Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
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Five and Dime General Store
58 E. San Francisco
January 16, 2003 4:20 AM
The Five and Dime is located on San Francisco Street on the Plaza where the old Woolworth’s used to be. It still carries a variety of souvenirs and household goods, and its lunch counter is still a source of definitive Fritos Pie. It serves it the old-fashioned way:
in a slit-open bag of Fritos
The chef who makes these pies is the woman who invented them, about half a century ago. Teresa Hernandez came to Santa Fe from the nearby mining town of Madrid. She told us that she was impressed by a dish served at local drive ins: a paper cup full of chile on a bed of shredded lettuce, garnished with a handful of Frito chips. She recalls, "When I came to work at Woolworth's, I thought maybe we could make a different kind of Fritos pie. My idea was to eliminate the lettuce and to use the Fritos on the bottom. Mr. Donald Skelton, who was the manager then, and myself, we decided to use a Fritos bag instead of the paper cup. Schoolchildren liked it the most. They used to come in after school or during their lunch hour and buy Fritos pies so they could eat them while they walked around the Plaza. That's what's good about a Fritos pie:
You can eat it sitting down or on your way to work. It's so easy.
When you order one,
mild and meaty red chile is ladled into an open “Big Grab” bag of corn chips, then shredded cheese is spread across the top
. The chili is hot enough so the cheese begins to melt, and by the time you plant a plastic fork, it’s molten. And the chips below have begun to soften so they retain only the echo of a crunch. Chopped onions and jalapeno chips are offered as a garnish. It’s a pleasure to stand at the counter and fork into a Fritos pie, but these Big Grab meals are indeed portable, and it is entirely possible to eat one on the stroll in the Plaza … as generations of Santa Feans have done.
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