How to Recognize an Authentic Mexican Menu

There are a lot of restaurants in America that serve Americanized versions of Mexican dishes. Just about anything you can find on a Taco Bell menu is going to be Tex-Mex rather than authentic Mexican food. Good authentic Mexican restaurants tend to be few and far between, and generally people don’t know what they’re looking for.

If you want to know how to tell if a restaurant offers genuine Mexican dishes, there are plenty things you can look for. More than likely you will be steering clear of things that look familiar to you and opening up to a whole new menu.

Tacos and Burritos

When it comes to tacos and burritos, they are authentic Mexican food if they’re made the right way. The right way isn’t going to include lots of melted cheese, nor will it have shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Mexican tacos are generally topped with items like onion, cilantro and lime. They are also served on soft corn tortillas rather than crunchy shells or flour tortillas. As for the burritos, they tend to be long and thin rather than massively round burritos you would buy at Chipotle.

No Fajitas

Something that many people might not realize is that fajitas are not a Mexican food and didn’t show up in America until the 1960s. They fall under the Tex-Mex category and won’t be served at an authentic Mexican restaurant.

Mexican Beverages

It’s also wise to look at the drink options. You want to find a place that serves Mexican drinks such as horchata and aguas frescas. Some places also serve authentic bottled sodas. However, they won’t be serving fruity margaritas in a variety of flavors, so those menu options might be a red flag.

Salsa Variety

You will want to look for a variety of red and green salsas. You also want to look for salsas that are spicy. A limited and mild selection of salsa is a good sign that the restaurant you are at isn’t authentic.


If there’s a lot of cilantro on the menu then you might be in the right place. Cilantro is incredibly popular when it comes to authentic Mexican food and is on just about every dish, so if you don’t see it anywhere then chances are you’re eating Tex-Mex or something similar.

These are just a small selection of things to look for when you’re out hunting for an authentic meal. Hopefully they help to increase your knowledge and allow you to find some fantastic and genuine Mexican cuisine in your area.

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