If you live in the United States and have yet to travel south of the border, you might think Mexican cuisine consists of tacos, chimichangas, chalupas, and burritos. And while that assumption isn’t completely off the mark, the food you’ll eat while vacationing in Mexico is a whole lot different than what you’re used to up here–and, it’s worth noting, a whole lot better, too!

Before I traveled to Mexico for the first time, my idea of a taco was a crispy shell filled with a little ground beef and a whole lot of toppings–mainly sour cream, salsa, and cheese. But when I stepped foot in Mexico, I saw that there was a whole lot more to the culinary scene than that. Salsa from a jar? No way! Cold tortillas? As if! Whether you’re planning on hitting up street vendors, upscale restaurants, or a combination of these equally inviting dining options, you’re in for a real treat when it comes to eating your way through Mexico on that upcoming trip. Here’s the scoop on what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to a northerner’s perspective on real Mexican food:


Chiles [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 2.0, Christopher Holden]

Myth: All Mexican food is spicy.

If you’re into spicy food, you’ll have no trouble getting your hands on some truly sweat-inducing, tongue-burning sauces for your meals in Mexico. Fortunately, those of us with a lower tolerance for heat have the option of skipping the hot sauce and still enjoying our meals.

Fact: Mexican food can make you sick.

This is a fact for many U.S travelers who head to Mexico and don’t play have a plan when it comes to eating safely. Here are a few tips to lessen your chance of getting a belly ache: 1) eat yogurt with probiotics on a daily basis for a week or two before you go on vacation, 2) avoid lettuce-based salads, and 3) drink plenty of bottled water every day. It’s probably wise to avoid street food for at least the first few days of your trip, especially if you’ve had gastrointestinal issues while traveling abroad before.


Fresh Tortillas [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 3.0, ProtoplasmaKid]

Myth: Tortillas are all the same.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that you’ve never really had a tortilla if you haven’t had a freshly made, still warm flour tortilla served fresh off the press or griddle. Be prepared to have your mind–and taste buds–blown.

Tacos Carnitas

Tacos Carnitas [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 2.0, Jess Lander]

Myth: All Mexican food is the same.

Nope, wrong again. Mexico is a huge country, like the U.S., and unsurprisingly has a number of regional cuisines spread from coast to coast. It’s easy to find great seafood in popular coastal communities, like Cancun on the Caribbean Coast, or Acapulco on the Pacific Coast. In other regions you’ll find an eclectic mix of food including cream-based soups, stuff sweet peppers, grilled steak, and lots of other dishes beyond the traditional tacos and moles you’ll find nearly everywhere from coast to coast.

If you can’t tell your chapulines–toasted grasshopper with salt and lime–from your chilorio–simmered pork served in chile sauce, it’s time to brush up on your Spanish. Contact us today and we’ll get you set up in no time at all, whether you need small group lessons or prefer one-on-one language classes.