1. The Texas version of donuts
Cowboys need protein in the morning, so they add meat to…donuts. Yes, donuts. Hypnotic Donuts sells a copycat of the King’s favorite sandwich, the bacon, peanut butter and banana smothered “Evil Elvis” donut. At Gourdough’s, order the “Mother Clucker” of them all — a donut topped with fried chicken and honey.
Walked into the green room this morning @crosstimberschurch and this was waiting for me to eat before I taught. Glazed donut with peanut butter, banana, and enough bacon for a platoon of soldiers. So obviously I ate it. And then went on to deliver the greatest sermon of my life. Must've been the donut. #HypnoticDonuts #TheElvis #Texas
2. BBQ brisket
Brisket is a cut of beef as tough as snakeskin boots if it’s not carefully courted like a southern belle. It disintegrates when massaged with spices and smoked overnight. Sliced brisket is dumped into omelets, served on bread, or enjoyed solo — don’t forget barbecue sauce.
Not to be confused with the Spanish dish of the same name, migas are the quintessential Tex-Mex breakfast food, second only to the breakfast burrito. But you’ll definitely need a fork to decimate the pile of scrambled eggs, tortilla strips, veggies, cheese and chorizo.
Tamales have been around since the days of ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations. Corn-based dough is rolled with meat or cheese filling, wrapped in cornhusks and steamed. The best tamales are prepared by abuelita (grandma), so meet new friends and get ready to impress the family.
5. Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets
A visit to one of Buc-ee’s gas stations is a right of passage and a must for a clean bathroom on a road trip. Pick up road trash, including caramelized corn puffs (aka Beaver Nuggets) to crunch during the monotonous drive between San Antonio and Houston. Oh, and check in on your favorite social media site, because everybody’s doing it.
6. Texas French toast
You’ll never again eat wussy, thin-sliced French toast. Here it’s made with Texas toast, so it’s not soggy after you pour on maple syrup.
7. Deep-fried everything
What makes Oreos, bacon and meatloaf even better? Battering and frying them to create hot, golden puffs of greatness. At the Texas State Fair in Dallas, awards are given each year for the best tasting and most creative deep-fried anything. Past contenders have included picnic on a stick, beer, cookie dough and butter. Don’t get your cholesterol checked for at least three months after the fair.
8. Bowl ’o red
Beef broth is thickened with masa harina (corn flour), amped up with ground chilis and combined with chuck. You won’t find beans in a bowl of real chili here.
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9. King Ranch casserole
Green bean and tuna noodle are out — King Ranch is in. This concoction of roasted chicken, canned soups, tortilla strips, Rotel and cheese is the preferred potluck dish in Texas. When someone is injured, sick or grieving, King Ranch casserole is the only comfort food cure.
10. Blue Bell ice cream
Summers are hot as hell, so it’s no surprise that Texas businesses have churned out cool ice cream. Amy’s is an Austin original, serving Mexican Vanilla and boozy specialty flavors. But most Texans will tell you there’s only room in the freezer for one name in ice cream — Blue Bell. From small beginnings in Brenham to international brand recognition, Blue Bell has flavors like Mardi Gras Kings Cake, Southern Peach Cobbler, and Pecan Pralines ’n Cream. Get ready for brain freeze because you have exactly 30 seconds to eat a bowlful before it melts.
11. Texas trash
Texas trash refers to two snacks. The first is a hot dip composed of refried beans, cheese and spices. It looks like what you flush down the toilet after a night of shotgunning Bud Light, but it tastes awesome. The second is white trash: white-chocolate-covered pretzels, Chex and nuts.
12. Tres leches
Vanilla or butter cake is soaked in sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream. Once you have this seductively rich, moist cake, you’ll be addicted for life. It’s not easy to score tres leches — check dessert menus at Tex-Mex restaurants, or buy a whole cake at Fiesta Mart.
13. Cafeteria food
Cafeteria food in this state is anything but sloppy joes. Join blue-haired elderly ladies at Luby’s for a Luanne Platter — meat plus two sides. And good luck choosing just two sides.
14. Pecan pie
No Thanksgiving, picnic or barbecue is complete unless there is pie dedicated to the state nut. If you don’t know what pecan pie is, bless your heart!
15. Wild game
Texans are big on the Second Amendment, and they put guns to good use. Stewed squirrel, bacon-and-jalapeño-wrapped dove, pheasant soup and rattlesnake chili are what’s for dinner after a successful hunt. Finish every bite, or you’ll offend the hunter.
Czech settlers introduced kolaches to central Texas long ago. Today, these yeast rolls filled with just about anything, including chicken enchiladas, sausage and fruit.
17. Brunch, Texas-style
A number of states do brunch well, but none of them skillfully balance soul food, Creole and Tex-Mex at the same time. A good brunch spot has the likes of biscuits, brisket and gravy; chicken fried steak and waffles; fried oyster deviled eggs; fried chicken and funnel cake; bananas foster French toast; and biscuits and chocolate gravy. Brunch is also the only way around archaic Blue Laws — you can’t order booze before noon on Sunday, unless you’re eating.
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