Ask any Mexican for Burritos, Chimichangas or any other dishes that you might consider to be “Mexican food” and they’ll look at you as if you just asked them for Carbonara at a Chinese restaurant. “Mexican” food, found in places like Chipotle, Taco Bell, Chili’s and even Sunset Cantina is so far from the actual thing, there is really no comparison to something authentic. Most of what you order in those places is Tex-Mex, which was created in Texas due to a lack of ingredients and the mesh of the American and Mexican culture. Tex-Mex cuisine is cheesy, greasy and served in big portions, no wonder it’s been such a hit in America!

Here are a few signs to look out for to know if you’re eating Tex-Mex or Authentic Mexican:

1. If it’s covered in cheddar cheese – Mexico has many types of cheeses, Oaxaca, Queso Fresco, Añejo, Chihuahua, etc., but all of their cheeses are white, not yellow!

2. If it has ground beef – Beef has been the go-to meat of Texan ranchers for a while, so it is obvious how that ended up in Tex-Mex cuisine; but other than the extreme north of Mexico, rarely will you find beef in dishes.

3. If you have a salad on your tacos – This just in: tacos are not supposed to have lettuce on them! Tacos are supposed to have small amounts of onion, cilantro, avocado and fresh cheese (not melted), that’s it.


Photo by Renée Wool

4. If your taco has a hard shell or a wheat tortilla – Most tacos are made with small corn tortillas, never with over-sized wheat tortillas and never ever with multicolored hard shells.

Feeling lost? Here are some authentic Mexican dishes:

1. Aguas frescas – Natural fruit drinks
2. Chile relleno de queso – Stuffed poblano pepper with cheese, chicken or beef served with rice and beans
3. Cochinita pibil – Slow roasted pork dish
4. Tacos al pastor – Corn tortilla pork tacos with onion cilantro and pineapple
5. Sopes – Corn dough tartlet, with just refried beans, pork (sometimes marinated) or cheese


Photo by Renée Wool

And here’s where you can get them in Boston:

1. Taqueria Cancun East Boston
2. Tacomania East Boston
3. El Centro Brookline Village