Mexican cuisine has its roots in traditional cooking based on ingredients which are indigenous to the region such as maize, beans, tomatoes, squash, peppers and jicama with primary sources of meat being  domesticated poultry and wild animals native to the region including fish in coastal regions.  As Europeans and other visiting cultures found their way to the region they heavily influenced Mexican food with the introduction of new farming techniques,  domestic, livestock such as cattle,  new ingredients, and new cooking styles. Spanish colinization of the Mexican region during the 1500's has heavily influenced authentic Mexican cuisine as we find it today.


We tend to think of Mexican food as one cuisine but the food eaten from region to region within Mexico varies significantly  for historical reasons and due to the availability of ingredients. Broadly Mexico can be divided into 6 culinary regions.

The North

The north is well suited to the farming of livestock such as cattle for dairy and beef, and the production of grains such as wheat . As a result the cuisine in the north features  many meat and cheese dishes with  flour tortillas and breads  as a staple.  Flavours in the north are heavily influenced by the fact that many foods such as beans an chillis are not used fresh as they must be preserved or dried so they will keep in the desert climate.

Common Dishes  include caldiddo, machaca,  frijoles, borrachos, Chile con queso ,  burritos, arrachera, Capirotada, Pan de Semita

Cheeses produced in the northern region  include queso fresco, cuajadarequesónqueso menonita, and asadero.


Oaxaca (South Pacific Coast)

Cooking in the Oaxaca region is  largely based on  local ingredients  such as corn and seafood , and Spanish introduced ingredients such as pork and chicken . Techniques used to cook these ingredients are heaviliy influenced by the traditional indigenous culinary practices of the region. Mole dishes originate from this region.

Common Dishes include: Mole , Enfrijoladas, Empanadas,Tamales,Tlayudas

Regional ingredients include: Blandas, Hoja santaOaxaca cheese


Mexico City/Puebla 

Cuisine in Mexico City & Puebla is a melting pot of popular regional cuisines from around Mexico and dishes  from around the world.  Being one of the largest metropolitan centres in the world life is faster paced in this region and street foods are popular.

Common dishes include: Barbacoa, Cemitas, Mole Poblano, Chalupas, chiles en nogada, cecina.


Central/Western Mexico

Cuisine in Central Western Mexico has strong Spanish influences and as a result rice, pork, and spices are the foundation ingredients for most dishes.

Common dishes include: Corundas, Churipo, Morisqueta, Carnitas, Birria, Tortas ahogadas, Pozole, Bionico, Chilayo, Menudo


Veracruz (The Gulf)

Food in Veracruz is heavily influenced by indigenous, Spanish, and African cuisines which were introduced along with the slave trade. Ingredients introduced by Europeans such as Cilantro , Pineapples , and  Olives  meld  with native tropical fruits ,  fresh seafood,  and other ingredients from around the region such as sweet potatoe to create a rich and diverse cuisine.

Common dishes include: Huachinango a la veracruzana, Arroz a la tumbada, Pollo encacahuatado, Garnachas, Chileatole de pollo, Crema de palmitos, Mole Xiqueño


Yucatán (The South)

Cuisine in Yucatán has a strong  Mayan heritage along with Carribean, French, and Middle Eastern influences which make it quite different from other clinary regions in Mexico. The use of Habanero peppers is prevalent and  meat is often rubbed with spices such as achiote before being cooked in pits giving it distinctive colours and tastes. In contrast to roasting meat the practice of marinating seafood in spices, vinegar, and citrus juices  to make a ceviche is also common. Tropical fruits such as e tamarind and avacadoes regulary feature  in foods from this region.

Common Dishes include: Poc-Chuc, Chiltomate, Cochinita pibil, Papadzules, Pozol, Brazo de reina, Recado rojo.

Traditional cooking

Traditional home cooking in Mexico  is quite different from the foods presented as Mexican throughout the world which are often based on Mexican street or festival foods. Mexican home cooking is simpler than street or festival foods as is the case in the cuisine of many cultures.  We find it useful to describe the typical meals in a Mexican day when we are asked what is authentic Mexican cuisine?


Desayuno - Light Breakfast

Mexican desayuno is a light breakfast which is often  as simple as coffee and sweet rolls known as pan dulce

Coffee - recipe

Pan Dulce - recipe


Almuerzo - Heavy Breakfast

Amuerzo is a more  substantal breakfast  such as eggs tortillas and beans which is eaten a little later in the morning or for brunch.

Tortillas - recipe

Frijole - recipe

huevos rancheros - recipe


Comida - Lunch

The most sustantial meal of the day in Mexico is Comida or lunch lunch which starts in early to mid afternoon and can take a few hours to enjoy. Comida traditionally consists of  a soup course, a dry soup course, a main, a dessert and is  often accompanied by fruit flavoured water.

Sopa Aguada (Runny Soup) 

Sopa Aguada literally translates to watery or runny  soup  and can be a caldo (clear broth) or a crema (cream soup),


Menudo - recipe


Sopa Seca  (Dry soup)

Sopa Seca is the second course in Comida and is  made from rice, strips of dried tortilla , or pasta cooked in a broth until the liquid is completely absorbed.


Sopa Seca de Fidoes  - recipe


Guisado ( main dish )

Guisado leterally translates to stew in english and is the main dish served at comida. Guisado usually consists of  seafood, meat or poulty served with rice and/ or beans and  some hot tortillas.

Mole con pollo

Mole Con Pollo - recipe

Postre or dessert 

Much like in many cultures this is a sweet dish such as a flan, cake, or a pudding which is taken at the end of comida.

Pastel de Tres Leches

Tres Leches Cake - recipe

Agua Fresca or Fresh water

Agua Fresca  is  a  non alcoholic drink based on fruits or grains, and sugar which is a common accompaniment for comida.


Agua de limon - recipe


Cena - Supper

The last meal of the day in Mexico is known as Cena and is usually the lightest meal of the day which is eaten later in the evening. Cene often consists of hot milk, hot chocolate , Pan Dulce , or maybe even a  taco  made with left overs from comida.

Hot Chocolate

Mexican people were the first  to make Xocoatl  or cholcolate from Cocoa beans . Hot Chocolate is a rich drink which was traditionally made by roasting and grinding Cocoa beans and mixing them with water, and other ingredients such as Vanilla and corn.  Chocolate drinks made using this method were said to allow a soldier to march for a whole day after consuming just one cup. 

Mexican Hot Chocolate


Xocatl or Mexican Chocolate - recipe

Street Food

Mexican street food is readily available  from vendors on the street and in markets around the country. Street food  is known as antojitos which translates literally to "little cravings" and are most commonly consumed in the mornings and evenings outside the mid afternoon hours which are occupied by comida.  Common street foods include Tacos, Tamales , Tostadas, quesadillas, Tlayudas, Gorditas , Chalupas,  and of course sopa.  This is just a small sample of the vibrant street foods you can experience if you visit Mexico.











Rob Galloway







Thanks for visiting, I'm Rob  a passionate home cook and my creative outlet is my kitchen.  Livetocook.com is my way of keeping a track of my culinary learnings and my favourite recipes, please think of it as a personal journal of my cooking mis-adventures . I hope you get as much enjoyment out of your visit as I get from creating it. And please always feel free to get in touch with your feedback or just to say Hi, we look forward to hearing from you.

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