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The 5 Best Food Things About Texas

“Texans are basically volunteer Americans. We don’t have to be a part of the country, but we choose to so that we can set an example for everyone else.”

You know who said that? I did. Just now. I’ve never made my hardcore Texas patriotism a secret. If you’re looking for someone who can list all the reasons Texas could secede and be immediately successful, feel free to hit me up. What comes with my undying love for the Lone Star State is occasionally making sure people don’t forget where it ranks in certain categories. The category for today is food, and like every other competitive category, Texas is number one all day, every day, even in its sleep.

1. Whataburger

Florida News - March 04, 2005

I heard about In-N-Out from my California friends all through college. It was this supposed mecca of fast food burger perfection, a place every self-respecting carnivore should journey to at some point in his or her life. Well, now I live in the land of In-N-Out and I can tell you with no uncertainty in my mind that not only is Whataburger better, but it should actively set up shop next to every single In-N-Out and drive that overrated fucking place out of business. I don’t dislike it overall, but the fact that it’s hailed as some sort of culinary savior blows my mind. If the only way your fries are edible is to drown them in thousand island dressing, fried onions, and melted cheese, YOU DON’T HAVE GOOD FRIES. Whataburger, on the other hand, exists quietly as the greatest fast food burger place on the planet. The regular burger is great, but you also have the monthly special (green onion burger, barbecue tender sandwich, patty melt, etc.), the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit (known to all who love it as the HBCB), taquitos, french fries that are the perfect thickness to stiffness ratio, Fancy Ketchup, and all the Dr. Pepper you can drink. AND, all of these options either come on a bun or on two thick slabs of buttery Texas toast. Oh, did I mention it’s open 24 hours a day, every day? Go fuck yourself, every other restaurant.

2. Tex-Mex

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I know I’m getting bogged down in these Texas versus California comparisons, but just let me vent. I was sold a bill of goods, and this stupid, income tax-having state is not living up to some of the terms. Not only was In-N-Out allegedly the GOAT, but California’s Mexican food is also supposed to rival ours. I don’t remember who was arguing about this with me, because I swear to God if I did, my only focus would be to secretly ruin that person’s life, “Count of Monte Cristo”-style. I have not found one Mexican food place that could compete with any number of the great restaurants in the Lone Star State, and I certainly haven’t found a single place that’s better than Pappasitos. Yeah, the corporate restaurant chain. Pappa-fucking-sitos. The only worthwhile Mexican food I’ve tasted out here is guacamole, because Californians spread it on fucking everything, sushi included–but I can make a phenom batch of guac half drunk and fully stoned, so that’s not much of a feat.

Tex-Mex is a magical thing. You can load up on your body weight in chips and somehow still find a way to take down a whole plate of enchiladas and rice and beans. The music is always some goofy combination of mariachi and the top 40. Your server can speak both of her languages better than you speak one. Most of them also respect the Sunday lunch tradition, and they play the Cowboys game on every screen so you don’t have to make a choice between hand-tossed tortillas and witnessing 8-8 perfection. Is there any sound in this world more magical than a skillet of fajitas sizzling on a server’s tray that’s heading straight for your table? Some rapper should sample that sound for his next song and sell a billion records.

3. Blue Bell

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Come back to me, my love. The single greatest loss of my life was leaving you. Blue Bell taught me the meaning of love. I was confused by what ambrosia–the mythological nectar of the Olympian gods–would taste like until I tried Homemade Vanilla. Their Cookies ‘n Cream is the perfect marriage of cookies and ice cream, with just enough of the cookie filling thrown in there to confuse your tongue with its slightly different texture. I don’t know why they don’t sell those cookies on their own, because they would kick Oreo’s ass. Hell, I bet Nabisco pays them a billion dollars a year just to NOT produce them. Unlike so many other ice creams, Blue Bell doesn’t overpower other desserts when it’s paired with them. Some vanillas are so in your face with their flavor that it just ruins the whole apple pie experience. Not Blue Bell. It’s almost like each flavor is enhanced with artificial intelligence, naturally toning itself down to become the perfect complement to the main dish. Blue Bell can be both Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, depending on the scenario. Hell, Blue Bell could take the field in the Super Bowl and win the game by throwing a go-ahead touchdown to itself from 40 yards out.

4. Barbecue

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I find it funny that people debate over which parts of the South or what parts of the Midwest have the best barbecue. The answer is clearly Texas, and this isn’t a homer answer, either. Everyone seems to have these regional debates on rub versus sauce, direct versus indirect heat, and chopped versus sliced. Guess what? We just decided to do all of those things. The barbecue you get in Austin is going to be a lot different than in Tyler in the northeast or out west in Lubbock. Hell, my two favorite joints in the state, Franklin BBQ and Cooper’s, are both in central Texas, and they are two totally different cooking styles. One thing they can all agree on? Brisket, ribs, and sausage are the kings of the castle. Everything else is just a perk.

5. Portions

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This is just a bonus on top of everything else I’ve listed. Not only are you going to eat the best food in the country, but there’s going to be a fucking ton of it. Sure, you could get all snarky and talk about how this is why Texas is one of the leading states in obesity rate in the country, but you could also suck a dick. We’re actually only 15th, because we still get off our asses and work after throwing down ungodly amounts of food–but that isn’t even the point. For the amount of money you spend, you get twice the food you would get anywhere else. You could save half that chimichanga and rice and eat it as drunk food later, because Texas is the true land of freedom, and if that’s what you want to do, then by God, you can do it.

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Randall J. Knox

Randall J. Knox (known colloquially to his friends as "Knox") left his native Texas a few years ago, and moved to Los Angeles in his '03 Buick Regal named LeRoi to write movies with his jackass college buddies. His favorite things in life include bourbon that's above his pay grade, mix CDs, and Kevin Costner films. He isn't sure what "dad jeans" are exactly, but he knows he wants a pair.

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