These days it’s easy for anyone to call themselves an “authentic” Mexican restaurant without being the real deal. Branding is a powerful tool after all. However, this does mean that if you wish to enjoy truly authentic Mexican cuisine, you have to be able to tell it apart from all of the fakes out there that don’t know a wheat tortilla from a corn tortilla. Let’s take a look at what makes Mexican cuisine authentic because here at Benito’s we keep it 100% real, 100% of the time!
Corn vs Wheat Tortillas
This is a big one because it’s something that’s so easy for people to misunderstand if they don’t know about traditional Mexican food. You see, hundreds of years ago corn was the preferred ingredient for making tortillas. Then when the Spanish arrived they had a problem with that, and wheat became the new default way of making tortillas for a while. These days, both are used in different situations.
So, which is more authentic? Corn or wheat tortillas? Well, it depends on a variety of factors. While corn may have been the original, wheat/flour tortillas have been used for so long that they’ve essentially become a part of Mexican culture as well. Furthermore, flour tortillas are very popular, especially in northern Mexico, making them a go-to choice for many people.
In the end, both corn and flour tortillas can be considered authentic Mexican cuisine. This is one of those cases where you can’t really put one above the other, even if they originated during different time periods.
Multiple Varieties of Salsa
Those not familiar with true Mexican cuisine may think that salsa is a single type of food. The fact is, authentic Mexican salsa comes in many different forms and varieties and isn’t always just used for dipping tortillas. Any restaurant that limits salsa to just dipping probably isn’t authentic since many truly Mexican dishes use salsa in a variety of ways.
Another thing that should be mentioned about true Mexican salsa is that it tends to be much spicier than the salsa that you’d find at a generic Mexican restaurant. This is because authentic Mexican food tends to be spicier in general than the “Tex Mex” stuff that you’ll find these days. However, since authentic Mexican salsa comes in many different varieties, it’s easy to find something you’ll love.
A Large Variety of Menu Options
There is so much more to authentic Mexican food than just burritos, tacos, and fajitas. If a restaurant only serves items that are what you’d consider “stereotypical” Mexican food, then chances are it isn’t the real deal. Here is a brief list of authentic Mexican dishes we serve just to give you an example of authentic Mexican cuisine:
- Tostadas De Chorizo
- One Chicken Flauta
- One Taco de Picadillo
- Shrimp or Ceviche
- Tacos De Barbacoa
- Chicken With Adobo Sauce
Authentic Margaritas are Super Simple
This one can trip people up when they’re looking for authentic Mexican food. This is because you might think that having a greater variety of margarita flavors would mean that a restaurant is more authentic, but it’s just the opposite. A true margarita consists of only three ingredients: lemon/lime juice, triple sec, and tequila. Yes there are minor variations, but when you completely deviate from this formula, it really isn’t an authentic margarita anymore.
Basically if you’re at a restaurant that’s offering you a ton of different margarita options, chances are they’re not authentic. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying what you like, but if you want a truly Mexican dining experience, then you want to keep your margarita simple.
Authentic Tacos Are Also Simple
These days places will offer you tacos in a variety of shapes and styles. You’ve got taco wraps, taco bowls, and even taco pizzas. A true authentic Mexican taco comes in only one variety, and that’s the standard shell, meat, and veggies. Yes there are variants, such as pork tacos, chicken tacos, and even the special Tacos De Carne Deshebrada En Harina O Maiz that we serve. However, once you start trying to turn the taco into a completely different type of food, then it isn’t an authentic Mexican taco anymore.
Something else that should be mentioned is that authentic Mexican tacos tend to use soft shells, not the super stiff brittle shells you find at a lot of places. This actually makes them much easier to eat, and more enjoyable overall.
A Mostly Spanish Menu
If you go to a restaurant and the menu is primarily in English, then chances are it isn’t an authentic Mexican restaurant. In order to give customers the true Mexican dining experience they want, an authentic Mexican establishment will likely have menus that feature the names of dishes in Spanish. Of course, to ensure that the language barrier doesn’t detract from their experience, there will typically be English translations on the menu for people who don’t speak or read Spanish.
Queso Used Correctly
Queso, aka cheese, is a popular ingredient for many authentic Mexican dishes, however, the trick is not to overuse it. Authentic Mexican establishments will understand this, and use queso the way it was meant to be used. They may even offer queso on the side as well.
This is in direct contrast to restaurants that smother everything in queso, going completely overboard with it. If you’re at a place that makes heavy handed use of queso, then it probably isn’t offering authentic Mexican food since that’s not how Mexican cuisine works.
Enjoying an Authentic Mexican Dining Experience
Here at Benito’s, we take a lot of pride in being able to offer you a 100% authentic Mexican dining experience each and every time. Creating Mexican food that stays true to the culture involves a lot of attention to detail, and we take that into account when preparing your meal. If you’re looking for a taste of authentic Mexican food, we would be happy to serve you.