All over the world, people enjoy Tex-Mex, but in the Lone Star State, this cuisine is king. Texans with Mexican roots created the delicious hybrid, so it's no surprise that the most memorable (and authentic) plates hit tables close to the border. From tasty tacos to grilled steaks and cheese-filled tamales, South Texas Tex-Mex will leave you feeling full and happy.

Texans take great pride in Tex-Mex cuisine. We're loyal to specific locales, restaurants, and Tex-Mex plates, debating our favorites as fervently as we discuss college football.

Taco Palenque, a local favorite, has garnered so much regional fame that they’ve opened a number of  restaurants across South Texas. Its founder, Mexican-born Don Pancho, decided to launch a fine-dining eatery: Palenque Grill. If it's Tex-Mex you're craving, order beef fajitas. For a more authentic Mexican version, cut into the arrachera skirt steak; and be sure to save room for flan! Like its casual sibling, Palenque Grill has also expanded beyond Laredo. Palenque enthusiasts can now enjoy sit-down meals in McAllen and San Antonio.

But Laredo's Tex-Mex buck doesn't stop with Don Pancho's offerings. If you're visiting downtown Laredo, consider popping into El Meson de St. Agustin—a lunch-only hole-in-the-wall next door to San Agustin Cathedral and Plaza. All ingredients are fresh, and all menu items are prepared in-house. For special occasions, book a table at the Zaragoza Grill located in Laredo's historic La Posada Hotel.

If you happen to be in Laredo in the middle of the week, check out the grill's Mexican lunch buffet—a weekly Wednesday event that brings in throngs of hungry locals.

McAllen—often called the City of Palms for its subtropical climate and proliferation of palm trees—also boasts delicious Tex-Mex. There’s Delia's Tamales, as well as the Laredo-born Palenques.

Although you often see them on Tex-Mex menus, tamales are not modern Tejano creations. In fact, tamales may have been consumed as early as 7000 B.C. Because they can be made in advance and stored for long stretches of time, tamales became essential for early Latin American communities—particularly those on the move or immersed in war.

Delia's story is humble but far less dramatic. When she needed help providing for her family, she and her sister began making tamales and selling them in the community—often by knocking on the doors of local businesses and residences. Her tamales earned loyal fans, and Delia eventually launched her first restaurant in south McAllen. She now runs a sizeable operation that includes locations in Pharr, Edinburg, Mission, and San Juan.

Nachos came about when a hotel maître-de in Piedras Negras, Mexico served a quick and easy snack—tortilla triangles loaded with cheese and jalapenos—to military housewives who were hungry after the hotel kitchen had already closed.