6 Signs of an Inauthentic Mexican Restaurant

Updated 06/30/22

Mexican cuisine is trendy across the country. Unfortunately, many of these Mexican restaurants attempt to offer inauthentic dishes as genuine Mexican cuisine. Many Americans are unaware of what constitutes authentic Mexican cuisine, escalating the situation. Authentic Mexican cooking provides cuisines that are similar to food prepared by the Mayan Indians thousands of years ago. Therefore, it is essential to differentiate the genuine from fake establishments to enjoy delicious Mexican dishes.

Authentic Mexican dinners offer popular meals such as tostadas, burritos, and enchiladas. Unlike the rogue Mexican establishments that claim to provide an authentic Mexican food menu, the genuine dinners do not include gimmicky names like ‘quadruple decker’s loaded enchilada or ‘super mega burrito’ in their menus.

Authentic Mexican food establishments also remain true to their unique heritage and do not need to exaggerate their decorations. Genuine restaurant owners appreciate the fact that the appeal of the restaurant comes from having an authentic Mexican dishes list that offers genuine cuisine, not how festive their decorations are. Therefore, you’re probably eating at a fake Mexican food restaurant if there are sombreros and maracas images all over the walls.

Mexican food is extremely popular throughout the United States. In fact, statistics show that 10% of all restaurants throughout the United States sell some type of Mexican cuisine. Unfortunately, many of these restaurants are trying to pass off inauthentic creations as authentic Mexican food. Making matters worse, many people living in the United States are understandably confused as to what makes Mexican food authentic. Traditional Mexican cuisine is similar to what foods were prepared by the Mayan Indians thousands of years ago. Considering that, here are six signs you’re eating inauthentic Mexican food.

  • No Corn Tortillas

    There is nothing wrong with tortillas made from flour. However, there is something wrong with authentic Mexican restaurants serving these instead of corn tortillas. Authentic Mexican restaurants tend to prepare dishes the way they’ve been made for generations. Authentic enchiladas should be covered in chile, not queso. In addition, authentic tortillas will be made from corn rather than flour. Throughout history, corn was used to make tortillas far before flour was. Therefore, authentic Mexican restaurants should primarily serve corn tortillas for the majority of their dishes.
  • One Type of Salsa

    Another easy way to find out if you’re eating authentic Mexican food is to try the restaurant’s salsa. If you dip your chip into something that tastes like it came directly out of a can, you’re eating inauthentic Mexican food. On the other hand, authentic Mexican restaurants make their own salsa as it’s something they take pride in. Not only that, authentic Mexican restaurants typically present you with multiple types of salsa. These salsa could vary based upon their ingredients or heat level. Many authentic salsas are known for their flavor and heat. If you’re tasting watery and bland salsa, it’s time to ask for your check.
  • Fajitas Crowd the Menu

    It’s understandable for many to believe that the fajita was first invented in Mexico which isn’t true. The fajita is actually a popular type of Tex Mex food. While Tex Mex food is enjoyable for many people, it isn’t authentic Mexican food. Considering that, seeing fajitas posted all over a menu is likely a sign that you’re not at an authentic Mexican restaurant.
  • Goofy Decorations

    An important aspect of authentic Mexican restaurants is that they stay true to their heritage. With that in mind, look closely at the decorations of any Mexican restaurant in your area. Many inauthentic restaurants will go overboard in terms of decorations. The appeal of a real Mexican restaurant comes from the food, not how festive the decorations are. If you’re seeing sombreros and maracas plastered all over the walls, you’re likely eating inauthentic Mexican cuisine.
  • Gimmicky Menu Items

    Many hungry diners are not going to be aware of how to pronounce each menu item in a Mexican restaurant. Unfortunately, certain inauthentic restaurants try to capitalize on this by creating fake and gimmicky menu items. These menu items commonly feature a silly or fake sounding name. In addition, these same items are often filled with ingredients that would never be combined in authentic Mexican cooking. Authentic Mexican restaurants will still have popular items including tostadas, enchiladas, and burritos. You’ll rarely see such gimmicky names as a super mega burrito or quadruple decker loaded enchilada at these locations.
  • Lack of Authentic Mexican Beverages

    While you’ve read about finding the right food at these restaurants, it’s also important to focus on their beverages. Of course, many Mexican restaurants will offer a wide range of sodas and beers. You’ll want to look closer to see if there are sodas and beers that come from Mexico. Many people love tasting traditional Mexican beverages as they are made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup. Seeing traditional beverages from Mexico on the menu is an important sign you’re in a real Mexican restaurant.

In closing, there are several signs that you might be eating inauthentic Mexican food. If you’re tired of bland salsas and gimmicky menus, visit an authentic Mexican restaurant. This allows you to enjoy delicious and fresh dishes the way that those in Mexico did hundreds of years ago.

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