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Chili Americana: Landmark Chili Parlors


Opened in 1958 in a former theater at 1213 U Street, Ben’s is a Washington D.C. landmark and an icon of the golden age of chili parlors. Ben’s signature dish, the original chili half-smoke, is a quarter-pound link of the griddled sausage on a steamed bun, with mustard, onions and chili sauce. The […]

Taco Truck Art: 2014

Taco Keto

Taco Keto’s Hungry Pig


Tex-Mex Nachos


There are two “U”s in hamburguesa

Is that lettuce and tomato sticking out the end? 

Do you see faces of a mother and child?

Tiny pepper? Or giant burrito?


El Real Wins “Best Tex-Mex”


I am pleased to announce that in the annual Houston Press “Best of Houston” awards, El Real Tex-Mex Cafe won “Best Tex-Mex” and “Best Enchiladas.”

Funny, I used to give those awards out–how nice to be on the receiving end.

All Puffed Up at El Real Tex Mex

Photo by Laurie Smith

Photo by Laurie Smith

Daily Meal’s 35 Best Tacos in America feature came out Monday and it listed El Real’s Chicken Puffy Taco as #7 in the nation. It’s a little embarrassing to be rated higher than Henry’s Puffy Tacos in San Antonio, the taco that we modeled ours on, but we aren’t […]

Gustavo Arellano: “Tex-Mex is Dying”

Gustavo Arellano’s oft-stated opinion that “Tex-Mex is dying,” has been forwarded to me repeatedly by Tex-Mex enthusiasts. They think I should challenge him to a debate–or a duel. Few people seem to realize that Gustavo and I are friends and allies.

Gustavo will be in Houston on Thursday. He will launch the The […]

Tex-Mex & Velveeta

That Velveeta is a part of the American Regional Cuisine called Tex-Mex is anathema to many of my friends in the food world. I have long defended Velveeta as the best ingredient for queso and enchiladas, and those on the other side have argued that “authentic Mexican food” in Texas doesn’t include processed cheese. […]

Irene Wong Shoots El Real

Food TV would be a cool thing to do. Mess around in the kitchen–take a few videos. Eat good. What could be better?

Meet food TV mega-producer Irene Wong. After Irene Wong produced half a dozen hits for the Food Network, she went independent and started her own production company, IW Productions. These days, she spends nine months a year on the road shooting 6 days a week for a grueling 12 hours a day.

Irene and her crew came to El Real Tex-Mex on Saturday to shoot a segment for Unique Eats on the Cooking Channel. Irene and company got there at 4 AM! That’s one hour after we close on Friday night. Chef Bryan Caswell and I were asked to arrive at the leisurely hour of 6 AM. Irene’s gang had already lit the entire kitchen and were testing equipment when we got there. They had Caswell wired up with a microphone before he got a cup of coffee in his mouth.

read more Irene Wong Shoots El Real »

Eating the Heat: The 21st Annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival

What a year it was at the hot sauce contest–the temperature was 111°F at 5 pm, just 1 degree short of Austin’s all time record high of 112! And still somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 people showed up.
read more Eating the Heat: The 21st Annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival »

Tower of Tex-Mex

Photo by Laurie Smith

The Tex-Mex Cookbook challenged those food writers who have characterized Tex-Mex as bastardized Mexican food and made the case that Tex-Mex is actually an American Regional Cuisine. What a thrill for me to get involved in El Real Tex-Mex Cafe, a restaurant based on that premise and on my […]

Chingo Bling in the New York Times

UNITED TASTES Rapping About Tamales and Deportation Photo by Axel Koester for The New York Times Chingo Bling enjoys a taco dinner before performing at the Key Club in West Hollywood. By JOHN T. EDGE Published: May 24, 2011 Chingo Bling talks tamales with John T. […]