Tex-Mex Talk: What Exactly Is Tex-Mex?

Do you know your burritos from your tacos? How about having a guess which country Chilli con Carne comes from? We’ll answer that later. The point is, you’re more than likely familiar with Tex-Mex food already. 

Tex-Mex is enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, and here we’ll discuss its origins, its differences with authentic Mexican food, and some of the most famous Tex-Mex foods out there. 

Once you finish this article you’ll be scrambling to google “Tex-Mex near me”

The Origins of Tex-Mex

As far as cuisines go, Tex-Mex isn’t actually all that old. When America was but an infant, settlers began expanding into the area of the country now known as Texas. What they found in this area of the world was a lot of Mexican cultures and, therefore, Mexican food. 

As more people came to settle in the area, and as the area became known as a hub for cattle rearing, the Mexican food of the locals soon became infused with more traditional Texan ingredients like beef. 

Fast forward many years, and the two cultures, due to their close proximity, have had over a century of time to mingle in every way. And so, Tex-Mex Cuisine was born.

The Difference Between Tex-Mex and Mexican Food

Most Mexicans will look at you a bit funny if you try to suggest that Tex-Mex is “Mexican food.” There’s a reason it has its own name. There are a few key differences between the two. 

For starters, traditional Mexican cuisine doesn’t contain the large amounts of ground beef that you find in dishes served in Tex-Mex restaurants. Chilli con Carne is not commonly eaten in Mexico, and any Mexican will likely look at you slightly confused if you suggest that it’s Mexican food. 

Other Tex-Mex favorites, though, like nachos, do actually have their origins in traditional Mexican food. Anything tortilla-based has its roots in the traditional cuisine of Mexico, and it’s one of the most important commodities in Mexican culture. 

Tacos are the ultimate Mexican street food, but they come served in soft tortillas. The crispy shell tacos are a very American invention, as are burritos. 

Quintessential Tex-Mex Foods

So, what are some of the most essential Tex-Mex foods? Let’s take a look at some now. If you want to make any of these foods, then you should check out these recipes over at recipeworkbook.com for some great ideas.


While Nachos do indeed have Mexican origins, they’re far more of an American treat. In fact, they were invented because a group of American women were seeking a late-night snack from a Mexican restaurant owner.

Chilli Con Carne

This is as Tex-Mex as it gets. You’re very unlikely to find this eaten anywhere in Mexico. The spicy and warming bowl of ground beef, kidney beans, and spices is one of the most famous and popular Tex-Mex foods.

Fajitas and Burritos 

These are essentially a play on the authentic Mexican taco, taken to the extreme of overstuffing. Burritos and fajitas are usually a combination of meats, beans, and vegetables, all stuffed into a tortilla wrap for a delightful meal on the go. 

A Blend of Cultures 

So that’s Tex-Mex food in a nutshell, or should we say in a tortilla. It’s a fascinating blend of two juxtaposing cultures that has left a cross-border legacy for may many years after its invention. 

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out more of our amazing food content today.