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The “Original” Walking Taco

by Brandon Schultz

Aug 21, 2019

© Meinzahn | Dreamstime.com
While Mardi Gras may not be the ideal time to shuffle through the streets with children, New Orleans is a great family destination, with rich history, lively culture, incredible food and endless entertainment. Grab a warm beignet, stroll along the Mississippi River to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and ride the St. Charles streetcar to the Audubon Zoo.

Trends / Food & Drink

You’re probably familiar with the walking taco if you’re a fan of street food, convenience or even just snacking. Today, the walking taco most commonly refers of an individual-sized bag of Doritos cut open along the long edge and filled with the usual taco topping suspects, but the original walking tacos were made with Fritos corn chips. And, before those, there was the Frito pie — the original, original walking taco, allegedly born in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

Frito pie differs from today’s walking taco by excluding taco toppings in favor of chili, shredded cheese and chopped onions, and the birthplace of the curiously tasty dish is actually disputed between those who claim Mexican, Texan and New Mexican origins, but Santa Fe’s story is given extra appeal for one special reason: The original Woolworth’s counter where it was said to be invented by Teresa Hernández in the 1960s is still intact and dishing out the pie by the bagful daily.

 

Today, the store containing Hernandez’s lunch counter is no longer a Woolworth’s, but is now Five & Dime General Store, occupying prime real estate on Santa Fe Plaza, the social hub of the city. Behind rows of inexpensive knickknacks, souvenirs and convenience store goods, you’ll find the small lunch counter piling chili into Fritos bags below charming old menu signs much as it has for roughly 50 years. If you don’t feel like walking with your travel-friendly Frito pie, you can sit in the red vinyl Coca-Cola chairs at the Five & Dime’s vintage Formica tables and enjoy your storied snack exactly as the first customer may have done.

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