So You Think You Know Tacos?

I’ve never met a person who doesn’t love tacos… They are little circles of love, covered in guilty pleasure toppings, and always so full of flavour! You can’t walk the streets of Mexico without being seduced by one of these naughty little fellas. However, all these ‘tacos’ you’ve been scoffing down may not have been tacos at all! There are so many sneaky dishes that pose as the everyday taco, but that are actually something entirely different.

I know, I know. You’ve been living a lie… but don’t worry, I’m here to teach you all about the mysterious taco-esque dishes of Mexico, so you’ll never be tricked again.


Although these tasty little Chalupas may look like tacos, they really quite different. The base of this delightful snack is made by creating a thin corn tortilla, pressing it through a mould to slightly curl the edges, and then lightly frying it to make it a little crispy. Although you can still bend the tortilla to eat it like a traditional Mexican taco, it is definitely more crunchy.

chalupas not tacos

Chalupas are a speciality throughout Mexican states such as Pachuca, Guerrero and Oaxaca, where many interesting ingredients are added such as; chorizo, frijoles, lettuce and shredded chicken. However, the most traditional Chalupa can be found in Cholula in Puebla, where the tortillas are formed into a sort of boat shape, and are filled with shredded pork, onion and salsa rojo or verde.


This delicious Mexican street food looks just like a giant taco, and let’s face it, the bigger the taco the better right? Actually, Huaraches are more like a corn flatbread than your traditional thin corn tortilla. The name comes from it’s slightly chewy and oblong shaped base. The Mexicans thought it resembled a type of sandal, which in Spanish is Huarache.

huaraches not tacos

Photo Credit eyechow

This dish is originally from Mexico City, and in the style of a bustling city, it is most commonly sold from a street cart, and enjoyed on the go. Anything can be thrown on top of a Huarache, but the most common toppings are onion, potato, pork, chicken, queso fresco, and either salsa rojo or verde.


From the big to the small, Sopes resemble a tiny little taco piled high with delicious toppings. There is a specific difference between this mini delight and it’s cousin the Taco. Sopes are made with corn flower, and shaped into small round circles just like a Taco. But then they are curled slightly at the sides, forming a sort of pie crust shape. This little adjustment forms a handy barrier to stop all the fillings from falling off whilst you enjoy your Mexican snack.

sopes not tacos

Photo Credit kiwilimon

Sopes usually have a thin spread of frijoles on the bottom, then a bed of shredded lettuce is placed on top, and finally the dish is crowned with some kind of shredded meat, be it chicken, beef or pork. Sopes are then usually drizzled with queso fresco and salsa verde, yum!


If Tacos were an Olympic sprinter, Gorditas would be the a heavyweight boxer or wrestler that just won a gold medal. This satisfying dish is essentially a corn tortilla split open, and stuffed with delicious guisados (meat stew with Mexican salsa). Gorditas are usually extremely greasy compared to Tacos, and are enjoyed as a mid-day meal.

gorditas not tacos

Aside from the delicious hot stew filling, there are traditionally stuffed to the brim with beans, potatoes, sautéed strips of chile, and lots of salsa. The original version of this dish, from the centre of Mexico, is fried before it’s stuffed. However, nowadays there are many variations including baking or cooking the dough on a griddle.


Tostadas are very similar to Chalupas, just flatter and much more crispy. Tostadas look just like any other regular Taco, until you pick it up and try to fold it, only to have it snap and spill everywhere. Tostadas are traditionally eaten when fresh tortillas have become a little old, and have started to go hard in areas. They are then fried until golden, and topped with a wide range of delicious ingredients.

tostadas not tacos

Photo Credit recipeshubs

This dish is so popular in Mexico that it now has dedicated restaurants, serving Tostadas with even the most exclusive toppings. Fresh tuna, shrimp, lobster, and the finest cuts of beef can all be seen as toppings on these simple bases.


This delicious Taco alternative is most commonly found in Mexico City, and is available from street cart vendors on almost every corner. Very similar in shape to the Huarache, Tlacoyos also look like a giant taco, however, they contain a secret weapon. Tlacoyos are actually stuffed with black beans, a crumbly white cheese called cotija, or chicharrón.

tlacoyo not tacos

Photo Credit streetgourmetla

Tlacoyos come in three different colours depending on what kind of maize with which they are made. The blue Tlacoyos, made with blue corn kernels is the most popular. Traditionally, these stuffed vessels of deliciousness are eaten without toppings, just a healthy serving of salsa. However, many vendors now sell them with large variety of toppings, such as cilantro, nopales, lettuce, potato, onion and squash blossom.


Have you spotted any of these undercover tacos? Let me know your favourite in the comments below!


Stay Salty x

6 Comment

  1. Laveena Sengar says: Reply

    I am big for and tacos are one of the most delicious dish I have ever had. I just love them. I have had them in different places with different tastes but I used to always think that they are supposed to be like that. Now I know what have I been eating 🙂

    1. Ooh a fellow taco lover, welcome haha! I’m glad to hear that now you know what you were eating. When I first arrived to Mexico I used to get confused all the time.

  2. I can’t wait to go back to Mexico next March! I am just making tons of mental notes of food we should eat this time. I never liked tlacoyos, though – my favorite choice are gringas.

    1. I went through a stage of being obsessed with tlacoyos… I used to buy them from this lovely little lady that sold them on a street corner. They were so fresh and not at all greasy. I think it depends where you buy them. You must try some gormet style Tostadas too, they are so yum! 🙂

  3. JT says: Reply

    Sopes and Gorditas are what I’d be ordering just based on your post. I love a good taco (and don’t believe they should ever cost more than $3 per taco), especially chorizo.

    It’s 11pm where I am but I just became hungry.

    1. Hahah! Sorry for making you need a midnight snack 😉 Ah yes! I also love gorditas! They are so so filling. Here in Mexico all the tacos are super cheap, way less than $1 even

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