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What to Eat/What Not To Eat: Mexican Restaurants

By: Editors of

Like many culinary translations, the “Mexican” food you get at most chain restaurants in America often barely resembles authentic Mexican food. With Tex-Mex nachos as a standard offering, Mexican food has a bit of a bad reputation as unhealthy. In reality, authentic Mexican food can be healthy; you just have to make the right choices at restaurants to stay on track.

What to Eat

  • Soft Tortillas-Authentic Mexican food is all about fresh flour or corn tortillas. Americanized crispy tortillas or taco shells are fried.
  • A-la-Carte- Order individual soft tacos or burritos without the fattening refried beans served on the side.
  • Chicken Fajitas- These are generally served with a generous portion of grilled bell peppers and onions. Use salsa as a topping instead of cheese and sour cream.
  • Quesadillas- Sandwiched between soft tortillas and grilled, these are generally a good choice. Ask for extra vegetables, less meat and they might even have low-fat cheese. Never be afraid to ask as you are the one paying!

What Not to Eat

  • Refried Beans- These are generally made with lard and cheese, so stick with fresh black beans if you can.
  • Never-ending Chip Bowls- Skip the crispy tortillas chips and ask your server for soft tortillas to snack on while you wait for your main courses.
  • Queso or Chili con Queso- Melted cheese “queso” with or without meat is full of calories. Try fresh pico de gallo, salsa, or even a small amount of guacamole made with heart-healthy avocado. Though guacamole is very calorie-rich, so be careful!
  • Fried Mains- Chimichangas, tostadas, taquitos and chalupas are all fried. Look for burritos and other entrees with grilled chicken, fish, shrimp or black beans.
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