Flavors Of Mexico – Most would agree that the following regional Mexican dishes have earned their fame throughout the years, becoming fixtures in any Mexican restaurant: tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and fajitas. However, these are just a few of many other delicious regional Mexican foods one could try if you traveled to Mexico often enough to discover them.
This guide will briefly show you the culture and geography behind what is considered regional Mexican foods.
The Gulf of Mexico
States: Veracruz, Tabasco
The Gulf of Mexico region is known for its rich culture and history. It may well be the earliest piece of Mexico to be colonized by Spain, so it has an immense Caribbean cultural influence that makes it similar to other cities along the coast, such as New Orleans or Havana.
This area of Mexican regional cuisine contains a fusion of native cuisine with elements from around the world like corn or vanilla mixed with European herbs like parsley, marjoram, thyme, oregano, and bay leaves.
The Yucatan Peninsula
States: Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche
The Yucatan Peninsula is known for its diverse cuisine, with influences from the Caribbean and Europe. With influences from the Spanish empire — though not as heavily influenced by them as other parts of Central America — the food in Yucatan is predominantly Mayan.
The primary staples of this regional Mexican food are corn, fish, and pork; these were mostly grown locally until recently, when it became harder to cultivate enough crops to feed everyone. A large part of the food is flavored with a spice called annatto seeds (achiote), which gives many dishes a pink or reddish hue.
The South of Mexico
States: Chiapas, Oaxaca
Southern Mexico is largely disconnected from the rest of Mexican regional cuisine, shunning traditional Mexican and Spanish dishes while embracing the pibil cooking style. Pibil means food items are wrapped up in banana leaves and then cooked in a fire pit in the ground.
This hot smoke infuses flavor onto every morsel of food, giving it an intriguing smoked aftertaste. The most popular dishes from the south region are Cochinta Pibil (pork) which contains citrus fruit, fresh lemon juice or vinegar, onion garlic, salt pepper, cumin, and chili powder, roasted tomatoes, and guajillo chili pepper sauce.
Central Mexican Food
States: Puebla, Morelos, Hidalgo, Tlaxcala, Estado de Mexico, Mexico City, Guerrero
Central Mexico is known for its wide array of street food delicacies. Central Mexican food has evolved to meet the needs of individuals living there — street tacos are for everyday civilians looking for a quick bite to eat.
Mobile vendors can be traced back to the rise of street food in Mexico City — it is a commonplace to find trucks on busy streets selling dishes such as traditional street tacos, elotes, sopes or tamales.
Regional Cuisine of Mexico On the Pacific Coast
States: Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit, Sinaloa, Baja California, Baja California Sur
The Pacific Coast is home to some of the best seafood in regional Mexican dishes. Here you can find staples like snapper, sea bass, tuna and swordfish, alongside more unusual fish, including porgy, amberjack and sailfish. This regional cuisine from Mexico is well-known for its refreshing and diverse ingredients and has influenced the trendy California cooking scene.
Ceviche has become synonymous with Californian-Mexican food culture. However, the regional cuisine of Mexico on the Pacific Coast provides locals with plenty of fresh produce — fruits, vegetables, cheese and chili are all easily sourced locally.
Regional Cuisine of Mexico in El Bajio
States: Michoacan, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, Queretaro
El Bajio is well known for its vast assortment of desserts. Some examples are cajetas, chongoes, bunuelos and arroz con leche. Not only do they have them, but they also offer morisqueta — a dish made with sausage and rice, as well as carnitas, which is deep-fried pork.
Much like central Spain, where many of these dishes originate, the plateaus that span most of the area are responsible for this variety in cuisine. Accordingly, some traditional Spanish dishes were given makeovers and became even more popular, such as cotija cheese.
Northern Mexican Food
States: Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua
If you’ve ever had Mexican food outside of abroad, chances are that it was Northern Mexican food. The two staples in this region are flour and meat. Like the cowboys of the US, vaqueros of the North of Mexico live on farms and care for dairy cows. Furthermore, these influences gave us dishes like carne asada and fajitas.
A well-known dish from Northern Mexico is cabrito en su sangre which directly translates to goat in its blood. It is a young goat that is slowly cooked in its own carefully made-up blood. In general, due to the roaming lifestyle characteristic of vaquero culture, cuts of meat were typically grilled over an open flame during those times.
Experience Authentic Mexican Food At Benito’s Restaurant
Now that you’ve learned about the various regional Mexican dishes, it’s time to taste the real thing. At Benito’s Restaurant, we’ve been serving up authentic recipes from Mexico since 1981. We offer traditional dishes such as mouth-watering tacos and refreshing margaritas, which go perfectly with any meal. Make a reservation today!