Decoding Authentic Mexican Menus

Mexican food is a favorite option for many people when dining out, but authentic Mexican menus can be a little more challenging to understand. If you decide to try out an authentic Mexican restaurant, here is what you need to know about understanding the menu so that you can get exactly what you want.

Al Pastor

One thing you’re likely to encounter on a Mexican menu is dishes made al Pastor. Al Pastor translates literally at shepherd style, and it refers to meat that is grilled on a spit. It is very similar to the spinning kebab meat you might encounter in a Middle Eastern or Greek restaurant to serve up on shawarmas or gyros. The al Pastor meat is marinated for a long period of time and then slowly grilled, so that it can be sliced thinly for serving. Traditionally, pork is served in tacos al Pastor, but some Mexican restaurants experiment with different kinds of meat and with serve it in other dishes, for a non-traditional twist.


Tortas are underappreciated Mexican sandwiches that attend not to be on the menu outside of traditional restaurants. They are very large sandwiches, usually made with crusty bread and packed with fillings. The fillings can be nearly any combination of meat, cheese, and veggies. These filling sandwiches are an authentic taste of Mexico.


Posole—Spanish for hominy—is a soup that contains hominy and shredded meat. Usually, pork is used and soup has a red chili base, though other variations exist. It is often served on New Year’s Eve in Mexico, but you’ll find it year-round on authentic Mexican menus.

Get a traditional test of Mexico at Vaqueros in Columbia Falls. You’ll find a menu of authentic Mexican classics and new favorites to try. For more information, call (406) 892-3501.

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