Back when I was living in la Roma, I was with a friend of mine named Angie.
She’s a Mexican chick from Veracruz.
Anyway, we are inside the dining room area of this building that has different rooms for rent.
So here we are eating some tacos that I made for us.
Of course, I had to be the one to make them because I am American and we Americans know how to make better Mexican food than Mexicans!
Ok, not entirely joking but it is partly true.
Though a truth no Mexican would ever agree with.
Of course, a roommate came into the dining room at around the time we were eating these tacos.
Which had chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, bacon, etc.
And obviously I ask Angie what she thought of the tacos.
And she responded “muy rico!”
Or something along those lines.
Either way, this roommate named Luis comes in at around the time that I have to start bragging about our superior American tacos.
That “obviously tacos made in the US are better than those in Mexico.”
To which, when I asked Luis about his opinion on that one, he obviously disagreed.
And though it obviously comes across as extremely arrogant to make such a statement…
We were all on good terms anyway and friends with each other so I knew nobody would actually be offended by this statement.
But what’s the reasoning for it then?
What argument could be made for Mexican food made in the US being superior to Mexican food in Mexico?
Well, in my opinion, it isn’t really just the US that usually offers better Mexican food than the food you find in Mexico.
Since I love Mexican food quite a bit and have traveled quite a bit also…
I tend to go to any Mexican restaurant I can find.
Be it in Colombia, Argentina, Poland, England, the US, Peru, Bolivia and wherever else I have tried Mexican food.
And you know what?
The Mexican food I have tried in any of those countries beats most Mexican restaurants I have found in Mexico.
And that’s because the Mexican food you can find in all of those countries outside Mexico tends to be relatively similar enough to each other in my experience.
That it offers a little something more that Mexican food doesn’t always offer in Mexico.
What do I mean by this since that probably sounds very vague?
Let’s go into the different factors to consider when comparing Mexican food outside of Mexico to Mexican food made inside of Mexico.
Keep in mind of course that this is all going to be a bit generalized since we are comparing my experiences at Mexican food at many different restaurants that I have been to around the world.
And I won't be just talking about the food but also the overall experience.
But let’s begin by looking at 10 different factors!
Factor 1: Customer Service
Of course, this doesn’t have much to do with the food so much.
But it’s where we should begin since customer service is obviously an important aspect of the experience eating at a restaurant.
Be it a Mexican restaurant in Mexico or one in the US.
Which is where we will begin first.
First, customer service in the US is almost always better than the experience I get at Mexican restaurants.
The staff is simply much more attentive to your needs.
Even the worst customer service that I have gotten in the US is about the typical service I would get in Mexico.
But that isn’t to say Mexico is terrible with customer service.
The countries where I have been to that have had the worst customer service by far were Argentina and England.
Including at the Mexican restaurants you can find in those places also.
So when talking about customer service, generally I find the US to have the best of it compared to anywhere else I have been to in the world – which consists of over 30 countries as of this writing.
Factor 2: The Chips
In my time in Mexico, I have eaten at endless amounts of restaurants.
On top of my head, I can think of 4 restaurants that offered chips and salsa before the meal.
And as of right now, I know one of those restaurants doesn’t offer chips and salsa anymore for free since I eat there often.
With the other 3 on top of my head, they might still have chips and salsa but it is no guarantee.
And keep in mind that the chips you would get are usually in very small portions.
Whereas in literally any Mexican restaurant I can think of around the world, chips and salsa is basically a given.
I can’t think of any that I have been to where chips and salsa were not included.
And when they are included, they are basically enough to fill you up!
And if you really wanted to, plenty of the places I have been to even offer free refills of chips.
So right away, your experience at a Mexican restaurant outside of Mexico is already more kickass than one in Mexico.
Most likely better customer service with as many chips as you want.
You still complaining?
And speaking of free….
Factor 3: Free Refills
Now keep in mind that most countries don’t offer this in my experience.
It’s really only the US or in certain establishments outside the US that have a “drink with refill” option.
But how much does it have to suck that you are eating a meal and you run through your drink half way through the meal!
Yes, you can order another drink. It’s no problem.
But it’s the principle of it all.
Having free refills is pretty badass.
And definitely makes my experience all around nicer at Mexican restaurants in the US than those in Mexico.
At least the ones in the US understand that climate change is heating up the planet and we are all going to be a little more thirsty eating our meals and obviously we need free refills!
Something, clearly, that most Mexican restaurants don’t understand.
The only restaurant I can even think of that has free refills (as an option on the menu) in Mexico is a Chillis restaurant.
And Burger King also in my experience.
Which, obviously, neither one of those is Mexican.
But Burger King did have a spicy salsa option for your French fries at one point in Pachuca, Mexico – so slightly Mexican I suppose but not really.
Anyway, I digress.
Free refills is another part of the experience in Mexican restaurants in the US that makes the overall experience much nicer than those in Mexico.
Factor 4: Portion Sizes of the Food
A few years ago, I went to a small mom and pop restaurant in Mexico City with a friend.
This restaurant was going to have some live performance by some local hip hop band and the performance was pretty cool.
You know what wasn’t cool?
Getting flautas de pollo so small that I was able to finish them in literally 2 or 3 minutes.
What the fuck?
I ordered a meal and I want a meal.
Generally speaking, portion sizes outside the US tend to be smaller than those in the US.
Might explain our obesity rates.
Either way, the portion sizes of these flautas was insane.
I had to ask for 2 more orders of these to actually be full.
Just because the food was so insanely small.
And keep in mind that portion sizes at Mexican restaurants outside Mexico in any country I can think of were much better than some of the places I have seen in Mexico.
Pretty much on point with what you would want for a meal.
So, for whatever reason, the portion sizes here are simply too small at times.
Granted, not every place is as bad at that restaurant but it’s not uncommon.
Like how I will be going to a taco place soon after this and will have to order about 12 tacos to have a real meal.
Fortunately, those tacos cost 4 pesos a piece.
Which brings us to…
Factor 5: Price
At every Mexican restaurant I have been to in the world…
Even in poorer countries like Bolivia….
The typical meal is always around 10 to 20 bucks.
Even in poorer countries where people usually say how cheap everything is.
And that’s because the Mexican restaurants in places like Bolivia or Colombia are filling a niche that most restaurants are not.
And can charge more.
Along with the fact their portion sizes are normal.
But in Mexico, those small tacos you get on the street might be very small…
But you can get them for 4 to 6 pesos a taco.
So while it is cheaper…
You get what you pay for in my opinion.
Smaller portion sizes but smaller prices.
So, to be fair to Mexico, this is technically an advantage that Mexico brings to the table with cheaper prices for the food.
Factor 6: More Diversity of Food
Again, this article isn’t meant to just point out all the negatives of Mexican food in Mexico compared to Mexican food elsewhere…
But it will bring up some positives of Mexican food in Mexico that most places outside of Mexico don’t do well.
To try being as nuanced about this as possible.
And one benefit that Mexican food in Mexico brings to the table is that…
It has more variety in terms of what you can eat.
With certain types of Mexican food from certain regions of Mexico that you simply won’t be as likely to find at a typical Mexican restaurant outside of Mexico.
Which then brings us to the next positive point of Mexican food in Mexico…
Factor 7: More Authentic
There’s no question here – obviously Mexican food in Mexico is more authentic than Mexican food made anywhere else in the world.
Made by the very same country the food is named after – Mexico.
So if you want authenticity, obviously what you get in Mexico will serve you better.
Even Mexican food made by Mexicans outside Mexico is not always as authentic because the food might be made a little bit differently than how it is made in Mexico due to consumer preferences locally wherever they might be at.
So another point here for Mexican food in Mexico.
Factor 8: Salsa Options
This point is more neutral and really dependent on your personal preference.
Outside Mexico, almost all of the salsas I have tried were never really spicy in anyway.
Occasionally, they would be though.
Whereas, in Mexico, the salsa in my experience is always a bit spicy.
Though most places offering salsa for their food will have different types of salsa where some are spicier than others.
So it basically comes down to if you prefer your salsa to basically not be spicy or spicy.
Which I will say this factor doesn’t really favor or go against Mexican food in Mexico.
Just depends on which of those you prefer.
If you are accustomed to eating spicier foods, then Mexico obviously wins this point.
If not, then I guess Mexican food made outside of Mexico.
Factor 9: Greasier
Though not all Mexican restaurants offer you food that is way over the top greasy.
It’s much more common among Mexican restaurants in Mexico than those outside of Mexico.
The reason why I suspect this is the case is that again Mexican food made outside of Mexico is usually in a place where there are not as many other Mexican restaurants nearby.
Unless you are in California or Texas or something..
But in Argentina or Poland or somewhere in the Midwest US?
Well, the food is going to be more niche than with minimal competition.
With higher prices and most likely (though not always) better practices for making their food.
Whereas, in Mexico, obviously Mexican food is not anything special.
There’s plenty of it everywhere!
And the places that tend to have the greasiest food in my experience are mom and pop restaurants or maybe street food also.
Though not all of those places have greasy food.
But the nicer Mexican restaurants I have been to never had greasy food from memory.
So it is what it is – Mexican food outside Mexico tends to be less greasy overall.
But now let’s get to the final and arguably the most important point in my opinion…
Factor 10: Blending Mexican Food With Outside Preferences
This point is basically the opposite of the “authenticity” point.
Where Mexican food outside Mexico tends to be very similar despite if you are eating it in Poland, the US, England, Argentina, etc.
In my experience anyway.
But what do I mean by that?
Well, as said before, your food options do tend to be more limited to the typical Mexican food items you see being most popular – tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas, flautas, etc.
But the food that you get tends to bring more with it.
Not only with bigger portion sizes as I said before.
But take the taco for example as the best example we can bring up.
Remember the taco I made for Angie?
It had bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, etc.
And she really liked it.
Why is that?
Because it didn’t just have chicken as a chicken taco.
The issue you will sometimes find with Mexican food places in Mexico is that often the tacos they offer are very bland in that they don’t always offer much else with the tacos.
Now, keep in mind, that’s not always true.
But I have eaten at my fair share of taco street places that didn’t have anything else to put on the chicken taco.
No salsa, no tomatoes, nothing.
At this one place I go to often, they do have some salsa to be fair and some lime.
In best case scenario, the place you are eating at will have something else they put on the taco.
A few places I have seen in Mexico City put French fries in the taco, which is pretty tasty.
Others have cheese as an option if you want to pay more for cheese.
Though most taco places I have been to don’t have cheese.
You know what else I have noticed is lacking?
In Mexico of all places!
Granted, I have seen taco places that had it available but most I have seen don’t!
Whereas, in the US, getting guacamole for your food isn’t as difficult.
Hell, in my home town in the Mid-West…
A place that doesn’t have too many Mexicans…
We have guacamole available at Mexican restaurants over there from what I have seen.
Now, now, now….
I hear you!
“But Matt! Tacos with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and more is not authentic!”
That brings us to the final verdict comparing the two factors that are really the most important out of all of these.
The Final Verdict
Let’s be fair – a lot of these factors are not so important in the grand scheme of things.
Lower prices in Mexico for the food? Lower portion sizes. It even outs.
Greasy food? Well, not every place in Mexico is like that. Most aren’t.
Salsa options? Again, depends on your preference.
Better customer service, free refills and free chips? Ok, those points do actually matter and do add to the overall experience in favor of Mexican restaurants outside of Mexico.
But really – all of this comes down to if you want authentic Mexican food or if you want tastier Mexican food.
Not saying there are no authentic tasty Mexican restaurants in Mexico.
But, overall, without any doubt in my mind based on my experience…
Mexican food made outside of Mexico…
Be it Colombia, Argentina, Poland, Bolivia, the US….
It was always tastier than every single Mexican restaurant I have tried in Mexico.
There is no doubt in my mind on that.
In fact, every time I leave Mexico to visit family in the US….
I am always dying to try the Mexican food in my small home town in the Mid-West.
And keep in mind that the two Mexican restaurants I most commonly visit in my home town are run by Mexicans.
But the food is not the same as it is down here in Mexico.
It has more lettuce, more tomatoes, more cheese, etc…
And while some of you might say that is not authentic….
My taste buds don’t give a shit.
In the same way, you could offer me a plate of the most authentic Bolivian food there ever was!
Personally cooked by Evo Morales himself.
And in my eyes, no matter how authentic it may be, it’s still a plate of crap food.
No offense to Bolivia – it’s an amazing country with some of the friendliest people I have ever met in all of my travels with so much amazing beauty in the countryside.
But the food?
Again, could be the most authentic Bolivian food ever – my taste buds don’t care.
And the taste buds are the Simon Cowell for what food is better.
There ain’t no bullshitting the taste buds – if it doesn’t taste good, it ain’t good.
And the same could be said when comparing Mexican food in Mexico to Mexican food made outside of Mexico.
Where you can definitely find plenty of nice Mexican restaurants in Mexico that offer tasty food.
No Mexican restaurant I have been to in Mexico beats Mexican restaurants I have been to outside of Mexico.
Including my hometown.
As is often the case they mix what is Mexican food with consumer preferences for certain types of ingredients and portion sizes (among other things like the chips) to add to the overall experience.
Making Mexican food made outside of Mexico to be so much tastier every single time than any Mexican restaurant I have seen in my 3 years living in Mexico.
Now, if you excuse me, I’d like to take a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Where, from what I remember, there was a Mexican restaurant there that offered free shots of tequila for any meal purchased at their establishment.
It might have been a more pricy place but the food and the tequila makes it worth it.
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