Whats the difference between a burrito, a soft taco, a chimmi-changa, etc.

Firstly, there’s no need to point out that none of these things are Mexican food, and are Tex-Mex instead.

So, I’m in the north. Really north. There’s an excellent chance that the folks around here don’t know their Tex from their Mex or a chimmi-changa (SP??)from a burrito.

However, my question is this:

At various different places I’ve been served a tortilla with beans, cheese, grilled veg (peppers and onions, usually) and sometimes rice. It is typically served with sour cream, salsa and maybe guacamole.

When I ordered this item has been call a burrito, a chimmi-changa, a soft taco, maybe an enchilada (although I think that usually has more rice). A fajita is similar to the above but usually a do it yourself type thing.

What the heck am I eating? Are all of these things the same only with a different style of tortilla?

Or are northern restaurants just totally clueless (I’m not ruling this out at all).


Basically, a chimichanga is a burrito that has been deep-fried. A burrito is a taco that is folded so it is closed at one or both ends. A taco is a corn or flour tortilla with some sort of filling. They may be folded or rolled depending on the area.

IME, a taco is always simply folded over with no attempt made to close up the open side. Soft tacos are flour tortillas as opposed to the traditional fried corn. A burrito is rolled, really folded kind of like a diaper except with closing off the side that would be open for the baby’s torso. A chimichanga is, as silenus says, a deep-fried burrito, as I understand it. Never had one.

To add to silenus’s fine explaination, chimichangas and burritos are made with flour tortillas, enchiladas and flautas are made with corn tortillas, and tacos can swing both ways. :slight_smile:

A useless bit of trivia: The chimichanga was invented here in Tucson (The Naked Pueblo). According to the most accepted story of its origin, at least hereabouts:

At any rate, there is little dispute that the chimichanga’s roots lie in Pima County, Arizona.

Forgot to add:

Flautas are a corn torilla equivilent of a chimichanga.

I am not Mexican or a cook but around here (Southern California), enchiladas are covered in enchilada sauce during cooking. Burritos are usually served dry, but sometimes have sauce dribbled on them at the last stage of preparation.

ETA: Flautas are usually thin and open at the ends. I always figured they are named for their resemblance to flutes. (Taquitos would be the piccolos.) Chimichangas, in my experience, are quite fat (and fat-making).

Thanks for asking this, alice. I’ve always wondered myself.

Le sigh, Mexican food. So freaking delicious, and so terribly fattening . . .

Known as a “wet” burrito.

Enchiladas are a funny case. You can tell when someone is from New Mexico, for example, because their enciladas are flat, not rolled. Weird, it is.

Like a tostada or like a lasagna? That is strange.

The soft taco can be found in Mexico as well as all over Greater Mexico. It’s simply food wrapped in a tortilla; this can be meat plus condiments–like Carnitas, Houston Style–, eggs plus whatever for the wonderful “breakfast taco.” Or the tortilla can be wrapped around something like carne guisada (stew). Baja California invented fish tacos. I think corn tortillas taste better but flour tortillas are more flexible; they are also more popular in Northern Mexico.

Fajitas are marinated skirt steak, grilled & sliced. Usually accompanied by tortillas & fixings (guacamole, grilled onions, grilled chiles, pico de gallo) so you can make your own tacos. Flour tortillas are traditional, since this is a Northern Mexico/Border dish; but they’ll usually give you corn tortillas if you ask. Chicken & shrimp can also be cooked & served the same way & called “chicken or shrimp fajitas”–linguistically incorrect but it’s a losing battle.

Tacos made with corn tortillas can be fried–which is really Tex-Mex. (Fry them a different way to get flautas.) Even Texier-Mex is using pre-cooked “taco shells”–actually OK if everything is fresh.

I think the Burrito came from California–our local “authentic” Mexican places call them California style. It’s a giant taco, which can be stuffed with a wide variety of food. This takes a flour tortilla, which makes a much better “wrapper” than the corn variety. Deep fry the whole thing to get a Chimichanga.

Some of these dishes come from Mexico. Others were invented in Texas, California, New Mexico or Arizona. Usually by Mexicans or Mexican Americans. Don’t worry much about authenticity–look for stuff that tastes good. Besides, I hear real Mexicans are working in restaurants all over the country!

Oh–sometimes the same dish will have different names in different regions.

Also, they’re green, not red, right?

There are a lot or recipes out there for enchilada casserole which is basically everything layered like a lasagna. Now, if you want something strange, the last time I made ‘enchiladas’ instead off rolling them in tortillas, I stuffed them into par-boiled jumbo pasta shells. It worked out very nicely, clean up was easy, nothing stuck to the bottom of the pan. I’ll probably do it again next time.

In New Mexico, they use Green **or **Red Chiles.

Bobby Flay’s version.

Munch - The usual divide is that green belongs with pork, and red belongs with beef or chicken. This rule is as flexible as the Prime Directive, however.

No not really. They just have their own style and are the most widely popular fish taco in the USA.

Again, not really. Fried tacos or tacos dorados have been part of our diet since the Spaniards introduced cooking oils/fats to the local cuisine. Today we are all going to my mother’s house for homemade pozole and tacos dorados de papas.

IME, flautas are made with flour tortillas. Basically a flour tortilla version of a taquito.

So the non-fried chimichanga I had for lunch yesterday was actually a burrito?

I can believe that - the place I got it from is famous for advertising one thing and serving up a totally different dish with perhaps one ingredient in common.

Another question - I only eat veggie versions of any of these things - typically the bulk is provided by beans (refried, black, etc) - is this a further bastardization, or would these items be called something else?

Finally, I have had a Mexican breakfast taco (made by a real Mexican!) and it is quite tasty, although nothing like the Tex-Mex fare that is available around these parts.

Sometimes. Most Houston restaurants use corn tortillas for flautas. My neighborhood place sells taquitos that would be called flautas at most other local places.

Then, there’s the chilaquiles versus migas controversy…

Hmmm. While Wikipedia and other sites suggest you are correct, my overwhemling experience (in Texas and New Mexico) is flautas=corn.

Regional variation? Early onset dementia? Or are the two not mutally exclusive?