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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.

San Antonio native, I grew up speaking Spanish alongside English and distinctly recall begging for Tex-Mex at every meal. If my parents hadn't stood in the way, I would have subsisted entirely on refried beans, Mexican rice, and cheese enchiladas smothered in beef gravy. Like many San Antonians, we had weekly family dinners at our neighborhood Tex-Mex restaurant. There, I invariably ordered enchiladas, rice, and beans, often in Spanish. And every Christmas night, we dug into homemade tamales gifted to the family during the holidays.

As I got older, my tastes and my geography broadened. I took my first trip to Mexico City, which helped me appreciate the difference between authentic Mexican cuisine and its north-of-the-border cousin. The more authentic meals tend to revolve around proteins, at least at dinnertime, and lack the gooey cheese Tex-Mex offerings often incorporate. I fell in love with chilaquiles for breakfast but missed chips and queso—my appetizer of choice—whenever we sat down to dinner.