Frito Pie Quest

7 STOPS | 439 MILES | 7 hr 19 min

Fritos were created in San Antonio in 1932, but it took some thirty years before the Frito pie was born. Teresa Hernandez, working behind the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Santa Fe, had the idea to slice off the top of a single-serving bag of Fritos and ladle in chili, then cheese, onions, lettuce, and tomato. She planted a plastic fork and, because Woolworth’s was right on the Plaza in the heart of town, her inspired combination of ingredients became a popular portable meal that visitors and locals could enjoy while on the stroll or sitting on a park bench. So goes the account we got, in person, from Ms. Hernandez herself some thirty years ago. Other stories pin its origin in Mexico or Dallas, Texas. Wherever it came from, Frito pie, like the Fritos chip itself, no longer is unique to the Southwest. But it is at its best here, as evidenced by these 8 fine examples.



El Farolito

In the tiny New Mexico town of El Rito, El Farolito offers chiles rellenos, enchiladas, green chile and green chile cheeseburgers, plus fine Frito pie.



Tender beef brisket, rolled with green chile and cheese inside a soft flour tortilla makes Sugar's a best bet in Rio Arriba County.


Stop and Eat Drive In

At Stop & Eat north of Santa Fe, the cuisine is New Mexico drive-in fare, ranging from tamale plates and green chile cheeseburgers to a fine Frito pie.


Five and Dime General Store

The lunch counter at Santa Fe's Five and Dime may be where the Frito pie was invented. It is served right in the Fritos bag and can be eaten on the stroll.


El Parasol

El Parasol is strictly take-out, a great Santa Fe, New Mexico destination for a breakfast burrito, Frito pie, or green chile cheeseburger.


Garcia’s Kitchen

Garcia's is a fun, friendly place (6 locations in Albuquerque) that serves some of the best New Mexican food, especially breakfast, available any time.


Golden Light Cafe

A vintage 1946 hamburger cantina restaurant on old Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas, the Golden Light serves a fine Frito pie and is also a popular live music venue.