What you need to know before visiting Texas

By: Sarah

The river view from Easy Tiger in Austin

The river view from Easy Tiger in Austin

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting Texas - a dream of mine that I’ve wanted to check off of my bucket list for 15 years now. I thought that Texas was the land of cowboys, horses, and tumbleweed. Boy was I wrong! Texas is so much more than that. Below are my top tips on what you should know before visiting America’s second largest state.

1. The BBQ is bangin’

Luis indulges at Franklin's BBQ in Austin

Luis indulges at Franklin's BBQ in Austin

As someone who grew up on the east coast, I always thought that I didn’t love BBQ - that is until I had real BBQ in Texas. In many ways, I think that what we make on the east coast should be called something different than BBQ because East Coast BBQ and Texas BBQ simply is not comparable. In Texas, the meat is slow cooked for hours until it falls apart in your mouth. If you’re visiting Dallas, I recommend Pecan Lodge, and if Austin is your destination check out Franklin’s BBQ. However, you can’t go wrong with most places!

2. You Need a Car

The Colorado River and a skyline view of Austin

The Colorado River and a skyline view of Austin

Many cities around the world are walkable, meaning that there is ample public transportation and everything is close enough that you can walk there if necessary. However, cities in Texas are not that way. Though there are small sections of every city that is walkable, for the most part you will need to rent a car if you are coming here.

3. Everything really is bigger in Texas

Tater tot nachos at Beto & Sons

Tater tot nachos at Beto & Sons

This comes down to practically every category. The cities are more spread out, the serving sizes are larger, and the cars are bigger. If you’re ordering at a restaurant and don’t tend to eat a lot, I recommend sharing a dish.

4. You’ll learn what Southern Hospitality Means

Julian Rodarte cooks for us at Beto & Sons

Julian Rodarte cooks for us at Beto & Sons

I’ll admit, as a New Yorker in an interracial relationship who has never been to the South I was a bit worried given the negative news that I’ve seen on TV about racism in Southern states. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was not like that at all. In fact, I think people in Texas are more friendly and welcoming than many places I’ve been around the world. Plus, Houston is the second most diverse city in the country!

5. You’ll be complimented a lot

Having fun at Belle Station in Houston

Having fun at Belle Station in Houston

I swear if I lived in Texas I would have an unattainable level of confidence. It seemed that everywhere I went women were telling me they loved my outfit, hair, etc. It was wonderful! New Yorkers, can we please do this too?

6. Gas Stations have a whole different meaning

In Texas, gas station food is a different level. Like I said in #3, everything is bigger and better in Texas, and that is exactly what Buc-ee’s is. The ultimate Texas Truck Stop. If you’re traveling between cities, look out for Buc-ee's. Here you’ll find the nicest bathrooms you’ve ever seen on the side of a highway and epic beef jerky (called Beaver nuggets). It’s just something you need to see in person. Trust me.

7. Whataburger is the alpha of hamburgers

Don’t you dare mention White Castle or In-N-Out Burger in Texas, for you are in the land of Whataburger. At this fast food spot you can customize a burger 36,864 ways. What makes it even better is that they’re open 24-hours a day, and thus ideal for an after-bar burger rendezvous.

8. Tex Mex is different than Mexican food

A dish at Beto & Sons

A dish at Beto & Sons

As someone who is in a relationship with a Central American, I was slightly suspicious of the idea of Tex Mex. What was it? Why do some people say it is better than Mexican food? The truth is that Tex Mex is simply Mexican food with more cheese and refried beans. I can’t say I prefer Mexican or Tex Mex more because they are both delicious. If you’re headed to Dallas, I recommend getting Tex Mex at E Bar. They have great prices, huge portions, and tasty food.

9. Everyone is not walking around dressed like a cowboy

Locals enjoying lunch in Houston

Locals enjoying lunch in Houston

I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed to discover the lack of cowboy hats and boots that were woven into the everyday attire of locals. However, I have been told that this may be because I was only in the cities, and, let’s be honest, I was probably going off of stereotypes I’ve seen on TV. Regardless, it’s something to note!

If this list was helpful for you, consider sharing it with a friend that will be visiting Texas! If you’re visiting Dallas or Austin make sure to check out my guides below. Or if you have any other suggestions, comment the below and let the world know.


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