A Complete List of Mexican Food Names

Few types of cuisine are more universally lbeloved than Mexican.

But there’s another kind of flavor to Mexican food, as well—the cultural kind, which encourages diners to take part in celebrating Mexican culinary heritage anytime they excitedly utter the names of their favorite dishes. The very mention of these mealtime monikers can be enough to get your mouth watering.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the crucial connection between language and the love of food, along with the names of 100 new and old Mexican edibles that are guaranteed to make a welcome addition to any restaurant, food truck, or street stall menu.

Why Are Mexican Food Names Important?

The names assigned to Mexican foods do more than make it possible for customers to order.

For one, they can tell the diner what sorts of ingredients, flavors, and cooking methods they’ll be encountering in a given dish.

Arroz con pollo” (“rice with chicken”), for example, gives a straightforward account of the dish’s two central components. Similarly, “aguachile” (literally “chile water”) paints an evocative picture of how the chef prepares the dish, and “enchiladas Suizas” (“Swiss enchiladas”) clues you into the unique history and cultural interchange lying behind the dish’s creation.

Another thing that these elementary sorts of names have in common is that they’re easily translatable, even for those with a limited understanding of the Spanish language. This is vital for making them seem accessible and non-exclusionary.

Just as importantly, food names function as a form of built-in branding that lends menu items a sense of identity, character, and authenticity in the case of ethnic foods.

The words “carne asada” may bring to mind fond memories or stir up a swell of positive cultural associations to Spanish-speaking diners. To non-Spanish-speakers, it’s simply more fun to say than “grilled beef.”

Ultimately, the goal is to get your customers to order your food. To accomplish this, you must ensure that the menu items you offer are as eye-catching and enticingly-named as they are delicious.

How to Name Your Mexican Food

When choosing names for your eatery’s Mexican or Mexican-inspired fare, it can be helpful to turn to the same intangible quality that gives Mexican food much of its enduring cross-cultural appeal: tradition.

For the sake of both customer convenience and sales potential, some dishes—including all the most common Americanized fare like burritos, enchiladas, tacos, and quesadillas—are best identified by their original Spanish names. That way, no one is left to guess what they are.

Make it Familiar

Other offerings may not be as widely known, which gives you a bit more wiggle room in how you present them on the menu.

Molotes (balls of rich corn dough stuffed and deep-fried), for example, could make a perfect appetizer or snack food. Still, most customers probably won’t recognize the dish by name, and others may find it difficult to pronounce. In this instance, giving them a name like “Corn Poppers,” “Tamale Bites,” or something similar would both let customers know what to expect and make it easier for them to order.

Keep it Simple

In situations where you’re trying to decide whether to rename a particular item or let it remain as-is, ask yourself whether your customers will be more likely to order it in its updated or current form. Obscure or untranslated food names are often ignored by people unfamiliar with them. The right name could therefore mean the difference between a bust and a best-seller.

As a general rule, the best food names are short, descriptive, memorable, and easy to say, regardless of the customer’s native language.

Keep the Tradition Alive

The one exception to this rule is traditional foods with distinctive names, like chilaquiles or calda tlalpeño. These are typically best left in their original forms and accompanied by a parenthetical translation or detailed yet straightforward item description. That way, the customer can participate in the dish’s ambient culture while also understanding what they’re ordering.

Suppose you plan on offering lots of traditional Mexican foods. In that case, you might even consider giving them their own dedicated section of the menu, such as “Traditional Specials” or “Old-Fashioned Favorites.”

100 Mexican Food Names

To better illustrate Mexican food names’ appetizing power in action, here are 100 of the most irresistible Mexican foods known and adorned around the world, organized by category.

These selections highlight a wide range of items, from street foods to seafood, delicacies to desserts.

Antojitos (Street Foods, Starters, and Snacks)

  1. Chalupas
  2. Chapulines
  3. Chicharróns
  4. Chilaquiles
  5. Dorilocos
  6. Fritadas
  7. Gorditas
  8. Huaraches
  9. Mole poblano
  10. Molotes
  11. Nachos
  12. Pambazo
  13. Picadillo
  14. Sopes
  15. Tacos
  16. Tacos de lengua
  17. Tamales
  18. Tortas
  19. Tostadas

Sopas (Soups and Stews)

  1. Caldo de siete mares
  2. Caldo tlalpeño
  3. Menudo
  4. Pozole
  5. Sopa de fideo
  6. Sopa de tortilla

Carnes (Meat Dishes)

  1. Al pastor
  2. Alambre
  3. Albóndigas
  4. Barbacoa
  5. Bistec
  6. Carne asada
  7. Carnitas
  8. Chile Colorado
  9. Chilorio
  10. Chorizo
  11. Cochinita pibil
  12. Fajitas
  13. Milanesas
  14. Pollo asado

Huevos (Egg Dishes)

  1. Huevos rancheros
  2. Huevos Motuleños
  3. Migas

Roz (Rice Dishes)

  1. Arroz a la tumbada
  2. Arroz amarillo
  3. Arroz con camarones
  4. Arroz con huevos
  5. Arroz con leche
  6. Arroz con lima
  7. Arroz con pollo
  8. Arroz negro
  9. Arroz poblano
  10. Arroz rojo
  11. Arroz verde
  12. Morisqueta

Especialidads (Specialties)

  1. Burrito
  2. Chimichanga
  3. Enchiladas
  4. Flautas
  5. Quesadilla
  6. Sincronizada
  7. Taquitos

Mariscos (Seafood)

  1. Aguachile
  2. Camarones al Mojo de Ajo
  3. Ceviche
  4. Huachinango a la Veracruzana
  5. Pescado zarandeado

Salsas (Sauces and Dips)

  1. Chamoy
  2. Guacamole
  3. Queso (cheese dip)
  4. Mole
  5. Pico de gallo
  6. Salsa
  7. Salsa verde de tomatillo

Verduras (Vegetable Dishes)

  1. Aguacate relleno
  2. Chile relleno
  3. Frijoles
  4. Nopalitos
  5. Papas fritas

Postres (Desserts and Sweets)

  1. Bionicos
  2. Buñuelos
  3. Cajetas
  4. Camotes
  5. Churros
  6. Dulce de leche
  7. Empanadas
  8. Flan
  9. Helados (ice cream)
  10. Jarritos
  11. Pan de elote
  12. Pan dulce
  13. Pastel de tres leches
  14. Plátanos fritos
  15. Sopapillas

Bebidas (Beverages)

  1. Agua fresca
  2. Atole
  3. Café con leche
  4. Champurrado
  5. Horchata
  6. Mexican Coke
  7. Tamarindo

Wrap-Up

Mexican food is so popular that business analysts estimate there are close to 60,000 Mexican restaurants in the U.S. alone, and that number only continues to grow each year. All told, the Mexican food industry in America rakes in some $55 billion annually.

The fresh ingredients, zesty flavors, and time-honored recipes that serve as the foundations of south-of-the-border cooking just feel like home, no matter where you happen to hail from. Knowing the meaning and traditions behind a name allows you to share the cultural love and knowledge that goes into creating these inspiring dishes.

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