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These Mexican Dishes Really Aren’t Mexican

The "authentic" Mexican dishes you love so much? They actually came from somewhere else.

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Traditional Mexican DinnerShutterstock/OlgaNayashkova

Mexican food: Maybe it’s so popular because it’s easy for carnivores, vegetarians and vegans to enjoy without much hassle. Where I come from, you’d be hard-pressed to find a potluck without some version of taco dip or frozen drinks with salted rims. Brace yourself, friends—some of these beloved “Mexican” dishes are about as authentic as a Norwegian throwing a Day of the Dead party.

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Aah, that sizzle! Fajitas can be found in nearly every Mexican restaurant in the U.S., so it might come as a shock to see this hot dish topping our list. But, alas, fajitas were not created in Mexico; these actually hail from our side of the border, most likely in Texas.
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Taste of Home


This cinnamony-sweet rice beverage really came from…Egypt! While the drink did make its way into real Mexican homes, our southern neighbors can’t take credit for the invention.
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Taste of Home


Yes, they’re deep-fried and delicious, but can you guess where this dish was invented? Although no one knows for sure, several widely spread stories give credit to Arizona.
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Taste of Home

Queso Dip

That golden, melty cheese dip is dangerously addictive, but if you’re planning a trip to Mexico, it may not be easy to find. Queso dip’s roots can be traced to the American Southwest. It was inspired by the melty white cheese dip that is Mexican, queso fundido.
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Alexander Prokopenko


These cinnamon-sugar twists are living a lie! The deep-fried wonders can actually be attributed to the Chinese, via Portuguese merchants. Churros were originally a salt-encrusted affair…but we prefer the sugar.

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Taste of Home


The “Mexican” version of a pillowy doughnut probably hails from New Mexico. The origins can’t be traced all the way back to the time before the border moved, but even so, this dessert is popular in most Mexican restaurants.
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Taste of Home


Just because margaritas made our list doesn’t mean you have to go without them on Cinco de Mayo. Although tequila is exclusively made in Mexico, the history of the first margarita cocktail has been lost. However, we feel comfortable pairing one with chips and salsa.
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Southwestern NachosSouthwestern Nachos


These get an honorable mention. Americanized versions of this dish are everywhere you look (Beer and Brats Nachos, anyone?), and the original concept isn’t exactly Mexican fare, either. Their famous inventor was a Mexican, Ignacio Anaya, but he created the dish for U.S. military wives from Texas!
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Laura Pucillo
A freelance writer focusing mainly in food, wine and travel.