Ever bitten into a cheesy taco or sipped a margarita and felt transported to your favorite Mexican vacation memory? Well, hold onto your sombreros, because some of the “Mexican” foods we love in the US are about as “Mexican” as our over the top Cinco de Mayo celebrations or, as authentic as our creation of Taco Tuesday. Here are 11 dishes that you just won’t really find in Mexico – at least outside of the touristy spots.

A hand pulling a stretch of melted cheese from a loaded plate of nachos with a margarita on the side, showcasing Mexican foods that aren't from Mexico.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.
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Margaritas

A margarita cocktail garnished with a lime wedge and salted rim, accompanied by limes and chips on a wooden surface.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Margaritas might be the go-to cocktail at every Mexican restaurant outside of Mexico, but this tequila-based drink leans more towards American invention with Mexican inspiration. Sorry to burst your happy hour bubble, but this drink is just a cultural mashup that took off globally.

Cheesy Tacos

Three pulled beef tacos on a wooden cutting board.
Photo credit: Feels Like Home.

The cheesy tacos served up in many places bear little resemblance to traditional Mexican tacos. Loaded with heaps of melted cheese, this version caters more to American tastes. Tacos in Mexico are a much lighter fare with fresh toppings like salsas and pickled vegetables being favored over heavy cheeses and sauces.

Chili Con Carne

A bowl of chili with cheese and jalapenos.
Wagyu Beef Chili. Photo credit: Gimme From Scratch.

Often associated with Mexican cuisine, chili con carne is actually a Tex-Mex creation. It combines Mexican-inspired spices with American food trends, making it a staple in the US rather than Mexico, where beans and meats are rarely mixed in traditional dishes.

Sopapillas

Plate of fried sweet cheese wontons sprinkled with sugar, served with a side of honey.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Sopapillas are a puffy, fried pastry often found in Mexican restaurants in the US but they actually come from New Mexico. It’s hard to knock this one though because who doesn’t love some good fried dough?

Queso

A bowl of mexican cheese dip with tortilla chips.
Queso Dip. Photo credit: My Pure Plants.

The creamy, melted cheese dip known as ‘queso’ in the US is a far cry from anything traditionally found in Mexican cuisine. It’s a Tex-Mex classic, stemming from the fusion of Mexican ingredients and American tastes for cheese-laden dishes. Of course, ‘queso’ is a real word and means cheese in Spanish but the dish itself is largely American.

Hard Shell Tacos

Lamb tacos on a tray with radishes and limes.
Lamb Tacos. Photo credit: Running to the Kitchen.

A far cry from the soft corn tortillas used in authentic Mexican tacos, hard shell tacos were popularized by fast-food chains in the US. It’s thought that the founder of Taco Bell is largely responsible for this whole movement. So next time you’re offered a choice of hard or soft tortillas, you’ll now realize the inauthenticity of the restaurant you’re in.

Fajitas

Two fajitas with shrimp and peppers on a plate.
Steak and Shrimp Fajitas. Photo credit: Running to the Kitchen.

Originally from Texas, fajitas are a Tex-Mex innovation that involves grilled meat usually served on a flour tortilla. While the concept draws from northern Mexican traditions, the fajita as known today, complete with sizzling platters, is a US dining spectacle.

Burritos

Chicken wrap with fresh vegetables and avocado on a wooden table.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Oversized burritos filled with a multitude of ingredients are more a Californian creation than a Mexican staple. In Mexico, burritos are typically much simpler, if they exist at all, often containing just one or two ingredients.

Chimichangas

Plate of crispy taquitos topped with fresh salsa and guacamole.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Chimichangas, or deep-fried burritos, are believed to have originated in Arizona. This indulgent twist on the burrito combines Mexican-inspired fillings with the American love for fried foods, making it a beloved dish in Tex-Mex cuisine rather than traditional Mexican fare.

Flour Tortillas

Fresh homemade flatbreads on a wooden board with ingredients and utensils around.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Flour tortillas are used very infrequently in Mexican cuisine. Traditionally, you’ll only find corn tortillas for Mexican meals, especially tacos. The large, burrito-sized tortillas commonly found in the US are a departure from the smaller, thinner versions used in Mexico. They cater to American tastes for bigger, heartier meals.

Churros

Plate of churros with a side of chocolate dipping sauce.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

This one might surprise you because churros are definitely enjoyed in Mexico. In fact, I had some really epic ones on a cobblestone street in Puerto Vallarta a few years ago. But this delicious sugary dough has its roots in Spain where they’re traditionally served with thick chocolate to dip them in and were likely brought over by Spanish settlers.

11 Cities That Promise The Best Cup Of Coffee You’ve Ever Had

A cup of coffee and coffee beans on a wooden table.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

If you’re a coffee aficionado, this one’s for you. We’ve compiled a list of cities renowned for serving up the best coffee experiences worldwide. From the historic coffee houses of Vienna to the cutting-edge brews of Melbourne, these destinations are a haven for those who cherish their caffeine.

See Them Here: 11 Cities That Promise The Best Cup Of Coffee You’ve Ever Had

The Best Fast Food Sides That Go Beyond Fries

A variety of fast food items on a wooden table.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Let’s face it, when we think fast food, it’s the burgers and fries that usually steal the show. But what about the unsung heroes of the menu, those side dishes that can turn a quick meal into something special? From the crispy, golden perfection of onion rings to the fluffy, buttery bliss of biscuits, there’s a whole world of flavor waiting to be explored. We’re diving into some of the most delicious and underrated fast food sides out there.

See Them Here: The Best Fast Food Sides That Go Beyond Fries

10 Foods You Should Never Eat Raw

A woman laying on a couch with a stomachache.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Diving into a bag of crunchy raw carrots or whipping up a smoothie with butternut squash and spinach? Go for it! But beware, the culinary world has its rogues. Some foods play hardball with your stomach or sneak in toxins that could turn your mealtime into a risky affair. It’s all about knowing who’s who in the raw food lineup.

See Them here: 10 Food You Should Never Eat Raw

Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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