In Gustavo Arellano's book, "Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America," he describes the American love of Mexican-inspired food. Mexican food so dominates our food culture that it represents billions of dollars in sales per year. The big restaurant chains take a huge share of this but what about authentically made Mexican food?
You might think you like Mexican food but if you have only had Tex-Mex from a national chain, your Mexican food journey has only just begun. Authentic Mexican food offers so much more variety and quality than major chain Tex-Mex substitutes.
And that authentic taste is available right here in Grapevine, Texas! Read on to learn how authentic Grapevine Mexican food is so much better than the national taco chains.
How to Find Authentic Grapevine Mexican Food
Grapevine is described by TripAdvisor as "the premier destination in North Texas". Being in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and near Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, it has lots to offer the visitor and resident alike. This includes a wide range of dining options.
Mexican influenced food features heavily in the local restaurants with all the big chains such as Taco Bell and Chilli's represented. More interestingly, there is also some great authentic Grapevine Mexican food available. These more authentic restaurants regularly feature highly in the TripAdvisor rankings.
A short journey around the menus of some of the Grapevine Mexican food restaurants will whet your appetite for authentic Mexican food.
Real Mexican Tacos
If you have had tacos in the past perhaps it was at a Tex-Mex restaurant. Even worse, you might have had tacos from a grocery store taco kit. You are in for a treat when you taste the real thing!
For a start, a real Mexican taco uses corn tortillas, not the bland flour ones you often get in a kit or at Tex-Mex chain. Look for soft taco shells. Real Mexican tacos are not hard and crispy.
A real taco uses stewed, grilled or fried meat that has been marinated. The marinade includes some combination of cumin, oregano, paprika, lime, onions, or chilies. Don't accept oven-broiled steak with store-bought taco seasoning.
Tex-Mex restaurants seem to cover everything with cheese, store-bought salsa, lettuce, and tomato. Mexican style is more often fresh cilantro and diced onion. A homemade fresh salsa complements the tasty meat beautifully.
There are tacos from every part of Mexico so expect to see some variety from restaurant to restaurant. This reflects the diversity of specialties across the Mexican Republic and perhaps the origin of the chef.
Where to Get Great Tacos
Try the Crunchy Red Fish Tacos at Mesa. They come with a mango pico, chipotle ranch, and homemade corn tortillas. While waiting for your food to arrive, try one of the wide range of margaritas on offer, including one named after Grapevine.
Artisanal tacos using homemade tortillas and a variety of fillings tantalize the taste buds with great flavors. Try interesting fillings reflecting regional diversity for a great sharing meal and a chance to discuss the food as well as taste it.
Perfect Chile Relleno
The chile relleno is one of the sure-fire ways of judging a Mexican restaurant. If it has too much crust or a soggy one, it's a fail. If the filling is tasteless cheese, that's a fail. Whatever other ingredients are included, the crust, the pepper, and the cheese have to be flawless.
Some restaurants place a canned chile on a plate and cover it with a non-descript tomato and ground beef sauce. Authentic Mexican cuisine uses shredded beef and not ground beef. To add insult to injury, they cover this in grated cheese.
A really good chile relleno often uses poblano peppers. Different peppers are used in different parts of Mexico depending on their regional favorites. They are stuffed with cheese and/or meat. It can be roasted or better still, breaded and deep-fried.
The Tex-Mex chains have standardized the Mexican food experience. The regular menu offers a few standby dishes with little variety. Actually, Mexican food is as diverse as the communities that grow and cook the food. From north to south and coast to coast, there is a smorgasbord of regional specialties.
For a more authentic experience, look for a menu with Mexican regional references. For example, a Chicken Poblano is a chicken dish from the Mexican region of Puebla, south-east of Mexico City. The mole or sauce served with a Poblano dish is likely to include twenty-five or so ingredients, including:
These flavors provide Poblano food with a distinctive character. Alternatively, a Yucatan dish from the deep south of Mexico may include annatto seed paste, onions and lime juice, and habanero chili pepper. Oregano, cumin, and coriander are also popular ingredients.
Each region has its own character and its own palate of ingredients. Try them and avoid the bland national chain's standard menu.
If your local Grapevine Tex-Mex answers your request for a dessert by heating up a frozen Empanada, you know that there has to be a more authentic (and tastier!) answer. In Grapevine, Mexican food can be so much better than this.
Try a Tres Leches Cake for a delicious Mexican dessert that is not on the standard Tex-Mex list. The name refers to the three kinds of milk used in its making, including evaporated and condensed milk together with heavy cream. The coconut version of the Tres Leches Cake makes a delicious alternative.
You've Tried Tex-Mex, Now Try Authentic Mexican Food
On this culinary journey around the authentic Mexican menu, we've departed from the regular Tex-Mex world of flavors. You might like some of the Tex-Mex flavors and standard dishes, and that's fine. But if your taste buds want perking up (and your imagination awakening) try the true Mexican food experience.
Grapevine Mexican food restaurants offer this exciting alternative. Try authentic Mexican food. Taste the difference!
Make a reservation today and start your Mexican food adventure with us right here at Mesa in Grapevine.