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Mexican Food 101: The Tex-Mex Lover’s Guide to the Menu

Don’t know your taco from your burrito? Our quick guide to Mexican food

Anyone who's ever studied a menu in a Mexican restaurant will know only too well quite what a confusing experience it can be with lots of items all sounding approximately the same. I mean, how different can a burrito be from an enchilada – and when's a taco crispy and when's it soft?

As you can see, it can be quite a minefield of confusion if you don't know your way around it. And with quite a few Mexican restaurants in the area, you really are limiting your options if you're not fully up to speed.

So let's start with the basics before we get on to the more complicated matter of what you can expect to find in your meal,

1. Burrito

Literally translated as "little donkey", the burrito is a flour tortilla that is tightly wrapped around a choice of fillings and then tightly wrapped again in foil or paper. Back in Mexico, it was traditionally the sort of worker's meal that he or she could take out at the start of the day and enjoy at lunchtime – like a sort of Mexican Cornish pasty. Because it's so practical and easy to eat on the move, the burrito is a big favourite today – at any time of day.

So that's the technical explanation done, now what sorts of typical fillings can you expect? Well if you headed for Mexican Food Dudes in Limerick and ordered their burrito you'd find it filled with yellow rice, pinto beans, pico di gallo (that's a kind of salsa), cheese, sour cream and your choice of beef, chicken, pulled pork or mixed veg.

2. Enchilada

Mexican food #mexicanfood #foodie #steak #enchiladas

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Enchiladas are a trickier prospect for eating on the go – that's because they come covered in a cheesy sauce so tackling them with your hands is always going to be a messy business. Under the sauce, there's a corn tortilla wrapped around the ingredients of your choice usually also served with a side salad and rice . These are also often the spiciest of the three dishes that we're looking at here – the clue's in the enchilada part of the name.

If it's an enchilada that floats your boat then you'll find a great example at Locos Mexican in Dublin where you'll get them filled with rice, chicken, beef or vegetables and topped with their special tomato and cheese sauce.

3. Taco

Tacos are open so you can always see what you're getting but that's not to say that they're any less interesting and delicious than burritos or enchiladas. You'll also often have the choice of a soft or crispy taco shell but here's a hint – the soft variety are a whole lot easier to eat.

For taco fans, Tolteca in Galway favour the soft variety, with your choice of filling plus side orders of sauces including chilli garlic and chipotle varieties.

Enjoy!

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