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Old 02-24-2010, 12:42 PM
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Whats the difference between a burrito, a soft taco, a chimmi-changa, etc.

Firstly, there's no need to point out that none of these things are Mexican food, and are Tex-Mex instead.

So, I'm in the north. Really north. There's an excellent chance that the folks around here don't know their Tex from their Mex or a chimmi-changa (SP??)from a burrito.

However, my question is this:

At various different places I've been served a tortilla with beans, cheese, grilled veg (peppers and onions, usually) and sometimes rice. It is typically served with sour cream, salsa and maybe guacamole.

When I ordered this item has been call a burrito, a chimmi-changa, a soft taco, maybe an enchilada (although I think that usually has more rice). A fajita is similar to the above but usually a do it yourself type thing.

What the heck am I eating? Are all of these things the same only with a different style of tortilla?

Or are northern restaurants just totally clueless (I'm not ruling this out at all).

Thanks!
Old 02-24-2010, 12:47 PM
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Basically, a chimichanga is a burrito that has been deep-fried. A burrito is a taco that is folded so it is closed at one or both ends. A taco is a corn or flour tortilla with some sort of filling. They may be folded or rolled depending on the area.
Old 02-24-2010, 12:54 PM
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IME, a taco is always simply folded over with no attempt made to close up the open side. Soft tacos are flour tortillas as opposed to the traditional fried corn. A burrito is rolled, really folded kind of like a diaper except with closing off the side that would be open for the baby's torso. A chimichanga is, as silenus says, a deep-fried burrito, as I understand it. Never had one.
Old 02-24-2010, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Basically, a chimichanga is a burrito that has been deep-fried. A burrito is a taco that is folded so it is closed at one or both ends. A taco is a corn or flour tortilla with some sort of filling. They may be folded or rolled depending on the area.
To add to silenus's fine explaination, chimichangas and burritos are made with flour tortillas, enchiladas and flautas are made with corn tortillas, and tacos can swing both ways.
Old 02-24-2010, 12:56 PM
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A useless bit of trivia: The chimichanga was invented here in Tucson (The Naked Pueblo). According to the most accepted story of its origin, at least hereabouts:

Quote:
According to one source, the founder of the Tucson, Arizona, restaurant El Charro, Monica Flin, accidentally dropped a pastry into the deep fat fryer in 1922. She immediately began to utter a Spanish curse-word beginning "chi..." (chingada), but quickly stopped herself and instead exclaimed "chimichanga," the Spanish equivalent of thingamajig. Fortuitously, the euphemism was a well understood Indianism for the standard Spanish "chango quemado", meaning "broiled monkey", which the chimichanga resembles.
At any rate, there is little dispute that the chimichanga's roots lie in Pima County, Arizona.
Old 02-24-2010, 12:56 PM
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Forgot to add:

Flautas are a corn torilla equivilent of a chimichanga.
Old 02-24-2010, 01:00 PM
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I am not Mexican or a cook but around here (Southern California), enchiladas are covered in enchilada sauce during cooking. Burritos are usually served dry, but sometimes have sauce dribbled on them at the last stage of preparation.

ETA: Flautas are usually thin and open at the ends. I always figured they are named for their resemblance to flutes. (Taquitos would be the piccolos.) Chimichangas, in my experience, are quite fat (and fat-making).

Last edited by TWDuke; 02-24-2010 at 01:02 PM.
Old 02-24-2010, 01:05 PM
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Thanks for asking this, alice. I've always wondered myself.

Le sigh, Mexican food. So freaking delicious, and so terribly fattening . . .
Old 02-24-2010, 01:06 PM
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Known as a "wet" burrito.

Enchiladas are a funny case. You can tell when someone is from New Mexico, for example, because their enciladas are flat, not rolled. Weird, it is.
Old 02-24-2010, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Known as a "wet" burrito.

Enchiladas are a funny case. You can tell when someone is from New Mexico, for example, because their enciladas are flat, not rolled. Weird, it is.
Like a tostada or like a lasagna? That is strange.
Old 02-24-2010, 01:13 PM
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The soft taco can be found in Mexico as well as all over Greater Mexico. It's simply food wrapped in a tortilla; this can be meat plus condiments--like Carnitas, Houston Style--, eggs plus whatever for the wonderful "breakfast taco." Or the tortilla can be wrapped around something like carne guisada (stew). Baja California invented fish tacos. I think corn tortillas taste better but flour tortillas are more flexible; they are also more popular in Northern Mexico.

Fajitas are marinated skirt steak, grilled & sliced. Usually accompanied by tortillas & fixings (guacamole, grilled onions, grilled chiles, pico de gallo) so you can make your own tacos. Flour tortillas are traditional, since this is a Northern Mexico/Border dish; but they'll usually give you corn tortillas if you ask. Chicken & shrimp can also be cooked & served the same way & called "chicken or shrimp fajitas"--linguistically incorrect but it's a losing battle.

Tacos made with corn tortillas can be fried--which is really Tex-Mex. (Fry them a different way to get flautas.) Even Texier-Mex is using pre-cooked "taco shells"--actually OK if everything is fresh.

I think the Burrito came from California--our local "authentic" Mexican places call them California style. It's a giant taco, which can be stuffed with a wide variety of food. This takes a flour tortilla, which makes a much better "wrapper" than the corn variety. Deep fry the whole thing to get a Chimichanga.

Some of these dishes come from Mexico. Others were invented in Texas, California, New Mexico or Arizona. Usually by Mexicans or Mexican Americans. Don't worry much about authenticity--look for stuff that tastes good. Besides, I hear real Mexicans are working in restaurants all over the country!

Oh--sometimes the same dish will have different names in different regions.
Old 02-24-2010, 01:15 PM
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Known as a "wet" burrito.

Enchiladas are a funny case. You can tell when someone is from New Mexico, for example, because their enciladas are flat, not rolled. Weird, it is.
Also, they're green, not red, right?
Old 02-24-2010, 01:18 PM
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Like a tostada or like a lasagna? That is strange.
There are a lot or recipes out there for enchilada casserole which is basically everything layered like a lasagna. Now, if you want something strange, the last time I made 'enchiladas' instead off rolling them in tortillas, I stuffed them into par-boiled jumbo pasta shells. It worked out very nicely, clean up was easy, nothing stuck to the bottom of the pan. I'll probably do it again next time.
Old 02-24-2010, 01:19 PM
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Also, they're green, not red, right?
In New Mexico, they use Green or Red Chiles.
Old 02-24-2010, 01:45 PM
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Like a tostada or like a lasagna? That is strange.
Bobby Flay's version.

Munch - The usual divide is that green belongs with pork, and red belongs with beef or chicken. This rule is as flexible as the Prime Directive, however.
Old 02-24-2010, 02:36 PM
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Baja California invented fish tacos.
No not really. They just have their own style and are the most widely popular fish taco in the USA.

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Tacos made with corn tortillas can be fried--which is really Tex-Mex.
Again, not really. Fried tacos or tacos dorados have been part of our diet since the Spaniards introduced cooking oils/fats to the local cuisine. Today we are all going to my mother's house for homemade pozole and tacos dorados de papas.
Old 02-24-2010, 02:41 PM
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enchiladas and flautas are made with corn tortillas
IME, flautas are made with flour tortillas. Basically a flour tortilla version of a taquito.
Old 02-24-2010, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Basically, a chimichanga is a burrito that has been deep-fried. A burrito is a taco that is folded so it is closed at one or both ends. A taco is a corn or flour tortilla with some sort of filling. They may be folded or rolled depending on the area.
So the non-fried chimichanga I had for lunch yesterday was actually a burrito?

I can believe that - the place I got it from is famous for advertising one thing and serving up a totally different dish with perhaps one ingredient in common.

Another question - I only eat veggie versions of any of these things - typically the bulk is provided by beans (refried, black, etc) - is this a further bastardization, or would these items be called something else?

Finally, I have had a Mexican breakfast taco (made by a real Mexican!) and it is quite tasty, although nothing like the Tex-Mex fare that is available around these parts.
Old 02-24-2010, 02:46 PM
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IME, flautas are made with flour tortillas. Basically a flour tortilla version of a taquito.
Sometimes. Most Houston restaurants use corn tortillas for flautas. My neighborhood place sells taquitos that would be called flautas at most other local places.

Then, there's the chilaquiles versus migas controversy....
Old 02-24-2010, 02:54 PM
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IME, flautas are made with flour tortillas. Basically a flour tortilla version of a taquito.
Hmmm. While Wikipedia and other sites suggest you are correct, my overwhemling experience (in Texas and New Mexico) is flautas=corn.

Regional variation? Early onset dementia? Or are the two not mutally exclusive?
Old 02-24-2010, 03:06 PM
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Then, there's the chilaquiles versus migas controversy....
Migas! There, it's settled.

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Old 02-24-2010, 03:13 PM
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Sometimes. Most Houston restaurants use corn tortillas for flautas. My neighborhood place sells taquitos that would be called flautas at most other local places.

Then, there's the chilaquiles versus migas controversy....
That must be another USA controversy. There is no confusion here between the 2 dishes.
Old 02-24-2010, 03:17 PM
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As usual, The Onion has the answer.
Old 02-24-2010, 03:28 PM
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Another question - I only eat veggie versions of any of these things - typically the bulk is provided by beans (refried, black, etc) - is this a further bastardization, or would these items be called something else?
Not really. Peasant food is always filled with the cheapest, most filling thing possible, so a basic bean and rice burrito would be what would be expected. If you had money or livestock, then you had meat for the burrito.

Tio - chalk it up to regional variation. As long as you don't have celiac or something like it, they're all good eats.
Old 02-24-2010, 03:40 PM
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Some of these dishes come from Mexico. Others were invented in Texas, California, New Mexico or Arizona. Usually by Mexicans or Mexican Americans.
Mexican food invented in Texas, California, New Mexico, or Arizona is just as authentic Mexican as food invented in Oaxaca.
Old 02-24-2010, 04:24 PM
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Or are northern restaurants just totally clueless (I'm not ruling this out at all).
Everytime I've had "Mexican" food in Canada, it's been somewhere between bad & hideously awful. You'd think I would learn, but I keep thinking the next restaurant will be different.

But I'd generally expect:
soft taco: food placed in center of smallish tortilla, totilla folded over
burrito: food completely encased (ends folded over, rolled up) in medium-to-largeish tortilla
chimichanga: deep fried burrito
enchilada: food rolled into corn tortilla (must be corn. burritos are usually flour but I wouldn't be surprised for it to be corn, and soft tacos could be anything), covered in sauce, then baked.
fajita: stir fry with tortillas - it should be steak, but it's frequently not.

Last edited by amarinth; 02-24-2010 at 04:24 PM.
Old 02-24-2010, 04:30 PM
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Everytime I've had "Mexican" food in Canada, it's been somewhere between bad & hideously awful. You'd think I would learn, but I keep thinking the next restaurant will be different.
There is an authentic Mexican restaraunt locally (that doesn't really serve any of these thing) and it's really, really tasty.

The large 'Tex-Mex' type restaraunt probably Julio's Barrios and I've had some pretty decent food there; however, my expectations could very well be lower. I've never eaten Tex-Mex in Texas or Arazona or wherever so I probably don't know what I'm missing.

I also have a question about the 'very fattening' comment. While I agree that you can get super fatty Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, a normal sized bean burrito (for instance) doesn't seem outrageous - am I forgetting some key, super fatty ingredient? Fajita's seem sort of ok as well - grilled veg and a tortilla seem not so bad??

Last edited by alice_in_wonderland; 02-24-2010 at 04:31 PM. Reason: I can spell. Really.
Old 02-24-2010, 04:50 PM
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Just ball-parking it...1 cup of refried beans will average about 230-240 calories and 3 grams of fat. A half cup of shredded cheddar runs 265 calories. The tortilla can range from 81 to 150 calories. Add in a few for the salsa and you have about 625 calories per burrito, minus the sour cream, which is another 60 calories.

Not "very fattening" but not "lo-cal" either.
Old 02-24-2010, 05:03 PM
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Just ball-parking it...1 cup of refried beans will average about 230-240 calories and 3 grams of fat. A half cup of shredded cheddar runs 265 calories. The tortilla can range from 81 to 150 calories. Add in a few for the salsa and you have about 625 calories per burrito, minus the sour cream, which is another 60 calories.

Not "very fattening" but not "lo-cal" either.
That's a helluva big burrito. I don't think I could eat a cup of refried beans if I had all day to do it. Also, 3 grams of fat seems very reasonable for a regular meal.

Ditto on the cheese - that sounds like a lot (although I guess it depends who makes your burrito).

All that being said, I don't think a 600 calorie dinner is outrageous. Breakfast is usually about 400 cals and Lunch is about 500 - that's a 1500 cal a day diet - that is ok for someone maintaining their weight (assuming they're not a big person - it would be a diet for a big man or something).
Old 02-24-2010, 05:03 PM
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There is an authentic Mexican restaraunt locally (that doesn't really serve any of these thing) and it's really, really tasty.
What's the name? Is it in Vancouver, by any chance?

Last edited by Johnny L.A.; 02-24-2010 at 05:03 PM.
Old 02-24-2010, 05:09 PM
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Mexican food invented in Texas, California, New Mexico, or Arizona is just as authentic Mexican as food invented in Oaxaca.
How so? Is the culture of México the same there as in Oaxaca? The food in México is a reflection of our culture. There is a great difference in the culture of México and the culture of the US even in the places with a lot of Mexican influence.

That is like saying the Chinese food or Italian food etc in the US is as authentic as it is in the country of origen.

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Old 02-24-2010, 06:04 PM
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What's the name? Is it in Vancouver, by any chance?
No - sorry!

It's called Salt & Pepper and it's in Calgary. I just looked and there are actually 3 locations - a Mexican friend (as in, a friend who's moved here from Mexico) has said the food is very authentic.
Old 02-24-2010, 06:05 PM
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enchilada: food rolled into corn tortilla (must be corn. burritos are usually flour but I wouldn't be surprised for it to be corn.
EVERY enchilada I've ever had, and often at places run by "real" mexicans was a flour based tortilla wrap, not corn. And our local place that had the best enchiladas I've ever had (it was the sauce that made it special) in business for over 40 years closed down recently I am seriously thinking of hunting down the retired owner to get the recipe.

Of course, maybe all "my real mexicans" came from a part of mexico where they used flour rather than corn tortillas for the wrapping.

Reminds me of a comedy routine where the guy pretends to be a waiter at a mexican resteraunt. The customer keeps asking whats in this or that or this or that...of course, the answer for ALL of it is pretty much the same.
Old 02-24-2010, 06:33 PM
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Where in the world do they use flour tortillas for tacos? Stockholm? A taco is a folded corn tortilla with filling. Soft tacos are made with unfried corn tortillas. Hard tacos are made with corn tortillas that are fried to make them crisp. Hard tacos aren't common in Mexico.

A burrito is a flour tortilla rolled up around a filling. The ends of the tortilla are typically closed so that the filling doesn't spill out. A chimichanga is the same thing that's been deep-fried to make the tortilla brown and crisp.

I have never seen an enchilada made with flour tortillas, but I won't insist that it can't be done. An enchilada is a tortilla dish that has been cooked in a chile sauce. The name in Spanish roughly translates as "chilied" (yeah, I know, I'm verbing a noun). The sauce is often made from dried red chiles, but can be made from other types of chiles (green enchiladas are made from fresh green chiles). Enchiladas are typically made from corn tortillas that have been rolled around a filling, covered with chile sauce and baked. One can also make enchiladas by layering tortillas with filling - it is not necessary to roll them. I can't see how flour tortillas would hold up to this treatment - I would think they'd turn to mush.

Fajitas are a type of marinated meat that's been char-broiled or grilled with onions and peppers. They are typically served with tortillas (either flour or corn) on the side, but one could also put fajitas in a taco or burrito (I don't think they'd work very well in enchiladas). Fajitas come from Tex-Mex cuisine, which is Mexican or Mexican-style food that was developed in Texas.
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:43 PM
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I have never seen an enchilada made with flour tortillas, but I won't insist that it can't be done. An enchilada is a tortilla dish that has been cooked in a chile sauce. The name in Spanish roughly translates as "chilied" (yeah, I know, I'm verbing a noun). The sauce is often made from dried red chiles, but can be made from other types of chiles (green enchiladas are made from fresh green chiles). Enchiladas are typically made from corn tortillas that have been rolled around a filling, covered with chile sauce and baked. .
Damn you

Now you have me wondering if I just cant tell the difference between a flour and a corn tortilla when its used in a burrito or enchilada or just have it ass backwards. The soaking, baking, and drenched in sauce thing probably isnt helping.

Maybe its that whole tamale angle thats got me confused, as well as the obviously corn taco shells that I am used to.
Old 02-24-2010, 06:43 PM
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Where in the world do they use flour tortillas for tacos? Stockholm?

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Old 02-24-2010, 06:44 PM
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Where in the world do they use flour tortillas for tacos? Stockholm? A taco is a folded corn tortilla with filling. Soft tacos are made with unfried corn tortillas. Hard tacos are made with corn tortillas that are fried to make them crisp. Hard tacos aren't common in Mexico.

A burrito is a flour tortilla rolled up around a filling. The ends of the tortilla are typically closed so that the filling doesn't spill out. A chimichanga is the same thing that's been deep-fried to make the tortilla brown and crisp.

I have never seen an enchilada made with flour tortillas, but I won't insist that it can't be done. An enchilada is a tortilla dish that has been cooked in a chile sauce. The name in Spanish roughly translates as "chilied" (yeah, I know, I'm verbing a noun). The sauce is often made from dried red chiles, but can be made from other types of chiles (green enchiladas are made from fresh green chiles). Enchiladas are typically made from corn tortillas that have been rolled around a filling, covered with chile sauce and baked. One can also make enchiladas by layering tortillas with filling - it is not necessary to roll them. I can't see how flour tortillas would hold up to this treatment - I would think they'd turn to mush.

Fajitas are a type of marinated meat that's been char-broiled or grilled with onions and peppers. They are typically served with tortillas (either flour or corn) on the side, but one could also put fajitas in a taco or burrito (I don't think they'd work very well in enchiladas). Fajitas come from Tex-Mex cuisine, which is Mexican or Mexican-style food that was developed in Texas.
For the last time, hard tacos (tacos dorados) are VERY common in México. The flauta which is usually made with a larger than normal tortilla, is a type of taco. The taquitos are made with a smaller corn tortilla.

Enchiladas are normally NOT baked in México. They are usually made by dipping the corn tortilla in a heated sauce and then rolled around a filling and garnished to taste.



But I also have never seen or heard of an enchilada prepared with flour tortillas.
Old 02-24-2010, 06:47 PM
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And Seattle.

Imagine my surprise when I got some fish tacos at a pub I frequent for lunch, and when I got back to my desk discovered that they were made with flour tortillas. And cheese!

OK, I frequently see cheese in fish tacos. I don't think it belongs, but it's common. The fish was great. And the cabbage. And the sauce. But it was freakin' weird eating fish tacos on flour tortillas.
Old 02-24-2010, 06:55 PM
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Actually the Del Taco site says the use yellow corn tortillas - or did I miss something?
Old 02-24-2010, 06:58 PM
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Flour shelled fish tacos is not the norm, but I've seen them. But cheese? That's just bizarre. I'm used to the fish tacos in Baja: soft corn tortillas, fish, cabbage, white sauce. With a squeeze of lime and a Carta Blanca.

Damn. Now I'm hungry!

alice - check the box on the menu that says "Soft Chicken Taco."

Last edited by silenus; 02-24-2010 at 06:59 PM.
Old 02-24-2010, 07:00 PM
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How so? Is the culture of México the same there as in Oaxaca? The food in México is a reflection of our culture. There is a great difference in the culture of México and the culture of the US even in the places with a lot of Mexican influence.

That is like saying the Chinese food or Italian food etc in the US is as authentic as it is in the country of origen.
Well, there were people cooking food in the Mexican style in California and Texas for longer than California and Texas have been part of the United States.
Old 02-24-2010, 07:09 PM
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Flour shelled fish tacos is not the norm, but I've seen them. But cheese? That's just bizarre. I'm used to the fish tacos in Baja: soft corn tortillas, fish, cabbage, white sauce. With a squeeze of lime and a Carta Blanca.

Damn. Now I'm hungry!
I've never seen fish tacos on flour tortillas before this place. But I've seen cheese on them in SoCal (granted, not in a Mexican restaurant -- which the pub isn't, BTW). Taco del Mar (a chain) puts cheese on unless you tell them not to. (They make the tacos in front of you, like Subway makes sandwiches.) But I agree with you: Soft corn tortillas, fish, cabbage, white sauce, and lime squeezin's.

Speaking of white sauce, how do you make it? I mix taco seasoning into some sour cream. It's lazy, but it tastes good -- and I don't have a real recipe.

Fish: Battered and fried? Or spatula'd on a grill? I prefer fried, myself. The pub uses Cajun-style blackened filets.
Old 02-24-2010, 07:13 PM
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Johnny, have you tried Chevy's?

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Old 02-24-2010, 07:15 PM
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Johnny, have you tried Chevy's?
No, the closest one is like 270 miles away.
Old 02-24-2010, 07:17 PM
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I generally do a 50/50 mix of sour cream and mayo, then hit it with some lime juice, diced cilantro and a dollop of adobo sauce. The fish is usually battered and fried. Hell, I've used Gorton's Fish Sticks in tacos before. It's all good.
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I'll give that a try.

(And yes, I used breaded fish filets once. It works in a pinch.)
Old 02-24-2010, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alice_in_wonderland View Post
I also have a question about the 'very fattening' comment. While I agree that you can get super fatty Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, a normal sized bean burrito (for instance) doesn't seem outrageous - am I forgetting some key, super fatty ingredient? Fajita's seem sort of ok as well - grilled veg and a tortilla seem not so bad??
Largely because of one of the most popular traditional ingredients in a lot of Tex-Mex, lard. Mexican food cookbook author Jim Peyton wrote this FAQ, and specifically addresses this in the next to last question. Lard was used to make tortillas, refried beans, tamales, etc. and there's just no way to have low-fat lard. A health-conscious cook can find good substitutes, but the most commonly used recipes were loaded with saturated fat from lard.

Enjoy,
Steven
Old 02-24-2010, 07:33 PM
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Location: Salt Lake City
Posts: 4,331
I really like a bit of queso fresco on a fish taco (made with soft corn tortilla of course) and no white sauce, but instead a zip of a good spicy salsa, either red or green is good to me.

As far as the fish, I like both grilled or deep fried (battered) but I suppose that grilled is more healthy and possibly more "authentic" whatever the fock that means when it comes to food.

Dos Equis, Pacifico or if I want to drink what all the Mexicans (and I mean people actually born and raised in Mexico, living in Salt Lake) around here drink, a bottle of Budwieser...............

Last edited by MPB in Salt Lake; 02-24-2010 at 07:35 PM.
Old 02-24-2010, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Hell, I've used Gorton's Fish Sticks in tacos before. It's all good.
Do I know you?

You werent the guy who brought the sushi rolls with generic spam in them to the company cook out were you?
Old 02-24-2010, 07:47 PM
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 42,017
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Originally Posted by Jeff Lichtman View Post
I have never seen an enchilada made with flour tortillas, but I won't insist that it can't be done. An enchilada is a tortilla dish that has been cooked in a chile sauce. The name in Spanish roughly translates as "chilied" (yeah, I know, I'm verbing a noun).
I was going to come in and say most of this. All "enchilada" means is "en-chilied." There are even enchiladas in which the chiles are in the dough used to make the tortilla. See" enchiladas potosinas. These are from San Luis Potosi and resemble empanadas or tacos dorados (fried tacos) more than the typical enchilada, but are known as enchiladas because they are made with en-chilied dough.
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