The Frito Pie Burger

The Lunch Counter Delight

As if our native green chili isn’t enough, New Mexico also lays claim to another must-have gastronomic tongue-pleaser, the Frito Pie.

Capitalizing on local popularity of the treat, Silver Zubia, co-owner of Papaburgers,  topped his already spectacular burger with Fritos, chili and melty nacho cheese.

Frito Pie Burger
Frito Pie Burger, from Papaburgers, (ABQ., NM)

Mentioned along with national food icons like the Philly cheesesteak, lobster rolls, and banana splits, USA Today called the Frito Pie one of the foods that make America great.

Like a lot of great foods, the exact origin of the recipe is uncertain – but as they tell in the Land of Enchantment — the Frito Pie was created in the 1960s, at the Woolworth’s lunch counter on the Santa Fe Plaza, when Teresa Hernandez, ladled some red chili into a small bag of the chips, and topped it with cheese.

You can still get a Frito Pie at the same Santa Fe lunch counter, now called Five and Dime General Store.

[To be fair, we should mention that the Frito Pie casserole was most likely created in 1932 (in Austin, TX), by Daisy Dean Doolin, mother of Frito creator, Charles Elmer Doolin. At any rate, Fritos published a recipe for “Fritos Chili Pie Casserole,” prior to the 1960s.]

On the Side: Check out NPR’s story, The Birth of the Frito, and
Anthony Bourdian’s infamous slam on the Five & Dime Frito Pie.