My mother insisted that the tiny, foil bag would hold it. It might look like it’s all going to fall out, but it’s necessary that every bite — which she assured was tastier than it looked — land in the mouth and not on the cement ground beneath me.
It was hot in Santa Fe, N.M., on that summer day that was at least eight years ago. For some reason, before last week, that was the last time I had even tasted a Frito pie, and the bites of Frito, chili, cheese and onion all came on a plastic fork out of that Frito bag.
Years have passed since then, and my return to the greasy meal came on a plate this time, served from behind the counter at Mac’s Bar-B-Que.
As we stood in a slow-moving line, leaning against the wood-paneled wall, I considered how to get the best of all the tastes here, and almost went for the easy way out of the meat plate. I was assured, however, that the best choice would be the Frito pie.
Aside from the meal filled with packaged chips, I was at first bothered because I thought the chili had beans. I was wrong. The beans didn’t have chili.
Still, I was promised I wouldn’t be disappointed.
My turn finally came, and I told the man behind the counter I’d I have the Frito pie. He gave the order to the woman behind the register and got to chopping the beef with an oversized knife.
The plate was larger than I needed, but after a few bites, I realized it was as large as I wanted. I still didn’t consume all that was on it, but that’s because my lunch break is only so long.
I didn’t really miss the chili, as the beans were a bold flavor underneath the meal, and the generous heap of chopped beef was the perfect foundation for melting cheddar cheese.
I went ahead and used the side serving of barbecue sauce to darken the meal further and give it a sweet kick. Had this “pie” been a disappointment, I could have had that sauce in the place of a meal.
Maybe some time I’ll return to Mac’s for that meat plate. But I do know that fewer than 10 years will pass until I have another Frito pie this time.
Location: 3933 Main St. in Dallas, 75226, 214-823-0731
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
Ambiance: The room without music stays active with conversation of the restaurant’s usual customers. Casual spot that inevitably provides comfortable conversation.
Payment information: major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: none served
Special thanks to Tom Benning, who recommended Mac’s to me.