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14 Amazing Mexican Food and Drinks You Should Try

14 Amazing Mexican Food and Drinks You Should Try main image

If you’re heading abroad to holiday or study in Mexico, you’re probably already eagerly anticipating the opportunity to tuck into the local grub. Mexican food is not to be missed, with a mix of US, Spanish, Aztec and Maya influences all playing a part. As vibrant and exciting as the country’s culture, authentic Mexican food is famous around the world for its bold flavors and elaborate ties to festivals and events. In fact, it’s the only cuisine to have been named part of the by UNESCO.

We’ve run through the best Latin American cuisine, but to further celebrate the launch of the latest QS Latin America University Content, here’s a look at the Mexican food and drinks you need to try.

Huevos rancheros

Huevos rancheros

We start our look at the best Mexican dishes with breakfast, and this one is sure to wake you up and fuel you ready for any early-morning lectures. Huevos rancheros (translated as “ranch eggs”) are fried eggs served on lightly fried, hot corn tortillas and topped with salsa. They’re , and they go well with refried beans, avocado, Mexican-style rice and guacamole.

Chiles en nogada

Chiles en nogada

Probably one of the most patriotic Mexican dishes, chile en nogada is served at room temperature and consists of poblano chilis stuffed with picadillo (a mixture usually containing shredded meat, dried fruits and spices) topped with a walnut-based cream sauce, called nogada, and pomegranate seeds, giving it the three colors of the Mexican flag: green from the chili, white from the nut sauce and red from the pomegranate.

Pozole

Pozole

Pozole is a traditional soup or stew dating back to the Aztecs, when it had ritual significance. It’s made from hominy (dried maize kernels), with meat (typically pork) along with toppings such as cabbage, chili peppers, onion, garlic, radishes, avocado, salsa or limes. Mexican people commonly eat pozole at special occasions such as Mexican Independence Day, Christmas or birthdays.

Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles are corn tortillas that are fried, cooked in green or red salsa, and sprinkled with cheese. There are then multiple ways you can enjoy it: with eggs so you can have them for breakfast, or topped with chicken, beef, or guacamole and refried beans for a delicious brunch. It’s also a great way to use up any tortillas that are going stale.

Mole poblano

Mole Poblano

Often called the national dish of Mexico, mole poblano is probably the best-known variety of mole (a generic name for a number of sauces used in Mexican cuisine). Mole poblano is a dark, thick sauce made out of at least 20 ingredients, including chilli peppers and chocolate, giving it a fantastic range of flavors. Like pozole, it’s often saved for special occasions, such as weddings and birthdays (where it’s served over turkey), or Christmas, where it’s served with romeritos (a herb resembling rosemary) over shrimp cakes.

Pambazo

Pambazos

Turning our attention to an iconic example of Mexico City street food, pambazos are white bread rolls filled with potato and chorizo, then dipped in a warm red chilli pepper sauce, giving the bread its famous coloring. It’s then fried until crispy and topped with lettuce, salsa, cheese and/or sour cream.  You can also get mini versions known as pambacitos.

Mollete

Molletes

While mollete is simply a flatbread in Spain, in Mexico it’s basically an even better version of a grilled cheese: an open sandwich piled with refried beans, salsa, cheese and slices of jalapeño or serrano pepper. It’s then grilled in an oven until the cheese melts. We’re drooling just looking at it.

Tacos

Tacos al pastor

We couldn’t write about amazing Mexican food without mentioning tacos, one of the country’s best-loved foods. As Enrique Olvera, head chef of Mexican restaurant Pujol (one of the world’s ) put it, “tacos are a way of life”. You’ve most likely tried a taco before, but here are some examples of less common but nonetheless mouth-watering taco recipes to try at your local taqueria (a Mexican restaurant specializing in tacos):

  • Carnitas tacos: originating in the state of Michoacán, carnitas (meaning ‘little meats’) is seasoned, slow-cooked pork which is shredded and commonly served with chopped coriander leaves and diced onion, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, and refried beans (frijoles refritos). If you fancy making them yourself, there’s a recipe .
  • Guisado style tacos: if you fancy eating tacos in the morning, these are for you. These tacos are filled with stewed ingredients placed in ceramic pots, with an endless array of options, such as the picadillo hash (ground beef with vegetables).
  • Tacos al pastor: probably one of the most famous Mexican street foods, tacos al pastor (pictured above) were brought over by Lebanese immigrants in the 1990s and consists of spit-roasted pork, similar to the Turkish döner kebab and the Greek gyros, shaved off into a tortilla, which might be topped with a slice of pineapple. If you study in Mexico, you may well find yourself picking this one up after a night out.

Bionico

If you’ve got any room left for pudding after you’ve tried one of these delicious Mexican dishes, you might like to try a bionico, which originated in the city of Guadalajara in Jalisco. It’s a Mexican-style fruit salad made up of a range of chopped fruits, drenched with cream or yogurt and served with granola, shredded coconut, raisins and occasionally honey.

Pan de muerto

Pan de muerto

Staying on the sweet side for the last of the best Mexican dishes, the pan de muerto (literally “bread of the dead”) is a sweet roll traditionally baked in the run up to the Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations from October 31 to November 2 each year. Due to this, the bread often gets a unique appearance, with bone-shaped dough toppings, commonly presented in a circle to represent the circle of life.

And to wash this food down, here are some of the best Mexican drinks:

Tejuino

Tejuino

Tejuino is a cold drink made from fermented corn, which is particularly popular in the state of Jalisco. It’s made of the same corn dough found in tortillas, which is mixed with water and brown sugar.

Pulque

Pulque

Pulque is a milk-colored alcoholic drink made from the fermented sap of an agave plant. It’s a predecessor to tequila that’s been around for at least 2,000 years, when it was reserved only for priests and nobles and referred to by the Aztecs as the drink of the gods. After declining popularity in the 20th century, pulque is now making a comeback, despite having quite a sour, yeasty taste. It’s also apparently got some health benefits, being rich in probiotics, vitamins and minerals.

Agua de Jamaica 

Agua de Jamaica

Or if you’d prefer a non-alcoholic option among Mexican drinks, agua de Jamaica is a herbal iced tea made from the sepals of the roselle flower. It’s a popular drink, and for good reason, as it’s delicious, refreshing and also potentially good for you, containing natural compounds that might help lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. Find out how to make your own .

Michelada

Michelada

The last of our top Mexican drinks is a Mexican cerveza preparada (beer cocktail), made with tomato juice, hot sauce, lime juice and beer. As you’d expect, it’s definitely got a kick to it (thanks to the hot sauce) and it’s also apparently good for curing hangovers. If you want to try your hand at making one, here’s the .

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina edits and publishes articles which guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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