Blog Post

Five Mexican Food Trends Gaining Traction In 2020


Mexican food is more popular than the all-American hamburger, according to industry researcher CHD Expert. From staples like tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, and tortilla chips to less well-known dishes like enmolada and chiles en nogada, the popularity of Mexican cuisine is sweeping the nation.

For the uninitiated, enmolada is similar to an enchilada. It's a rolled tortilla stuffed with shredded chicken and cojita cheese topped with more crumbled cheese and sesame seeds. Chiles en nogada is traditionally served to celebrate Mexican Independence Day and consists of "poblanos that are stuffed with picadillo—a mixture of pork, chopped fruit and spices—smothered in a walnut cream sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds," Tasting Table writes.

Here are a few of the most widespread Mexican food trends, unique to 2020.

1. Make Way For The Mollete

A mollete is the Mexican version of an open-faced sandwich. According to the Food Channel, it is a simple comfort food, like grilled cheese. The open-faced sandwich is made with melted cheese, refried beans, and butter. Top with pico de gallo or fresh salsa for an extra kick. As avocado toasts and other savory and sweet toasts rise in popularity among American cuisine enthusiasts, the mollete may be the closest thing to it in Mexican cuisine.

2. The Rising Popularity of Mexican Spirits

If you visit some of the top Mexican restaurants in the country, expect to see Mexican whiskeys, pulque, and tepache on the menu. While whiskey is self-explanatory, many Americans may not be familiar with tepache or pulque. Tepache is an alcoholic drink made from fermented pineapple, spices, water, and sugar. Pulque is similar to mezcal or tequila; it's made from agave as well--specifically by fermenting agave sap.

3. Learn A New Word: Nixtamalization

Food52 describes nixtamalization as a "time and labor-intensive traditional technique." In this tradition, chefs dry corn and mix it with a calcium hydroxide solution. Preparing corn this way makes the kernels much easier to separate from the core. Once the kernels are separated, they can be processed to make tamales, tortillas, and more.

4. Even More Spice!

Many components of the best Mexican food are natural and fresh. Chiles and tomatillos are popular options for adding some spice to meals. Chiles, fresh or dried, add instant flavor. Similarly, tomatillos--a round or plump fruit with origins dating as far back as 800 BC--add subtle spice as a fresh ingredient.

This year, the best Mexican food restaurants will kick it up a notch, adding more fresh and dried herbs into the mix. Expect to see lots of dishes made with Mexican marjoram or Mexican oregano. Similarly, chefs are preparing more dishes with hoja santa, a traditional spice known for its hard to describe flavor profile. Some say hoja santa tastes like licorice. Others describe it as more of a root beer flavor. Whatever the exact, nuanced flavors may be, it is a versatile spice present in sweet and savory meals.

5. Jackfruit Carnitas and Cauliflower Tacos: Mexican Cuisine Goes Plant-Based

Veganism and plant-based diets are catching on fast. Recent statistics show that veganism has increased sixfold since 2014. With consumers demanding more vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian options, Mexican restaurants are rising to meet that call. Plant-based alternatives, like cauliflower tacos and jackfruit carnitas, are on the rise. Some staples, like tamales, Mexican potatoes, and salsa and chips are already vegan-friendly or can be easily altered to suit a vegan diet.

Every year, Americans eat more than 4.5 billion tacos. Know what trends to expect the next time you head out to your favorite Mexican restaurant.

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