Thanks to its unique location near the Gulf of Mexico, Beaumont’s settlers created a melting pot of culture. Bringing bits of their hometowns with them, the culinary scene became a mish-mash of traditions that blends Southern, Cajun, and Texan and makes for some pretty interesting flavors. Some of these are strictly local to Beaumont while others are more regional Southeastern Texas delicacies, and still others are general must-tries when in the Lonestar State. Be sure to seek out these eight tantalizing bites for a true Texan food education.
Essentially puff pastries stuffed with fruit or meat filling, sweet kolaches originated in Europe and made their way to Central Texas with the arrival of Czech immigrants. And knowing how Texans feel about their meat, it should come as no surprise that savory variations were soon introduced. Essentially the Lone Star version of the pepperoni roll or pigs in a blanket, Beaumont kolaches are stuffed with local Zummo sausage and a great handheld breakfast treat (try them from Rao’s).
Pecan not Pe-Can’t
Whether you’re a health nut or just a nut, pecans are the unofficial state food of Texas and used to add a bit of crunch to just about any dessert. According to billboards, Stuckey’s pecan logs are a must - a secret blend of powdered sugar, white molasses, and roasted nuts that are reason enough to make an unnecessary gas station stop if you need a quick fix. The more popular way to serve them, though, is sticky bun style, like a cinnamon roll topped with sweet caramel which can be picked up from Rao’s Bakery. To get super traditional, you can never go wrong with a good pecan pie. Try the one from Patillo’s, the oldest barbecue joint in the state, which should be on your culinary bucket list anyway.
Zummo Smoked Sausage or Boudain
The celebrated hometown sausage purveyor, Zummo’s pork links and andouille are popular, but it’s the boudain that’s a staple of the South. Distributed at all major grocery stores in the area, highly seasoned pork and rice are stuffed into a sausage casing which can be prepared a number of different ways. The Cajun delicacy is great on the grill, can be used as a stuffing, a side dish, or even made into a dip.
Texas Coffee Company and Tex Joy Seasonings
What began as a one-room storefront in downtown Beaumont has grown into a major manufacturing and distribution empire. Seaport Coffee is available in five different roasts and given their affinity for aromas and flavors, once they mastered the beans, they expanded to spices. They now make a whole line of seasonings for meat, fish, and poultry with blends that represent the BBQ and Cajun ties to the region.
Sparkling mineral water from Mexico, Topo Chico has a bit of a cult following in Texas. Legend has it that an Aztec King discovered Topo Chico while seeking a cure for a mysterious illness ailing his daughter. Whether lore or not, it is a popular hangover drink. Coincidence? I think not. The company was recently acquired by Coca Cola, which means they will be stepping up their distribution around the US, but for the meantime, they are still focused on the Southwest and border states.
Texas’s take on In-n-Out and Shake Shack, Whataburger is a cult chain born out of Corpus Christi and headquartered in San Antonio. There are a few around Beaumont and locals can’t get enough of the greasy goodness and larger than life patties that require two hands to hold. If you’d prefer a more localized burger, give Daddio’s a try.
Another signature Southern dessert for its heavy carb and cream content, bread pudding can be found at a number of local haunts. Who makes the best is a hotly debated topic, although I have heard from a handful of locals that Republic Chicken’s is the go-to.
Muffalettas at Jason's Deli
Did you know Jason's Deli was born in Beaumont over 40 years ago? The "deli-cious" award-winning national chain has over 275 restaurants in over 28 states and is regularly ranked the best Texas franchise in categories like sales growth, average sales per location, consumer-sentiment ratings and average cost of a meal.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Intentionally served underripe, fried green tomatoes are a Southern staple. Coated in flour or cornmeal and pan-fried to a delicious crisp, they're a firm and tangy treat masked as a way to get your greens. Snag a plate at Rodair Roadhouse.
A hearty, bread-based dish, pistolettes are either stuffed with a cheesy, shellfish mixture (preferably crawfish) or served sub-style like a mushy po'boy. They're a staple appetizer in Cajun cuisine and great to try at Madison's or Neches River Wheelhouse.
Anything from Buc-ee’s
A must-stop on the way in or out of town en route to the Houston airport, Buc-ee’s
Is the truck stop to end all truck stops. To an outsider, it may look like any old gas station, but to a local, it’s the Texas of all gas stations (and has even been called a gas station on ‘roids). Bigger, better, and with their own line of everything from clothing to barbecue, jerky, kolaches, candy, and fudge, Buc-ee’s is a roadside attraction for its sheer size alone. Many are obsessed with the Beaver Nuggets (sweet corn puffs), but personally, it’s the Hill Country Garlic Jerky I’ve been known to order on Amazon Prime.