10 Signs You Haven’t Tried Authentic Mexican Food

The high popularity of Mexican food has increased imitations and innovations that don’t make the dish authentic. So, if you’re a Mexican food lover and you want the real flavors of authentic Mexican dishes, watch out for the signs you’ve never had real Mexican food.

Because of the increasing Mexican-American population in the country and the growing interest in foreign cuisines, Mexican cuisine is now the third most popular type of cuisine in America.

Now, you can eat your favorite Mexican food at traditional sit-down locations, fast-casual restaurants, food trucks, and almost anywhere you want.

Some restaurants have incorporated American culture in the traditional ways that most authentic Mexican food is prepared, which is dubbed “Tex-Mex”.

These 10 signs you’ve never had real Mexican food will help you determine if what you’re eating is authentically Mexican or not:

  1. Everything is meat-based

    Mexican food - El Rincon Mexican Kitchen & Tequila BarGenuine Mexican food is not all meat. You may be expecting ground beef or carne asada for very Mexican cuisine, but many Mexican dishes are prepared with seafood, beans, and fresh vegetables.

    Tacos, for example, aren’t just for meat-eaters. They are prepared in many variants, using many ingredients like shrimp and vegetables. Authentic Mexican tacos are small and soft because they are grilled or steamed, what a tiny bowl of salsa and avocado on the side.

  2. The Food is Always Spicy

    Not all Mexican dishes are spiced up. Many Mexican foods are prepared with light flavors showcasing mild ingredients like bell peppers. Some common everyday fare that is usually not hot by a long shot are:

    1. Quesadillas
    2. Pasta in tomato sauce
    3. Fried fish
    4. Flautas or tacos dorados salpicón
    5. Albondigon
    6. Garlic shrimp
    7. Cochinita pibil
    8. Buñuelos
    9. Frozen fruit pops
  3. You Expect Differently From a Real Taco

    Tacos on plate. Vintage wood background - El Rincon Mexican Kitchen & Tequila BarOne of the signs you’ve never had real Mexican food is when you have no idea what a real taco is. Most Mexican food lovers expect to have sour cream, cheddar cheese, flour tortilla or corn shell, and lettuce in a taco. However, real traditional Mexican tacos will not have these ingredients together.

    Another sign that you are not eating authentic Mexican taco is when it is prepared with a hard shell. If you prefer hard shell tacos, that is not a real Mexican taco. Try a tostada if you crave the crunch.

  4. You Think Mexican Food is Not Healthy

    Chicken burrito bowl - El Rincon Mexican Kitchen & Tequila BarMany of the Tex-Mex dishes are made with greasy fried meats and melted cheese. This has changed the authenticity of Mexican food that is made with fresh, healthy ingredients.

    There are hundreds of authentic Mexican dishes prepared with nutrition-packed herbs, vegetables, fresh fish, fruits, and other ingredients that are full of nutrients.

    Here are some favorites:

    1. Burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, grilled chicken or lean steak, and topped with lettuce and salsa, with guacamole on the side.
    2. Tacos made with grilled chicken, lean steak, or grilled fish on a corn tortilla.
    3. Black or pinto beans that are slow-cooked with onion, garlic, and spices.
    4. Ceviche is made of raw fish marinated in lime and lemon juice, onion, tomatoes, and cilantro.
    5. Fajitas, a sizzling dish with grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp, and piled on with veggies.
  5. You Think Fajitas are Mexican

    Homemade Chicken Fajitas with Vegetables - El Rincon Mexican Kitchen & Tequila BarWhat Mexican food is not actually Mexican? Fajitas! This delightful dish is a very American invention that was introduced in Texas in the 1930s. Fajitas became very popular since it was introduced in fast-food restaurants.

    But many Mexican restaurants substituted the original skirt steak ingredient with other cuts of meat and added other grilled ingredients like shrimp, chicken, and vegetables. This clouded the real way fajitas are being prepared and blurred the line of what authentic fajitas should be made of.

    Related: How Mexican Food is Different From American Food

  6. Queso is on Everything

    Most Tex-Mex Restaurants would prepare Mexican dishes with overflowing melted cheese on top. Some also serve cheese dips made with cheddar and peppers. This is not the real deal.

    Authentic Mexican cuisine uses white cheese or queso blanco. If you see these seven traditional Mexican kinds of cheese in the next Mexican dish you eat, it’s a sign you’re eating authentic Mexican food:

    1. Añejo
    2. Asadero
    3. Chihuahua
    4. Cotija
    5. Queso Fresco
    6. Queso de Oaxaca
    7. Queso Panela
  7. You think churros are the only Mexican Dessert

    Churros are not traditionally Mexican. They stem from a Chinese recipe made with salted strips of fried pastry. It just became popularly served in Mexican restaurants because it was brought to South America after being popularized in Spain.

  8. Huge, Overstuffed Burritos and Enchiladas

    Mexican beef burrito- El Rincon Mexican Kitchen & Tequila BarAmerican best Mexican restaurants serve gigantic, overstuffed burritos and enchiladas. But the traditional authentic Mexican burrito and enchilada are less enormous and more simple with just a few toppings.

    The real Mexican burritos and enchiladas are light, dipped in a spicy sauce before they are grilled, and then filled with just a small amount of meat.

  9. You Use Sour Cream and Labeled “Taco” Cheese

    When you use store-bought labeled “taco” cheese, you are not using authentic Mexican cheese. Real Mexican cheeses are light and tangy that complement the Mexican flavors of ingredients used in authentic Mexican dishes.

    Sour cream is not a traditional Mexican ingredient as well. Mexican food recipes use crema which is a milder and thinner option.

  10. You’ve Never Heard of the Spanish Names of Authentic Mexican Dishes

    What is the difference between authentic Mexican food and Tex-Mex? I’ll tell you one that is most often ignored by Mexican food lovers: the Spanish names!

    If you’ve never heard of mole, pozole, elote, exquisite, chiles en nogada, chicharrón en chile verde, tacos al pastor, alambre, gringa, atole, and so many others, you’re missing a lot on traditional Mexican food.

    These dishes may not be easily found outside of Mexico but when you see them in the menu list, you are most probably eating authentic Mexican food.


Authentic Mexican Food at Its Finest

The Americanization of most of the traditional Mexican dishes has led to many misconceptions about authentic Mexican cuisine. Some Mexican food served in many restaurants only has a hint of the traditional ingredients and spices that are used in authentic Mexican cooking.

Knowing these signs that you’ve never had real and best Mexican food is your first step to enjoying the great flavors that traditional authentic Mexican cuisine can give your palate.

Related: 5 Tips On How To Find the Best Authentic Mexican Food

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El Rincon Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, also known as El Rincon among locals, is a Mexican restaurant that serves fresh Mexican cuisine and drinks.

Besides serving food for our customers in Carrollton and Addison we’re also active in communities across Texas

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