Like most people, I suffer from getting hungry when I read about food. And like most people, when I get hungry for a food, I want to find that food.
So, let's get hungry and learn about the popular and savory types of Mexican food available in Grapevine, Texas.
Mexican food represents a broad spectrum of dishes and cultural blends. These flavors come from generations of people using local ingredients to create something unique. Then the fusion phase sets in and everything gets remixed and changed.
Now, modern Mexican food staples represent the past and the present. Delightful and savory meats combine with slow-cooked herbs and spices. Time-honored techniques for crafting fine breads that survived the modernization process.
Types of Mexican Food
A lot of different words could be used to describe the overview of Mexican cuisine. Types may sound a bit simple, but it does the best job of covering the broad topic. Mexican food comes from a large area and has many differences throughout regions.
Even when a dish gets served across the whole country (and that includes the American southwest) the ingredients and flavors change up. So, let's take a moment to consider cuisine, type, variety, and 'foods' all as one umbrella.
Note also, this list will talk about how certain foods are made or what ingredients they may contain. The presentation can be done in many ways. Whether these types get served naked, in a tortilla, wrapped, not wrapped, corn, flour, soft or crunchy, the importance comes from the concept.
1. Carne Asada
One of the most popular of all the types of Mexican food, carne asada represents the purest form of regional cooking. You take a simple ingredient and you dress it with a unique flair.
Carne asada, though often beef skirt steak or flank steak can be made with nearly any cut of meat. Whether marinated or rubbed, it gets seared over a high flame and then cooked to delicate perfection.
Carne asada may be served in something or presented on its own. The power of the flavor comes from the richness of spices and touch of citrus often employed in the rubs/marinades. The outer char gives way to the tender center.
Carne asada serves equally well as street food or high cuisine. Few foods get as much attention while remaining so simple.
2. Chile Relleno
Another of the versatile types of Mexican food, chile relleno uses the poblano pepper. These peppers are large and mild and named after the Puebla area they hail from.
Chefs stuff the pepper with a variety of meats and/or cheese. This gets roasted or sometimes breaded and deep-fried. The resulting item gets served with different sauces or moles and sides.
Chile relleno may be made with different peppers in different areas. Hatch chile usage is popular in New Mexico, whereas Guatemala uses pimiento peppers.
Some foodies regard the chile relleno as the litmus test of a proper Mexican restaurant. They really are a must-try dish.
One of the more recent Tex-Mex types of Mexican food, fajitas feature small cuts of meat served with a variety of accompaniments.
Almost any kind of meat can be used as long as it is cut into small strips and then served hot. Sides range widely but often have lettuce, salsa, guacamole, refried beans, and diced peppers or tomatoes.
A type of shell used to serve a filling, tacos have become popular worldwide for their simplicity and transportability. That transportability doesn't just make them easy to carry but accounts for their use in many world cuisines.
Though still mostly associated as one of the types of Mexican food, tacos in fusion restaurants have contained everything from meats to desserts and eaten on every continent.
Tacos can be either hard-shelled or soft. By nature, tacos use smaller wrapper than burritos.
Like most types of Mexican food, the name comes from its progenitor region. In this case the Puebla region.
Poblano features a complex mixture of chile, seeds, and a touch of chocolate to create a sauce. This sauce gets served over a variety of different meats and meat pockets.
Poblano combines heat and savory in an excellent combination. While some other dishes may be simpler or feel more authentic to an entry pallet, Poblano satisfies a taste for tradition.
Many foods may be served in or with a mole sauce. Mole sauces represent one of the more labor-intensive items in types of Mexican food. The sauces don't have to cook for long, but they do require a lot of management to include all of the spices that build a flavor.
Regional mole number more than regions as any new combination of spices could be used to create a new variety. Commonly the sauce is dark in color, utilizes a touch of chocolate for color and flavor, but not sweetness, and then gets cooked down with hand-ground spices.
Mole makes for a challenge when talking about different types of Mexican food because the word really just means sauce. However, ask anyone who has had one, and they will say it is no mere sauce but an experience unto itself.
7. Elote (Grilled Corn)
Sometimes referred to simply as Mexican grilled corn, elote combines the best of simple and traditional.
Grilled corn, hot but not yet ready to pop, finished with a blend of southern-style butter and finishes. Elote often shows up in street fairs in Mexico as a popular easy to carry and eat fair food.
Elote varieties differ widely from city to city as different regional spices and fishes are incorporated. No matter where it comes from, this hot treat makes a great starter or an alternative to a sugary dessert.
While many of the types of Mexican food on this list come with different varieties and regional touches, cemita tend to be a distinctive, set, item.
The cemita sandwich involves an egg-rich roll with sesame seed topping. The filling must include avocado, a meat (the one variation) white cheese (queso oaxaca) most often, sliced jalapenos, onions, and the papalo herb. This is finished with a touch of red chili sauce.
Sides may be included depending, but the sandwich construction remains rigorous.
Another meat preparation configuration, barbacoa involves roasted lamb or pork made sweet. The meat gets prepared through slow roasting and then is shredded and pulled.
Barbacoa meat may be served in many types of Mexican food such as taco, enchilada, or burrito styles. The key ingredient is the meat, the delivery system is at the discretion of the chef.
10. A La Plancha
This type of Mexican food shows off a culinary technique more than a region. A la Plancha originated in Spain and moved continents with conquistadors.
A chef cooks fish on a metal plate near a flame, with the plate forming a barrier. Rather than direct flame heat, the heat rises from the plate. This forms a more even heat which can be better controlled.
Steaks and fish both can be cooked a la Plancha. The flavors come from the meats themselves with little to no direct seasoning. For this reason, the flavors of A la Plancha dishes vary widely with the area the meat comes from and any treatment or seasoning done to the plate.
A mixed seafood dish served through South America, ceviche owes its popularity to the uniqueness of its preparation. Ceviche utilizes lime juice acid to denature fish and seafood proteins. Essentially, it 'cooks' without any heat.
Ceviche dishes feature more varieties than many other types of Mexican food. Commonly prepared with whatever is local and fresh, the seafood may include shrimp, squid or octopus, mackerel, tuna, or more.
Common practice cooks other shellfish that might be included to ensure safety, lobster doesn't cook in juice the same way as a more delicate fish will.
Ceviche finishes will include onions, chiles, cilantro, and avocado.
12. Al Pastor
Often served in tacos, but can be made with other wrappers, Al Pastor style involves thin slices of pork. The pork gets spit roasted, sliced thin and served with surprising spices.
Spices include coriander leaves, onions, and pineapple. The flavors trace back to arrivals of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants who carried some of their own regional spices with them.
Corn tortillas are most common for wrapping and the dish works best when served hot. Street vendors serve these often because they are quick to prepare once a supply of pork is on-hand.
The base of this soup comes from hominy corn seasoned with herbs and touched up with spices. This gets served with a combination of meats or vegetables. Pozole represents one of the more common vegetarian types of Mexican food.
The soup takes hours to cook down, often being tended to overnight for the best flavor. Once the hominy cooks down and meats cook thoroughly inside, the dish gets garnished with mixtures of Mexican favorites including onion, lime, and chili.
Tamales have a long history in pre-Colombian culture. Eaten by the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incans this type of Mexican food served as a portable and nourishing field ration.
Corn dough stuffed with savory or sweet filling, wrapped in cornhusks or banana leaves (depending on region) and then steamed. They kept well over periods of time, could be reheated or eaten cold and combined so many of the moles and seasoning techniques of the people.
Tamales, like chile relleno, show a lot of the subtlety and attention to detail a chef can bring to a staple food.
15. Tequila Drinks
While not necessarily a type of Mexican food, because it isn't food, tequila drinks do represent something essential Mexican cuisine.
Like many areas of the world pre modernization and technological revolution, water wasn't always easy to come by. Alcohol gets started in many places as a clean source of water, or a companion to foods to help with digestion, especially in French regions where the idea of a digestif flourishes.
Tequila drinks bring an extra kick to some flavors, a way of heating up or cooling down some foods, and a make for a fine palate cleanser. Whatever excuse you need to pair a drink with your meal, the results speak for themselves.
Flan comes from back in the Roman times and arrives as one of the types of Mexican food via the Spanish arrival. A flat, spongy cake made with milk and eggs, or vegetable fillings for the savory variety, flan changes a lot with ingredients.
Flan may be stiff or creamy, depending on preparation. Ideally, flan will not be too sweet but more semi-sweet. This dessert has seen work as both an aperitif and a pallet cleanser.
Whatever way you choose to enjoy flan, seek it out when at a Mexican restaurant for a taste of something special. No two flans come out the same and a truly tasty flan shows dedication and artistry on behalf of the kitchen.
17. Fried Ice Cream
You take ice cream, you batter it, you fry it. Simple and effective and one of the best types of Mexican food to end a list or a meal. Originally not a part of Mexican cuisine, this dish rarely misses a menu now.
The texture excites the palet, the combination of heat and cold entice the senses, and in the end, you get to eat some ice cream. That is a full court press of win.
Some restaurants serve with cinnamon or sugar crusting. Some will include a tortilla or pair it with a churro for that extra sugar intake. No matter how it gets served or accompanied, we all enjoy a bit of a cool down after rich meals known for their spicey qualities.
Now that you have some lingo to match your tastes, try out some of Grapevine's best restaurants. We know how we do it, but we know there are more options in town. In fact, we have a few handy guides on how to find those, too.
We can also bring the good stuff to you. Our catering and group dining brings the tastes of Mexico to you. Contact us for a reservation and explore to your heart's content.