Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Three Menu-Ready Regions in Mexico Differentiate your menu with creative takes on authentic regional dishes of Mexico

Tap into Yucatecan cuisine with these Cochinita Pibil Tacos, starring pork shoulder flavored with achiote and garlic, pickled red onion and jalapeño, served in grilled white corn tortillas.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mission Foodservice

This country’s love affair with Mexican fare is unwavering, but in our collective hunt for “what’s next?,” exploring regionality here promises menu differentiation. Mexico’s food culture is rich and storied—and as varied as its beautiful geography. Replication isn’t the goal. Instead, chefs are discovering regional Mexican flavors, ingredients and dishes, then bending them toward their brand sensibility.


This seafood-heavy cuisine boasts immigrant influences from China and Russia, along with a Baja-Med mash-up vibe that’s ripe for exploration. The Caesar salad was invented here, as was the margarita. And, of course, Baja fish tacos hail from these parts, paving the way for serious seafood taco innovation with their craveable combination of grilled or battered fish, slaw and pico, all tucked into a corn or flour tortilla. The opportunity here sees creative interpretation of Baja’s cuisine.

  • Fish Taco—Grilled fish topped with jicama-carrot slaw, salsa verde, chipotle aïoli and cilantro
    El Rey, Washington D.C.
  • Crispy Fish Taco—Alaskan cod, tempura, spicy tartar, smoked cabbage, scallions, sesame
    Antique Taco, Chicago


Known for its beautifully complex mole varieties, from red and green to black and yellow, exploration of Oaxaca cuisine has really taken off over the last few years. Other Oaxacan favorites include mezcal, tequila’s smoky cousin, along with empanadas, chorizo, escabeche (vegetables marinated in vinegar) and the pasilla chile pepper. Oaxacan cheese has also move into mainstream, thanks to its similarity to mozzarella.

  • Tamales with chicken and mole negro
    Oaxacali, Los Angeles
  • Aztec Shrimp Ceviche made with shrimp, grilled cactus leaves, avocado, Serrano and pasilla peppers
    Cinco Tacos Cocina & Tequila, Dallas

Mexico City

As with most urban centers, Mexico City is a melting pot of food cultures from across the country. Its street food is particularly vibrant, with taco stands, torta shops and lunch counters influencing the foodie vibe—and lending an urban sensibility to all of Mexico’s most craveable dishes. Tapping into the food scene here helps translate authenticity with a built-in mash-up sensibility.

  • Mushroom Tacos: Crispy melted cheese, garlic braised seasonal mushrooms, stone fruit jalapeño salsa, pickled onion, hearts on fire
    Puesto, based in Southern California
  • Cheesy Corn-Masa Quesadillas, Mexico-City Style: Crispy black pepper-corn masa “turnovers” filled with artisan Jack cheese and epazote, served with avocado-tomatillo salsa
    Frontera Grill, Chicago

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About The Author


Katie Ayoub is managing editor of Flavor & The Menu. She has been working in foodservice publishing for more than 16 years and on the Flavor team since 2006. She won a 2015 Folio award for her Flavor & The Menu article, Heritage Matters. In 2006, she won “Best Culinary Article” from the Cordon D’Or for an article on offal.