The 10 Best Cities For Walking Tacos In The US, According To Reviews

A walking taco and a Frito pie are terms used to describe a bag of Fritos corn chips ripped open and covered in taco toppings like ground beef, Texas chili, New Mexico red chile (yes, there is a difference), onions, tomatoes, and cheese. The walking taco is almost always served in a bag of Fritos corn chips with these toppings. The Frito pie is sometimes served this same way, but is often served as a Fritos-based, casserole-style dish.

The walking taco is a popular Midwestern snack seen at taco joints and southwest-style eateries. But unlike the walking taco, the Frito pie isn't just a popular snack — it is a vital, nostalgia-inducing aspect of Southwestern cuisine. Both New Mexico and Texas claim the Frito pie as their own, but the origins of the walking taco and/or Frito pie have never definitively been nailed down.

A New Mexico Frito pie consists of Fritos covered in ground beef mixed with red chile sauce (made of crushed red chile flakes, garlic, cumin, and chile powder), topped with beans and taco fixings. The Texas version is commonly served with Texas red chili (ground beef mixed with spicy chili paste) but without beans. Other Frito pies feature pork, brisket, or no meat altogether. Authentic? Maybe not. Tasty? That's up to your taste buds. So here are the 10 best U.S. cities for walking tacos and/or Frito pies, according to reviews from TripAdvisor, Yelp, OpenTable, GrubHub, food blogs, and news sites.


Chicago may be known for its deep-dish pizza, but it offers an array of edible delights, including the walking taco. Big Star, with locations in Wicker Park and Wrigleyville, is a honky-tonk spot slinging margaritas and Mexican street foods, including a vegetarian walking taco. Big Star's entry consists of a bag of Fritos doused in spicy pinto bean dip, crema, cholula salsa, queso chihuahua, onions, and cilantro. One excited TripAdvisor user urged visitors to "do yourself a favor and get the walking taco ... it was so delicious!" Another reviewer agreed, but cautioned not to order one on a date, as "it's kinda messy."

If you're a meat-atarian (as opposed to a vegetarian), head to Green Street Meats, in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood, for a carnivorous take on this salty treat. Green Street's Frito pie consists of Fritos topped with freshly made brisket chili, pickled jalapeños, and cheese sauce, served in a ripped-open Fritos bag. One TripAdvisor user called Green Street's Frito pies "the next best thing to chili," while another reviewer noted their table's Frito pies "were devoured in seconds."

The New York Times even gave a shout-out to Green Street's Frito pie in a review. This West Loop spot is a central Texas-style barbecue joint offering backyard barbecue staples like brisket, short ribs, chicken legs — and Frito pies, of course.


It's no surprise the barbecue-mad Texas capital shows up on this list. Micklethwait Craft Meats is the Frito pie headliner — this vintage Comet Trailer-housed, full-service food truck whips up a Brisket Frito pie featuring Fritos corn chips topped with tender sliced brisket and a hefty dollop of brisket chili. One lucky Reddit user "just discovered they have a BADASS Frito pie there," while a Yelp user was wowed by the Fritos' complement to the meat — with added crunch.

Lambert's Downtown BBQ is a 2nd Street District spot offering a fancier Frito pie, a corn chip dish with chopped brisket, pico de gallo, Lambert's queso, and goat cheese, with a pickled jalapeño on the side. One TripAdvisor user said Lambert's Frito Pies led them to cancel their dinner reservations, after leaving "feeling completely satisfied." In A Continuous Lean, a reviewer said the flavors and Frito crunch mix so perfectly the dish "will really make you want to shake the chef's hand."

A final Austin Frito pie entry is La Barbecue, which offers a decidedly unique take on the Frito pie, served on a bun minus the chili (which had one Yelp reviewer up in arms, even if they gave it a 4.5/5 rating). The Frito Loco features corn chips layered with succulent pulled pork, tender chopped beef, black beans, shredded cheese, jalapeños, and zesty sauerkraut on a potato bun. One food blogger said it is "basically a heart attack waiting to happen, but worth every clogged artery!"

Santa Fe

In 1998, the Five & Dime General Store opened in Sante Fe, New Mexico in a space that was once a Woolworth's. It has been slapping together Frito pies ever since — selling 25,000 per year. Here Fritos are covered in spicy New Mexico chiles, cheese, and onions. Late TV host Anthony Bourdain caused a local furor in 2013, after saying the Frito pie felt like holding "warm crap in a bag." Bourdain later said he got it wrong, calling the Frito pie "shockingly tasty." A TripAdvisor reviewer said: "You can't beat it ... the best Frito pie anywhere."

The Plaza Café has been open since 1905, and is Santa Fe's oldest restaurant. Despite its historic roots, it features a modern twist on the Frito pie. It is served in a bowl, not a bag, and can feature ground beef, chicken, pork, or Impossible meat, sprinkled with black beans, chili, cheese, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. While more than just a snack, one TripAdvisor user enthusiastically said, "This was a hearty and delicious version that made a full meal." A Yelp user was equally impressed, calling both the beef and veggie versions "Muy sabrosa! (Very tasty!)."

North of Santa Fe in Española is El Parasol, a food stand founded in 1958 (and still run by the same family) that features a classic Frito pie. Salty corn chips slathered in red New Mexico chile, cheese, onions, and lettuce, which the Food Network called a "so-wrong-it's-right kind of creation."


Portland, Oregon may not be known as a barbecue hotspot, but that could be changing. Podnah's Pit is one of the foremost barbecue spots bringing Texas heat to the Pacific Northwest. Opened in 2006 by a transplanted Texan, Podnah's Pit makes has been recognized by the Food Network as the Best Barbecue in Oregon, and as a Willamette Week Restaurant of the Year pick. Podnah's makes everything — from its meats to Frito pies — from scratch on a daily basis. The Frito pie here is served as it traditionally is in the Lone Star State, a bag of Fritos ripped open and covered in red Texas chili (no beans, remember), cheese, and onion slices.

One food blogger advised Podnah's Pit visitors to start their meal off the right way with the Frito pie. A TripAdvisor reviewer wrote that the Frito pie is an essential part of any Podnah's —or North Central Texas, by extension — adventure, saying "The only requirement of your visit is that you have the Frito Pie. If you don't, I would argue that you didn't really experience the place." How can you argue with that?

Los Angeles

Two backyard-inspired spots bring the best Frito pies — as well as some of the best barbecue — to Los Angeles. Homestate is a California joint that's been serving Texas-inspired fare since 2013. Inspired by owner Briana Valdez's pining for home, her backyard barbecues inspired her to bring Texas flavors to the West Coast, and Homestate is her attempt to use food to bridge that gap. Homestate's Frito pie comes in a Fritos bag bursting with chili con carne, cheddar, sour cream, lettuce, and pickled jalapeños. LA Weekly raved about it, heralding Homestate's Frito pie entry as a snack "that takes you by the pleasure receptors and hangs on for dear life until the bag's empty."

Slab, located just west of the 3rd Street Farmers Market, is another Texas-bred, backyard-inspired Los Angeles barbecue spot serving a renowned Frito pie. Pitmaster Burt Bekman slow-cooks ribs, chicken, and brisket to smoky Texas perfection. Even amid all that meat, Slab's queso and Texas chili-topped Frito pie (the Los Angeles Times praised Bekman's "nostalgic riff" on the dish shouldn't be skipped), Yelp reviewers say this side dish is "always on point," "a must-try," "crazy good," and simply "hypnotizing."


Dallas is another Texas hot spot for Frito pie, with Slow Bone BBQ topping the list as the spot to get this corn chip snack in big D. This barbecue joint has been open since 2013, with chef Jeffrey Hobbs using his smoker — affectionately named Miss Jessie — to churn out mouthwatering prime brisket, lean or fatty (depending on how you like it), fried chicken, juicy ribs, etc. Don't skip the Frito pie, though. The Dallas Observer raved about this salty side dish, calling it "the best one around." Slow Bone's Frito pie consists of corn chips topped with brisket chili, itself topped with cheddar cheese and onions. "For Frito pie fanatics," the Observer said, "it's heaven in every bite."

Another Dallas Frito pie must-try is Harvey B's, a retro, counter-serve burger joint in Old East Dallas. Along with its staple burgers and dogs, this nostalgic spot serves a mean Frito Pie, which features Texas chili-covered Fritos, onions, and cheddar cheese. One Yelp user suggests asking for bacon and roasted jalapeños on your Frito pie: "Get it and you'll be a very happy person if you're into Frito pies!"


Not to be outdone, Houston features its own standout Frito pie at The Pit Room BBQ in Montrose. One of the city's newer entrants on the craft barbecue scene, The Pit Room serves two versions of this classic snack. The regular Frito Pie features corn chips covered in Texas red chili, cheese, and onions. But the Pit Room's signature Frito pie dish is what gets tongues wagging — the Loaded Frito Pie features Fritos topped with chili, cheese, and onions, along with sour cream, fresh jalapeños, and your choice of either chopped brisket or pulled pork.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Loaded Frito Pie weighs more than a pound, so it's more of a meal than a snack. The Chronicle credits the house-made chili, along with using leaner shoulder clod (as opposed to fattier beef chuck) for its optimal taste and texture. The barbecue critic called The Pit Room's Loaded Frito pie the best one he'd tried: "If you're looking for the ultimate hangover food, this is it."


One of Albuquerque's most famous and unique Frito pie spots hides in plain sight — you'll find it at the diner tucked inside Duran Central Pharmacy, itself located in historic Old Town. The pharmacy has been open since 1942, and the original soda fountain was replaced with a diner in the 1960s, where it has been serving Frito pies ever since. Duran's Frito pie comes with corn chips mixed with rich New Mexico red or green chile, layered with your choice of beef or chicken, and topped with beans, cheese, and garnish.

New Mexico Magazine rates Duran's Frito pie as the city's best, with many happy customers echoing this sentiment. Among the high praise on Yelp, Duran's Frito pie was described in life and death terms — visitors called it both "killer," and "to die for." Another Yelp reviewer had the Frito pie with green chile and marveled at the lack of guilt that usually accompanies such a hearty dish. "Such a great comfort dish that you don't have to feel too bad about," Cici S. raved, "because it comes with a bit of salad!" See you there?

New York City

Who says Frito pie is limited to the southwest (or the walking taco to the Midwest)? Whatever you prefer to call it, the Frito pie definitely has a presence in the Big Apple, most notably at Cowgirl, a garish yet cozy spot in the West Village. Amid the fashionistas, hipsters, families, and pinball machine enthusiasts who crowd this joint, the Frito pie hews remarkably close to its traditional roots — a bag of Fritos ripped open, topped with your choice of veggie chili or beef brisket, followed by heaps of grated cheese, sour cream, onions, and pickled jalapeños.

Cowgirl's Frito pie has satisfied both local palates and those from this dish's more traditional territory. One satisfied GrubHub commenter didn't hide her satisfaction, saying, "I'm from Texas and I loved the Frito pie." One Yelp user called Cowgirl's Frito pie "a must-order," while another noted the ubiquity of the dish in New York: "Frito pie! Don't see it that much around NYC, it's a treat." A TripAdvisor reviewer put it even more simply, saying "Everything was delicious ... especially the Frito pie."

San Antonio

Perhaps it's fitting that another Texas joint — Smoke Shack in San Antonio — has the last word on where to get one of the country's best Frito pies. Unlike most of the other Texas entries, Smoke Shack's Frito pie throws a bit of a curveball in its delivery of this famous salty snack. This Frito pie consists of the obligatory corn chips, which are topped with tender brisket and cheddar cheese. But Shake Shack's zigs where the rest of Texas zags, adding black beans (a topping usually only found in New Mexico Frito pies) and a thick layering of barbecue sauce.

The San Antonio Current recently named Smoke Shack as San Antonio's best barbecue spot, and recommended getting the Frito pie. It may be an appetizer, but its sheer size demands you take some of it to go, lest you miss out on Smoke Shack's menu full of smoked delights. Of course, if you can't help yourself? Well, you wouldn't be the first. One Yelp reviewer couldn't contain her excitement upon seeing Frito pie on the menu, saying "when I saw there was a Frito pie on the snack menu, I knew I had to have it!" Another satisfied Yelp reviewer said their Frito pie got them close to a kind of culinary nirvana, saying "I had Frito Pie — a ton of brisket and beans on top of Fritos — basically all I need to be happy!" Need we say more?