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Word of Mouth: Marie Elena Martinez' Best of New York

Word of Mouth: Marie Elena Martinez' Best of New York


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The best in food and drink from a New York local and travel writer

Marie Elena Martinez is a native New Yorker and works as a freelance travel and food writer for such outlets as the Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Miami Herald, Men's Fitness, Women's Adventure, and Newsday. Her penchant for wine, cheese, vanilla ice cream, and hot sauce is equaled only by her love of constantly discovering New York's manifold flavors.

Brunch: Cookshop, Norma's, Stanton Social

Fancy: Jean Georges

Best Value: Lupa

Bar Scene/Drinks: BondST

Business Lunch: Ai Fiori, Bar Americain

Burger: J.G. Melon

Pizza: Joe's

Sandwich: Katz's Deli

Food Truck: Falafel cart on 53rd St. and 6th Avenue

Regional: Great Jones Café

Hidden Gem: Little Owl

Mexican/Latin American: La Esquina, Rosa Mexicano, Barrio Chino

Japanese: Blue Ribbon Sushi

Spanish/Tapas: Mercat

Thai/Southeast Asian: Pam Real Thai

Wine List: Landmarc

Chinese: Chin Chin

Seafood: Le Bernardin

Steak: The Palm (the original 2nd Avenue location)

Italian: Babbo, Locanda Verde, Il Bagatto, Bar Italia, Campagnola (too hard to narrow down!)

Barbecue: Hill Country

Desserts: Serendipity

Indian: Junoon

Vegetarian: Angelica Kitchen

Wild Card: Blue Ribbon Bakery


From Mexico With Love

B esides the Black Box that the starched and creased young military man carried, there were always two other items aboard President Lyn­don Johnson&rsquos Air Force One: Superior Dairies ice cream from Austin and Lady Bird&rsquos Pedernales River Chili. Of the three, no one on the President&rsquos staff doubted which was most important. If the fateful call came report­ing that the sky above the Aleutian islands was dark­ened with ICBMs heading east, a man eating Hill Coun­try chili might feel a slight advantage as he pulled the trigger.

Johnson took his chili every bit as seriously as the Box. Aside from Bobby Ken­nedy, nothing rated higher on the President&rsquos Wrath Scale than greasy chili. Woe to White House Chef Henry Haller if he had not previous­ly frozen Lady Bird&rsquos chili and scraped the congealed grease from the top before placing the priceless stuff in the big jet&rsquos compartments.

Like any sensible Texas president, Lyndon liked his chili without beans, accom­panied with a glass of milk and saltine crackers. He had to have his bowl of red and glass of white at least thrice weekly.

Recently Haller, still White House chef, reported that the Jimmy Carters enjoy &ldquosimple American-Mexican food, such as tacos and enchiladas.&rdquo In the White House mess where senior staff officers eat, Thursday is Mexican food day. A recent menu in­cluded refried beans with Monterey Jack, chiles rellenos, and meat enchiladas, all prepared earlier and run through the microwave. Only the tacos with guacamole es­caped the vibrations. Two-Alarm Chili, a celebrated legacy left by the late Texas Chili Mufti Wick Fowler, is also available. Mess maître d&rsquo Ron Jackson reports, however, that Fowler&rsquos cre­ation is served without the enclosed red pepper, reduc­ing the 2-Alarm to False Alarm. When Mexican food, however translated and mi­crowaved, has permeated the bureaucracy, you may be sure it is loose in the land.

What hath Texas wrought? From the White House to probably your house, Mexi­can food, Texas style, Ari­zona style, New Mexico style, California style, some­times even Mexican style, is being swallowed in record-number gulps. Of the na­tion&rsquos eating and drinking places, which totaled $52.3 billion in sales last year, Mexican restaurants are the fastest-growing segment, up 10 per cent from 1975. Un­fortunately most of them cater to the peculiar Ameri­can eating habit of bolt and run, and their goods bear about as much similarity to properly prepared Mexican food as a capon does to a rooster. But if Texas is re­sponsible for spawning these witless, trendy, dyspeptic eateries, it also contains with­in its borders restaurants serving entrees that celebrate the true flavors, sights, smells, and taste of the world&rsquos zingiest cuisine. From the Yucatecan huevos a la motuleña at Houston&rsquos Meri­da to the joyous New Mexi- can-style stacked enchiladas with chiles verdes at Tony&rsquos Cafe in El Paso, Mexican food flourishes in Texas.

In discussing Mexican food in Texas, it will not astound anyone to learn that we shall be talking about two types, although to many peo­ple it doesn&rsquot matter if their tacos originated in Guadala­jara or Garland. The first is Northern Mexican, or Norteño-style Mexican food, which is eaten mainly by those the Census Bureau re­fers to as the Spanish-surname population: filetes, chicharrones, guisos, machacado, cabrito, chiles anchos (rather than jalapeños), agujas asadas, frijoles a la charra, alambres, to name a few (see &ldquoWords of Wisdom&rdquo for definitions). The second, which derives from Norteño-style cuisine, is Texas-Mexican food, natu­rally abbreviated Tex-Mex: tacos, tamales, chili con carne, nachos, rice, beans, guacamole, tostadas, chili con queso, enchiladas, etc.

In Texas, both Norteño-style Mexican food and Tex-Mex are predominantly influ­enced by the state&rsquos 889-mile border with the four North­ern Mexico states: Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. The aston­ishing variety of Mexico&rsquos cuisine is explained not by the cohesiveness of ethnic groups, as it is in the United States, but by geography. The country&rsquos great mountain ranges, intervening valleys, and climates ranging from Yucatan&rsquos sultry tropical coast to the cool highlands around Mexico City to the semiarid deserts of Chihua­hua have insured each re­gion its individual cuisine.

This same geographical happenstance accounts for the startling number of foods that Spaniards, returning to Europe from Mexico in the sixteenth century, introduced to the Old World: corn, to­matoes, chocolate, peanuts, pumpkins, squashes, chile peppers, pineapples, avoca­dos, turkeys, and tobacco. (The Spaniards in turn intro­duced to Mexico cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, and pigs.)

The many intricate dishes to be eaten in Mexico, and in a few restaurants in Texas, are based on a food system that began developing at least 8,000 years ago. The foundation of this complex cuisine is built on three things: corn, the bean, and 92 varieties of chiles.

Old Borunda Cafe: semi-divine Tex-Mex in Marfa since 1887. Photography by Harry Boyd


From Mexico With Love

B esides the Black Box that the starched and creased young military man carried, there were always two other items aboard President Lyn­don Johnson&rsquos Air Force One: Superior Dairies ice cream from Austin and Lady Bird&rsquos Pedernales River Chili. Of the three, no one on the President&rsquos staff doubted which was most important. If the fateful call came report­ing that the sky above the Aleutian islands was dark­ened with ICBMs heading east, a man eating Hill Coun­try chili might feel a slight advantage as he pulled the trigger.

Johnson took his chili every bit as seriously as the Box. Aside from Bobby Ken­nedy, nothing rated higher on the President&rsquos Wrath Scale than greasy chili. Woe to White House Chef Henry Haller if he had not previous­ly frozen Lady Bird&rsquos chili and scraped the congealed grease from the top before placing the priceless stuff in the big jet&rsquos compartments.

Like any sensible Texas president, Lyndon liked his chili without beans, accom­panied with a glass of milk and saltine crackers. He had to have his bowl of red and glass of white at least thrice weekly.

Recently Haller, still White House chef, reported that the Jimmy Carters enjoy &ldquosimple American-Mexican food, such as tacos and enchiladas.&rdquo In the White House mess where senior staff officers eat, Thursday is Mexican food day. A recent menu in­cluded refried beans with Monterey Jack, chiles rellenos, and meat enchiladas, all prepared earlier and run through the microwave. Only the tacos with guacamole es­caped the vibrations. Two-Alarm Chili, a celebrated legacy left by the late Texas Chili Mufti Wick Fowler, is also available. Mess maître d&rsquo Ron Jackson reports, however, that Fowler&rsquos cre­ation is served without the enclosed red pepper, reduc­ing the 2-Alarm to False Alarm. When Mexican food, however translated and mi­crowaved, has permeated the bureaucracy, you may be sure it is loose in the land.

What hath Texas wrought? From the White House to probably your house, Mexi­can food, Texas style, Ari­zona style, New Mexico style, California style, some­times even Mexican style, is being swallowed in record-number gulps. Of the na­tion&rsquos eating and drinking places, which totaled $52.3 billion in sales last year, Mexican restaurants are the fastest-growing segment, up 10 per cent from 1975. Un­fortunately most of them cater to the peculiar Ameri­can eating habit of bolt and run, and their goods bear about as much similarity to properly prepared Mexican food as a capon does to a rooster. But if Texas is re­sponsible for spawning these witless, trendy, dyspeptic eateries, it also contains with­in its borders restaurants serving entrees that celebrate the true flavors, sights, smells, and taste of the world&rsquos zingiest cuisine. From the Yucatecan huevos a la motuleña at Houston&rsquos Meri­da to the joyous New Mexi- can-style stacked enchiladas with chiles verdes at Tony&rsquos Cafe in El Paso, Mexican food flourishes in Texas.

In discussing Mexican food in Texas, it will not astound anyone to learn that we shall be talking about two types, although to many peo­ple it doesn&rsquot matter if their tacos originated in Guadala­jara or Garland. The first is Northern Mexican, or Norteño-style Mexican food, which is eaten mainly by those the Census Bureau re­fers to as the Spanish-surname population: filetes, chicharrones, guisos, machacado, cabrito, chiles anchos (rather than jalapeños), agujas asadas, frijoles a la charra, alambres, to name a few (see &ldquoWords of Wisdom&rdquo for definitions). The second, which derives from Norteño-style cuisine, is Texas-Mexican food, natu­rally abbreviated Tex-Mex: tacos, tamales, chili con carne, nachos, rice, beans, guacamole, tostadas, chili con queso, enchiladas, etc.

In Texas, both Norteño-style Mexican food and Tex-Mex are predominantly influ­enced by the state&rsquos 889-mile border with the four North­ern Mexico states: Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. The aston­ishing variety of Mexico&rsquos cuisine is explained not by the cohesiveness of ethnic groups, as it is in the United States, but by geography. The country&rsquos great mountain ranges, intervening valleys, and climates ranging from Yucatan&rsquos sultry tropical coast to the cool highlands around Mexico City to the semiarid deserts of Chihua­hua have insured each re­gion its individual cuisine.

This same geographical happenstance accounts for the startling number of foods that Spaniards, returning to Europe from Mexico in the sixteenth century, introduced to the Old World: corn, to­matoes, chocolate, peanuts, pumpkins, squashes, chile peppers, pineapples, avoca­dos, turkeys, and tobacco. (The Spaniards in turn intro­duced to Mexico cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, and pigs.)

The many intricate dishes to be eaten in Mexico, and in a few restaurants in Texas, are based on a food system that began developing at least 8,000 years ago. The foundation of this complex cuisine is built on three things: corn, the bean, and 92 varieties of chiles.

Old Borunda Cafe: semi-divine Tex-Mex in Marfa since 1887. Photography by Harry Boyd


From Mexico With Love

B esides the Black Box that the starched and creased young military man carried, there were always two other items aboard President Lyn­don Johnson&rsquos Air Force One: Superior Dairies ice cream from Austin and Lady Bird&rsquos Pedernales River Chili. Of the three, no one on the President&rsquos staff doubted which was most important. If the fateful call came report­ing that the sky above the Aleutian islands was dark­ened with ICBMs heading east, a man eating Hill Coun­try chili might feel a slight advantage as he pulled the trigger.

Johnson took his chili every bit as seriously as the Box. Aside from Bobby Ken­nedy, nothing rated higher on the President&rsquos Wrath Scale than greasy chili. Woe to White House Chef Henry Haller if he had not previous­ly frozen Lady Bird&rsquos chili and scraped the congealed grease from the top before placing the priceless stuff in the big jet&rsquos compartments.

Like any sensible Texas president, Lyndon liked his chili without beans, accom­panied with a glass of milk and saltine crackers. He had to have his bowl of red and glass of white at least thrice weekly.

Recently Haller, still White House chef, reported that the Jimmy Carters enjoy &ldquosimple American-Mexican food, such as tacos and enchiladas.&rdquo In the White House mess where senior staff officers eat, Thursday is Mexican food day. A recent menu in­cluded refried beans with Monterey Jack, chiles rellenos, and meat enchiladas, all prepared earlier and run through the microwave. Only the tacos with guacamole es­caped the vibrations. Two-Alarm Chili, a celebrated legacy left by the late Texas Chili Mufti Wick Fowler, is also available. Mess maître d&rsquo Ron Jackson reports, however, that Fowler&rsquos cre­ation is served without the enclosed red pepper, reduc­ing the 2-Alarm to False Alarm. When Mexican food, however translated and mi­crowaved, has permeated the bureaucracy, you may be sure it is loose in the land.

What hath Texas wrought? From the White House to probably your house, Mexi­can food, Texas style, Ari­zona style, New Mexico style, California style, some­times even Mexican style, is being swallowed in record-number gulps. Of the na­tion&rsquos eating and drinking places, which totaled $52.3 billion in sales last year, Mexican restaurants are the fastest-growing segment, up 10 per cent from 1975. Un­fortunately most of them cater to the peculiar Ameri­can eating habit of bolt and run, and their goods bear about as much similarity to properly prepared Mexican food as a capon does to a rooster. But if Texas is re­sponsible for spawning these witless, trendy, dyspeptic eateries, it also contains with­in its borders restaurants serving entrees that celebrate the true flavors, sights, smells, and taste of the world&rsquos zingiest cuisine. From the Yucatecan huevos a la motuleña at Houston&rsquos Meri­da to the joyous New Mexi- can-style stacked enchiladas with chiles verdes at Tony&rsquos Cafe in El Paso, Mexican food flourishes in Texas.

In discussing Mexican food in Texas, it will not astound anyone to learn that we shall be talking about two types, although to many peo­ple it doesn&rsquot matter if their tacos originated in Guadala­jara or Garland. The first is Northern Mexican, or Norteño-style Mexican food, which is eaten mainly by those the Census Bureau re­fers to as the Spanish-surname population: filetes, chicharrones, guisos, machacado, cabrito, chiles anchos (rather than jalapeños), agujas asadas, frijoles a la charra, alambres, to name a few (see &ldquoWords of Wisdom&rdquo for definitions). The second, which derives from Norteño-style cuisine, is Texas-Mexican food, natu­rally abbreviated Tex-Mex: tacos, tamales, chili con carne, nachos, rice, beans, guacamole, tostadas, chili con queso, enchiladas, etc.

In Texas, both Norteño-style Mexican food and Tex-Mex are predominantly influ­enced by the state&rsquos 889-mile border with the four North­ern Mexico states: Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. The aston­ishing variety of Mexico&rsquos cuisine is explained not by the cohesiveness of ethnic groups, as it is in the United States, but by geography. The country&rsquos great mountain ranges, intervening valleys, and climates ranging from Yucatan&rsquos sultry tropical coast to the cool highlands around Mexico City to the semiarid deserts of Chihua­hua have insured each re­gion its individual cuisine.

This same geographical happenstance accounts for the startling number of foods that Spaniards, returning to Europe from Mexico in the sixteenth century, introduced to the Old World: corn, to­matoes, chocolate, peanuts, pumpkins, squashes, chile peppers, pineapples, avoca­dos, turkeys, and tobacco. (The Spaniards in turn intro­duced to Mexico cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, and pigs.)

The many intricate dishes to be eaten in Mexico, and in a few restaurants in Texas, are based on a food system that began developing at least 8,000 years ago. The foundation of this complex cuisine is built on three things: corn, the bean, and 92 varieties of chiles.

Old Borunda Cafe: semi-divine Tex-Mex in Marfa since 1887. Photography by Harry Boyd


From Mexico With Love

B esides the Black Box that the starched and creased young military man carried, there were always two other items aboard President Lyn­don Johnson&rsquos Air Force One: Superior Dairies ice cream from Austin and Lady Bird&rsquos Pedernales River Chili. Of the three, no one on the President&rsquos staff doubted which was most important. If the fateful call came report­ing that the sky above the Aleutian islands was dark­ened with ICBMs heading east, a man eating Hill Coun­try chili might feel a slight advantage as he pulled the trigger.

Johnson took his chili every bit as seriously as the Box. Aside from Bobby Ken­nedy, nothing rated higher on the President&rsquos Wrath Scale than greasy chili. Woe to White House Chef Henry Haller if he had not previous­ly frozen Lady Bird&rsquos chili and scraped the congealed grease from the top before placing the priceless stuff in the big jet&rsquos compartments.

Like any sensible Texas president, Lyndon liked his chili without beans, accom­panied with a glass of milk and saltine crackers. He had to have his bowl of red and glass of white at least thrice weekly.

Recently Haller, still White House chef, reported that the Jimmy Carters enjoy &ldquosimple American-Mexican food, such as tacos and enchiladas.&rdquo In the White House mess where senior staff officers eat, Thursday is Mexican food day. A recent menu in­cluded refried beans with Monterey Jack, chiles rellenos, and meat enchiladas, all prepared earlier and run through the microwave. Only the tacos with guacamole es­caped the vibrations. Two-Alarm Chili, a celebrated legacy left by the late Texas Chili Mufti Wick Fowler, is also available. Mess maître d&rsquo Ron Jackson reports, however, that Fowler&rsquos cre­ation is served without the enclosed red pepper, reduc­ing the 2-Alarm to False Alarm. When Mexican food, however translated and mi­crowaved, has permeated the bureaucracy, you may be sure it is loose in the land.

What hath Texas wrought? From the White House to probably your house, Mexi­can food, Texas style, Ari­zona style, New Mexico style, California style, some­times even Mexican style, is being swallowed in record-number gulps. Of the na­tion&rsquos eating and drinking places, which totaled $52.3 billion in sales last year, Mexican restaurants are the fastest-growing segment, up 10 per cent from 1975. Un­fortunately most of them cater to the peculiar Ameri­can eating habit of bolt and run, and their goods bear about as much similarity to properly prepared Mexican food as a capon does to a rooster. But if Texas is re­sponsible for spawning these witless, trendy, dyspeptic eateries, it also contains with­in its borders restaurants serving entrees that celebrate the true flavors, sights, smells, and taste of the world&rsquos zingiest cuisine. From the Yucatecan huevos a la motuleña at Houston&rsquos Meri­da to the joyous New Mexi- can-style stacked enchiladas with chiles verdes at Tony&rsquos Cafe in El Paso, Mexican food flourishes in Texas.

In discussing Mexican food in Texas, it will not astound anyone to learn that we shall be talking about two types, although to many peo­ple it doesn&rsquot matter if their tacos originated in Guadala­jara or Garland. The first is Northern Mexican, or Norteño-style Mexican food, which is eaten mainly by those the Census Bureau re­fers to as the Spanish-surname population: filetes, chicharrones, guisos, machacado, cabrito, chiles anchos (rather than jalapeños), agujas asadas, frijoles a la charra, alambres, to name a few (see &ldquoWords of Wisdom&rdquo for definitions). The second, which derives from Norteño-style cuisine, is Texas-Mexican food, natu­rally abbreviated Tex-Mex: tacos, tamales, chili con carne, nachos, rice, beans, guacamole, tostadas, chili con queso, enchiladas, etc.

In Texas, both Norteño-style Mexican food and Tex-Mex are predominantly influ­enced by the state&rsquos 889-mile border with the four North­ern Mexico states: Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. The aston­ishing variety of Mexico&rsquos cuisine is explained not by the cohesiveness of ethnic groups, as it is in the United States, but by geography. The country&rsquos great mountain ranges, intervening valleys, and climates ranging from Yucatan&rsquos sultry tropical coast to the cool highlands around Mexico City to the semiarid deserts of Chihua­hua have insured each re­gion its individual cuisine.

This same geographical happenstance accounts for the startling number of foods that Spaniards, returning to Europe from Mexico in the sixteenth century, introduced to the Old World: corn, to­matoes, chocolate, peanuts, pumpkins, squashes, chile peppers, pineapples, avoca­dos, turkeys, and tobacco. (The Spaniards in turn intro­duced to Mexico cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, and pigs.)

The many intricate dishes to be eaten in Mexico, and in a few restaurants in Texas, are based on a food system that began developing at least 8,000 years ago. The foundation of this complex cuisine is built on three things: corn, the bean, and 92 varieties of chiles.

Old Borunda Cafe: semi-divine Tex-Mex in Marfa since 1887. Photography by Harry Boyd


From Mexico With Love

B esides the Black Box that the starched and creased young military man carried, there were always two other items aboard President Lyn­don Johnson&rsquos Air Force One: Superior Dairies ice cream from Austin and Lady Bird&rsquos Pedernales River Chili. Of the three, no one on the President&rsquos staff doubted which was most important. If the fateful call came report­ing that the sky above the Aleutian islands was dark­ened with ICBMs heading east, a man eating Hill Coun­try chili might feel a slight advantage as he pulled the trigger.

Johnson took his chili every bit as seriously as the Box. Aside from Bobby Ken­nedy, nothing rated higher on the President&rsquos Wrath Scale than greasy chili. Woe to White House Chef Henry Haller if he had not previous­ly frozen Lady Bird&rsquos chili and scraped the congealed grease from the top before placing the priceless stuff in the big jet&rsquos compartments.

Like any sensible Texas president, Lyndon liked his chili without beans, accom­panied with a glass of milk and saltine crackers. He had to have his bowl of red and glass of white at least thrice weekly.

Recently Haller, still White House chef, reported that the Jimmy Carters enjoy &ldquosimple American-Mexican food, such as tacos and enchiladas.&rdquo In the White House mess where senior staff officers eat, Thursday is Mexican food day. A recent menu in­cluded refried beans with Monterey Jack, chiles rellenos, and meat enchiladas, all prepared earlier and run through the microwave. Only the tacos with guacamole es­caped the vibrations. Two-Alarm Chili, a celebrated legacy left by the late Texas Chili Mufti Wick Fowler, is also available. Mess maître d&rsquo Ron Jackson reports, however, that Fowler&rsquos cre­ation is served without the enclosed red pepper, reduc­ing the 2-Alarm to False Alarm. When Mexican food, however translated and mi­crowaved, has permeated the bureaucracy, you may be sure it is loose in the land.

What hath Texas wrought? From the White House to probably your house, Mexi­can food, Texas style, Ari­zona style, New Mexico style, California style, some­times even Mexican style, is being swallowed in record-number gulps. Of the na­tion&rsquos eating and drinking places, which totaled $52.3 billion in sales last year, Mexican restaurants are the fastest-growing segment, up 10 per cent from 1975. Un­fortunately most of them cater to the peculiar Ameri­can eating habit of bolt and run, and their goods bear about as much similarity to properly prepared Mexican food as a capon does to a rooster. But if Texas is re­sponsible for spawning these witless, trendy, dyspeptic eateries, it also contains with­in its borders restaurants serving entrees that celebrate the true flavors, sights, smells, and taste of the world&rsquos zingiest cuisine. From the Yucatecan huevos a la motuleña at Houston&rsquos Meri­da to the joyous New Mexi- can-style stacked enchiladas with chiles verdes at Tony&rsquos Cafe in El Paso, Mexican food flourishes in Texas.

In discussing Mexican food in Texas, it will not astound anyone to learn that we shall be talking about two types, although to many peo­ple it doesn&rsquot matter if their tacos originated in Guadala­jara or Garland. The first is Northern Mexican, or Norteño-style Mexican food, which is eaten mainly by those the Census Bureau re­fers to as the Spanish-surname population: filetes, chicharrones, guisos, machacado, cabrito, chiles anchos (rather than jalapeños), agujas asadas, frijoles a la charra, alambres, to name a few (see &ldquoWords of Wisdom&rdquo for definitions). The second, which derives from Norteño-style cuisine, is Texas-Mexican food, natu­rally abbreviated Tex-Mex: tacos, tamales, chili con carne, nachos, rice, beans, guacamole, tostadas, chili con queso, enchiladas, etc.

In Texas, both Norteño-style Mexican food and Tex-Mex are predominantly influ­enced by the state&rsquos 889-mile border with the four North­ern Mexico states: Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. The aston­ishing variety of Mexico&rsquos cuisine is explained not by the cohesiveness of ethnic groups, as it is in the United States, but by geography. The country&rsquos great mountain ranges, intervening valleys, and climates ranging from Yucatan&rsquos sultry tropical coast to the cool highlands around Mexico City to the semiarid deserts of Chihua­hua have insured each re­gion its individual cuisine.

This same geographical happenstance accounts for the startling number of foods that Spaniards, returning to Europe from Mexico in the sixteenth century, introduced to the Old World: corn, to­matoes, chocolate, peanuts, pumpkins, squashes, chile peppers, pineapples, avoca­dos, turkeys, and tobacco. (The Spaniards in turn intro­duced to Mexico cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, and pigs.)

The many intricate dishes to be eaten in Mexico, and in a few restaurants in Texas, are based on a food system that began developing at least 8,000 years ago. The foundation of this complex cuisine is built on three things: corn, the bean, and 92 varieties of chiles.

Old Borunda Cafe: semi-divine Tex-Mex in Marfa since 1887. Photography by Harry Boyd


From Mexico With Love

B esides the Black Box that the starched and creased young military man carried, there were always two other items aboard President Lyn­don Johnson&rsquos Air Force One: Superior Dairies ice cream from Austin and Lady Bird&rsquos Pedernales River Chili. Of the three, no one on the President&rsquos staff doubted which was most important. If the fateful call came report­ing that the sky above the Aleutian islands was dark­ened with ICBMs heading east, a man eating Hill Coun­try chili might feel a slight advantage as he pulled the trigger.

Johnson took his chili every bit as seriously as the Box. Aside from Bobby Ken­nedy, nothing rated higher on the President&rsquos Wrath Scale than greasy chili. Woe to White House Chef Henry Haller if he had not previous­ly frozen Lady Bird&rsquos chili and scraped the congealed grease from the top before placing the priceless stuff in the big jet&rsquos compartments.

Like any sensible Texas president, Lyndon liked his chili without beans, accom­panied with a glass of milk and saltine crackers. He had to have his bowl of red and glass of white at least thrice weekly.

Recently Haller, still White House chef, reported that the Jimmy Carters enjoy &ldquosimple American-Mexican food, such as tacos and enchiladas.&rdquo In the White House mess where senior staff officers eat, Thursday is Mexican food day. A recent menu in­cluded refried beans with Monterey Jack, chiles rellenos, and meat enchiladas, all prepared earlier and run through the microwave. Only the tacos with guacamole es­caped the vibrations. Two-Alarm Chili, a celebrated legacy left by the late Texas Chili Mufti Wick Fowler, is also available. Mess maître d&rsquo Ron Jackson reports, however, that Fowler&rsquos cre­ation is served without the enclosed red pepper, reduc­ing the 2-Alarm to False Alarm. When Mexican food, however translated and mi­crowaved, has permeated the bureaucracy, you may be sure it is loose in the land.

What hath Texas wrought? From the White House to probably your house, Mexi­can food, Texas style, Ari­zona style, New Mexico style, California style, some­times even Mexican style, is being swallowed in record-number gulps. Of the na­tion&rsquos eating and drinking places, which totaled $52.3 billion in sales last year, Mexican restaurants are the fastest-growing segment, up 10 per cent from 1975. Un­fortunately most of them cater to the peculiar Ameri­can eating habit of bolt and run, and their goods bear about as much similarity to properly prepared Mexican food as a capon does to a rooster. But if Texas is re­sponsible for spawning these witless, trendy, dyspeptic eateries, it also contains with­in its borders restaurants serving entrees that celebrate the true flavors, sights, smells, and taste of the world&rsquos zingiest cuisine. From the Yucatecan huevos a la motuleña at Houston&rsquos Meri­da to the joyous New Mexi- can-style stacked enchiladas with chiles verdes at Tony&rsquos Cafe in El Paso, Mexican food flourishes in Texas.

In discussing Mexican food in Texas, it will not astound anyone to learn that we shall be talking about two types, although to many peo­ple it doesn&rsquot matter if their tacos originated in Guadala­jara or Garland. The first is Northern Mexican, or Norteño-style Mexican food, which is eaten mainly by those the Census Bureau re­fers to as the Spanish-surname population: filetes, chicharrones, guisos, machacado, cabrito, chiles anchos (rather than jalapeños), agujas asadas, frijoles a la charra, alambres, to name a few (see &ldquoWords of Wisdom&rdquo for definitions). The second, which derives from Norteño-style cuisine, is Texas-Mexican food, natu­rally abbreviated Tex-Mex: tacos, tamales, chili con carne, nachos, rice, beans, guacamole, tostadas, chili con queso, enchiladas, etc.

In Texas, both Norteño-style Mexican food and Tex-Mex are predominantly influ­enced by the state&rsquos 889-mile border with the four North­ern Mexico states: Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. The aston­ishing variety of Mexico&rsquos cuisine is explained not by the cohesiveness of ethnic groups, as it is in the United States, but by geography. The country&rsquos great mountain ranges, intervening valleys, and climates ranging from Yucatan&rsquos sultry tropical coast to the cool highlands around Mexico City to the semiarid deserts of Chihua­hua have insured each re­gion its individual cuisine.

This same geographical happenstance accounts for the startling number of foods that Spaniards, returning to Europe from Mexico in the sixteenth century, introduced to the Old World: corn, to­matoes, chocolate, peanuts, pumpkins, squashes, chile peppers, pineapples, avoca­dos, turkeys, and tobacco. (The Spaniards in turn intro­duced to Mexico cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, and pigs.)

The many intricate dishes to be eaten in Mexico, and in a few restaurants in Texas, are based on a food system that began developing at least 8,000 years ago. The foundation of this complex cuisine is built on three things: corn, the bean, and 92 varieties of chiles.

Old Borunda Cafe: semi-divine Tex-Mex in Marfa since 1887. Photography by Harry Boyd


From Mexico With Love

B esides the Black Box that the starched and creased young military man carried, there were always two other items aboard President Lyn­don Johnson&rsquos Air Force One: Superior Dairies ice cream from Austin and Lady Bird&rsquos Pedernales River Chili. Of the three, no one on the President&rsquos staff doubted which was most important. If the fateful call came report­ing that the sky above the Aleutian islands was dark­ened with ICBMs heading east, a man eating Hill Coun­try chili might feel a slight advantage as he pulled the trigger.

Johnson took his chili every bit as seriously as the Box. Aside from Bobby Ken­nedy, nothing rated higher on the President&rsquos Wrath Scale than greasy chili. Woe to White House Chef Henry Haller if he had not previous­ly frozen Lady Bird&rsquos chili and scraped the congealed grease from the top before placing the priceless stuff in the big jet&rsquos compartments.

Like any sensible Texas president, Lyndon liked his chili without beans, accom­panied with a glass of milk and saltine crackers. He had to have his bowl of red and glass of white at least thrice weekly.

Recently Haller, still White House chef, reported that the Jimmy Carters enjoy &ldquosimple American-Mexican food, such as tacos and enchiladas.&rdquo In the White House mess where senior staff officers eat, Thursday is Mexican food day. A recent menu in­cluded refried beans with Monterey Jack, chiles rellenos, and meat enchiladas, all prepared earlier and run through the microwave. Only the tacos with guacamole es­caped the vibrations. Two-Alarm Chili, a celebrated legacy left by the late Texas Chili Mufti Wick Fowler, is also available. Mess maître d&rsquo Ron Jackson reports, however, that Fowler&rsquos cre­ation is served without the enclosed red pepper, reduc­ing the 2-Alarm to False Alarm. When Mexican food, however translated and mi­crowaved, has permeated the bureaucracy, you may be sure it is loose in the land.

What hath Texas wrought? From the White House to probably your house, Mexi­can food, Texas style, Ari­zona style, New Mexico style, California style, some­times even Mexican style, is being swallowed in record-number gulps. Of the na­tion&rsquos eating and drinking places, which totaled $52.3 billion in sales last year, Mexican restaurants are the fastest-growing segment, up 10 per cent from 1975. Un­fortunately most of them cater to the peculiar Ameri­can eating habit of bolt and run, and their goods bear about as much similarity to properly prepared Mexican food as a capon does to a rooster. But if Texas is re­sponsible for spawning these witless, trendy, dyspeptic eateries, it also contains with­in its borders restaurants serving entrees that celebrate the true flavors, sights, smells, and taste of the world&rsquos zingiest cuisine. From the Yucatecan huevos a la motuleña at Houston&rsquos Meri­da to the joyous New Mexi- can-style stacked enchiladas with chiles verdes at Tony&rsquos Cafe in El Paso, Mexican food flourishes in Texas.

In discussing Mexican food in Texas, it will not astound anyone to learn that we shall be talking about two types, although to many peo­ple it doesn&rsquot matter if their tacos originated in Guadala­jara or Garland. The first is Northern Mexican, or Norteño-style Mexican food, which is eaten mainly by those the Census Bureau re­fers to as the Spanish-surname population: filetes, chicharrones, guisos, machacado, cabrito, chiles anchos (rather than jalapeños), agujas asadas, frijoles a la charra, alambres, to name a few (see &ldquoWords of Wisdom&rdquo for definitions). The second, which derives from Norteño-style cuisine, is Texas-Mexican food, natu­rally abbreviated Tex-Mex: tacos, tamales, chili con carne, nachos, rice, beans, guacamole, tostadas, chili con queso, enchiladas, etc.

In Texas, both Norteño-style Mexican food and Tex-Mex are predominantly influ­enced by the state&rsquos 889-mile border with the four North­ern Mexico states: Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. The aston­ishing variety of Mexico&rsquos cuisine is explained not by the cohesiveness of ethnic groups, as it is in the United States, but by geography. The country&rsquos great mountain ranges, intervening valleys, and climates ranging from Yucatan&rsquos sultry tropical coast to the cool highlands around Mexico City to the semiarid deserts of Chihua­hua have insured each re­gion its individual cuisine.

This same geographical happenstance accounts for the startling number of foods that Spaniards, returning to Europe from Mexico in the sixteenth century, introduced to the Old World: corn, to­matoes, chocolate, peanuts, pumpkins, squashes, chile peppers, pineapples, avoca­dos, turkeys, and tobacco. (The Spaniards in turn intro­duced to Mexico cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, and pigs.)

The many intricate dishes to be eaten in Mexico, and in a few restaurants in Texas, are based on a food system that began developing at least 8,000 years ago. The foundation of this complex cuisine is built on three things: corn, the bean, and 92 varieties of chiles.

Old Borunda Cafe: semi-divine Tex-Mex in Marfa since 1887. Photography by Harry Boyd


From Mexico With Love

B esides the Black Box that the starched and creased young military man carried, there were always two other items aboard President Lyn­don Johnson&rsquos Air Force One: Superior Dairies ice cream from Austin and Lady Bird&rsquos Pedernales River Chili. Of the three, no one on the President&rsquos staff doubted which was most important. If the fateful call came report­ing that the sky above the Aleutian islands was dark­ened with ICBMs heading east, a man eating Hill Coun­try chili might feel a slight advantage as he pulled the trigger.

Johnson took his chili every bit as seriously as the Box. Aside from Bobby Ken­nedy, nothing rated higher on the President&rsquos Wrath Scale than greasy chili. Woe to White House Chef Henry Haller if he had not previous­ly frozen Lady Bird&rsquos chili and scraped the congealed grease from the top before placing the priceless stuff in the big jet&rsquos compartments.

Like any sensible Texas president, Lyndon liked his chili without beans, accom­panied with a glass of milk and saltine crackers. He had to have his bowl of red and glass of white at least thrice weekly.

Recently Haller, still White House chef, reported that the Jimmy Carters enjoy &ldquosimple American-Mexican food, such as tacos and enchiladas.&rdquo In the White House mess where senior staff officers eat, Thursday is Mexican food day. A recent menu in­cluded refried beans with Monterey Jack, chiles rellenos, and meat enchiladas, all prepared earlier and run through the microwave. Only the tacos with guacamole es­caped the vibrations. Two-Alarm Chili, a celebrated legacy left by the late Texas Chili Mufti Wick Fowler, is also available. Mess maître d&rsquo Ron Jackson reports, however, that Fowler&rsquos cre­ation is served without the enclosed red pepper, reduc­ing the 2-Alarm to False Alarm. When Mexican food, however translated and mi­crowaved, has permeated the bureaucracy, you may be sure it is loose in the land.

What hath Texas wrought? From the White House to probably your house, Mexi­can food, Texas style, Ari­zona style, New Mexico style, California style, some­times even Mexican style, is being swallowed in record-number gulps. Of the na­tion&rsquos eating and drinking places, which totaled $52.3 billion in sales last year, Mexican restaurants are the fastest-growing segment, up 10 per cent from 1975. Un­fortunately most of them cater to the peculiar Ameri­can eating habit of bolt and run, and their goods bear about as much similarity to properly prepared Mexican food as a capon does to a rooster. But if Texas is re­sponsible for spawning these witless, trendy, dyspeptic eateries, it also contains with­in its borders restaurants serving entrees that celebrate the true flavors, sights, smells, and taste of the world&rsquos zingiest cuisine. From the Yucatecan huevos a la motuleña at Houston&rsquos Meri­da to the joyous New Mexi- can-style stacked enchiladas with chiles verdes at Tony&rsquos Cafe in El Paso, Mexican food flourishes in Texas.

In discussing Mexican food in Texas, it will not astound anyone to learn that we shall be talking about two types, although to many peo­ple it doesn&rsquot matter if their tacos originated in Guadala­jara or Garland. The first is Northern Mexican, or Norteño-style Mexican food, which is eaten mainly by those the Census Bureau re­fers to as the Spanish-surname population: filetes, chicharrones, guisos, machacado, cabrito, chiles anchos (rather than jalapeños), agujas asadas, frijoles a la charra, alambres, to name a few (see &ldquoWords of Wisdom&rdquo for definitions). The second, which derives from Norteño-style cuisine, is Texas-Mexican food, natu­rally abbreviated Tex-Mex: tacos, tamales, chili con carne, nachos, rice, beans, guacamole, tostadas, chili con queso, enchiladas, etc.

In Texas, both Norteño-style Mexican food and Tex-Mex are predominantly influ­enced by the state&rsquos 889-mile border with the four North­ern Mexico states: Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. The aston­ishing variety of Mexico&rsquos cuisine is explained not by the cohesiveness of ethnic groups, as it is in the United States, but by geography. The country&rsquos great mountain ranges, intervening valleys, and climates ranging from Yucatan&rsquos sultry tropical coast to the cool highlands around Mexico City to the semiarid deserts of Chihua­hua have insured each re­gion its individual cuisine.

This same geographical happenstance accounts for the startling number of foods that Spaniards, returning to Europe from Mexico in the sixteenth century, introduced to the Old World: corn, to­matoes, chocolate, peanuts, pumpkins, squashes, chile peppers, pineapples, avoca­dos, turkeys, and tobacco. (The Spaniards in turn intro­duced to Mexico cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, and pigs.)

The many intricate dishes to be eaten in Mexico, and in a few restaurants in Texas, are based on a food system that began developing at least 8,000 years ago. The foundation of this complex cuisine is built on three things: corn, the bean, and 92 varieties of chiles.

Old Borunda Cafe: semi-divine Tex-Mex in Marfa since 1887. Photography by Harry Boyd


From Mexico With Love

B esides the Black Box that the starched and creased young military man carried, there were always two other items aboard President Lyn­don Johnson&rsquos Air Force One: Superior Dairies ice cream from Austin and Lady Bird&rsquos Pedernales River Chili. Of the three, no one on the President&rsquos staff doubted which was most important. If the fateful call came report­ing that the sky above the Aleutian islands was dark­ened with ICBMs heading east, a man eating Hill Coun­try chili might feel a slight advantage as he pulled the trigger.

Johnson took his chili every bit as seriously as the Box. Aside from Bobby Ken­nedy, nothing rated higher on the President&rsquos Wrath Scale than greasy chili. Woe to White House Chef Henry Haller if he had not previous­ly frozen Lady Bird&rsquos chili and scraped the congealed grease from the top before placing the priceless stuff in the big jet&rsquos compartments.

Like any sensible Texas president, Lyndon liked his chili without beans, accom­panied with a glass of milk and saltine crackers. He had to have his bowl of red and glass of white at least thrice weekly.

Recently Haller, still White House chef, reported that the Jimmy Carters enjoy &ldquosimple American-Mexican food, such as tacos and enchiladas.&rdquo In the White House mess where senior staff officers eat, Thursday is Mexican food day. A recent menu in­cluded refried beans with Monterey Jack, chiles rellenos, and meat enchiladas, all prepared earlier and run through the microwave. Only the tacos with guacamole es­caped the vibrations. Two-Alarm Chili, a celebrated legacy left by the late Texas Chili Mufti Wick Fowler, is also available. Mess maître d&rsquo Ron Jackson reports, however, that Fowler&rsquos cre­ation is served without the enclosed red pepper, reduc­ing the 2-Alarm to False Alarm. When Mexican food, however translated and mi­crowaved, has permeated the bureaucracy, you may be sure it is loose in the land.

What hath Texas wrought? From the White House to probably your house, Mexi­can food, Texas style, Ari­zona style, New Mexico style, California style, some­times even Mexican style, is being swallowed in record-number gulps. Of the na­tion&rsquos eating and drinking places, which totaled $52.3 billion in sales last year, Mexican restaurants are the fastest-growing segment, up 10 per cent from 1975. Un­fortunately most of them cater to the peculiar Ameri­can eating habit of bolt and run, and their goods bear about as much similarity to properly prepared Mexican food as a capon does to a rooster. But if Texas is re­sponsible for spawning these witless, trendy, dyspeptic eateries, it also contains with­in its borders restaurants serving entrees that celebrate the true flavors, sights, smells, and taste of the world&rsquos zingiest cuisine. From the Yucatecan huevos a la motuleña at Houston&rsquos Meri­da to the joyous New Mexi- can-style stacked enchiladas with chiles verdes at Tony&rsquos Cafe in El Paso, Mexican food flourishes in Texas.

In discussing Mexican food in Texas, it will not astound anyone to learn that we shall be talking about two types, although to many peo­ple it doesn&rsquot matter if their tacos originated in Guadala­jara or Garland. The first is Northern Mexican, or Norteño-style Mexican food, which is eaten mainly by those the Census Bureau re­fers to as the Spanish-surname population: filetes, chicharrones, guisos, machacado, cabrito, chiles anchos (rather than jalapeños), agujas asadas, frijoles a la charra, alambres, to name a few (see &ldquoWords of Wisdom&rdquo for definitions). The second, which derives from Norteño-style cuisine, is Texas-Mexican food, natu­rally abbreviated Tex-Mex: tacos, tamales, chili con carne, nachos, rice, beans, guacamole, tostadas, chili con queso, enchiladas, etc.

In Texas, both Norteño-style Mexican food and Tex-Mex are predominantly influ­enced by the state&rsquos 889-mile border with the four North­ern Mexico states: Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. The aston­ishing variety of Mexico&rsquos cuisine is explained not by the cohesiveness of ethnic groups, as it is in the United States, but by geography. The country&rsquos great mountain ranges, intervening valleys, and climates ranging from Yucatan&rsquos sultry tropical coast to the cool highlands around Mexico City to the semiarid deserts of Chihua­hua have insured each re­gion its individual cuisine.

This same geographical happenstance accounts for the startling number of foods that Spaniards, returning to Europe from Mexico in the sixteenth century, introduced to the Old World: corn, to­matoes, chocolate, peanuts, pumpkins, squashes, chile peppers, pineapples, avoca­dos, turkeys, and tobacco. (The Spaniards in turn intro­duced to Mexico cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, and pigs.)

The many intricate dishes to be eaten in Mexico, and in a few restaurants in Texas, are based on a food system that began developing at least 8,000 years ago. The foundation of this complex cuisine is built on three things: corn, the bean, and 92 varieties of chiles.

Old Borunda Cafe: semi-divine Tex-Mex in Marfa since 1887. Photography by Harry Boyd


From Mexico With Love

B esides the Black Box that the starched and creased young military man carried, there were always two other items aboard President Lyn­don Johnson&rsquos Air Force One: Superior Dairies ice cream from Austin and Lady Bird&rsquos Pedernales River Chili. Of the three, no one on the President&rsquos staff doubted which was most important. If the fateful call came report­ing that the sky above the Aleutian islands was dark­ened with ICBMs heading east, a man eating Hill Coun­try chili might feel a slight advantage as he pulled the trigger.

Johnson took his chili every bit as seriously as the Box. Aside from Bobby Ken­nedy, nothing rated higher on the President&rsquos Wrath Scale than greasy chili. Woe to White House Chef Henry Haller if he had not previous­ly frozen Lady Bird&rsquos chili and scraped the congealed grease from the top before placing the priceless stuff in the big jet&rsquos compartments.

Like any sensible Texas president, Lyndon liked his chili without beans, accom­panied with a glass of milk and saltine crackers. He had to have his bowl of red and glass of white at least thrice weekly.

Recently Haller, still White House chef, reported that the Jimmy Carters enjoy &ldquosimple American-Mexican food, such as tacos and enchiladas.&rdquo In the White House mess where senior staff officers eat, Thursday is Mexican food day. A recent menu in­cluded refried beans with Monterey Jack, chiles rellenos, and meat enchiladas, all prepared earlier and run through the microwave. Only the tacos with guacamole es­caped the vibrations. Two-Alarm Chili, a celebrated legacy left by the late Texas Chili Mufti Wick Fowler, is also available. Mess maître d&rsquo Ron Jackson reports, however, that Fowler&rsquos cre­ation is served without the enclosed red pepper, reduc­ing the 2-Alarm to False Alarm. When Mexican food, however translated and mi­crowaved, has permeated the bureaucracy, you may be sure it is loose in the land.

What hath Texas wrought? From the White House to probably your house, Mexi­can food, Texas style, Ari­zona style, New Mexico style, California style, some­times even Mexican style, is being swallowed in record-number gulps. Of the na­tion&rsquos eating and drinking places, which totaled $52.3 billion in sales last year, Mexican restaurants are the fastest-growing segment, up 10 per cent from 1975. Un­fortunately most of them cater to the peculiar Ameri­can eating habit of bolt and run, and their goods bear about as much similarity to properly prepared Mexican food as a capon does to a rooster. But if Texas is re­sponsible for spawning these witless, trendy, dyspeptic eateries, it also contains with­in its borders restaurants serving entrees that celebrate the true flavors, sights, smells, and taste of the world&rsquos zingiest cuisine. From the Yucatecan huevos a la motuleña at Houston&rsquos Meri­da to the joyous New Mexi- can-style stacked enchiladas with chiles verdes at Tony&rsquos Cafe in El Paso, Mexican food flourishes in Texas.

In discussing Mexican food in Texas, it will not astound anyone to learn that we shall be talking about two types, although to many peo­ple it doesn&rsquot matter if their tacos originated in Guadala­jara or Garland. The first is Northern Mexican, or Norteño-style Mexican food, which is eaten mainly by those the Census Bureau re­fers to as the Spanish-surname population: filetes, chicharrones, guisos, machacado, cabrito, chiles anchos (rather than jalapeños), agujas asadas, frijoles a la charra, alambres, to name a few (see &ldquoWords of Wisdom&rdquo for definitions). The second, which derives from Norteño-style cuisine, is Texas-Mexican food, natu­rally abbreviated Tex-Mex: tacos, tamales, chili con carne, nachos, rice, beans, guacamole, tostadas, chili con queso, enchiladas, etc.

In Texas, both Norteño-style Mexican food and Tex-Mex are predominantly influ­enced by the state&rsquos 889-mile border with the four North­ern Mexico states: Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. The aston­ishing variety of Mexico&rsquos cuisine is explained not by the cohesiveness of ethnic groups, as it is in the United States, but by geography. The country&rsquos great mountain ranges, intervening valleys, and climates ranging from Yucatan&rsquos sultry tropical coast to the cool highlands around Mexico City to the semiarid deserts of Chihua­hua have insured each re­gion its individual cuisine.

This same geographical happenstance accounts for the startling number of foods that Spaniards, returning to Europe from Mexico in the sixteenth century, introduced to the Old World: corn, to­matoes, chocolate, peanuts, pumpkins, squashes, chile peppers, pineapples, avoca­dos, turkeys, and tobacco. (The Spaniards in turn intro­duced to Mexico cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, and pigs.)

The many intricate dishes to be eaten in Mexico, and in a few restaurants in Texas, are based on a food system that began developing at least 8,000 years ago. The foundation of this complex cuisine is built on three things: corn, the bean, and 92 varieties of chiles.

Old Borunda Cafe: semi-divine Tex-Mex in Marfa since 1887. Photography by Harry Boyd


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