Let’s Go Out for … Mexican
Authentic Mexican food can be healthier and tastier than your typical chain-restaurant fare. Here's how to enjoy the real thing.
Most of our impressions of Mexican cuisine come courtesy of a highly American treatment known as “Tex-Mex,” in which popular Mexican comfort foods are thrown into a deep-fryer and smothered in gooey cheese. “Mexican food is not all tacos and burritos and chimichangas," says Lucero Martinez, executive chef of Pampano, a contemporary Mexican restaurant in New York. "Calling these Mexican cuisine is like saying America eats nothing but hamburgers.”
Not surprisingly, authentic Mexican food is, in most cases, healthier than common chain-restaurant offerings. “Traditionally speaking, Mexican food has bright, bold flavors of citrus and chilies and herbs. It's not just heavy food,” says Diane Henderiks, RD, culinary nutritionist at DishWithDiane.com. “You are going to see some lard and meat you need to be aware of, but the accent flavors can be very healthy.”
Let’s walk through some of the typical dishes you’ll find in many authentic Mexican restaurants. Some may seem unfamiliar, but that’s likely because you’re better acquainted with the Tex-Mex version than the real dish that inspired it.