Summer is road-trip season, so we're taking a culinary tour of America. But because Portland is a city of immigrants from other states, we don't have to leave town to do it. We're traveling to 50 Portland restaurants to try one distinctive food from each state. Our 50 Plates tour continues with Frito pie from Texas, which joined the union on December 29, 1845.

The state: The second-most populous state, and the second-largest state in terms of landmass, the Lone Star State has a particularly combative reputation—as in, the Alamo, La Migra, cowboys and Injuns, don’t mess with it, etc. The state joined the Union only reluctantly in 1845 before quickly re-seceding at the onset of the Civil War. But the word “Texas” is itself derived from a Southeastern Native American word for “friendship”, which is the state’s short and sweet motto. 

The food:

Other dishes considered and rejected: Chicken-fried steak and dry-rub barbeque. Brisket tacos, cheese enchiladas, and chile con queso with Ro-Tel, which is the greatest of all the Velveeta cheese dips. Texas toast.

Get it from: The version made by Podnah’s Pit ($5.75, 1625 NE Killingsworth St., 281-3700) is as authentic and delicious as anything else to have emerged from their kitchen. Anthony Bourdain may have referred to it as “warm crap in a bag”, but Frito pie is actually is the perfect fast food. The Fritos have enough structure to stand up under the beefy, steaming Texas Red chili and the chopped onion adds just the right amount of freshness and kick.

Click on the map to see each state's distinctive food and where to get it in Portland.

Pennsylvania Maine Louisiana Texas West Virgina Nevada NC Colorado Alaska Mississippi Washington Minnesota Tennessee Nebraska Missouri Massachusetts Michigan Wisconsin Ohio Arizona south carolina newyork Connecticut rhode island Wyoming New Mexico Kentucky Idaho alabama new jersey georgia kansas california iowa montana oklahoma indiana vermont hawaii utah arkansas maryland Virginia oregon Illinois Florida New Hampshire South Dakota Delaware North Dakota