This is one of those things that’s made from the humblest ingredients (basically a bag of chips with chili and cheese poured on top), but when eaten at a ballpark or on a boat dock on a sunny day, the sum is so much greater than its parts. I grew up eating the Texas classic we call “Frito Pie,” but it wasn’t until I moved to Austin in my twenties that I experienced a more elevated version on the bar menu at Lambert’s, the self-proclaimed “fancy barbecue” spot downtown that’s become a local institution. Their version starts with the classic chips, then dresses things up with housemade beef brisket and mustard barbecue sauce, plus pico de gallo, cilantro, and goat cheese.
I’ve always thought it would be fun to host a party with a “build-your-own” frito pie bar that added fancier ingredients to the chips-plus-chili-in-a-bag combo for a vibe that’s a little bit trashy in a fun way. Our partners at Way Better Snacks provided the perfect opportunity when they challenged me to create a healthier take on a “Walking Taco,” which, as it turns out, is what northerners call this situation since it’s like a portable taco with all the fixings in a bag, usually with a plastic fork stuck in the top. Though come to think of it, all tacos are pretty portable. Hmm…
Anyway, I’m a huge believer in sprouting grains, seeds, and nuts to fully unleash their nutritional benefits, so I’ve become obsessed with Way Better Snacks’ sprouted tortilla chips that use non-GMO ingredients like black beans, chia seeds, and quinoa to make the most addictively delicious chips that are perfect for dipping into guacamole (or just about anything else.) And guess what? Their individual serving bags created the most perfect base for my fancy Walking Taco bar, which I loaded up with my protein-packed bison chili, avocado, pico de gallo, goat cheese, cilantro, scallions, shredded lettuce, greek yogurt, and jalapeños.
This is one of those things that tastes like it must be bad for you, but all the ingredients are actually really clean and nourishing. Perfect for when you’re craving something naughty but don’t want to have regrets, and of course, the build-your-own setup makes a perfect activity for a laid-back summer fête. Just pass around the bags, let everyone load them up with their toppings of choice, then stick a fork in it!
*photos by Ashleigh Amoroso
4 individual sized bags Way Better Snacks tortilla chips
choose your toppings!
- chili (I like to use bison or vegetarian chili for a healthy dose of protein)
- cherry tomatoes, quartered
- shredded romaine
- pico de gallo
- cubed avocado
- sliced green onions
- shredded mexican blend cheese or crumbled cotija
- whole milk plain greek yogurt
- pickled sliced jalapenos
- lime wedges
Set out a variety of chip flavors, cut a slit down the center, then let guests load up with the toppings of their choice. Stick a fork in each bag and eat!