a kind of hybrid with local ingredients such as tunas. While Tex-Mex doesn't refer to a single dish, it encompasses a large amount of foods including chili con Queso, nachos, carbon tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas. Tex-Mex is one of the oldest regional cuisines in the United States adapted from the home cooking of Texans or people of Mexican descent living in Texas.

It gained great popularity thanks to a group of women known as the Chili Queens of San Antonio who served food in the city's squares. Soon after in the early 20th century the country's first Tex-Mex restaurants opened their doors in San Antonio (although the term Tex-Mex wasn't used to describe this hybrid cuisine until the mid-20th century). This Tex-Mex egg scramble is an adaptation of Spanish crumbs that includes scrambled eggs with crushed tortilla chips and salsa. We divided brisket into its own category on this list because in Texas beef is king. But brisket is just the beginning.

Fried pie - a simple combination of corn chips topped with chili cheese onion and jalapeño often served straight out of the bag - is a dish as modest as the Texans themselves that became popular at high school soccer stands. Sometimes simply called King Ranch chicken this Tex-Mex casserole is thought to be named after King Ranch - the largest ranch in the United States (at 1 289 square miles it's larger than the entire state of Rhode Island) - but its connection to the ranch is unclear. You'll want to add Texas hashish to your weeknight quick and easy meal rotation. Rice ground beef onions peppers tomatoes and chili powder are combined and topped with cheese in this one-pan meal. This appetizer is similar to jalapeño popcorn but the recipe includes meat and barbecue sauce making it more filling. Texas Twinkies are a great snack an app for outdoor cooking or even a side dish if you want to add heat to your weeknight dinners.

In general Central Texas barbecue is only seasoned with salt and pepper and the sauce is served as a side dish if served at all. East Texas barbecue differs from Central Texas with its use of tomato-based sauce and its popularity for shredded pork. But only one diner can claim to be the best in Texas at least according to one food website estimate. Tamales date back to Mesoamerica and over time Mexican and Central American peoples brought them to Texas.

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