Frito Pie

Frito chips topped with chili, cheese, and onions, plus maybe lettuce, tomato, and jalapeno slices: That is a Frito pie. It may be served in a bowl or on a plate, but the classic way to have it – some would say the historic way – is to slice off the top of single-serving bag of Fritos and pile the ingredients right on in. The chili softens some of the chips and melts the cheese atop it. Plant a plastic fork in the bag and you’ve got what once was known as a walking taco. Dallas loyalists have their own version of Frito pie’s beginnings, but the long-told story is that it was invented in the 1960s by Teresa Hernandez, a cook at the Woolworth’s lunch counter on the Plaza at the heart of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although its roots are Tex-Mex-New-Mex, Frito pie is no longer strictly regional. It is popular across a wide swath of the Southwest from Arkansas to Arizona and appears on western-themed menus everywhere. Variations include Flagstaff pie in Amarillo and the Hot Springs, Arkansas, spread, which also includes tamales. At Billy’s on Burnet in Austin, Texas, the El Jefe Burger comes with all of a Frito pie piled atop the meat patty. Pass the napkins, please.

Restaurants With This Dish

El Parasol

SANTA FE, NM

Double bacon cheeseburger, fully dressed
Pick Quick Drive-In

FIFE, WA

Golden Light Cafe

AMARILLO, TX

Carl’s Drive-In

ST. LOUIS, MO

Close view of onion-fried burger ... burgers & coney islands
Sid’s | Oklahoma Onion Fried Burgers & Coney Islands

EL RENO, OK

Kamp Dog | The Crazy-Good Wiener of Connecticut

NEW LONDON, CT

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