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Tex Mex Vs Mexican Food: What’s the Difference?


Mick Pacholli
Mick Pachollihttps://tagg.com.au
Mick created TAGG - The Alternative Gig Guide in 1979 with Helmut Katterl, the world's first real Street Magazine. He had been involved with his father's publishing business, Toorak Times and associated publications since 1972.  Mick was also involved in Melbourne's music scene for a number of years opening venues, discovering and managing bands and providing information and support for the industry.        

If you’re a fan of Mexican cuisine, chances are that you have heard the term Tex-Mex being used to describe certain dishes. But what exactly is the difference between traditional Mexican food and Tex-Mex? While they share similarities, there are some key distinctions that distinguish one from the other from ingredients to preparation.

In this article, we’ll explore what makes Tex-Mex unique compared to Mexican food by discussing factors commonly seen in both cuisines.

Ingredients in Tex-Mex and Mexican Food

Tex-Mex and Mexican food may seem like they’re two sides of the same coin, but they do have some differences. The most noticeable difference is the ingredients that are used in each cuisine. Just like Maki-Mix in South Melbourne which blends Japanese and Mexican for a unique style of fusion, Tex-Mex blends the culinary delicacies of America with Mexican cuisine. 

In Tex-Mex, you’ll typically find ingredients like ground beef, cheddar cheese, and flour tortillas, which are largely influenced by American culture. Traditional Mexican food uses a lot more variety of chillies, herbs, and spices such as oregano, cumin and coriander, for example. Mexican food stays true to its roots with a deep connection to indigenous ingredients and flavours.

Influence of Culture on Each Type of Cuisine

Culture plays a profound way in shaping all cuisine and Mexican is no different, with a rich influence from its neighbouring regions, both cuisines have truly shaped into something unique.


The influence of Texan food culture on Mexican cuisine can be seen in the flavours and style of dishes popular in many Tex-Mex restaurants today. Over time with immigration and cultural integration, the food evolved to incorporate Texan flavours into Mexican dishes. Staples such as fajitas, enchiladas, and tacos all have their roots in classic Mexican dishes with a Texas twist. These flavours have developed into what we commonly see today in many Mexican chains worldwide.


Mayan cuisine has heavily influenced modern Mexican cooking, especially in the Yucatan region. Mayan dishes include tamales, chilli relleno, and pozole, all of which are staples in many traditional Mexican restaurants today. The flavours and ingredients used in Mayan cooking are reflective of the culture’s influence on modern Mexican food, which is why you’ll find so many similarities between these two cuisines.

Signature dishes of both cuisines

Mexican and Tex-Mex food are two popular cuisines with unique flavours and ingredients. While there are some similarities you can get a better understanding of the differences if we look at the signature dishes of both foods.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos rancheros is a traditional breakfast dish that consists of fried eggs served over a corn tortilla and topped with salsa or chilli sauce. It’s a classic dish that is commonly served in Mexican restaurants around the world.


Tamales are one of the most popular dishes in Mexico and consist of dough filled with either savoury or sweet fillings, then wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf before being steamed. Tamales can come in many different varieties, from sweet to savoury, and are a popular street food in Mexico.


Burritos are another staple that can be filled with a variety of ingredients such as beans, cheese, and guacamole. They first appeared in Los Angeles during the 1930s and are still popular today around the world. They are usually served in a flour tortilla and can be either soft or crispy with different meat options that include beef, chicken or pork typically.


Nachos are a Tex-Mex favourite consisting of tortilla chips topped with melted cheese, diced tomatoes, beans, and chilli peppers. They can also include beef or other ingredients such as sour cream but it depends on the restaurant. It’s a delicious dish that is perfect for sharing and can be served with salsa or guacamole.


Overall, Tex-Mex and Mexican food both offer unique flavours and ingredients that make them enjoyable to eat. While you may find similarities between the two cuisines, it is important to remember their distinct differences when dining out. Knowing what makes each cuisine unique can help you make informed decisions when it comes to choosing a restaurant.

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