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This is how to tell the difference between your favourite Mexican dishes

Contiki guide choosing Mexican street food

Can’t figure out what makes a burrito and a fajita distinct? Finding it difficult to decide between a hard or soft taco? Besides the fact they’re ALL delicious, we’re here to help explain once and for all the main differences between your favourite Mexican dishes, and why some aren’t even technically Mexican…

Burritos vs. Fajitas (and Chimichangas)

The first thing to know about traditional burritos is that they are BIG, made with an extra large tortilla folded into an envelope to hold yummy beans, meat and other fillings like cheese. Where things become a bit murky is the rice and salad situation. Those additions are more of a Westernised Tex-Mex adaptation, which while common now, aren’t traditional.

Fajitas on the other hand describe the meat used in the dish, not the way it’s wrapped or eaten. Fajita means ‘beef strips’ in Spanish, and the marinated thin strips are barbecued, then served in hot sauce. You can wrap them up however you like of course, but fajita is the steak, not the meal.

Chimichangas, you’ll be pleased to know, are exactly what they appear: deep-fried burritos. They’re a treat even in Mexico and are usually more moist than a standard burrito. #GetInMyBelly

A Mexican burrito topped with avocado and tomatoes.

The Great Debate: Hard or Soft Tacos?

Taco-bout a scandal! The hard shell tacos you find in Western countries are frauds. Mexicans dine on soft tacos, that is, a small tortilla with meat and toppings inside. The only thing ~similar~ to the hard shells is a dish called flautas. These are deep fried tortillas filled with chicken, cheese and potato.


Two Mexican beef tacos on a white plate.

Is that a Taquito or Enchilada?

Both are defined by the rolling technique used to hold those mouth-watering fillings, but how do you know which one you’re eating? Well, an enchilada has chilli sauce and cheese on top and is baked in an oven, while a taquito tends to be smaller, deep-fried and sans-sauce.


Mexican enchiladas in a white baking dish.

When Quesadilla’s Become Mulitas

Quesadilla’s have their main offering in their name: cheese (queso = cheese in Spanish). A traditional quesdailla is two tortillas with cheese sandwiched between them, then grilled until melted. They can be jazzed up with other ingredients but cheese is king here. However, it becomes a mulita in some regions when there is meat added and garnishes on top (such as guacamole).

Got this all down pat? Time to test your knowledge of Central American foods! We bet you haven’t heard of all of these tasty dishes

Mexican plate with quesadillas, beans and rice.