Would you dare to try these 7 unusual Mexican foods?

Published on July 23, 2021

If you love Mexican food, you’ve probably tried some common dishes: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tamales, huevos rancheros, and so on. But if you have an adventurous palate, perhaps it’s time to try some of the more unique dishes Mexico has to offer. These would usually be found only in Mexico, so if you’re planning a trip there, make sure to visit a restaurant that offers some of these delicacies!

Beware – the list below is not for the faint of heart…

  1. Huitlacoche

Huitlacoche is an ingredient also known as Mexican truffle, corn mushroom, or… corn smut. Essentially, it’s made of corn that has been infected by a parasite that has eaten up the kernels and left grey fungi in their place. This may sound wildly unappealing, but in Mexico, it’s considered a delicacy due to its sweet, nutty, mushroom-like taste. Huitlacoche is usually used to flavour quesadillas, tacos, soups and tamales.

  1. Chapulines

In recent years insect proteins have been rising in popularity, and can even be found in stores and restaurants in some countries. But in Mexico, that’s old news. Chapulines are deep-fried grasshoppers that are very popular in Oaxaca, where they can be found in indoor or outdoor markets. Chapulines have been a staple in the region for a very long time, as they are considered a cheap, accessible protein. They’re served in bags or plastic cups, and are usually seasoned with salt, chilies, lime, garlic and onion. 

  1. Menudo

If you’re traveling in Mexico and had a bit too much to drink one night, there is a traditional hangover cure you might want to try: menudo. Menudo, also known as pancita (‘little stomach’) is a spicy broth made with marrow bones, beef tripe and cow’s foot, and is seasoned with herbs, spices and chilies. In some regions of Mexico, menudo is sheep stomach soup, and pancita is soup made with beef tongue – so ask in advance to know what you’re getting.

  1. Chinicuiles

If you’ve braved the chapulines, perhaps you’ll want to try chinicuiles next. While they look like red worms, they’re actually larvae of a moth common to maguey (agave) plants. You might have seen them in bottles of mezcal, but chinicuiles are also added to tacos – raw, fried, or roasted. Sometimes they’re served on their own in a warm tortilla, seasoned with lime, chili and salt.

  1. Chicatanas

If we’re on the topic of worms, why not continue with ants? The Oaxaca area is home to chicatanas, or flying ants. Trying to solve an infestation problem, someone had the idea to turn chicatanas into salsa. Salsa de chicatana is often served with tortillas and cheese. Chicatanas are also prepared in mole with chicken or pork, and they are also sometimes served with tamales.

  1. Tacos de Lengua

After grasshoppers, worms and ants, this item might seem a bit more ordinary – but some people would still find it unusual to eat a cow’s tongue. That’s the main filling of tacos de lengua, which are topped with cilantro, jalapeno, onion, tomatoes and lime juice. If you’re feeling brave, you can try other varieties of this dish – taco de labio, which is made with cow’s lip; or taco de ojos, which is made with cow’s eye.  

  1. Escamoles

We’ll finish off the list with ants, again – or to be more accurate, ant larvae. Escamoles, or “Mexican caviar”, are harvested from maguey plants like chinicuiles, and have been a local delicacy since the Aztec period. Their taste is described as mild, creamy and nutty, and some say they taste like pork rinds. Escamoles are usually pan-fried and added to omelets or tacos, or eaten on their own with tortillas and guacamole.