Traditional mexican dishes.
This ultimate Guide of 10 Real Mexican dishes is made for those mexican food lovers that want to try real mexican food but you probably didn’t know, this following list will show you in a few minutes that Tex-Mex food (or north american “mexican” food) have nothing to do with México, you will find that you have to much to taste yet.
First at all let’s begin saying that mexican food recipes easy as burritos and anchos is NOT mexican food, ok? Actually, this is north american food, in México you’ll hardly find a fast food chain that sell Mexican food like burritos or nachos (you will only find nachos in the cinema, yep), so for all those who think that mexican food is only about tacos, let me tell that you are super wrong, authentic mexican food recipes is more than that.
Mexico is not only rich in culture but also in flavours, and not, not everything is spicy, actually there are more than 200 kind of chillies, but not all are for make food spicy, most of them are called “colorful chilies” that are used to add flavour and color to the food, and this is the main difference between fast “mexican” food which is made with processed ingredients, and a real mexican dish which is made with natural ingredients, traditional mexican food is full of history based in ancestral ingredients.
This country offer different kind of dishes per region, in every region you will find different ways to prepare same food and even different ways to use the same ingredients, that’s the reason why mexican food is so rich and is considering world heritage, of course, there are dishes you can find throughout Mexico but even these often come with regional variations.
So to clearly illustrate my point, about where to find what and what to ask for where, I include the following map to ilustre many distinct regional cuisines per region in Mexico, so you can see the richness of it’s flavors and the possibilities you have trying something different in every different place.
Let’s begin with this mexican dishes tour, that by the way was very difficult to me write this article and not died of desires for one of these dishes, since I am currently traveling through Colombia, and one of the reasons that motivated me to write this article was presciently the misinterpretation that Mexican food has abroad.
So let’s start!
1.- Tacos al pastor.
This is a dishe you can find throughout Mexico but with some varitions. There are thousands kind of tacos, and one of this is pastor, this are one of my favorites.
The tacos al pastor are made with thin slices of pork cooked in achiote sauce (not spicy, really!), with another color chillies like guajillo, chipotle and chilly ancho, also pineapple and orange juice, garlic, oregano, between other ingredients, you can see full recipe here.
The pork is marinate in thin slices that then are stacked onto a vertical big brochette and in the top they put a pineapple to slowly grill, this looks like a shawarma or kebab and it’s because the concept was first introduced by Lebanese immigrants with Mexican ingredients.
There is a lot of taquerías in all México where you can find this kind of tacos, my recommendation is Taqueria Orinoco, they are located in Monterrey or Mexico City. This is one of the best mexican dishes!
2.- Torta Ahogada.
This delicious dish is typical from Guadalajara and if we translate the meaning would be something like “drowned sandwich”, since it is covered by an exquisite flavor sauce, based on tree chillies, tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, among others ingredients. The bread is stuffed with pork and in the top avocado and red onion, it is a mix combined of more than 1o ingredients, that’s why is one of my favorite mexican dishes in this list.
It is no easy to find it outside of Guadalajara, but you can try, unless the best receipt are always made there, the best tortas ahogadas are made of course in Guadalajara.
3.-Camarones a la diabla
In english would be like “deviled shrimp” (yes, this one is spicy), this is one of my favorites sea dishes, one of the typical mexican dishes from Veracruz, my natal and beautiful town. This old city was the gateway to the new world, the first Spanish conquerors entered through this lands, bringing with them (not only diseases) new ingredients that were used over the centuries to create delicious recipes.
This shrimps are made with chilli chipotle sauce, tomato, garlic, oregano and other ingredients that made this receipt delicious, although this is a little bit spicy, you can always ask for spicy levels, so you don’t miss this amazing dish.
Veracruz is known for its great contribution to sea food, it is one of the best places to experience seafood in Mexico, actually Im thinking to write an article just about Veracruz cuisine since few tourists know this city, although it is the oldest city in America and the first port in America, it has a great history that has undoubtedly influenced its cuisine.
This is a typical from the mayan cuisine (Yucatán), which also have made a great contribution to mexican cuisine, the Mayans have contributed not only valuable astronomical and architectural knowledge but their cuisine have been one of the reasons why Mexican cuisine is considered a World Heritage.
This antique dish is prepare with achiote, oranges juice, oregano, cumin seeds, Mexican cinnamon, garlic cloves, habanero chile de-seeded among others ingredients, then is cook and completely covered with banana leaves, this can be serve in tacos or torta (sandwich) with red onions and lemon, you can see full receipt here.
Cochinita pibil is a proudly Mayan contribution, with centuries of history, when the Spanish introduced the pork into America (remember that this animal used to be food for slaves, that is why in Mexico and other countries in Latin America is so common) native learned how to cook it and they did so well that nowadays still popular.
The tlayuda is no precisely a dish but a snack maybe, although you can add a piece of meat or chicken shredded and could become a complete meal that can be part of this mexican dishes list. The tlayuda is a big tortilla corn of about 30 cm. diameter very typical of the central valleys of Oaxaca.
The tlayudas are made with white corn dough, leaved enough time on the comal (pan) so that the water in the dough evaporates and once cooked and with a firm consistency, it is removed from the comal to make it crispy. This can be covered with beans, sauce, avocado, nopal, could include meat or just cheese.
The mole oaxaqueño, the tlayudas and chapulines, among other varieties of Oaxacan cuisine were declared together with the rest of the country’s gastronomy as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2010, as part of the expression of cultural identity, which preserves the ancient and ancestral traditions and customs of the people of Oaxaca.
6.-Barbacoa de hoyo.
Hidalgo and North of Mexico.
The lamb barbacoa is a typical mexican dish from the north and central México, prepared with pre-hispanic cooking methods that consist in wrapping the meat in maguey leaves, that were previously roasted. This method was used in the past for cooking other animals like rabbit, the armadillo, the opossum, among others, now the barbacoa de hoyo (Barbecue of hole) is made with lamb, that was introduced in America for the conquers in the Spanish Colony.
The sheep most be selected, have at least 2 years old and weight 40kg more or less, the traditional form to cooke it is digging a hole in the ground that would be the oven (that is why is called barbecue of hole), it is usually 1 meter deep and half meter wide, this technique is very jealous and require a truly expert to avoid a bad preparation or the result will be a dish with little flavor that the most knowledgeable should despise.
This dish is a delicious example of miscegenation reflected in the mexican cuisine prepared with pre-hispanic cooking methods using animals that were introduced by conquers 600 years ago and these mixtures of flavors and elements in my opinion create the most exquisite dishes
7.- Chile en nogada
This is a very special mexican dish and a based in a traditional mexican recipe typical only in one month of the year, September, in which we celebrate the independence of Mexico from the Spanish colony.
The Chile en nogada was created in Puebla by Augustinian nuns from the convent of Santa Mónica as a tribute to the independence hero Agustín de Iturbide when he was coming back from Veracruz, where he had signed the independence of Mexico. The first time this dish was served in history was August 28, 1821.
This dish is prepared with chilli poblano stuffed with a stew of picadillo (meat prepared with tomato, onion, nuts) and fruits, which includes coriander and which is covered with walnut cream, parsley and pomegranate. There was an extra effort not only to make it delicious, but also to include all the colors of the Mexican flag used by the trigarante army during its battles since that same date was Iturbide’s birthday.
This amazing tradicional dish is internationally considered one of the finest Mexican dishes and most representative Mexican haute cuisine.
9.-Lobsters from Puerto Nuevo.
In Mexico you can find delicious sea mexican dishes , and one of the most incredibles are lobster from Puerto Nuevo, Baja California. More than 50 years ago the tradition of this recipe began to take form, it was during the fifties when at the initiative of a group of fishermen attracted tourists for fishing trips that came from the small town. When returning from fishing, the wives cordially invited visitors to sit down at the table to savor the freshly cooked lobster, the most common dish among the fishermen of that area.
This delicious lobster is served with beans , rice and accompanied by flour tortillas. The lobster of “Puerto Nuevo” spread its fame in a short time, in such a way that new tourists arrive day after day with the purpose of tasting the famous and exquisite “Puerto Nuevo” Style Lobster.
Currently “Puerto Nuevo” is a restaurant community, with more than 30 establishments, located 50 km south of the city of Tijuana, by federal highway No. 1 or by the scenic highway to Ensenada taking the exit which indicates the town, approximately 45 minutes away, or you can visit my favorite restaurant or ask for a lobster tour here.
10.- Mole poblano
This is one of the most representative mexican dishes and it is from Puebla, also created by nuns (Puebla is the most tradicional city in Mexico, with more than 200 church, the religion on this place was a strong influence in people’s life that still remaining), one of the versions said that the mole poblano was created in the convent of Santa Rosa in the city of Puebla, when a nun ground different chilies and other spices together in a metate.
Other version stated that it was created in Puebla in the 17th century by Andrea de la Asunción, a Dominican nun from the convent of Santa Rosa to welcoming the Viceroy Tomás Antonio de la Serna who was passing through the city and asked for a dish that would delight his palate, this nun put her greatest care into a dish that ended with captivate the viceroy.
The mole poblano is prepared with several ingredients, bitter chocolate, more than 10 chillis like mulato, pasilla, chipotle, tomatoes, almonds, banana, nuts, raisins, sesame, cloves, cinnamon, parsley, pepper, onion, garlic between others. This could be served with turkey or chicken, tortillas and red rice.
Without a doubt this is a dish that you should try if you come to Mexico and much more if you are in Puebla. In Mexico there are several moles besides the poblano, it is estimated that there are more than 50 types in Mexican cuisine, but this is the most typical that can be found almost everywhere.
Real Mexican dishes contribution
For me travel represents not only to explore new cultures through the eyes, but also experience history and its traditions through food, ingredients and the mixture of its elements says a lot about its history, and that is something that enriches so much the Mexican dishes, the mixture of its history with its present.
Now that you know the difference between burritos and real mexican food, maybe you are ready to visit Mexico and ask for this delicious dishes that can leave surprised even the most traveled palate.
Are you coming to Mexico and you would like to know what to visit ? Read my latest post about the Best 12 Cenotes to Visit in Riviera Maya.
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