Many people enjoy eating Mexican food on a regular basis; many even have a favorite Mexican restaurant San Diego or another major city that’s their go-to anytime they get a craving for Mexican food. What so many people fail to realize, however, is that many so-called “Mexican” restaurants in the United States aren’t really serving up authentic Mexican food; instead, they serve Tex-Mex, or an Americanized version of the cuisine. Fortunately, for people who want to real deal, there are a few ways to go about determining whether or not food is authentic.
The first sign that one is eating at a Mexican restaurant that’s not authentic is that the menu has “fajitas” on it as an option. Unfortunately, fajitas aren’t a Mexican food at all, but an adaptation that was first popularized in the United States back in the 1960s. Therefore, a Mexican restaurant that offers fajitas is probably more of a Tex-Mex place and not a place that serves up authentic Mexican cuisine.
In Mexican dishes, most food (such as tacos) is served up on a corn tortilla—not a flour one. Therefore, upon ordering tacos, if the food is brought out on a flour tortilla, there’s a good chance the restaurant is not an authentic Mexican one. In fact, some Mexican restaurants won’t even keep flour tortillas on-hand.
When the food is delivered, is it sizzling? Is it covered with globs of cheese? If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” then one is probably not eating authentic Mexican food. This is not to say that Mexican cuisine doesn’t incorporate cheese, because it does. However, most real Mexican restaurants would never serve up a dish of beans or burritos covered with a huge blob of cheese because they care about the presentation of their food. It’s the same reason why an authentic Mexican restaurant will never serve up a taco topped with wilted lettuce and a few chopped tomatoes. Instead, authentic Mexican tacos are more likely to be covered with a small amount of fresh lettuce and some lime.
For those who care about eating truly authentic food, these tips are sure to be helpful when it comes to weeding out Americanized versions of one’s favorite Mexican places. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it will surely help one get started.