16 Iconic Foods That Originated In Texas

Texas is well-known for its barbecue, but there are several other culinary (and beverage) classics that hail from or were popularized in the Lone Star State. 

Whatever you do, please do not place a bowl filled with beef chili that’s studded with kidney beans in front of a Texan and call it a Texan red chili. Or, if you do, come be prepared to defend yourself — Texans do not mess around when it comes to this dish and their unwavering “no beans” stance. This Tex-Mex classic has spent more than 40 years as the official state dish, according to Texas Monthly .

The dish’s origin, however, has a surprising number of variations, from a mysterious nun in Spain known as La Dame de Azul who wrote down the first never-to-be-found recipe to two Texan cowboys who needed a hearty staple to sustain them while traveling, even claims from those incarcerated in Texan prison to have started the dish out of necessity (via What’s Cooking America). Texas food historian Robb Walsh believes that the dish came to San Antonio with the migration of a Canary Island community known as the Isle?os.

Despite its muddled origins, what is clear is the influence of the San Antonio Chili Queens, who, just after the Civil War, spent their time making vats of chili filled with meat, chilies, and spices, then dragging their pots into the plazas to feed soldiers and customers. Though eventually shut down due to government-mandated and prohibitively expensive sanitary standards and facilities, their legend lives on, with revivals and re-enactments of the queens and their reign in San Antonio.