Help me make authentic Mexican restaurant food

If you’ve eaten at Los Burritos in Tujunga, Calif, you know what I’m looking for.


  1. Beans. Fairly plain. Do restaurant beans usually have seasoning or just beans and salt fried in some lard?

  2. Cheese. I was thinking queso blanco, but there is a little tangyness to the cheese in the restaurants. Do the restaurants use Oaxaca cheese because of it’s melting ability?

3) Chicken. Boiled or stewed? Do i want to throw the chicken breast in the pot with some broth, carrots, celery, and onion or do I just boil them plain?

  1. Frying the tacos. Deep fat frier or in a skillet frying each side separately?

Fried tacos are ‘authentic’ Mexican food?

OP said “Mexican restaurant food”

Look up tacos dorados.

Wiki lists queso blanco as the same as queso fresco—if that’s true, I haven’t seen too many Tex-Mex places that serve it. (Queso fresco being the crumbly white cheese that reminds me somewhat of feta, minus the sharp flavor.)

Chihuahua cheese is a pretty good approximation, or if you can get the La Chona brand where you are, I found the one sold as “Quesadilla Cheese” to be very similar to that of several Mexican places around here.

Side question: I’ve had Mexican food that involved what someone told me (not a native English speaker so approximate) was “zucchini flowers” or “squash blossoms” or something-- a really interesting taste. What are these called in the states, and where does one get them?

ETA: Oh, and I’ve seen a good queso fresco sort of thing called cotija that’s widely available even in the sticks in the northwest.

They’re called “squash blossoms”, but they’re nearly impossible to find outside farmer’s markets. They go slimy on you within two days of picking, and then they’re no good.

For the chicken, I’ve had good luck throwing some chicken breasts in the slow cooker with a jar of salsa, then shredding the cooked meat with some salsa mixed in. It makes a good Mexican-ish chicken filling. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you could get similar results stewing the chicken.

One way to get that stringy, falling apart consistency for your meat, be it chicken, pork, or beef - bake the meat first, with minimal seasoning. Then take your cooked, deboned meat, and cook it again, in a seasoned sauce, while stirring roughly. This will not only have the meat falling apart into fiber bundles, it will make sure all the bundles are well-coated with your seasoning sauce. I set up my sauces so that I can reduce them to a paste to go with the meat, but some people prefer a wetter meat.

This method works very well with so-called poorer cuts of meat - beef chuck, or pork butts. The first baking will get most of the fat running off the meat, and the second cooking makes it very tasty.
For refried beans, I think that the best way to get them good is to make them yourself from the dried bean.

ETA: This recipe is based on a one pound bag of dried beans, adjust as necessary.

Soak your beans overnight. Rinse, and throw out the rinse water. Then I stick 'em into a slow cooker on high for 4 hours minimum. More can be better, but don’t go too wild. When you’re find that stirring the beans has them starting to fall apart in response to the spoon being dragged through them, they’re ready.

I begin with a large, sweet onion, and saute that in olive oil. Lard is the traditional fat, but I found it wasn’t adding much taste, and I have olive oil - and that keeps better than the lard for me. I like chunks of veggie in my foods, so I chop it fairly coarsely. Then, if I’m making these for myself, I mince, finely about six or seven habaneros. For less masochistic types, I’d mince in about that number of jalapenos. Then add a little salt (no more than a tablespoon) and if you want it, a little generic taco seasoning. (Or you can work your own taste mix with cumin, paprika, and ancho powder. I’m too lazy to work that out, myself.) Then drain the beans, and add them to the skillet. Then using a stiff spatula, mash everything together. You won’t get all the beans mashed, but most of them will. And unless you’re cooking for a large family, you’ll have plenty of left-overs. But they’re yummy, and they reheat well.

But this doesn’t answer what sort of seasoning (if any) the “Los Burritos” restaurants use in their beans. I’m also curious about the deepfryer vs frying each side method in the tacos

Sorry, I should have prefaced that I’ve not eaten at ‘Los Burritos.’ And that I was offering a recipe that met my own goal of meeting or surpassing the taste of the best resturant Mexican food I’ve had.

I haven’t eaten there either, but I’ve found the liberal use of cilantro and black olives greatly enhance most mexican dishes.

As for your “cheese” question, most restaurants use very cheap bulk, pre-shreaded crap, so if you like the “tangyness” of it, shop at “Smart-and-Final”.