Alright...after the Beef Taco poll, it became very clear to me that....that most people aren't familiar with Mexican cuisine very much...so this thread is dedicated to the discovery & understanding of Mexican cuisine. Authentic vs Faux Mexican Mexican cuisine became popular in the United States during the Great Depression. As a response to the dreariness of the times, Americans demanded exotic (but not too exotic) flavors, colorful presentations, and hearty ingredients served in generous proportions at a value price. Mexican restuaranteurs tweaked their offering to fit the market place. Changes included: > Serving Rice & Beans as accompaniments with every dish (its easy to make big pots of each...and they are very inexpensive ingredients) > Offering Mexican Street Food & Appetizers (Tostadas, Enchiladas, Taquitos) on a dish with Rice & Beans....as extremely value oriented dishes. As the popularity of Mexican Restuarants like El Cholo Cafe, in Los Angeles, grew astronimcally others were quick to emulate the same basic idea, typically without any attention to authenticity or quality. Many of L.A's Old School "Mexican" institutions from the 30's, 40's & 50's were run by people with no previous restaurant experience in Mexico. The question of Authentic & Faux is not black & white. There are only a handful of truly authentic Mexican restaurants in the U.S., the rest can be plotted on a Continuum: > At one end of the Faux spectrum are the Taco Bell's of the world. Serving food that are terrible imitations of Mexican flavors & cooking techniques. > In the middle are the Acapulco & El Torito chains. They combine a few authentic touches with otherwise glorified versions of dishes from the Taco Bell type chains. > At the more Authentic end are family owned, independent Taqueries & restaurants who do capture Mexican flavors adequately and are mostly authentic but they don't represent the foods that people in Mexico actually eat on a regular basis. There tends to be a lot of imitation...restaurants that are afraid of breaking out of the Rice & Beans mold...restaurants that have failed to recognize that the Contemporary American Culinary movement has brought Farmer's Markets to every town & city of the U.S....and with them authentic Mexican ingredients that were not available 10 years ago.