How To Pronounce Foods at Phoenix Mexican Restaurants

How To Sound Smart When Ordering at a Mexican Restaurant

These are habaneros. Ay, hot!. Judy Hedding

When you come to Phoenix, you absolutely have to eat Mexican food, but there are certain words that are tough to pronounce. If you say these correctly, everyone will surely think you're a native Arizonan, or at least that you eat like one!

How to Pronounce Common Mexican Menu Items

  1. jalapeño - a hot pepper. Pronounced: holl-uh-pehn-yo. Common pronunciation error: many people say the last two syllables like vino. Remember that the 'n' with the tilde (ñ) adds that "y" sound. It is called an enye (en-yah).
  2. albondigas - a meatball soup. Pronounced: al-bon-dee-gus. Common pronunciation error: putting the accent on the wrong syllable. 
  3. pico de gallo - a chunky salsa. Pronounced: peek-oh duh-guy-oh. Common pronunciation error: pronouncing two Ls as in the word ball.
  4. pollo - chicken. Pronounced: poy-oh. Common pronunciation error: pronouncing two Ls as in the word ball.
  1. tortilla - a very thin, flat Mexican pancake-type bread. Pronounced: tor-tee-ya. Common pronunciation error: pronouncing two Ls as in the word ball.
  2. picante - a red spicy sauce. Pronounced: pee-con-tay. Common pronunciation error: emphasizing the wrong syllable and forgetting the last E.
  3. cerveza - beer. Pronounced: serv-ay-suh. Common pronunciation error: those last two syllables often have unusual pronunciations! Don't go too heavy on the Z.
  4. guacamole - a condiment made from avocados. Pronounced: gwahk-a-mole-ay. Common pronunciation error: saying the last syllable as if it rhymes with bee. Tip: If you just order "guac" (gwahk) your server will know what you want.
  1. fajitas - onions, peppers and meats sauteed and usually presented with cheese, beans, salsa, guacamole and tortillas. Pronounced: fuh-heet-uhs. Common pronunciation error: pronouncing the J as if it was like Judy.
  2. frijoles - beans. Pronounced: free-ho-lays. Common pronunciation error: pronouncing the J as if it was like Judy.
  3. quesadilla - very thin crust with cheese melted on top and sometimes other items like a Mexican pizza. Pronounced: cay-suh-dee-yuh. Common pronunciation error: pronouncing two Ls as in the word ball.
  1. habanero - a very hot pepper. Pronounced: ah-bahn-air-oh. Common pronunciation error: pronouncing the N like it has a tilde on it. It doesn't.
  2. tomatillo - a Mexican tomato, small and green. Pronounced: toh-mah-tee-yoh. Common pronunciation error: pronouncing two Ls as in the word ball.
  3. mole - a Mexican sauce. In the U.S it usually has some unsweetened chocolate in it, along with chiles and other ingredients. Pronounced: mole-ay. Common pronunciation error: saying the last syllable as if it rhymes with bee, or not pronouncing the last syllable at all. It's not a furry animal!


    1. If the words have Spanish influence, as many do in Arizona, a "J" or a "G" is usually pronounced like an "H". An "LL" is usually pronounced like a "Y".
    2. Pointing to the menu item is often easier than pronouncing it.
    3. The words 'jalapeño', 'habanero', 'Ay! Ay! Hot!' or a graphic of a red pepper means your meal is bound to be spicy. Have water or milk handy!

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