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24 Mexican Restaurant Words You Need to Know

Memorize these common menu item words to fool everyone into thinking you're fluent in Spanish.

Molé

Molé (moh-leh): A sauce that includes many different spices and chocolate. And make sure you know these eight common Spanish phrases.

Guacamole

Guacamole (guah-kah-moh-leh): A mashed up preparation of avocado that literally means avocado sauce.

Salsa verde (sahl-sah verr’-day): Green sauce. Salsa, the dance, could have gotten it’s name because it was a blend of styles.

Pico de gallo (pee-co de guy-o): A fresh salsa made with tomatoes, onions, chiles, and spices. This literally translates as ‘beak of the rooster.’ Use these fun but corny Spanish jokes to sharpen your foreign language skills even more!

Enchiladas

Enchilada (ehn-chee-lah-dah): A tortilla (pictured on the left) rolled and filled with a seasoned mixture, usually containing meat, and covered with a sauce flavored with chili.Origin: enchilado or spiced with chili.

Tamales (tuh-mah-lehs): Meat and cornmeal (masa) wrapped in corn husks (pictured on the right). Note: Don’t eat the corn husks. (Here’s how people say grandma and grandpa around different parts of the world!)

Ceviche

Ceviche (say-vee-cheh): Raw fish marinated in citrus juice, which essentially cooks the delicate seafood. While traveling in Mexico, you won’t find these popular “Mexican” foods.

Paella 

Paella (pah-eh-yah): This signature meal is made of rice, chicken, seafood, and other ingredients seasoned with saffron (the most expensive spice in the world).

Chiles Rellenos

Chiles rellenos (chee-lehs reh-yeh-nohs): A mild green chile, usually a poblano, that is stuffed with cheese and/or meat, dipped in batter, and fried. (Here’s how to say “bless you” in other languages.)

Pollo

Pollo (poh-yoh): Chicken.

Carne (kahr-neh): Meat. The type of meat will be after the word. Beef is carne de vaca; pork is carne de chancho. Most restaurant will tell you in English the type of animal. Bistek is steak.Example: Chili con carne-Chili with meat

Camarón (cah-mah-rone’):ShrimpExample: Camarones al Mojo de Ajo-Shrimp in garlic (ajo) sauce. Next time you plan a trip to another country, make sure you visit one of these 10 restaurants around the world that have incredibly weird dining experiences.

Cerveza

Cerveza (sehr-vay-sah): Beer. You could go beyond Corona and drink a Negra Modelo with a lime.

Sangría (sahng-gree-uh): A refreshing wine-based drink flavored with sugar, fresh fruit, and soda. Often red as sangre means blood in Spanish

Agua fresca (ah’-goo-ah freh-skah): Literally fresh water, this non-alcoholic drink is a light blend of fruit and water. Perfect for a day at the beach.

Tres leches cake

Tres leches (trays lay’-chayes): A cake soaked in evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream. The name is literally three milks cake.

Helado frito

Helado frito (heh-lah-doh free-toh): Fried ice cream. Ice cream is rolled in something crunchy, usually corn flakes, then doused in potent liquor and set on fire. Cinnamon sparks as it is sprinkled over.

Pepitas

Pepitas (peh-pee-tahs): Pumpkin seeds. Don’t miss these 10 most unexpected food travel destinations across the globe.

Queso fresco

Queso fresco (kay’-so fres’-co): A mild, cow’s milk cheese that does not melt. Similar in texture to feta cheese, but milder.

Chipotle

Chipotle (chee-poht-leh): A smoked jalapeño. Other types of chiles to keep an eye out for include: pasillos, guajillos, chiles de árboles, and anchos. Beware the super-spicy habanero! Check out these 15 most endangered languages in the world that you’ve never heard of.

Nopal

Nopal (noh-pahl): A prickly pear cactus (yes, you can eat cactus). Learn more about these 12 quirky words that have absolutely no English translation.

Papas Fritas

Papas fritas (pah-pahs free-tahs): French fries or more literally fried potatoes.

Frijoles

Frijoles (free-hoh-lehs): Beans, as in frijoles refritos, the ever popular refried beans.

Arroz (ar-roz): Rice is a staple in Mexican cooking and arroz y frijoles (rice and beans) is served with nearly every dish. Make sure you know this secret to learning a new language!