If you aren’t well versed in Mexican food—the authentic kind—you’re missing out. It’s hailed as one of the top 10 best cuisines in the world by CNN, thanks to its rich flavors and versatility.
Mexican cuisine is also steeped in history and reflective of Mexico’s lavish traditions and culture. So it shouldn’t be surprising that there are a lot of Mexican dishes to try beyond the tacos and burritos served at fast-food restaurants.
Below, we listed six Mexican dishes you should label as ‘must-try:’
A popular breakfast food, chilaquiles is a savory and filling dish made from deep-fried tortillas layered with a ton of toppings. You can add shredded chicken and beef, chorizo, and eggs. This dish is made even more mouthwatering with the addition of salsa or mole.
You can top chilaquiles with cheese and eat it with a side of refried beans to start your day right.
One of the most iconic Mexican dishes, tamales date back to 8000-5000 BC Mesoamerica. The name comes from the Spanish word “tamal,” which means “wrapped.”
Tamales are made by steaming corn dough wrapped in dried corn husks or banana leaves. Before steaming, the corn dough is filled with different ingredients, like meats and vegetables, as well as peppers or yellow corn kernels. The result is a delicious corn crust with juicy fillings.
Described as Mexican curry, mole is a family of dark sauces served over meat. Though mole comes in different varieties, it is typically made with chiles, tomatoes, dried food, and spices. Some even add chocolate to offset the heat from various peppers.
Birria is a spicy stew traditionally prepared with mutton or goat meat. The meat is simmered slowly in a sauce rich with spices and served with chopped onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
In Mexico, birria tacos are commonly sold at roadside stands. Instead of eating the savory stew straight up, people use corn tortillas to sop up the spicy broth. Either way, you get to enjoy soft, slow-cooked meat rich in the flavor of different spices.
Carnitas in Spanish means “little meat,” which makes sense for this delicious Mexican dish. Like pulled pork, carnitas is made from slow-cooked pork, cooked to such tenderness that it can be shredded into tiny pieces using a fork.
The meat cooks for hours in lard or oil and is then fried before serving. This gives the shredded pieces a crispy texture on the outside while keeping them juicy and tender on the inside. It’s the perfect stuffing for tacos or sandwiches.
6. Arroz con Leche
This list would not be complete without something sweet for dessert, and Mexican cuisine has plenty of them. One of the most beloved desserts, though, is Arroz con Leche. The name translates to “rice with milk,” but this dish is much more than that.
This type of rice pudding is made with condensed and evaporated milk, rice, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Other variations use egg yolks, orange zest, butter, and nutmeg for added texture and flavor.
Mexico has a lot more to offer when it comes to food, and Mexican dishes aren’t hard to find either. So if you haven’t yet, now’s the time to get a taste of one of the best cuisines in the world.