LATEST PAPER
73° Good Morning
73° Good Morning
Eat and Drink

Texas in NYC: Where to find Lone Star state-inspired grub

From authentic Tex-Mex to smoked brisket, Texas culinary traditions are taking over NYC.

The latest Lone Star state-inspired restaurant to hit the scene is El Original. Everyone has that friend from California who constantly complains about the lack of authentic Mexican food in New York City but, according to Dallas-born, Houston-raised owner Lisa Fain, Texans are just as wistful.

"The people have demanded their queso, their breakfast tacos and their cheesy enchiladas, and we're happy to help," says Fain, who's behind the James Beard Award-winning blog and cookbook series, Homesick Texan.

Her restaurant specializes in Tex-Mex, that fusion of American and Mexican fare that is characterized by a heavy use of beef, yellow cheese, wheat flour and cumin. Rather than chimichangas and cheese fries, the cuisine comprises dishes like chile con carne, fajitas and puffy tacos.

"Despite what most people think, Tex-Mex is not imitation Mexican food. It's a melding of many cultures...much like the state of Texas itself," says Fain, whose favorite items include cheese enchiladas, puffy tacos and chile con queso or, as she likes to call it, "Tex-Mex fondue."

Texpats had few options in New York for genuine chile con queso save for Brooklyn's Lobo, but thanks to a slate of openings that also includes Gramercy hotspot Javelina and, in recent years, BrisketTown and Morgan's Barbecue for all things grilled meat, things are quickly starting to change.

From barbecue joints to Tex-Mex bona fides, here's where to eat like a Texan in NYC right now.

El Original

El Original brings time-tested recipes to Hell’s Kitchen.
Photo Credit: El Original

El Original brings time-tested recipes to Hell’s Kitchen. Here, diners can choose from Texas red chili, chicken tamales, beef fajitas, three textures of taco (soft, crispy and puffy) and more. Flour tortillas are made in-house with local lard, while nachos come individually garnished with refried beans, cheese and pickled jalapeños. To drink, there are cocktails from consultants the Tippling Bros. 735 10th Ave., 917-382-5512, eloriginaltxmx.com

Javelina

Named for the Southwestern cousin to the wild
Photo Credit: Michael Tulipan

Named for the Southwestern cousin to the wild pig, Javelina offers regional dishes such as puffy tacos from San Antonio, enchiladas from West Texas and parrilladas mixtas, a communal grill of mixed meats, poultry and fish that’s popular in Houston. Guests can also expect fajitas on homemade flour tortillas and the popular Bob Armstrong dip, an Austin specialty of queso with guacamole, ground beef, pico de gallo and sour cream. Wash it all down with specialty margaritas in flavors like prickly pear, habanero-peach and whipped avocado with cilantro. 119 E. 18th St., 212-539-0202, javelinatexmex.com

Oxido

San Antonio chef Jesse Perez, aka El Jefe,
Photo Credit: Anthony Caccamo

San Antonio chef Jesse Perez, aka El Jefe, brings his brand of Tex-Mex to NYC with this fast-casual restaurant, which opened earlier this year. Choose from tacos, burritos and bowls with such proteins as chile lime pork carnitas and chicken poblano, as well as seven types of sauce, including chile de arbol, smoked jalapeño and chipotle crema. 18 W. 23rd St., 212-256-1072, oxido.nyc

El Vez Burrito Bar

Stephen Starr’s Mexican concept features Texas flair in
Photo Credit: El Vez Burrito Bar

Stephen Starr’s Mexican concept features Texas flair in the form of a build-your-own burrito bar, complete with unique proteins like barbecue beef and tofu al pastor. Guests can also opt for the special Frito pie burrito, which features ground beef, cilantro-lime rice, black beans, green chili queso, pico de gallo, salsa roja, corn chips, sour cream and pickled jalapeño. 259 Vesey St., 212-233-2500, elveznyc.com

Tres Carnes

Run by pit master Mike Rodriguez, who trained
Photo Credit: Aaron Zebrook

Run by pit master Mike Rodriguez, who trained at the Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas, Tres Carnes serves self-described “slow-cooked, fast-served barbecue.” In addition to adobo chicken, pork shoulder and barbecue brisket, guests can choose from a weekly chef’s smoke like chorizo or antelope, then finish with churro doughnuts from La Newyorkina. 688 Sixth Ave., 212-989-8737, trescarnes.com

BrisketTown

After mastering the art of smoking in Austin,
Photo Credit: Instagram / delaneybbq

After mastering the art of smoking in Austin, Dan Delaney moved to New York and started a brisket pop-up, Brisketlab, in NYC in 2012. Soon after, he opened his brick-and-mortar restaurant, BrisketTown, with a menu of central Texas-style barbecue classics. Here, brisket is smoked for 15 hours until perfectly tender, then served without sauce to emphasize the meat’s quality. 359 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg, 718-701-8909, delaneybbq.com

Hill Country

Taking its cue from the dry-rub style of
Photo Credit: Hill Country

Taking its cue from the dry-rub style of Central Texas, this barbecue restaurant, market and live music venue has served as a haven for hungry, homesick Texans since opening in Flatiron in 2007. A downtown Brooklyn location launched in 2014, quickly earning two stars from The New York Times. 30 W. 26th St., 212-255-4544; 345 Adams St., downtown Brooklyn, 718-335-4608, hillcountryny.com

Brooklyn Kolache Co.

While the kolache isn't widely known in New
Photo Credit: Facebook / Brooklyn Kolache Co.

While the kolache isn't widely known in New York City, this Bed-Stuy spot has been churning out the Tex-Czech pastry since opening in 2012. Get it filled with eggs, sausage and cheese for something savory, or strawberry and apricot for a sweet treat. Grab-and-go breakfast tacos can also be found here. 520 Dekalb Ave, Bedford-Stuyvesant, 718-398-1111, brooklynkolacheco.com

Gueros Brooklyn

Texans on the hunt for the beloved breakfast
Photo Credit: Flickr / TheLunchBelle

Texans on the hunt for the beloved breakfast taco need look no further than this Texas-inspired taco joint, a project from the owners of Dram Shop, which is also known for its Texas-style pub fare. On Saturday and Sunday from noon until 4 p.m., Gueros offers a menu of breakfast tacos including the classic, as well as migas with scrambled eggs, tortilla strips, chile peppers and more. 605 Prospect Pl., Crown Heights, 718-230-4941, guerosbrooklyn.com

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Eat and Drink photos & videos