If you love spicy food, then Mexican is probably your go-to cuisine. While Mexican food consists of a mixture of spicy and milder dishes, there are lots of hot meals that you can order, and many restaurants enjoy challenging themselves to create the hottest meals possible.
Like many cuisines, Mexican food is packed with different dishes, all unique and special in their own ways. This cuisine, after all, is rich in history, so it makes sense that there are lots of different options within it.
If you are hosting a Mexican night or eating out at your favorite Mexican restaurant, you might find yourself wondering if you should play it safe with quesadillas or try something a little different. But the issue is that you might not know the best “something different” to try.
In this guide, we’re taking a look at 37 of the best Mexican dishes available. So, no matter whether you want to host a truly authentic Mexican night, or you want to try something new next time you are eating out, you are in the right place. So keep on reading.
Popular Mexican Food
Sometimes you can’t go wrong with a classic, and that’s what tacos are. Choose from a variety of different fillings, and even choose between soft and hard tacos. But no matter your choice, you are always guaranteed to enjoy this delicacy. Even if it is often rather messy to eat.
If you live in the Southern States of the USA, then burritos are probably part of your regular diet. They are insanely popular, and it is so easy to see why. Tacos are great, but burritos are even better because they add beans and rice to make this dish a full meal. On top of that, they are also cleaner to eat, which is why burritos are always a safe bet.
Stew isn’t a dish that you would usually associate with Mexican food, but Esquites is just that. This corn stew is a trademark in Mexican street food, and it comes in lots of different varieties depending on where in Mexico it originates from. Eat it out of a cup, and add chili powder, butter, and mayo as you see fit. It is different from regular stew, but it is equally delicious.
Speaking of corn, you should definitely consider giving Elote a try. Elote consists of corn on the cob seasoned with a variety of spices, and it is incredibly common in Mexican street food. It is usually served on a stick and eaten like an ice cream, and this is part of the appeal of this delicacy.
If you are visiting a Mexican restaurant for breakfast, then Chilaquiles is the dish to order. It is by far the most popular breakfast dish in Mexico, and it is easy to see why. Tortillas are chopped into triangles and fried or toasted. These are then topped with shredded chicken, beef, chorizo, and an egg. The egg is either scrambled, or served sunny side up and is then sprinkled with egg. As you can see, this is definitely a dish to try.
If you liked the idea of Mexican corn stew, it is likely that you will also love the idea of Pipian. Pipian is an extremely traditional Mexican dish, and it has a rich green appearance. The sauce for this stew is created using pumpkin seeds and poultry, and this is combined with beef, pork, or rabbit to create a truly authentic Mexican dish.
Mexican Mole is a dish that comes in many varieties. So, wherever you order it from, this dish will likely be different every time. Mole is about as authentically Mexican as you can get, so it is one that you should try. With ingredients such as tomatoes, chocolate, and chilies, it can at first seem intimidating, but these flavors complement each other perfectly and create a completely delicious dish.
As you are probably starting to realize, stew is actually a pretty common dish in Mexican cuisine, and that is why we come to Menudo next.
Menudo is a pork stew that is thought to have come to Mexico during the Spanish conquests. It is an old dish, and it has evolved a lot throughout the years, but it is still excellent comfort food.
One dish that has crossed over from Mexican cuisine into Western cuisine is Chicken Fajitas. But for once, this dish has not changed that much during this crossover.
The only real difference between Western Chicken Fajitas and Mexican Fajitas is the level of spice. Mexican Chicken Fajitas are spicier, but they are still delicious, so they are always a safe option to order.
If you are a fan of Mexican food, then you have probably tried enchiladas before. They are one of the most popular Mexican dishes in Western cuisine, and it is easy to see why.
Enchiladas can be filled with a variety of different fillings, and are commonly covered with a spicy sauce to finish. They are delicious, but you will definitely need a knife and fork to enjoy this dish.
Alternatively, if you fancy giving a Mexican soup a try, then you should order Caldo Azteca. This translates to Aztec soup, and it is a chunky soup, packed with strips of fried tortillas, peppers, onions, avocado and cheese, all served in a chicken broth. It has a variety of flavors and this isn’t for everyone, but it is definitely something to try.
If you would prefer to try some dry meat, then Carnitas is the right option for you. Carnitas consists of pork meat which is chopped, then fried in lard. It is a slow-cooked dish, and this makes the pork full of flavor. It also makes it tender to eat. Once fried in lard, a secret ingredient is then added. Who knows what this secret ingredient is, as it differs from area to area, but there is no denying that it makes this dish taste great!
If you like enchiladas, then you will probably love Torta Ahogada. Torta Ahogada is one of the most popular Mexican street food dishes, and it basically consists of a baguette that is drowned in a hot sauce. From the outside, Torta Ahogada can seem like it should be a mild dish, but it is actually incredibly spicy. But don’t forget, it is also pretty messy to eat, so have a napkin ready.
Birria de Chivo
Moving back to Mexican stews, Birria de Chivo is another great dish to try. This is a goat stew, and it is packed with flavor. From salt to spices and seasonings, there are lots of different flavors in this dish, all mixed in a tomato-based sauce.
While Birria de Chivo is traditionally a goat stew, it is sometimes created using chicken, veal, pork, or fish. So depending on where you order Birria de Chivo from, it might taste a little different.
Another Mexican dish that is pretty popular in Western countries is Quesadillas. There are lots of different fillings that you might find in Quesadillas, and the options in traditional Mexican quesadillas are pretty different from what you would find in most Western countries. They tend to be a lot spicier, but they are equally delicious, if not even more so.
Alternatively, you should consider giving Frijoles Puercos a try. Frijoles Puercos are also sometimes known as pork beans, and this is because their main ingredients are beans and meat from the pig.
Traditionally, the ingredients used to make Frijoles Puercos are chorizo, bacon, lard, serrano peppers, cheese, and some secret ingredients. It might not be your first choice from a Mexican restaurant, but it is something to try.
If you would prefer soup, then you should order Pozoles. Pozoles is a traditional Mexican dish that is usually made by combining hominy with meat. Additionally, a wide variety of vegetables and spices are added to this dish, and this ensures that every spoonful that you eat will taste completely unique and totally delicious.
One of the most popular dishes in Northern Mexico is Discada, and it is easy to see why people love this dish so much. Discada is a dish that is packed with a variety of different meats, including ground meat, chorizo, and bacon.
Additional ingredients, such as jalapeños and black pepper, are added to ensure that this meat is full of flavor. When you try Discada, you will notice that it has a distinct barbecue taste, and this just makes Discada even more delicious.
If you prefer beef to pork, then you should give Machaca a try. Machaca is another dish that is popular in Northern Mexico, and this is partly because it is incredibly versatile. Machaca consists of shredded dried beef, and it can be served in lots of ways. Whether you want it in tacos, as a topping for nachos, or in a stew, Machaca will always taste great.
Tamales are a word that you hear and immediately think of Mexico, which is why you might find yourself ordering them next time you visit a Mexican restaurant. Tamales usually consist of shredded chicken, pork, or mole, wrapped in corn or banana leaves. They are full of flavor, and a great option if you want a Mexican dish that isn’t messy to eat.
Eggs are quite commonly used in Mexican cuisine, and Huevos Rancheros are actually pretty similar to Chilaquiles. Except they aren’t served as a breakfast dish, instead they are served as a main meal. Huevos Rancheros begins with tortillas, which are topped with flavorful fried beans, and finished off with 2 sunny side-up eggs. Again, this is a messy dish to eat, so have a napkin at the ready if you order this.
Moving down to Southern Mexican cuisine, Tlayuda is an excellent dish to try. This dish begins with a large corn tortilla that is cooked in a griddle to get a crispy flavor and texture. On top of this, a mixture of dried pork meat, black beans, chorizo, cheese, and lots more is added. So you can enjoy this dish whenever you want to.
Tacos al Pastor
Tacos al Pastor are different from regular tacos, and that is why we would definitely recommend giving this dish a try. This is a historic Mexican dish, and it was most popular in the 1920/30s.
To create this dish, thin strips of pork are sliced off a spit and then placed upon a tortilla alongside pineapple, onions, and coriander. The tortilla is then rolled or folded depending on the restaurant you visit, and then it is ready to enjoy.
Another dish that uses tortillas as its base is Tostadas. If you have tortillas at home which have gone stale, then Tostadas are the dish to make.
To begin with, the tortillas are fried in boiling oil. Sometimes they are served alone, other times they are served with refried beans, cooked beans, and cheese on top. Either way, they are a quick and easy dish to make.
Gorditas de Nata
We haven’t really spoken about Mexican desserts yet, so let’s start with Gorditas de Nata. Gorditas de Nata are basically mini cream pancakes that are designed to be fluffy and soft to eat.
Most commonly, you will find Gorditas de Nata served on a Sunday outside churches in Mexico, but now a lot of restaurants offer them to their customers for dessert. So, if you fancy a sweet treat after your meal, you should definitely order Gorditas de Nata.
In Western Mexico, Aquachile is a very popular dish. Traditionally, it would have been created by mixing dry meat with water and chilies, but in recent years, the dry meat has been replaced with raw shrimp.
Additionally, more ingredients are now added to the mixture (including avocado, coriander, red onion, and more) to make this dish even more flavorful.
Mexican Corn Salad
If you fancy a healthier dish, and want to order a salad, then the dish to order is Mexican Corn Salad. Unlike Western salads, which almost always contain lettuce, Mexican Corn Salad does not. Instead, it is made using ingredients such as corn, red onion, jalapeños, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese. This creates a salad unlike anything you will have tasted before, and one that you will never grow bored with.
Chiles en Nogada
For a truly patriotic Mexican dish, you should order Chiles en Nogada. In this dish, all the colors in the Mexican flag are represented. Green poblano chilies, stuffed with picadillo, are used to represent the green in the flag, pomegranate seeds to represent the red, and a walnut-based cream sauce to represent the white. In reality, this is a rather basic dish, but it is one to order if you want to please the restaurant that you are eating at.
If you want a snack from a Mexican restaurant, then you should order some Churro chips. This is a very basic snack, but you should order them with some sauces to dip them in, and then you will be able to enjoy them.
So far, we haven’t really seen many Mexican dishes that use fish as their key ingredient. But Pescado Zarandeado is just that. This dish consists of stirred fish that is cooked upon a grill. The fish is seasoned with lemon and chili sauce, and it is finally smoked to lock in the flavor. If you love fish, then you will love this dish.
Ceviche is another dish that uses fish in it, except this time, raw fish is used. Tortillas are used to line a bowl at the beginning of this dish, and then this is topped with lots of different ingredients.
These ingredients include tomato, chili, lemon, coriander, and onion, along with raw fish. The raw fish used varies depending on where you eat this dish, but it is usually octopus, crab, shrimp, or clams.
Camerones à la Diabla
Speaking of fish, Camerones à la Diabla is another fish-based dish. In this dish, large shrimp are covered in bright red chili peppers, and this causes them to become very juicy. Shrimp isn’t for everyone, but if you are a fan, then this is definitely a dish to try.
Pozole de Pollo o Guajolote
Moving back to stews, we have Pozole de Pollo o Guajolote. This is a stew that is made using poultry, usually either wild turkey or chicken. There are lots of varieties of this dish, and depending on where you order it from, the appearance will be different. But every single variety of Pozole de Pollo o Guajolote tastes outstanding, so you need to give it a taste.
Another dish that was designed to use up old, stale ingredients is Migas. This dish is created using stale bread, which is then mixed with other ingredients.
These ingredients include egg, tomatoes, black beans, and paprika or garlic. It is usually served alongside some sort of meat, usually chorizo sausage. Due to this, Migas is full of a variety of flavors, and this makes every single bite delicious.
Alegria de Amaranto
If you want to have a Mexican sweet, then you should order Algeria de Amaranto. This is a sweet that is made using seeds of amaranth, which is mixed with honey or sugar to create a sweet flavor. The ingredients then set, and the tray-baked sweet is chopped into rectangles before being served.
You might not believe this, but Flautas are actually the traditional style of tacos. Flautas are tortillas which are rolled similarly to how you would roll a pancake after filling it with your favorite ingredients.
But instead of sweet treats, Flautas are usually filled with mashed potato, chicken, cheese, and other similar ingredients before being topped with sour cream and salad on top.
Guacamole con Chapulines
Finally, let’s wrap this up with Guacamole con Chapulines. This dish definitely isn’t for everyone, and this is mainly because it contains grasshoppers.
Not everybody likes the idea of eating insects, but grasshoppers are actually pretty yummy. The grasshoppers are sautéed, then served on top of a bed of avocado.
This dish is something a little different, so if you fancy a change, then this is the one to order. As long as you can accept the fact that you are eating insects, then you will likely love this dish.
As you can see, Mexican culture is incredibly rich with delicious cuisine and these are just the best ones, in our opinion. Don’t be afraid to branch out when you’re eating out at a Mexican restaurant or even if you’re at home cooking for your family.
Which Mexican dish is your favorite? Let us know down below in the comments!
Best Mexican Food to Order
- Chicken Fajitas
- Caldo Azteca
- Torta Ahogada
- Birria de Chivo
- Frijoles Puercos
- Huevos Rancheros
- Tacos al Pastor
- Gorditas de Nada
- Mexican Corn Salad
- Chiles en Nogada
- Churro Chips
- Pescado Zarandeado
- Camerones à la Diabla
- Pozole de Pollo o Guajolote
- Alegria de Amaranto
- Guacamole con Chapulines
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