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20 Foods Texans can't live without

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Lone Star-approved eats

Down here in Texas, we know how to eat. These 20 can't-live-without foods will teach you the Lone Star basics.

1. Julio's chips and salsa

Julio's Chips & Salsa

Chips and salsa is more than just a starter. Plenty of Tex-Mex restaurants in the state have some fabulous offerings, but nothing beats the magic of Julio's specially seasoned chips and roasted tomato salsa. Bless you, Julio!

2. Guacamole

Guacamole

Julio's chips aren't just great dipped in their roasted salsa. Texans also like to dip them into a batch of creamy guac. Try this guacamole recipe, but remember, here in Texas, we use lemon, not lime.

3. Queso

Queso

May as well make it a trifecta, right? Gooey cheese dip with peppers and other Tex-Mex spices (and sometimes meat) is just as good smothering a big pile of chips as it is gracing the buns of a juicy half-pound, all-beef burger. This Texas gal recommends you check out this queso recipe.

4. Ranch Style Beans

Ranch Style Beans

Born right here in the Lone Star State, Ranch Style Beans have a rich, chili-like flavor that makes them the perfect partner for many Texas favorites, from steaks to barbecue anything.

5. Ranch dressing

Ranch dressing

In Texas, there's nothing that can't be deep-fried and dipped in ranch dressing. Literally nothing.

6. Margaritas

margairtas

Frozen, on the rocks or with a swirl, it's hard to drive more than a mile without seeing a dollar margarita special — unless you're in a dry county, of course. But we don't hesitate to make them at home. These margarita recipes would make any Texas gal shout "yee-haw!"

7. Jose Cuervo tequila

Jose Cuervo tequila

Patrón is nice, but we're not that pretentious here. Cuervo is our preferred brand. Make sure you do it right while you're down here, or they'll throw you out of the bar. Lick your hand in the meaty part between your thumb and index finger, salt it, take the lime with the same thumb and index finger, lick the salt, down the tequila, bite the lime, repeat responsibly.

8. Taco Bueno

Taco Bueno

You thought I was going to say Taco Bell, didn't you? C'mon, y'all. That's not real Tex-Mex (Doritos tacos?). Taco Bueno's the preferred Tex-Mex drive-through in Tejas.

9. Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen

When we're hankerin' for something a little more Southern, we like to opt for steak fingers or a Hungr-Buster followed by a Blizzard or Dilly Bar at Dairy Queen.

10. Tortillas

Tortillas

The problem with those prepackaged jobs is that they just aren't as soft and pliable as the good stuff. Whether you like flour or corn, get them from a local factory or restaurant where they make them fresh each day, or make your own tortillas at home.

11. Blue Bell ice cream

Blue Bell Ice Cream

No offense to Ben & Jerry's, but Blue Bell is made right here at home. And there's no better way to take a Texas-size bite of Southern Hospitality (yep, that's actually a flavor).

12. Barbecue

Barbecue

Texas barbecue is the best on earth. There's a lot of debate whether "authentic"' Texas style is dry-rubbed, sauced or both, but no matter what camp you fall into, bold flavor is the X factor. Try these oven-baked ribs in any state.

13. Chili

chili

Repeat after me: Chili does not have beans. That's right, here in Texas it's considered a sin to put beans in your chili. We also like it pretty spicy, so try this crazy-hot chili at your own risk.

14. Dr Pepper

Dr Pepper

Oddly, even though Texans call all soft drinks coke, we lean toward the 23 flavors of Dr Pepper. Some of you may even remember Dublin Dr Pepper made in Dublin, Texas, with cane sugar instead of the original recipe. Sadly, due to a dispute with the parent company, it's no longer made.

15. Shiner

Shiner

Brewed in Shiner, Texas, Shiner is a true Texas staple. My personal faves are the Ruby Redbird and the seasonal Shiner Cheer.

16. Tex-Mex

Tex-Mex

Tacos, burritos, enchiladas and more, we can't get enough of this Mexican hybrid that's become its own foodie genre. There are plenty of Tex-Mex restaurants (one for every church in Texas), but try this delicious and easy recipe for Tex-Mex grill packets.

17. Chicken-fried, well, anything

Chicken-fried, well, anything

Whether you like steak or chicken (or even portabello mushrooms), you can batter it up, smother it in gravy and serve it with a side of mashed potatoes and veggies. I never promised Texas food was healthy. But you can try this healthier chicken fried steak if you're worried about it.

18. Tamales

Tamales

In Texas, the tamale lady is the hero of the workday, selling her edible wares from workplace to workplace. Don't have a tamale lady? If you find a good brand, then it's OK to buy these in the freezer section, but you can try your own homemade tamales too.

19. Sweet tea

Sweet Tea

If you're not drinking Shiner, then you're drinking sweet tea. Period. And when she asks for a cup of sugar in this Southern sweet tea recipe, she ain't pulling your leg.

20. Pecan pie

Pecan pie

Keep your coconut cream and key lime. In Texas, we like our pies crunchy, sweet and satisfying. I like these little mini pecan pies because they're packed with the nuts of our state tree.

More on Texas food

Dallas CityGuide: Local Flavor edition in Dallas, Texas
Houston CityGuide: Local Flavor edition in Houston, Texas
San Antonio CityGuide: Local Flavor edition in San Antonio, Texas

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