California Mexican Food is not just the most delicious food in the state. It’s also one of its most popular. For many Californians, Mexican food can mean burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas on a plate with sides of guacamole or salsa.
It can also mean carne asada tacos or a taco al pastor sandwich on a plate with sides of guacamole and pico de gallo.
But that’s not what the California Mexican food experience is all about—at least it isn’t just in Los Angeles. The Mexicali taco, a vegetarian version of the classic taco in Baja California, has spread far and wide throughout the state.
There are also wide regional varieties of traditional Mexican foods, such as Carne molida (red meat cooked with onions and peppers), tacos from San Diego, and other Pescado (fish) dishes from Southern California.
What Is Northern California Mexican Food?
Northern California Mexican food is different. It can be defined best by saying what it isn’t, and that is simply the Mexican food that everyone knows and loves. Northern California’s version of the fast-food taco uses a soft flour tortilla and contains American ingredients such as sour cream, shredded iceberg lettuce, and cheese.
The enchiladas served here also have a different flavor than those in Southern California since they are often made with Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese instead of queso fresco.
Does California have real Mexican food?
Northern California is not where one can find much traditional Mexican cuisine, but that does not mean California does not have real Mexican food. For example, the Northern California coastal areas are famous for their seafood, and their fish tacos are served either with a light batter or without any batter.
Also, you might consider this region when you consider carne asada nachos or burritos (with fries or rice), which are very popular in San Francisco and its suburbs.
10 Best California Mexican Food Ideas
1. Carne Asada Nachos
While these should be easy to find in any good Mexican restaurant, we are looking for homemade carne asada nachos here. Please start with the best tortilla chips and pile them high with homemade carne asada, guacamole, sour cream, refried beans, and chopped tomato.
If you want to serve this dish to your guests at home, make a big batch of chips and then cook some carne asada for everyone to enjoy.
2. Burnt Ends Tacos
Burnt ends are the leftover parts of brisket that have been smoked for hours. You can find them at many restaurants, either as a roast or chopped and served with your choice of sauce.
They can be used to make any number of applications, from burritos to nachos. For burrito bowls, add a burnt end taco meat on top of your choice of rice or a topping for nachos.
3. Green Chile Burritos
When you think of burritos, you generally think of them being filled with meat or cheese. Here’s a different take on the California classic. Add some shredded cheese to your favorite burrito mix, smother with green chile and sour cream, roll it up and enjoy.
4. Guacamole Tacos
Quickly prepare your guacamole home by mashing up some avocados with salsa and lime juice. Then fill your favorite taco shells with the mixture and top with green onions.
5. California Burrito
Every state has its version of the burrito. In California, this version is often served as a breakfast burrito made with scrambled eggs, cheese, and other ingredients such as potatoes or beans in a flour tortilla.
6. Baja Fish Tacos
Baja fish tacos are a specialty in Southern California. The fish is battered, fried, and served on a tortilla with cabbage, pico de gallo, avocado, Sriracha sauce, and blackened Cajun seasoning.
7. Breakfast Burrito
The breakfast burrito is one of the most popular items at any Mexican restaurant in California, except that they usually do not use flour tortillas. While you can purchase ready-made tortillas, the best way to go here is to make your own. Start with some homemade refried beans, eggs, and cheese. Once you have those in place, add other ingredients such as potatoes, onions, or peppers.
8. California Tacos
California tacos are made from flour tortillas containing melted cheese and an American-style salsa. They frequently also have beans inside and shredded lettuce on top and can be served with guacamole or Pico de gallo.
9. California Burrito using Hard-Shell Taco Shells
These are different from California burritos in that they are served in a bowl and come with your choice of meat and beans. You can also order them without the meat, but you will have to ask for it on each item.
10. California Burrito Bowl
Another option for order a burrito bowl at a California Mexican food restaurant. California burrito bowls include your choice of meat in a bowl of rice or as a taco. Eating them at home, you can also easily substitute a hard-shell taco shell for the flour tortilla in your burrito bowl recipe.
Why does California have the best Mexican food?
California has the best Mexican food because it was the first border state to have many Mexican immigrants. The many Mexicans who came to work in agriculture and other labor-intensive jobs also greatly advanced the state’s development.
California is a place where cultures mesh and mix, so it’s no wonder that Mexican food produced there is some of the most creative, flavorful, and innovative in the country.
What part of California has the best Mexican food?
While we have already stated that California has the best Mexican food, we have to answer the question of what part of California has the best Mexican food.
There are several distinct regional styles, from the burritos you find in San Diego to the tacos in Los Angeles and Orange County. In Northern California, for example, you will find your favorite Americanized dishes such as carne asada fries and enchiladas topped with cheddar cheese.
California truly is a paradise for Mexican food, and many dishes originated in the state and have made it big across the US. If you love Mexican food, you will certainly be in heaven visiting California. This article should help you get off to the right start with your Mexican food quest.