Welcome to Destination MexicoTravel Tips - Food

Dining Tips:

  • It recommended that you only drink bottled water in Mexico as opposed to the tap water.

  • Real Mexican food is quite unlike the dishes you may find in most Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in other countries. The cuisine has some rich or spicy dishes, so it is recommended that you take it easy for the first few days until your stomach grows accustomed.

Food Dictionary:

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Ajo : Garlic
Albóndigas : Meatballs
Al Horno : Oven-baked
Ancho : (wide) A Poblano chilli that has been dried and turned a black-red color. The most popular dried chile in Mexico and the US. It's dried poblamo chile and the smoky-sweet flavor accents numerous dishes. Approx. 3"-4" long, dark, reddish brown, sweetest of all the dried chiles and slightly fruity flavor.
Antojito : Hors d'oeuvre or small snack food.
Arroz : Rice
Asadero cheese : A white cow's milk cheese of Mexican origin: comes in braids, balls or round. Also known as Chihuahua and Oaxaca cheese.
Asar : To roast or broil.


Barbacoa : Barbecued meat
Borracho : Cooked with wine; means drunk.
Buñuelo: Puffy, sweet, deep-fried pastry.
Burrito/Burro : Large flour tortilla wrapped around a filling.



Calabaza : Squash, pumpkin
Caldo : Soup, broth
Caliente : Hot to the touch (temperature)
Camarón : Shrimp
Canela : Cinnamon
Capirotada : Spicy bread pudding served during Lent; means a little bit of everything.
Carne : Meat, specifically beef
Carnitas : Shredded Pork
Cebolla : Onion
Cerveza : Beer
Ceviche : Salad made of raw fish "cooked" in limejuice combined with tomatoes, onions, spices, chiles, served with chips as an appetizer
Chalupa : Special custard and fruit on a flaky shell
Chicharrones : Deep fried pork rinds.
Chilaquiles : Corn tortilla pieces marinated in chile, layered with a filling, sauce and cheese, and baked in a casserole
Chile con queso : A melted cheese dip seasoned with mild green chilies. Served with tortilla chips
Chili con carne : Translates to "chili with meat", diced or ground beef, chilies and chili powder.
Chili Powder : The product made from ground red chiles.
Chimichanga : Deep-fried meat-filled burritos.
Chipotle : Ripened and smoked jalapeno. Fiery hot with lasting smoky flavor.
Chorizo : Spicy pork and beef sausage.
Churro : Mexican specialty made of a sweet-dough spiral, deep-fried, coated with cinnamon and sugar
Chuleta : Chop or cutlet
Cilantro : The dried cilantro herb is called cumin or comino. The seed produced at full maturity is coriander.
Coco : Coconut
Comal : - Heavy, round griddle for baking tortillas.



Ejote : String bean
Elote : Corn. Sometimes helote
Empanada : Turnover
Enchilada : A corn tortilla dipped in red chile sauce, rolled around just about anything, then topped with sauce and cheese
Enrollado : Rolled
Ensalada : Salad
Escabeche : Pickled


Fajita : Skirt steak. Most people associate "fajita" with a taco or the strips of meat that go into the taco. Beef skirt steak comes from the outer covering of the breast near where the brisket comes from. There are only 2 skirts per cow, a highly flavorful cut of meat as a result of the fat membrane that 'burns' off when cooked
Farina : Wheat Flour
Fideos : Vermicelli. Thin pasta.
Flan : Baked custard with caramel coating.
Flauta : Beans, specifically pinto beans that are grown.



Gallina : Hen
Garbanzo : Chickpea
Gazpacho : Cold, spicy tomato and vegetable soup.
Granada : Pomegranate
Guacamole : An avocado mixture that is made from ripened avocados and lemon or limejuice, diced onions and tomato, cilantro.
Guajolote : In Mexico, turkey; But pavo is turkey in other Spanish-speaking countries.


Habanero : Mexico's hottest chile
Harina : Wheat flour
Huevo : Egg, also blanquillo


Jalapeno : Green chile
Jamón : Ham
Jícama : A crisp, white, edible root.


Kahlúa : Coffee-flavored liqueur made in Mexico


Lechuga : Lettuce



Maíz : Corn
Mano : A piece of volcanic rock used with both hands to grind food against another rock.
Manteca : Lard
Mantequilla : Butter
Manzana : (Peron and rocolo chile) Fresh chile. Medium to hot at its peak.
Margaritas : Drink made with Tequila, Controy and fresh lime juice served either blended with ice or on the rocks in a salt-rimmed glass.
Mariscos : Shellfish
Masa : Dough, usually referring to ground hominy, called nixtamal.
Menudo : Tripe soup; New Year's Day tradition to ease hangovers.
Miel : Honey
Molcajete : Volcanic rock shaped like a bowl in which food is ground.
Mole : Term used for a thick sauce or paste. The classic mole is made with chiles, unsweetened chocolate, nuts, bananas and chicken stock.
Mora : A cordovan-colored chipotle with a fruit-leather texture. This midsize Jalapeno is lightly smoked and often used for canned chipotles in adobo. Mostly used in salsas and sauces


Naranja : Orange
Nixtamal : Hominy; Raw corn grains, soaked in lime, then ground to make a dough (masa) for tortillas, tamales, chalupas.
Nopales : Cactus pads cooked and used like okra.


Oja : Cornhusk, used to wrap tamales; sometimes hoja.
Olla : Clay pot. A utensil in which beans are simmered.



Pan : Bread
Pepino : Cucumber
Pescado : Fish
Picadillo : Meat hash
Picante : Hot to the taste buds.
Piloncillo : Brown sugar formed into a cone for marketing.
Pimienta : Black pepper
Pipián : A sauce made of pumpkin seed, chile and spices.
Poblano : A variety of chilli
Pollo: Chicken
Postre : Dessert


Quesadilla : Grilled cheese sandwich made with a tortilla.
Queso : Cheese


Rábano : Radish
Relleno : Stuffed
Repollo : Cabbage
Ristra : String of dried red chiles.



Sal : Salt Sin sal - without salt)
Salsa : A tomato-based condiment used to dip or to accent dishes.
Sangría : A drink made of red or white wine, sugar, oranges, lemons and lime
Seco : Dry
Sopa : Soup


Taco : A corn tortilla folded over a filling
Tamale : - A corn husk stuffed with masa, meat or beans. Masa (dough) that surrounds your choice of filling, traditionally pork. The 5"-6" long and 1" thick tamale is wrapped in a soaked cornhusk and steamed to cook dough.
Tatemar : Verb meaning to roast, peel and seed green chiles.
Tejano : Spanish word meaning "Texan".
Tequila : Distilled liquor made from agave, or century plant.
Tomatillo : Looks like a tiny green tomato, actually a relative of the gooseberry family. Used in salsa verde and in many sauces.
Topopo : A salad shaped like a volcano or pyramid.
Torta : A Mexican sandwich made from bolillo (hard Mexican roll) cut in half and stuffed with tomatoes, avocados or guacamole and carne asada, shredded beef or chicken, cheese and salsa.
Tortilla : A thin, flat bread made from wheat flour or corn masa.
Tortilla Press : A device used to flatten balls of masa (corn meal dough) into thin patties for tortillas.
Tostada : A fried flat corn tortilla topped with a layer of beans, shredded beef or chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, avocado and salsa.


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