Menu of the Day: Northern Mexico

Flour Tortillas │© David Bote Estrada / flickr
Flour Tortillas │© David Bote Estrada / flickr
Northern Mexico’s original peoples were hunters and gatherers, eating wild game and collecting what little sustenance they could from the harsh environment. Later settlers brought grazing animals and the area became known for its cattle ranching. The open-air barbecue remains an important part of the culture in the north, along with the proximity to the United States and the blend of Tex-Mex cuisine that is distinct to this part of Mexico.

Cocktail hour

The Mexican craft beer movement is booming in the north, especially in big cities like Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. This means that there are dozens of local brands to choose among, check out this list for some of our favorite around the country. Nevertheless, you will want to at least try agua de mezquite (a flavored water made with mezquite cactus) and some of the great mezcal made in the northern states.

To whet the appetite

Enchiladas Rojas

The enchiladas rojas of the border state Coahuila are particularly common in the city of Saltillo. The tortillas are made from a mix of cornmeal, flour and chile ancho and turn out a distinct red color. They are folded in half and fried briefly, then stuffed with cheese and onion, potato and sometimes ground beef, and they are garnished with shredded cabbage and cream.

Los Huevos Norteños

One of the north’s most famous culinary contributions to the country’s plates is machaca, a dehydrated beef (that can be seasoned or not) that is then pulvorized and mixed into various dishes. Huevo Norteños is just that – eggs scrambled with machaca. Simple and delicious.

Enchiladas Rojas │ © El Gran Dee / flickr

Soup and salad course

Siete Potajes

A classic Chihuahuense meal during Lent, the siete potajes are – lentil soup, stewed fave beans, chacales (a dried corn soup), nopal cactus in chile colorado, pipian (a sauce made from ground pumpkin seeds), torrejas de camaron (fried shrimp patties) and capirotada (a kind of fried bread pudding). These seven dishes are often made by individuals for the entire community one day during Lent.

On the side

Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas are notable in a country where corn is king. Almost the entire rest of the country eats corn tortillas but because of the influence of Jewish and Arabic influence in this part of the country, flour tortillas have stuck.

Flour Tortillas │ © David Bote Estrada / flickr

Main plates


The Jewish and Arabic immigrants who settled in much of the north brought the tradition of grazing animals with them, in particular goat and lamb. Cabrito al pastor, is a kid goat cooked on a cross-shaped spit over an open fire, just the way sheperds in the area would have once done. Today, the cabrito of the north, while not always cooked over an open flame in the middle of the desert, is still one of its most famous dishes, especially in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.

Sonora Steak

Sonora is particularly known for its excellent beef, and a good steak needs no introduction. You can find various cuts throughout the state including arrechera, rib eye or NY strip, usually served with beans and flour tortillas as accompaniments.

Almejas de mojo de ajo

Sonora’s long strip of coastline along the Sea of Cortez means seafood takes on a prominent role in their cuisine. Fresh almejas (clams) are sauteed in large quanitities of garlic and olive oil to make alamejas en mojo de ajo. It’s not awesome on a date, but the flavor is heavenly.

Milk fed baby goats roasting over coals #cabrito #jbfa

Una publicación compartida por Eagle & Pheasant- Matt Morin (@eagleandpheasant) el

For a sweet tooth

Ates de membrillo y perón

Ates are a sweet fruit paste with a consistency slightly more solid than a flan or custard. This is a common light dessert throughout Mexico and in the norther states is often served with thick slices of cheese. The paste can be made from almost any fruit, but the most common in this region are membrillo (quince) and perón (a type of green apple).

Ate de membrillo │ © Rebecca Siegel / flickr

Delicious extras

Cemita Turco

This sweetbread is made with pork lard, anise, piloncillo, wheat flour and sal. It has distinctive forms, one of them round and more like bread, and another flat, sometimes with a machaca frilling between two layers.


Chorizo is made different everywhere in the country. In Chihuahua, the chorizo has ground pork meat, chile colorado, garlic, vinegar, and oregano. In Coahuila, chorizo have ground pork meat, garlic, ground sweet pepper, vinegar, cinnamon, oregano, clove and black pepper. In Sonora, sometimes apple cider vinegar or red wine is added.