5 Best Mexican Foods to Try, Other Than Tacos

Next time you are in the mood for some Mexican food, why not visit a local Mexican restaurant for some authentic flavour? Here are the best side dishes, mains and desserts you need to try, plus find out about the different regional cuisines which make up Mexican cooking.

Our top 5 favourite Mexican dishes to try:

  • Mole
  • Carne Asada
  • Carnitas
  • Tamales
  • Pozole

Us Aussies tend to stick to the Westernised Mexican foods we’re comfortable with, such as enchiladas, tacos, burritos and nachos. Mexican cuisine is actually a broad term covering a variety of regional cooking styles, flavours and ingredients, and we’re all missing out by sticking to our favourites.

With a combination of bold flavours, multicultural influences and strong traditions, it’s a complex cuisine. For those looking to expand their palettes or try some authentic dishes, read on to find out what side dishes, mains and desserts you must try.

Feature photo by Chad Montano on Unsplash

Top Mexican side dishes to try:

1. Tostado

Tostado literally translates to toasted, and in Mexican cuisine, is a little like a flat taco. The crispy, flat or bowl-shaped tortilla is used as a base, topped with a range of delicious ingredients. Some Australian Mexican restaurants have even begun to layer their tostados, making the Pinterestable ‘taco lasagne’.

2. Chile con queso

Chile con queso is essentially the Mexican version of fondue. This common Tex-Mex style of cooking involves a variety of deliciously melted cheeses, used as a dip for crisp tortilla chips and fresh vegetable sticks.

3. Elote aka Mexican street corn

If you love the sweet burst of flavour when you bite into corn on the cob, you’ll go crazy over this. Elote combines this same delicious corn, grilled and coated in bold flavours such as lime, coriander, chile powder and melted cheese.

Top Mexican desserts to try.

1. Flan

You may also know flan as créme caramel. This custard-based dessert is loved all over South American, and can be enjoyed either with or without the sweet, sticky caramel sauce.

2. Tres leches cake

Translating to three milk cake, tres leches cake is a Spanish-inspired dessert made of condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. The result is a moist, fluffy cake that’ll make you want to visit your local Mexican restaurant pretty darn regularly.

3. Churros

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, chances are you’ll find a churro stand—especially in theme parks. Churros combine a crispy fried outside with a soft, airy inside, tossed in a cinnamon-sugar mix. To take it to the next level, dip it in melted dark chocolate.

Common Ingredients Used in Mexican Cooking

With so many different flavours and regional dishes, it’s hard to summarise Mexican cuisine into just a handful of ingredients. However, the most frequently found ingredients include:

  • Corn.
  • Black beans.
  • Avocado.
  • Fish.
  • Pork.
  • Coriander.
  • Chillies.
  • Rice.
  • Lime.
slice of lime and whole lime in a blue bowl with black background

Types of Mexican Cuisine

Like any country, you’ll find Mexican food varies from area to area. Then, as it travels overseas, the cultures of that country influences the product. For example, Australian-Mexican food is often described as sweeter than traditional or Tex-Mex styles. 

While the below isn’t a full list, it will give you an idea of some of the different cuisines available throughout Mexico:

Norteño (Northern Cuisine)

Northern Mexican cuisine tends to be abundant with meat, such as pork and goat, and will commonly involve flour tortillas. In fact, we have Norteño cuisine to thank for burritos!

Oaxacan

Oaxacan (pronounced like wah-haak-kahn) cuisine originates from the state of Oaxaca. Thanks to the region’s proximity to the Mexican coastline, you’ll find an abundance of seafood dishes.

The state is also rich in crops of corn and other vegetables, and is a large producer of coffee and chocolate.

Veracruzano

Stretching along the gulf of Mexico, Veracruz state is rich in seafood, which is celebrated in many dishes. You’ll find a variety of dishes which are influenced by spanish, carribbean and traditional indigenous ways of cooking.

Yucateco

Another culinary hot spot is the peninsula of Yucatán, known more commonly for its Mayan ruins. Many modern Mexican dishes have found influence from African, Caribbean and Middle Eastern dishes, however, due to this region’s isolation, it’s fairly free of outside influence.

Due to the distance from the coastline, dishes from the Yucatan are more likely to champion meats such as chicken, pork and, the most popular of all, turkey.

Poblano.

Many popular Mexican dishes can trace their origins back to the Puebla state. At many restaurants, you’ll find stuffed chillies, sauce-rich dishes, such as adobo, and, perhaps most notably, the national dish of Mexico, mole.

Bajacaliforniano

Along the border of the USA and Mexico is the Baja California peninsula. Here, you can expect menus laden with chicken pork and fish tacos, ceviche and other seafood-heavy dishes.

Tex-Mex

While Tex-Mex is considered an American cuisine, we had to include this popular variation of Mexican food. As the name suggests, Tex-Mex is a marriage of Texan and Mexico food. Think nachos and hardshell tacos, or pretty much any Mexican dish you’d make at home.

soft flour tortilla taco with beef and salsa with slice of lime on table

5 Delicious Mexican Dishes You Should Order Tonight

Mole

Mole is considered to be the national dish of Mexico and is a perfect example of the bold flavours and mixture of spices used in Mexican cooking. This dish combines fruits, spices, chillies and is famously finished off with chocolate. 

It’s a hearty dish and will normally be served with meat, such as pork, and rice.

Carne asada

Carne asada is tender strips of steak marinated in spices, lime and garlic, which is then grilled to perfection. Often using skirt or flank steak, it’s normally used as a filling for tacos, or even as a delicious side dish.

Carnitas

Translating to little meats, carnitas are pieces of pork, often the shoulder, which has been slow cooked in various spices until tender. It’s then shredded/pulled with love.

You can use this as a filling in tacos or burritos, add to rice or to accompany other sides.

Tamales

A staple in the diets of many, the tamale is a delicious parcel traditionally made for festivities. The corn dough, known as masa, is stuffed with various meats, fruits and spices, before being wrapped in corn husk and steamed.  

Once complete, the end result is a tasty dough and flavourful filling. They’re perfect dipped in sauce or enjoyed on their own.

Pozole

For true authentic flavour, you need to try this hearty soup known as Pozole. Using a hominy base (a grain produced from the all important corn), many cooks will add chili peppers, garlic, shredded cabbage, lime and will often finish the dish with shredded meat, such as chicken or pork.

Traditionally, this dish was made for times of celebration, such as New Year’s Eve, but can now be found in restaurants all over the world and often served with crispy tortilla chips for dipping.

Our top recommendations for other cuisine:

For authentic flavour and mouth-watering dishes, find a nearby Mexican restaurant on Localsearch.

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      Brit McDowell

      Lifestyle Specialist & Subject Matter Expert

      Brit McDowell is a Subject Matter Expert at Localsearch with a background in marketing, business and tourism management. Aside from her specialisation in technical processes, Brit is known for her green thumb and growing succulent collection, love of dogs (especially Dalmatians), eye for home interior and fervour for travel. Brit is also a Lifestyle Specialist on the Localsearch Blog and enjoys sharing her research and knowledge in home and gardening services, food, beauty and general lifestyle tips and tricks.