Long before people in America of all different ethnic backgrounds celebrated Dia de Los Muertos, Mexican food was becoming increasingly more popular as a ethnic food different and perhaps healthier than others. Nowadays, the popularity of Mexican cuisine has grown stronger than ever, and these statistics show it:
- 71% of American households use Mexican food and ingredients.
- There are over 67,000 restaurants in the United States that serve a burrito.
- Salsa has become the number one condiment nationwide, surpassing ketchup and mayo.
- And tortillas have been outselling hot dog buns since 2010.
With those kinds of numbers, and the plethora of Mexican dishes spawned in authentic and tex-mex restaurants alike, it’s easy to see that Mexican food in particular has grown more popular, but that people from Mexico and Latin American countries have become more influential in today’s society, from politics to the general economy.
Today, there are cities high influenced by Mexican, Latin American, and Cuban culture–from Miami in South Florida, to San Antonio in Texas, to San Bernadino in California. Mexican food and heritage has become so well know in the United States, that many Latin American singers are making their way up the Billboard 100, such as Camila Cabello, the former Fifth Harmony singer, who went solo with the hit single “Havana”.
Total, there are 38,000 Mexican restaurants scattered across the United States, and that number was taken in 2011. And it is the most popular ethnic food sold in the United States with 42% of ethnic food sales. So what are the most popular Mexican food dishes? Try these.
The enchilada (like many Mexican food dishes) has all the nutritional benefits of Mexican food. Enchiladas are small portions of meat (often chicken), which are placed on a cast-iron skillet and brought to the table with assorted toppings like lettuce and tomato, then wrapped in small tortilla.
The enchilada is the perfect meal to have outside the home as the meat comes fresh and steaming, while the tortillas are fresh (not stale) and perfect for a small portion, which is good if the individual wants to take the rest home.
The burrito is a class Mexican dish, consisting of numerous ingredients, such as a meat (often chicken or beef, though more authentic Mexican restaurants will have a long list of ingredients, such as chorizo, which is Mexican sausage), fillings like Spanish wild rice, beans (red, black, or other), avocado, lettuce, tomato and more.
Because the burrito is a classic Mexican dish, it can be fairly consistent throughout many “Americanized” Mexican restaurants, which are often the chain restaurants like El Porton. If you want to try a more authentic experience, check on Yelp, which provides user reviews and experience different kinds of meat.
The chimichanga some look at as an American invention and its true that many authentic Mexican restaurants don’t have the chimichanga on their menu. A chimichange is similar to the burrito, but unlike the burrito, there is only meat stuffed inside. That meat is generally shredded chicken or beef. The topping are placed on the side of the plate and can include lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole and more.
The chimichanga comes baked or deep fried, both retaining the quality of flavors within the dish. It is popular and one of the higher end Mexican dishes but it’s well worth your time, especially if you like things deep fried with melted cheese on top.
The best Mexican restaurants always have a quesadilla, and often two or three. The type of quesadilla depends on the type of meat. The best Mexican restaurants all have different meat options for the quesadilla, including steak, chicken, seafood, and more.
With the rise in popularity of Mexican foods, it should come as no surprise that the best Mexican restaurants have been able to separate themselves with quality food, ingredients, service, and ambiance. While there may be a significant amount of Tex-Mex or Americanized Mexican restaurants, many of the best Mexican restaurants are authentic and come with a literal Mexican feel.
Next time you’re looking for a Mexican restaurant, ask yourself if it is authentic and consider trying one a little outside of your norm–or perhaps your comfort zone. The ingredients may be fresher and there may be more options to choose from.