iStock

Mexico is a huge country with an incredibly varied style of cooking. Like most other countries with a well-known cuisine, Mexico's dishes change according to the region and the ingredients that are native to each area. In some cases, the changes are drastic. For example, the food of the Yucatan peninsula is nothing like the food of the Pacific region of Mexico. There is a common thread among all the dishes, but the nuances, details and flavors can be incredibly different from one place to another.

More from MamásLatinas: 40 Traditional Mexican dishes you have to know

Many people like to think they know Mexican food because they've had tacos or burritos or even tamales. And while there's nothing wrong with that, the truth is that they're just scratching the surface if that's all they've tasted from Mexico's diverse menu. You can probably eat a different Mexican dish each week and still not taste them all!

From main dishes to desserts and everything in between, we break down Mexico's cuisine by exploring its seven distinct regional cuisines, which include: the North, the North and South Pacific coasts, the Lowlands, the South, the Gulf and Central Mexico. So if you're looking to expand your knowledge of Mexican cuisine, you're in for a treat!

The North is the largest of the seven regions. 1

The North is the largest of the seven regions.

iStock

This region includes the states of Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas.

Advertisement

El Norte's cuisine is extremely varied because it covers so much territory. 2

El Norte's cuisine is extremely varied because it covers so much territory.

iStock

It covers 2,000 miles to be exact! Grilled beef and cheeses are the most representative food items from this region. 

Advertisement

Queso fresco or fresh farmer's cheese hails from this region. 3

Queso fresco or fresh farmer's cheese hails from this region.

iStock

I had no idea, but the widest variety of cheeses in Mexico are produced in El Norte. From queso fresco to several types of asadero cheese, this is the region where it all happens. 

Burritos are not an American invention! 4

Burritos are not an American invention!

iStock

While most people in the rest of Mexico will probably frown at the mention of burritos as an authentic Mexican food, the reality is that they were born in the northern state of Sonora. 

Advertisement

Capirotada is bread pudding taken to another level. 5

Capirotada is bread pudding taken to another level.

iStock

Traditionally eaten during Lent, this is Mexico's version of bread pudding like none you've ever tried. 

Advertisement

Wines in Baja California are an actual thing. 6

Wines in Baja California are an actual thing.

iStock

Believe it or not, Baja California is Mexico's oldest producing wine district. 

Advertisement

The North Pacific Coast includes only four states. 7

The North Pacific Coast includes only four states.

iStock

This region includes the states of Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco and Colima. 

The north Pacific Coast's cuisine is known for its fish, fresh grains, fruits and vegetables. 8

The north Pacific Coast's cuisine is known for its fish, fresh grains, fruits and vegetables.

iStock

Seafood is the dominant cuisine in this region, but it also has the widest selection of local cheeses and chiles. 

Advertisement

Birria is one of the most famous dishes from this region. 9

Birria is one of the most famous dishes from this region.

iStock

Birria is essentially a goat or lamb stew made with chiles and spices. 

Pozole is one of Mexico's signature dishes. 10

Pozole is one of Mexico's signature dishes.

iStock

A delicious soup made with hominy or dried corn.

Advertisement

Menudo is a dish made with the cow's tripe. 11

Menudo is a dish made with the cow's tripe.

iStock

It's the dish to have after a night of drinks, according to my Mexican cousins.

Tequila hails from this region. 12

Tequila hails from this region.

iStock

Made from the blue agave plant grown in the city of the same name, Tequila is Jalisco's pride and joy.

Advertisement

Chilorio is the state of Sinaloa's most famous dish. 13

I'd never heard of this dish, but I've learned it's made with pork and dried chiles.

The Bajio is the same thing as saying the lowlands region. 14

The Bajio is the same thing as saying the lowlands region.

iStock

This region includes the states of Michoacán, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi and Querétaro. 

Advertisement

This region resembles the central Spanish plains. 15

This region resembles the central Spanish plains.

iStock

Rice, pork and spices are the main staples of this Bajio region.

Morisqueta is a simple yet delicious dish. 16

It's basically a rice and beans dish with salsa and crema.

Advertisement

Carnitas were made for tacos. 17

Carnitas were made for tacos.

iStock

All you need is a slow-cooker and you'll be able to achieve this finger-licking dish.

Cajeta is something that shouldn't be missed. 18

Cajeta is something that shouldn't be missed.

iStock

Made of goat's milk, cajeta is Mexico's version of dulce de leche. 

Advertisement

Queso cotija hails is originally from this region. 19

Queso cotija hails is originally from this region.

iStock

Named after the town of Cotija in the state of Michoacan, this cheese is has a very strong and distinct flavor.

Chongos are a type of dessert made with curdled milk. 20

They honestly don't sound incredibly appetizing, but they're so popular in Mexico that you can actually get chongos by the can. 

Advertisement

The South Pacific Coast includes one of the states with the most renowned Mexican cuisine. 21

The South Pacific Coast includes one of the states with the most renowned Mexican cuisine.

iStock

This region includes the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

The most indigenous of Mexico's cuisine hails from this region. 22

The most indigenous of Mexico's cuisine hails from this region.

iStock

Oaxacan cuisine is among the country's most famous, particularly for its variety of moles.

Advertisement

Mole negro is only one of the several types that exist. 23

Mole negro is only one of the several types that exist.

iStock

I'm traveling to Oaxaca in November and in preparation I've been researching its cuisine. Recently, I learned there are actually seven types of moles and Oaxaca is known as the Land of the Seven Moles.

Mezcal is not for the faint of heart. 24

Mezcal is not for the faint of heart.

iStock

You can't visit this region of Mexico without having a taste of its most famous spirit. 

Advertisement

Blandas are basically large corn tortillas. 25

Blandas are basically large corn tortillas.

iStock

They hail from the state of Oaxaca and they're pretty much served with every meal. 

Try Chiapas' chiles only if you're brave enough. 26

Try Chiapas' chiles only if you're brave enough.

iStock

They're are known to be among the country's hottest!

Advertisement

The South contains only three states, but they bring so much flavor to Mexico's cuisine. 27

The South contains only three states, but they bring so much flavor to Mexico's cuisine.

iStock

This region includes the states of Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo.

The cuisine from this region is definitely influenced by the Mayan culture. 28

The cuisine from this region is definitely influenced by the Mayan culture.

iStock

This means the food from this area is completely different from the rest of the country. Achiote, pictured here, is one of its main condiments.

Advertisement

Cochinita pibil is this regions most famous dish. 29

Cochinita pibil is this regions most famous dish.

iStock

If you're ever travel to the Yucatán peninsula, do yourself a favor and look for a restaurant that serves this delicacy. You won't regret it.

Poc chuc is a simple dish packed with flavor. 30

It's a perfect summer recipe as it consists of grilled porked marinated in a citrus sauce accompanied with roasted onions.

Advertisement

Recados are the base of Yucatan's cuisine. 31

Recados are the base of Yucatan's cuisine.

iStock

Recados are basically a blend of different spices used in everything from tamales to grilled meats.

The Gulf is the smallest region of the country. 32

The Gulf is the smallest region of the country.

iStock

This regions includes only two states: Tabasco and Veracruz.

Advertisement

This region's cuisine is a mix of indigenous, Afro-Cuban and Spanish influences. 33

This region's cuisine is a mix of indigenous, Afro-Cuban and Spanish influences.

Eating food from this region feels more like eating food from the Caribbean, including its selection of tropical fruits. 

Huachinango a la veracruzana or red snapper Veracruz style is a signature dish. 34

Huachinango a la veracruzana or red snapper Veracruz style is a signature dish.

iStock

If you love fish, you must try this dish!

Advertisement

Pollo encacahuatado is chicken in peanut sauce. 35

Pollo encacahuatado is the perfect dish for all peanut lovers out there!

Central Mexico is where you'll find the country's capital. 36

Central Mexico is where you'll find the country's capital.

iStock

This region includes the states of Mexico, Puebla, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo and the Distrito Federal or Mexico City. 

Advertisement

This region has Influences from other regions of Mexico as well as foreign countries. 37

This region has Influences from other regions of Mexico as well as foreign countries.

iStock

This area's cuisine includes tortas, what Mexicans call sandwiches like the one pictured here.

Street food is a must try in this region. 38

Street food is a must try in this region.

iStock

You haven't really tried the food of this region until you try street tacos.

Advertisement

Chiles en nogada is a typical dish from Puebla. 39

Chiles en nogada is a typical dish from Puebla.

iStock

You can't go to the state of Puebla and not try this dish which is both beautifully presented and delicious. 

And so is mole poblano. 40

And so is mole poblano.

iStock

This is not an easy dish to make, but once you try it, you'll want to have it again and again.