Tacos, quesadillas and burritos exist at the best Mexican restaurants, quick-service places like Chipotle and drive-thru favorites like Taco Bell. The international cuisine is beloved the world over, but not every Mexican dish is as famous as the taco. Have you ever heard of these Mexican dishes?
The direct translation for this dish is “poisoned tacos,” but there’s nothing toxic about it. Tacos envenenados are typically filled with beans, potatoes, chilis, onion, cheese and chorizo, and then fried in butter to crispy perfection. Sounds like something you could easily fry at home.
Cabrito is the meat of a kid goat three weeks old or younger. Different cooking methods include spit-roasted, oven-roasted, blood-braised with offal and seasonings, and tomato-braised with garlic, onions and chilis.
Menudo is a popular Mexican soup made with beef tripe, or cow stomach. The classic recipe features red chili pepper broth with onions, lime and hominy, and is frequently served after wedding receptions in the southern U.S. and Mexico.
Carne en su jugo — or “beef in its juice” — is made with steak, bacon, beans, garlic and onions in a savory broth flavored with chilis and other vegetables. Rumor has it, the soup was once used to cure hangovers in people who spent too much time at the bar.
Huitlacoche is also known as corn mushroom, corn smut or Mexican truffle. It’s a rare fungus that grows on organic corn untreated by fungicide. The flavor is smoky and earthy, and you can use it anywhere you might use regular mushrooms, like on a salad or as part of a quesadilla with quesillo de Oaxaca, a cheese from Mexico that everyone needs to try.
Tacos de canasta, or “basket tacos,” are also known as tacos sudados, or “sweaty tacos” because they’re steamed and served in a basket. Fillings range from chorizo and mashed potatoes to refried beans, barbacoa and more. Serve with salsa and, if you dare, a drop of the world’s hottest hot sauces.
Escamoles is “the caviar of the desert,” and while it looks like pine nuts or corn kernels, it’s actually ant larvae. It’s nutty and buttery and has the consistency of cottage cheese. Escamoles is usually pretty pricey, so your best bet is finding it at a high-end restaurant.
This iconic street food is a sandwich filled with spicy chorizo and potatoes. The bread is what sets pambazos apart. Pan basso, a tough white bread, is soaked in guajillo salsa, and then griddled or fried until crisp.
Pay de elote is sweet corn pie that’s sweeter than typical cornbread. All you need to make it is a few staples from your fridge and pantry, including corn, condensed milk, eggs, ground cinnamon, graham cracker crust and whipped cream to top.
Pozole is a soup made from hominy and meat — usually pork or chicken — in a mild guajillo and ancho chili broth. Making this dish is a labor of love, but it’s worth it.
Chilaquiles features fried corn tortilla chips simmered with salsa or mole. It’s usually garnished with cheese and other toppings, like sliced onion, shredded chicken or fried eggs. You might see this one on the menu at your favorite brunch restaurant.
Chiles en nogada is meat-stuffed poblano chilis drenched in a walnut cream sauce called nogada. Recipes usually call for beef or pork. To finish, it’s topped with pomegranate seeds and parsley.
Sopa Azteca is tortilla soup. The pasilla chili and tomato base is ladled into a bowl and topped with tortilla chips, jack cheese, Mexican crema and avocado.
This coveted sandwich, the torta ahogada, has roots in Guadalajara, and some people even say it holds the power to clear a head cold. Torta ahogada is made with birote — a long, flat roll with a fluffy center — and pork carnitas drowned in spicy sauce made from chili de arbol.
Chapulines are deep-fried grasshoppers. They’re usually seasoned with chile and lime and eaten in corn tortillas. That’s one way to get more protein.
Cochinita pibil is slow-cooked pork marinated with achiote paste, garlic, spices and orange juice, wrapped in banana leaves. The tender meat is best served in tacos with pickled onion.
You won’t find caldo de piedra at your local seafood shack. This stone soup is a specialty of the Chinatec people, who make it from fresh-caught fish and shrimp from the Papaloapan River. It also gets tomato, onion, lime and cilantro.
Chicatanas are flying ants. The seasonal grub is typically toasted on a wood-fired griddle and eaten as a snack. It can also be sprinkled on street foods or used as part of a salsa for perfectly scrambled eggs.
Pejelagarto, or alligator gar, is an ancient fish that lives in the marshes along the Gulf of Mexico. The delicacy is primarily roasted and served with salt, lime juice and chili peppers in a tortilla.
Plant-based eaters beware: Sesos are brains. The popular Mexican taco filling is often sourced from cow or goat and has a custard-like consistency.
For people who are a big fan of cheese, this might be your dream food. Costras are basically tacos, but the tortilla is made of crusted cheese. If that doesn’t get you in the mood for international eats, we don’t know what will. Get cooking with our 51 best Mexican recipes.
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