Since 2010, Foodways Texas has been on a quest to capture the nuances of Texan food identity. For the collective of historians, the state’s culinary past is best explored through iconic local establishments—whether it’s a 60-year-old Tex Mex joint in Austin or a popular Vietnamese restaurant in Houston.
The non-profit organization “teamed with the Texas Restaurant Association and the University of Texas’ American Studies Department to preserve the stories behind some of the state’s most iconic restaurants through oral histories, long-form interviews that record history from the perspective of those closest to the business.”
Foodways Texas started out with an oral-history project covering all the elements of traditional Texas barbecue, which was led by Elizabeth Engelhardt, a University of Texas professor and the organization’s founding board member. Last year, the team turned its attention toward documenting the “state’s longest-lived (and best-loved) restaurants.”
As one researcher discovered while gathering interviews, “Texas isn’t all longhorns and cowboy hats.”