The Mexican Food Thread

What are your favorite Mexican dishes? After many years, the International community has finally recognized Mexican food as one of the “great” cuisines. That such a foregone conclusion was ignored for so long is tantamount to a crime, but there you have it. I suppose we have Diane Kennedy to thank among so many others.

The simplicity of Mexican food goes an incredibly long way. What is your outstanding South-of-the-Border dish? When and where did you encounter your favorite concoction? Which recipe do you like to cook the most? What course do you make that knocks out dinner guests every time? (Besides the refried beans!)

My most favorite is:

[li]Tacos[/li]Love 'em, can’t get enough of them. Shredded beef and pulled pork are my styles of choice. Never got into the chicken or fish taco thang too much. The only “fish” tacos I’ve had were made from pan-fried ceviche leftovers that I brought home from a party, so maybe I need some guidance. I still miss Tijuana Joe’s cheese tacos and guacamole tacos from my semi-vegetarian days. I’m most partial to a yellow corn hard-shell shredded beef taco. The dusky, mellow flavor of the fried tortilla glorifies the filling in an inimitable fashion.

The finest hard-shell tacos I’ve ever had were from a tiny El Salvadoran restaurant near my first home in Silicon Valley. They taught me the trick of sprinkling Parmesan cheese over the finished product. The condiments for a perfect taco are too simple;[ul][li]Slow Cooked Meat[/li][li]Monterey Jack Cheese[/li][li]Chopped White Onions and Cilantro[/li][li]Shredded Lettuce[/li][li]Grated Cotilla or Parmesan Cheese[/li][li]Good Salsa (red for beef and green for pork)[/ul]Oddly enough, one of the better flavors I’ve ever had in a taco was from a tiny tortillaria near the bottom of Hearst Avenue in the Berkeley flatlands. It was a hole-in-the-wall near Spenger’s Fish Grotto. The filling was ridiculously simple;[ul]Seasoned ground beef (yes, ground beef)[/li][li]Cooked diced potato mixed in with the beef[/li][li]Soft white corn tortilla[/ul]That’s it, so ordinary and crude as to defy logic. I’d snag a tin of Herdez Salsa Casera off of the Bodega’s shelves, pour it over these little marvels, and scoff a half dozen in a sitting. Go figure, but I still miss them to this day and would pay dearly for the recipe.[/li]
[li]Flautas[/li]When these are done right, they transcend most other ordinary entrees. Usually, what you get is a taquito with a high school diploma. A proper flauta is made of two yellow corn tortillas that partially overlap to form a long, tightly rolled tube filled with chicken or Monterey Jack cheese. My favorite Mexican restaurant (Mario’s La Fiesta in Berkeley, CA) makes better flautas than any I’ve had. Deep fried to a crisp golden brown, they are topped with a guacamole and salsa combination. The dark, roasted flavor of the corn serves as a base for the delicate mix of the topping and filling. A drizzle of scathing Salsa Roja fills the bill.

[li]Chile Rellenos[/li]This classic Mexican morsel is downright regal. The fluffy envelope of egg batter mantles a roasted Poblano chile that is stuffed with Monterey Jack or Mexican cheese. A simpler dish is hard to imagine, even if it is less than simple to make. It’s hard to separate them from the ubiquitous runny French dressing over a tomato wedge and shredded lettuce that usually garnishes the plate.

[li]Tostadas[/li]Cheese tostadas are wonderful. A creamy layer of refried beans is smeared like thick butter on a hard fried yellow corn tortilla. This makes the foundation for a swath of shredded lettuce and a heap of grated Monterey Jack cheese that crowns the entire affair. Top it all with a dollop of guacamole and some good salsa and you have real fine eats.

[li]Tamales[/li]Properly made tamales are almost ethereal. Too often, we get fed a dense, brick-like lump of masa shrouded meat paste. A real tamale is light and delicate, with a robust and spicy center of well cooked pork or beef. Slather some Jalapeño hot sauce over a brace of these and get a taste of the hereafter!
Later in this thread I shall post an active index to a compendium of my Mexican recipes from
The Ultimate Recipe Thread. Please understand that the most important thing isn’t how I’ve gotten Hispanic women to admit (through gritting teeth) that my Mexican cooking is better than theirs, its just that the food tastes so good.

Oh my God, I love Mexican food. It took me ages to get my husband used to spicy food. I am thrilled that it’s beginning to catch on here (even if the people mispronounce all the names). A Mexican restaurant even opened up right down the street! Unfortunately some of the more exotic ingredients are still a little hard to find.

My favourites are all pretty standard, since I tend to make most of my Mexican food at home. I love:

[ul][li]Enchiladas (esp. with yellow corn tortillas)[/li][li]Burritos[/li][li]Any kind of chili, with quesadillas on the side[/li][li]Fajitas[/li][li]Tacos[/li][li]Freshly made tortilla chips and salsa[/ul][/li]
The dishes are all so wonderful and open to variation. Anyone who wants to try making non-prepackaged Mexican and Tex-Mex food at home should check out the cookbook New Mexico Cooking by Clyde Casey for some good ideas.

It’s not “South of the Border” food per se but it’s most likely good food.

My favorite dish to make is Green Chile. Not that Tex-Mex stuff, we are talking roasting the chiles by myself, chopping up a lot of pork tenderloin, onions, garlic among other things that make green chile, green chile (not green chili…huh? What’s that?).

I usually soak pinto beans over night, changing the water, whit if too many times can be not a good thing, but if you make refried beans you have to change the water right before cooking them.

Serve green chile (verde chile, say it with me folks, verde chile) with some tortilla warmed and some beans on the side…oh yeah, good stuff.

Oh and I do have one of my best friend’s recipe’s for Green Chile, she was born and pretty much raised in New Mexico…and yes she’s as hispanic as you can get with her recipe so I am willing to post it if people want it…mine is as good but I can’t find it right now.

One of the best things about living here in South Texas is the cuisine - we have dozens of great little Mexican restaurants in San Antonio, and more scattered in smaller towns between here and the border. Mexico is close enough that it is feasible to take a date on a nice drive to Nuevo Laredo for dinner - the food is inexpensive and of high quality, the atmosphere is exotic, and the people are incredibly friendly, especially if you make an attempt to speak some Spanish when you are down there (even if your grammar isn’t that good - they really appreciate the effort). It’s hard for me to decide which I like better - Mexican food or Mexican beer - but that’s another thread.
Most of the local Mexican restaurants have a couple of special dishes served only on weekends. Barbacoa, a local delicacy, is made from the meat on the outside of a cow’s head, i.e. the cheeks, etc., and is incredibly tender. (Well, it’s usually made from the outer meats - I will refrain from telling my barbacoa de ojos story here.) Menudo is a soup made from cabbage and tripe (the meat lining a calf’s stomach) and has the side effect of settling your own stomach when you have a hangover. However, my favorite Sunday breakfast is a nice big plate of chilaquiles (chill-ah-KEEL-es), which are made by placing corn tortilla chips in a hot skillet, scrambling a few eggs in with them, topping them with fresh salsa, and served with sides of refried beans, papas (chunky-style hash browns), and hot flour tortillas.

I’m sure that I can think of more, but right now I’m going out for breakfast.

All this talk about good Mexican food is gettin’ me hungry.
I love Mexican food, me being of Mexican decent, I can’t get enough of it.
I remember mi Mama makin’ all sorts of good stuff, menudo, chicken tacos and burritos, chicken mole’, tamales, papas, sopa(spanish rice), chorizo,a spicy sausage.

I can make most of it, but livin’ in Minnesota, sometimes finding the right or non-canned ingredients is a little difficult.

I’m gettin’ a little homesick now, so I think I’ll email some of my sisters back in Cali and ask them about some more food mom and granny used to make.
I wish my Mom were stiil with us so she could send me care packages like she used to.:frowning:

Mexican restraunts are great, but nuthin’ beats authentic home cookin’.:slight_smile:

Provided the cook knows what they are doing.

There’s a little place in El Segundo called El Tarasco. I haven’t been there in years, but they made the best carnitas tacos I’ve had. The shredded pork was put into two corn torillas and topped with guacamole that had jalapenos in it. Then it was wrapped in aluminum foil so that when it came to the table the tortillas were warm and soft.

Tito’s Tacos on Washington & Sepulveda in Culver City has good tacos. And they’re cheap.

When I was a kid in San Diego we had a lady come in once a week to clean house. I remember coming home from school and hearing the “pat-pat-pat” of her hand-making tortillas. I’d get a couple of those freshly-made torillas with some butter on them as a snack. For dinner, she’d cook and shred beef for home-made enchiladas or tamales. Mmmmm!

I tried menudo for the second time a couple of weeks ago. Juanita’s, out of a can. I added chopped onions to it while it was cooking (I know, you’re supposed to put them in afterward) and added the juice from 1/4 lemon and a handful of chopped cilantro when it was in the bowl. It was better than the stuff I had at Pendejo’s (sorry, Zendeja’s) for lunch a few years ago. The tripe at the restaurant was a little too chewy. I’ve since been told that it’s better to get menudo on weekend mornings, not at a weekday buffet. Verdict: Juanita’s menudo is pretty good. (Earthman: Around here, menudo is made from tripe and hominy – no cabbage.)

When I was a kid my older sister used to take me to Pacific Beach where we’d get taquitos with guacamole. Those were good.

Fish tacos. Good! But you have to get them at a place that specializes in them. There was a little place in Pacific Beach I went to last year that was great! Rubio’s makes 'em pretty good too. I had some the other day at The Chili Pepper in Orange (or Santa Ana – I get confused down there), but they weren’t as good as others I’ve had. A Tex-Mex guy I work with didn’t like the fish tacos at El Torito. Too much cheese. Personally, I don’t want cheese on my fish taco. Say, does anyone here remember when “fish taco” was a dirty joke?

What’s my favourite? Depends on what I’m in the mood for. Carnitas, carne asada, enchiladas, tamales, burritos (that means “little donkey”, doesn’t it?), tacos, black beans, refried beans… whatever.

Is it true that authentic Mexican food is much less likely to include cheese as an ingredient than the “Tex-Mex” we tend to get here in the States?

(Not that I’m complaining. I like the cheese.)

Also, I am visiting central Mexico (Leon and San Miguel de Allende) this week. Any local dishes I should seek out while there?

Johnny L.A., I was gunna mention that too but I wasn’t in the nit-picken mood, but now I am.
** TC**, it’s chile verde, a lot of times tranlating words or phrases from the spanish language, things get turned around. I hope you noticed I did not quote JLA’s entire post.:slight_smile:

Guacamole, how could I forget about Guacamole.** Spider Woman** loves my guacamole and shows her appreciation by a… thanking me.:smiley:

And spoke-, I like cheese too.

CHICKEN MOLE!!! (“mole” is chocolate sauce) Yummmmmm :smiley: Very messy, take your finger bowl!

POZOLE!!! (stew) You can’t buy it anywhere, it’s always best when a friend makes it!

One that I can cook:
ENCHILADAS! I make 'em with black beans and hominy (big white corn) inside.

When actually in Mexico, visit the Blowhole at Ensenada (Baja California) and get FISH TACOS! NOT deep-fried with all that crusty crap! After eating fish tacos at the Blowhole, I can never eat one from anywhere else!

I used to live on Campbell and Washington, a few blocks from Tito’s. I remember being sozzled on ONE margarita. And the food was good, too :smiley:

I made salsa for a potluck. I could not find ONE SINGLE FREAKIN jalapeno. (sorry about the shouting). I had to sub canned pepper instead, and it just wasn’t the same. :frowning:

My first stop in Texas is a really good Mexican restaurant.


There was this restuarant that I used to go to all the time. There enchiladas were the best that i have ever had anywhere. After those, I just can’t stand any others. They also had these little things called totopos which were very yummy. mmmm… Unfortunately they sold the restaurant and the food just hasn’t been the same, sigh. I also love gaucamole. My Dad makes the best Gaucamole on this side of the border. Yummmm.

We looked up mole on AltaVista. It is many kinds of sauces, including Mexican chocolate sauce.

You’re right - I was thinking of something else. Of course menudo is made with hominy and not usually with cabbage (although I have a buddy who puts both in his). In my defense, let me state that I only rarely eat menudo, and never when I am in full posession of my faculties. :smiley: It’s not that I don’t like it, but sometimes I think a little too much about having something else’s stomach inside my own stomach.

Oh my god, I love Mexican food. I was thrilled when I found out that we were moving to CA (my second time here) so I could get GOOD mexican food again. Any taqueria here can blow away any so-called “Mexican” restaurant in Boston.

I love it all! Except Menudo, because I have no idea what it is, and I’ve heard rumors of tripe.

I could eat Rubio’s Fish Tacos for the rest of my life. It’s been so long since I’ve had one, oh, I LONG for one (or six)!

Surely the best Mexican food comes from the Yucatan peninsula? I don’t think things get better than an authentically prepared pibil chicken or suckling pig (cooked in an open pit barbeque) or perhaps a truly fresh ceviche served with fresh tortillas and lots of lime juice. The Tex-Mex stuff is good, but heaven isn’t too much further away. Course, can’t get the real yucateca in Cancun, which is why I prefer Merida.

spoke-: It is true that authentic Mexican cuisine will have much less dairy product than what we’re usually served here in the states. There are some local cheeses you’ll run into, and something known as crema which is the Mexican version of sour cream–just a little thinner than what we’re used to.

I have to admit, I was spoiled where I used to work before I left for school. The factory crew consisted of mostly Mexican laborers, and our receptionist was also Mexican. On holidays, we would have the most incredible potluck lunches. The guys out in the shop would bring in an entire pig and roast it for hours in a makeshift BBQ they had welded together, making some of the best damn carnitas I’ve ever had. The receptionist turned out the only chicken mole I’ll ever eat–she made the stuff that all others must be judged by. She also made incredible tamales and salsa verde. She was a very deeply religious woman, and we used to say that God spoke through her food (yes, she was that good of a cook).

Other than that, I’m actually more fond of South American cuisine. My boyfriend’s family is from Ecuador, so I get treated to some really great things such as maduros (ripened plantains–a little like a banana, but not as sweet) and arroz con gondules (a rice and legume dish). I’d personally rather be at an Argentine steakhouse/grill than at your basic Mexican restaurant.

I had a Rubio’s fish taco last night - add a squirt of lime and the white sauce and it’s perfect.

I had excellent authentic tortilla soup once in San Antonio.

Anyone can make a good taco or enchilada, but the benchmark for a good Mexican restaurant for me is their chile relleno.

I make a killer “chile relleno” casserole - easier to make and serve than the individual ones when you have guests.

We have a tamale festival here each year - HEAVEN.

If I can recommend a book-Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen . It won a well-deserved Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Award just a few years ago. This is a cookbook that not only contains recipes, but is a book about Mexican food, much like John Thornes’ books are about food, which are so revered by Ukulele Ike and me.

Pity me, living in Northern Ohio. Even though a new Mexican restaurant springs up every month it seems, they are pitiful. Yes, there is definitely a national craze currently concerning Mexican food/restaurants. Most of the restaurants serve pure sludge.

beckwall I just read your post before I posted my post(got that?). I agree, my basis for judging a Mex restaurant is the poblano chile relleno . They all flunk up here.

Anything from Carolina’s, a dive near 7th St and I-10, particularly their machaca(sp?)-spiced beef burritos and tamales. That restaurant is by far the best. Although there are plenty of small Mexican food stands closer by that will do in a pinch (like Filiberto’s).

spoke-, you’re right about the cheese thing and Tex-Mex. There’s a place called Julio G’s up in Scottsdale that makes heavy use of cream cheese. Their food is delicious. I love cheese, especially cream cheese. I could eat damn near anything as long as it’s covered in cream cheese.

Sue Duhnym, what you’ve heard is correct. Menudo, both the food and the kid’s pop group, contain tripe (cow stomach lining). In Mexico it’s often eaten as a hangover cure. I know of at least one Mexican-American who claims that it helps his hangovers. I’ll take his word for it.