Difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex Cuisine

tacos with toppings

Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine are some of the most beloved cuisines around the globe. Both are known for their flavorful and diverse dishes, which range from tacos, burritos, and fajitas to nachos and tamales. While Mexican and Tex-Mex share similarities, they differ in their heritage, ingredients, and influences. It can be challenging to differentiate between these two cuisines due to the vast array of well-known dishes. However, in this blog, Cater Dallas will help you understand the specific distinctions between these two loved cuisines.

Traditional Mexican Cuisine

Mexican cuisine has a rich history that dates back thousands of years, combining both the Mesoamerican and Spanish cultures. These dishes typically incorporate indigenous ingredients like corn, chili peppers, tomatoes, beans, and a variety of herbs. Over time, other cultures, like Asian and African, also played a significant role in shaping traditional Mexican dishes into what they are today.

Authentic Mexican dishes are known for their bold flavors and spices, such as chili peppers, jalapeños, cilantro, and more. These ingredients give each plate a unique and unforgettable taste. Staples such as corn, tortillas, meats, and beans complement these flavors and contribute to making each dish unique and desirable.

Traditional Mexican Plates

Tacos Al Pastor 

Also known as Al Pastor or tacos de trompo are prepared with sliced marinated pork. These tacos are commonly served with onions, pineapples and topped with cilantro. 

tacos al pastor


This traditional sauce and marinade is famous for being served over meat. It is created from a wide range of ingredients ranging from dried chilies, nuts, and sometimes chocolate. 



This is a traditional breakfast dish in Mexico that consists of corn tortillas. The tortillas are sliced and then topped with salsa, fried eggs, chicken, as well as cheese.


This simple recipe is popularly used as a condiment on Mexican dishes or tortilla chips. Commonly consisting of tomatoes, lime juice, and chili, Salsa is normally served chilled or room temperature.


Tex-Mex Cuisine

tex mex food

Tex-Mex Cuisine is a delicious fusion of traditional Mexican dishes and American (Texan) culture that emerged in the 19th century. This cuisine has become incredibly popular over the years thanks to its unique flavors and fiery spices. 

When looking into the difference between traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex, the main distinctions lie in the ingredients used. While many of the plates follow familiar bases, the most noticeable difference between traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex is in the ingredients. With a heavier use of cumin, garlic, and chili powder, the flavors in Tex-Mex definitely stand out. Moreover, toppings like sour cream, cheese, and guacamole are unique to Tex-Mex dishes, making them even more special.

Tex-Mex Plates

Chili con Carne

This classic Tex-Mex stew is made with a mixture of chili peppers, meat, tomatoes, and other ingredients of your choosing. Commonly topped with cheese, sour cream, or onions, this plate will remain a loved Tex-Mex recipe.

chili con carne


Fajitas are a typical dish to see in Tex-Mex restaurants. Usually served with individual grilled meats, pepper, onions, rice, condiments, and a plate of tortillas, this dish allows you to customize every bite.



Queso is one of the most popular appetizers in Tex-Mex cuisine. With the simplicity of melted cheese, tortilla chips, and the option to add chili peppers, this small plate is common to see around Tex-Mex.

queso with chips

Try Both With Cater Dallas

Traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines are both delicious and unique in their own ways. They share some similarities but also possess a variety of differences that set them apart. Whether you prefer bold ingredients, spicy flavors, or simple recipes, there is something for everyone in both cuisines. If you are interested in trying out both Mexican and Tex-Mex, you should check out our partnered restaurants. Let our team at Cater Dallas create a diverse Mexican or Tex-Mex menu that you will love. Contact us today!