Take a trip to your favorite Mexican restaurant and browse the menu, and you’ll encounter plenty of items that sadly aren’t Mexican at all. There’s a big difference between authentic Mexican fare and the “Mexican” dishes that you find at your local spot, and some of your favorite dishes aren’t, in fact, Mexican at all.
What exactly is real Mexican food? While defining “Mexican food” is a tall order (it’s a huge country, and every town has its own cuisine), some of the country’s staples include tacos made with small corn tortillas, tamales, slow-roasted meats, chicken in rich mole sauces, simple enchiladas, and rich soups and stews. Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg, but should you visit Mexico you’ll discover that many of your favorite Mexican dishes simply can’t be found there.
Why is that? Well, because they’re not Mexican! Tex-Mex and Cal-Mex cuisines are actually more popular in the U.S. than authentic Mexican cuisine, and while these hybrids may have roots in Mexico, they’re truly American inventions. Some of these dishes have a long history dating back to the ingredients available to the ranchers of the South and Southwest of the 1930s, and others were invented by cooks within the past few decades, but no matter the origin, they’re delicious!
Read on to learn which 11 dishes you might think are Mexican but in fact are anything but. And the next time you’re in the mood for your favorite cheese-drenched combo platter, remember that it’s Tex-Mex!