Best Mexican dishes – The most popular Mexican foods
Authentic Mexican cuisine: Heritage of traditions
México has one of the richest gastronomies in the world and Mexican food is one of the most beloved worldwide!
Mexican cuisine has been recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This prestigious designation was granted in 2010, highlighting the cultural significance and heritage of Mexican food.
This designation has further elevated the status of Mexican cuisine on the world stage and emphasizes its importance not only as a source of delicious food but also as a cultural treasure to be celebrated and preserved.
What makes Mexican food so unique?
The traditional cuisine of Mexico is the product of a set of ancient techniques and a mix of pre-Hispanic local products and European ingredients such as certain spices like cinnamon, wheat, cattle, milk, cheese, etc.
Mexico also is known for its street markets, where you can find all sorts of magical stuff—things you couldn’t even imagine. Every street market has its own food area and is a representation of local cooking.
The main pre-Hispanic Mexican ingredients are chocolate, chile (chili), guajolote (wild turkey), and maíz (corn).
Most popular Mexican dishes
Mexican cuisine boasts a wealth of popular dishes celebrated for their bold flavors and cultural significance. From savory tacos to rich and complex moles, these dishes represent the diverse and vibrant tapestry of Mexico’s culinary heritage.
The traditional cuisine of Mexico tells a story of tradition, regionality, and the love of good food. Each bite is a celebration of tradition, creativity, and a deep connection to the land and its people.
Chilaquiles is a dish of fried tortilla strips typically topped with a spicy tomato sauce and cheese.
Made of triangular pieces of fried or toasted corn tortilla (so-called “totopos), soaked in a red or green hot sauce, topped with shredded chicken, chorizo, shredded beef, and scrambled or sunny-side-up egg.
Chilaquiles are decorated with fresh cheese, coriander, and sliced onion and are served with fried beans on the side.
This dish represents the hats of two ranchmen.
Huevos Rancheros are made with two fried corn tortillas, topped with fried beans, and two sunny-side-up eggs all bathed in red hot sauce and decorated with coriander and freshly ground black pepper.
This is one of the most popular dishes on the northern side of México.
Machaca is very versatile and can be eaten in a taco, a stuffed burrito, flautas, or just as a stew with some tortillas, beans, or rice on the side. Machaca is simply a shredded version of dried beef with proper seasoning. It´s delicious!
Discada is cooked on a plow disc previously cured over some wood.
A northern dish, full of meat: sausage, chorizo, ground meat, ham, bacon, lard, jalapeño pepper, and onion. All seasoned with thyme, celery, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, black pepper, black sauces, salt, rosemary, and a bit of dark beer.
It is a traditional dish for family reunions.
Recognized as the most popular Mexican dish worldwide, the taco has become an art. The most common are beef steak, flank steak, chorizo, offal, “al pastor”, and hot and sweet marinated pork.
Exotic tacos are filled with fried brains, beef eyes, liver with onions, scorpions, bull testicles, escamoles (edible ant larvae, considered a delicacy), and a whole lot of fillings you could never imagine.
Escamoles are ant larvae found only in central and southern México. The larvae are only found once a year and harvesting them is quite a delicate operation, making this a very expensive dish – a bit like caviar.
This is very popular on the northern side of México, especially the states bordering the United States. A burrito is a cylindrically rolled flour tortilla stuffed with different ingredients of choice, often a stew.
The most popular are the fried bean burrito with cheese and the machaca burrito.
There is a myth in Mexican culture that before the conquest, Pozole was made out of human flesh. In reality, it is a dish made with the meat of a Xoloitzcuintle (a dog endemic to the country).
Nowadays, though, Pozole is cooked with shredded chicken or wild turkey. There are several types, such as green, red, or white pozole, camagua, seafood, elopozole, etc. The most popular are green and red.
A southern delight, Cochinita Pibil is a slow-cooked shredded pork stew, typical of the Yucatan Peninsula. The meat is marinated in achiote, orange juice, onion, and vinegar, then cooked and wrapped in banana leaves.
It is served with marinated onion and fresh habanero.
Tamales are an icon of Mexican food. You can eat these all day every day, especially on the Day of The Candelaria. It comes from pre-Hispanic America, and is náhuatl in the indigenous language, meaning wrapped.
These can be wrapped in corn leaves or banana leaves and stuffed with any stew of your choice. The most common are mole, shredded chicken or pork with green or red salsa, pepper with cheese, and yellow corn kernels.
Quesadillas are made by folding either corn or flour tortillas in half and filling them with cheese, meats, vegetables, or other fillings. They can be grilled, fried, or cooked until the cheese melts and the tortilla becomes crispy.
Quesadillas are a delicious dish enjoyed around the world.
“Frijoles Puercos,” which translates to “Dirty Beans” or “Fried Beans,” is a flavorful Mexican dish. It typically consists of pinto beans that are fried and cooked with chorizo, bacon, onions, garlic, and sometimes tomatoes.
The result is a rich and savory bean dish with a satisfying blend of textures and flavors.
These fried beans are often enjoyed as a side dish or as a filling for tacos and burritos. They are known for their hearty and indulgent taste, making them a favorite comfort food in Mexican cuisine.
Enchiladas are a popular Mexican dish consisting of corn tortillas dipped in a flavorful chili sauce and filled with a variety of ingredients, which can include stews, vegetables, or proteins, depending on regional variations and personal preferences.
Traditionally, enchiladas are garnished with toppings like sour cream, crumbled fresh cheese, diced onions, and chopped cilantro. These toppings add freshness and contrasting textures to the dish, enhancing its overall taste.
This dish comes from a very old tradition. It is made with a full Poblano pepper stuffed with picadillo (a mixture of grounded meat, fruits, and spices), topped with a walnut-based cream sauce, and decorated with pomegranate seeds and celery.
Esquites are delicious street food and come in many different varieties depending on where you are in the country. Northern states put cream, mayonnaise, chili powder, lemon, butter, and cheese on it.
The central-southern states prefer them with cream and cheese or with lemon chili powder, but not a mix. Some cook them with epazote and bone marrow. Can be eaten in a cup or with the whole corn pierced on a stick.
Mexican popped amaranth hard candy comes as a bar with various toppings, for example, dried fruit, chocolate, raisins, nuts, etc.
This candy is made from amaranth seeds mixed with honey. It is originally from México City, and, since the 16th century, it has been known by the name “alegría”, which means “joy” in Spanish.
Mole is a sauce made from a mixture of dried chilies, tomatoes, chocolate, seeds, and spices. It is one of México’s most representative dishes. In México, there are seven different types of mole, you should try each one.
Pipián stew originated in pre-Hispanic times and was one of Emperor Moctezuma’s favorite foods.
Coming from the central-southern states, it is obligatory on any sauce menu. The sauce is made from toasted and ground pumpkin seeds and usually poultry, although it is sometimes accompanied by pork, beef, or rabbit.
This is a typical dish of the western coast region of México, particularly the state of Sinaloa.
It is said that pre-Hispanic cultures used to mix dry meat with water and chilies (chiltepín chili). In 1970, they replaced meat with raw shrimp and added other ingredients: lime juice, cucumber, coriander, red onion, avocado, salt, and pepper.
Originating in Peru, ceviche is part of South and Central American gastronomic culture. The basics always include raw fish, onion, tomato, chilies, coriander, and lemon. The most commonly used proteins are fish, shrimp, clam, octopus, crab, or snail.
This is a very popular dish from the Mexican coasts and it’s a pre-Hispanic delight.
The meat was originally roasted on a mangrove wood grill called Zaranda, but now a metal grill is used. It is prepared by seasoning the fish with lemon and chili sauce, then smoking it with mangrove wood.
“Camarones a la Diabla,” which translates to “Deviled Shrimp,” is a bold and spicy Mexican seafood dish. These succulent shrimp are typically cooked in a fiery red chili sauce that gives them their “devilish” designation.
Camarones a la Diabla is an extremely spicy dish.
From the State of Jalisco, this dish is seasoned with a preparation based on some varieties of chili, seasonings, and salt. A tomato-based sauce is prepared with the juices from the cooking, called consomé.
Birria was originally made with goat, but lamb, mutton, pork, chicken, veal, beef, or fish can also be used. Some “birrias” are cooked over the heat in covered pots, with the lid sometimes sealed with corn dough.
Baked birrias are called tatemadas.
Originally, the meat was wrapped in maguey stalk and cooked, but this tradition has almost disappeared.
This is the most famous dish in the State of Oaxaca. It is a large corn tortilla (about 30 cm in diameter) made of white corn. It is first put on the griddle and then placed on the embers to get it dry and crispy.
A traditional “tlayuda” consists of lard, black beans, dried pork meat, chorizo, and cheese and is accompanied by water chili, sliced tomato, avocado, and, of course, you can’t leave out the mezcal with worm salt!
You can find this in the states of Oaxaca and México City. It is the perfect combination of creamy avocado and a crispy, acidic grasshopper. They are delicious and very nutritious as they have a high protein content.
Marinated with salt and garlic, then sautéed on the griddle until they turn reddish and crispy.
The flutes are traditional Mexican tacos made with rolled corn tortillas and filled with mashed potato, cheese, chicken, etc. The difference is that they’re fried in oil. They´re usually served with coriander, tomato, fresh cheese, and sour cream on top.
This is the most popular spicy, and tasty street food in the state of Jalisco. It’s a sandwich made with bread stuffed with confit pork meat immersed in a hot sauce based on dried chilies, vinegar, tomato, and spices.
The original “torta ahogada” is eaten out of a plastic bag.
This is different parts of pork fried in lard, cooked in huge copper pots for hours. The secret tasty flavor comes from the various ingredients used in the cooking process, one of them being orange juice or soda!
Can be eaten in a taco or a sandwich.
It is a classic of Mexican cuisine, made with strips of fried tortillas topped with chicken broth, tomato, pepper, garlic, and onion, scented with epazote and coriander, and topped with cheese, avocado, and sour cream.
The Aztec soup was born as a hybrid, combining Mexican corn tortillas with the Spanish tradition of soup making.
In pre-Hispanic Mexico, there was a wide variety of different tortillas, since corn was mixed with different ingredients. The “gorditas”, both salty and creamy, have their antecedents in Mexican pre-Hispanic gastronomy.
This is a fluffy dessert served outside churches as an after-mass treat, especially on Sundays. They are made from wheat flour, cream, sugar, and cinnamon and can be eaten plain or stuffed with some kind of caramel, jam, cream cheese, or even beans.
In various regions of Mexico, these spicy shrimp dishes are also affectionately referred to as “Gorditas Guadalupanas.”
This name comes from the tradition of enjoying these delectable shrimp on December 12, which is the celebrated day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a significant religious and cultural event in Mexico.
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