Whether you're celebrating Mexican Independence Day or Cinco de Mayo, or just having a Mexican fiesta any other day of the year, here are some dishes that are popular in Mexico and are recognized around the world as Mexican specialties. These are good options for ordering in restaurants while you're traveling in Mexico, or to try your hand at preparing yourself at home. It's no coincidence that most of them feature the colors of the Mexican flag very prominently.
Pozole (sometimes spelled posole) is a soup or stew that is made with hominy corn. It is usually made with either pork or chicken stock and the meat is added on the top, along with shredded lettuce and radish slices. Pozole is traditionally accompanied by tostadas, crunchy fried corn tortillas and guacamole to spread on them. Here's a recipe for pozole, or try out this non-traditional vegetarian variation that includes mushrooms.
Chiles en Nogada
This dish originated in Puebla around the time of Mexico's Independence, making it a Mexican patriotic dish par excellence. It consists of Poblano chiles stuffed with mixture of meat and dried fruits and topped with a creamy nut sauce. You'll see this dish appear on menus in restaurants in Mexico in August and September, when the ingredients are in season, although some places are now serving it year round (especially in Puebla). Learn about the origins and history of Chiles en Nogada.
Sure, you can find them on street corners of any Mexican city any day of the year, but really, nothing says Mexico more than tacos. More than a specific food, this is a way of eating. Forget about those hard taco shells - that's not Mexican! Find some soft corn tortillas and use whatever fillings you desire, just make sure you've got fresh salsa and garnishes on hand.
Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish of cornmeal dough with fillings. They're wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed. Because they're quite laborious to prepare, tamales are served for special occasions throughout the year, and often people will get a group of people together to make them at special get-togethers called tamaladas. Here's how to have your own tamalada.
Tortilla soup is warm and filling. Crispy strips of fried tortillas are drowned in a spicy broth and usually garnished with avocado, cheese, dried chiles and sometimes chicharron (pork rind). The most important thing is to eat it before the tortilla strips get soggy, so it's often served with the tortillas and other garnishes separate so you can add them yourself just before consuming. Check out our favorite recipe for Sopa Azteca.
This dip is a favorite all around the world. Serve it with nachos or fresh vegetables, or as a topping for tacos. Guacamole will turn any ordinary party into a Mexican fiesta. Although there are infinite takes on this Mexican favorite, here's a recipe for simple guacamole to get you started. The most important thing is that the avocados are perfectly ripe.
Flautas, taquitos or tacos dorados are terms that are used to refer to tacos that are rolled up and deep fried. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably or sometimes flautas refers to ones that are made with wheat flour tortillas, and the smaller ones are referred to as "taquitos". Either way, these crunchy fried cylinders usually contain chicken but they may be made with other types of meat, or cheese or potatoes and they're topped with guacamole or crema and salsa. What a delicious way to celebrate!
Of course, tequila (or mezcal!) is a no-brainer, but there are many other choices of Mexican beverages, such as Mexican wine or beer or non-alcoholic aguas frescas. If you're looking to add some variety to your drinks menu, consider these 7 Mexican drinks. ¡Salud!