When Texans eat at Tex-Mex restaurants, there is one thing we expect, nay demand: a  great basket of chips and salsa to start our meal. The official snack of Texas is chips and salsa, so clearly, we take it very seriously. I judge the overall quality of any establishment by their chips and salsa and have declined to return to restaurants that showed poorly in this area.

However, there are some points of contention about how chips and salsa should be served. It's time to settle these questions once and for all. First up is the most important: Free or Not Free.

Photo by Natalya on Unsplash
Photo by Natalya on Unsplash

Should the chips and salsa be free? There's a clear consensus here amongst Texans. Chips and salsa should be free with a sit-down meal. They are the "Roadhouse Rolls" of Tex-Mex food and a universal symbol of hospitality. Yes, the establishment may be taking a bit of a gamble that I'll order plenty to make up for the cost, but it's a gamble in which the house almost always wins. If you serve margaritas, you'll win with me. Here are a few answers to the question I found on Reddit that I  love:

I'd die. And never return to that establishment. Especially if I ordered an entrée.

Absolutely not. It’s in the state constitution somewhere that chips and salsa come complimentary with the meal.

Automatic. Factor the cost into the normal food prices. Chips and dip are a ritual. It’s jarring to have that ritual broken.

Others called it a "red flag" when a Tex-Mex place charges for chips and salsa-it could indicate the owners are Northerners that won't serve us the meal we are looking for anyway.

Green or Red? I love a delicious green salsa as much as nearly anything else, but the answer is either red or both. And while I do enjoy adventuring into other salsa types, what I'm generally craving is a good tomato-based salsa.

Thick or Thin Chips? It's the 2020s: and we like everything thicc. I also firmly believe that you need thick so there's no risk of them getting soggy from the salsa or their oil as they sit on the table.

Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash
Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash

Chunky or Blended? Blended with some chunks left, of course. You need a good, dippable ratio here.

Hot or Cold Salsa? I know I said I was settling all these questions but I have to put this in the "depends" pile. The area of Texas I'm from always had cold salsa until recently. We've had a bit of an influx of Tex-Mex from other areas and the salsa comes out hot. It's delcious like that. But I grew up with cold. So this has to be an "either" for now.

Orange "Stuff" on the Table?  Absolutely. I have no idea what the heck it is, but the answer is yes, I want that neon orange shaker on the table and I'm going to shake it like it has my money in its pockets.

Housemade or Bought? I'm not even dignifying this question with an answer. I will say that I was once served Pace on nachos and I was so deeply offended that I put a hex on that restaurant and swore never to return.

Texas is full of tradition, and chips and salsa is our most delicious one. Let's make sure we are doing it right, right? Variety IS the spice of life, so I love that every restaurant is a little different from each other, and honestly, anything is forgivable so long as its fresh, tasty, and FREE with an entree.

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