A bowl of chili topped with peppers, cheese, and tortilla strips on a dark brown table
Chili in Fort Worth. Photo by Kevin B. Stillman

State Dish

Chili

Adopted: 1977

An illustration of a bowl of chili

Whether served on white tablecloths at a swanky restaurant or in a Styrofoam cup mixed with Fritos at a high school football game, there is no argument that chili con carne is a Texas staple. Its origins are debated—many credit its invention to the mid-1800s “chili queens” of San Antonio’s Military Plaza—and so is whether to serve with beans. Since 1983, there have been two competing chili festivals held in November in Terlingua. Maybe writer and Texas native Margaret Cousins said it best: “Chili is not so much food as a state of mind.”

Learn • Go • Do

Terlingua hosts annual festivals each fall.

Can’t travel to the Big Bend? Try Tolbert’s Restaurant & Chili Parlor in Grapevine, named for the late columnist and chili enthusiast Frank X. Tolbert, or Austin’s Texas Chili Parlor, which opened in 1976.

Better yet, don an apron and try Tolbert’s original recipe, found online and in his classic book, A Bowl of Red.

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Symbols of Texas

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