How to Read the Menu at a Mexican Restaurant


Here are a few of the words you might find on the menu at a Mexican restaurant. Preparation methods vary greatly from one restaurant to another but this should give you a good idea of what you’re going to get. If you need more specific information, check with the restaurant or ask a Registered Dietitian.

Mexican Eats Dictionary

  • Adobo: a seasoning paste, usually containing ground chiles, vinegar, garlic and spices
  • Barbacoa: meat cooked in a sealed, underground pit
  • Borracho: cooked with booze
  • Burrito: various fillings wrapped in a large flour tortilla
  • Asado: grilled or broiled
  • Carnitas: pork simmered in lard until tender and crisp
  • Ceviche: pieces of raw fish marinated in lime juice and mixed with other ingredients
  • Chalupas: elongated crisp tortillas with a ridge around the edge topped with various fillings
  • Charro beans: pinto beans stewed with other ingredients such as onion, garlic, and bacon
  • Chiles rellenos: deep fried chili peppers stuffed with cheese or other fillings
  • Chimichanga: deep fried burrito
  • Chorizo: Mexican style sausage
  • Empanada: pastry turnover stuffed with meat or sweet fillings
  • Enchilada: corn tortilla rolled around fillings, covered in sauce and cheese, and baked
  • Fajitas: thin strips of marinated and grilled meat, peppers, and onions usually served sizzling with tortillas and other fillings to assemble yourself
  • Flan: custard made from cream and eggs
  • Flautas: a large deep fried corn tortilla rolled around various fillings
  • Guacamole: dip made from mashed avocado and mixed with onions, chiles, tomato, lime juice and cilantro
  • Mole: traditional stews which are thickened by their own ingredients including chiles, nuts, fruit, and seeds
  • Nachos: toasted tortilla chips topped with melted cheese and a variety of toppings
  • Picadillo: filling made of ground meat
  • Pico de gallo:  uncooked salsa made with diced tomato, onion, and fresh chilies
  • Queso: cheese
  • Quesadilla: tortillas that are folded over cheese and other fillings and cooked on a griddle until the cheese is melted and the tortilla begins to become crisp
  • Refried beans: cooked pinto or black-eyed beans that have been mashed and fried
  • Taco: small crispy or soft tortilla, folded and stuffed with various fillings
  • Tamales: corn tortilla dough and filling wrapped in a fresh corn husk and steamed
  • Taquitos: a small deep fried corn tortilla rolled around various fillings
  • Torta: a Mexican style sandwich usually made by removing most of the crumbs from both sides of a split bun and placing various fillings inside

Here is the printable: Mexican Eats Dictionary


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