Ask any displaced Texas what they miss most about the state, and chances are they won’t say the destructive hurricanes, traffic-clogged highways, or the propensity of Truck Nutz. Instead, they’ll rhapsodize about the food: barbecue, Tex-Mex, Cajun, deep-fried everything. It makes every other state seem like a culinary wasteland. At least New York City tries with a handful of great restaurants owned by Texans (Hill Country, Lobo, Rodeo Bar – sorry, Dallas BBQ, you don’t make the cut). But then there’s the lack of sprawling Texan grocery stores that carry every kind of hot sauce under the sun. Without them, many East Coast Texans find themselves pining for hometown ingredients and special dishes. Here’s a list of where you can rustle up a few of the best Lone Star trademarks.
Almost any donut place in Texas will have these miraculous baked goods on hand (don’t you dare compare them to pigs-in-a-blanket), but the kolaches at Shipley’s Donuts is the place to beat. New York is just now catching onto the trend, and there’s now Brooklyn Kolache Co. in Bed-Stuy, which also sells their wares on Sundays at Skinny Dennis in Williamsburg. These kolaches are more reminiscent of Kolache Factory than Shipley’s but they still hit the spot.
No Texan childhood was complete without a field trip to the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory in Brenham. Not surprisingly, they sell mini cups of vanilla at Hill Country that go perfectly with pecan pie. For one glorious summer, Butter Lane in the East Village sold Blue Bell, but alas, stopped the next year. It’s high time someone stepped up and sold Blue Bell by the gallon, but until that day comes, you’ll just have to have yours shipped overnight in dry ice.
The cafeteria staple has gained momentum in bars, especially in Brooklyn, where you can get tasty versions at The Levee, Brooklyn Ice House, and Black Rabbit. You can also get slightly fancier versions at Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Double Wide in Manhattan. All of these incarnations go far and above the kind you’d get slapped on a tray by your lunch lady, but one can’t help but miss the congealed, process-cheese confection of yore -- unless that’s just the nostalgia (rather than the indigestion) speaking.
Shiner Beer recently announced its long-awaited arrival in New York City, and it’s joining a small but popular group of Texas beers making the rounds at local bars. Lone Star can be purchased at select C-Town markets, though “[it] tastes like water, which makes you drunk faster,” advises a friend. You can also find it at several Southern-themed bars. Those seem to be the only major Texan beers ones to have crossed the border, though St. Arnold did make a cameo at fashion week.
It took a while, but New York has finally discovered breakfast tacos. Now the simple stand-by has turned into a sophisticated affair thanks to places like Tacombi, Whirlybird, and Brooklyn Taco Co. But even without all the accoutrements, my personal favorite is still Lone Star Taco, which had a stall at the New Amsterdam Market until last winter. They’re now looking for a permanent location, so consider this a call to arms for Southern hospitality.
Queso, or liquid gold as its known in some parts, consists of two ingredients: Velveeta cheese and Ro-Tel (canned tomatoes and green chili). The two work together to create spicy, cheesy magic, and one without the other is simply a travesty. According to Homesick Texan, Food Emporium and Key Food sell Ro-Tel (as well as large blocks of Velveeta). We've even found it at the Atlantic Terminal Target in Brooklyn. Now get to clogging those arteries.
Dublin Dr. Pepper
Sadly, “Dublin” Dr. Pepper (made with cane sugar rather than corn syrup) is the white whale of Texan staples on the East Coast. Since they’re hard enough to find in Texas, it’s no surprise they’re only available online elsewhere, at a hefty price. But New Yorkers, especially Texan New Yorkers, are a tenacious bunch. We’ll find a way to get our hands on it eventually…