100 Favorite Dishes 2013: No. 61, Old Fashioned Frito Pie at Armadillo Palace

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
The venison chili Frito pie will warm you up and remind you why Texas is awesome.
This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape. It's a list to drool over.

There are a few things I sorely missed when I was living in Missouri. Texas grapefruit. Decent salsa. Gulf coast seafood. Brisket.

And then there's that one magical dish that seems to have never made it out of Texas and the Deep South: Frito Pie.

Growing up in Texas, I thought Frito pie was as much a national dish as hamburgers and hot dogs are. It was everywhere. Cafeteria ladies served it at school. Mom cooked up chili in a Crock-Pot at home then dumped some over chips. We ate it out of the bag at the ballpark.

But when I moved to Missouri -- a state that alternately claims Northern and Southern sensibilities -- I found people were baffled by the notion of Frito pie. Is it pie? Why would you add junk food to something homemade? Who even eats Fritos anymore?

Location Info


Armadillo Palace

5015 Kirby, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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I don't know where in MO you lived, but around Springfield, MO Frito Pie is known.  My mother served it in her restaurant in Mansfield, MO (Home of Laura Ingalls Wilder) for many years.  We are in southwest MO so maybe up north it is not known .......... but it is known and loved around here. 

FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Haven't had this version, so I'll check it out.  So far, my favorite frito pie has been at El Real.  And yes, theirs comes with a bag.


Call me a Northerner: I've never gotten this dish. Growing up, we would eat chilli. We would eat polenta. Sometimes Fritos. Sometimes polenta with a topping of meat. But never chilli with a bag of corn chips.


You can have this on a cold day; I'm going for a bowl of duck gumbo beside the blazing fireplaces at Rainbow Lodge. Might even order a real venison steak on the side.

gossamersixteen topcommenter

This one's much better! Can't go wrong with frito pie..

gossamersixteen topcommenter

I can smell the sarcasm from here, but you certainly should have some concern with what your readers think, your advertisers certainly do.

KaitlinS topcommenter

@gossamersixteen I definitely care what the readers think! But at the same time, my favorite dishes are bound to be different from anyone else's!


@gossamersixteen The Houston Press cares deeply about what its readers think and eat and like. Your input is important to us. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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