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A taqueria is a restaurant which specializes in Mexican cuisine such as burritos, tacos, flautas, enchiladas, tamales, and numerous other foods. Originally, the term “taqueria” was used to refer to street vendors, although the term has come to be used more generally to refer to any sort of establishment which serves authentic Mexican food. In areas with a large Hispanic population, there may be a large number of taquerias, offering regional specialties.
Mexican cuisine is incredibly diverse and complex, which means that the menu at a taqueria can vary widely, depending on whether the establishment is owned and staffed by Mexicans, and, if so, what region of Mexico the staff are from. Outside of Mexico, many taquerias offer cuisine which has been altered to meet regional tastes; in the United States, for example, servings are often large and spicy flavors may be muted. Others may focus on regional cuisine which is familiar to the staff, which means that things which are common in some taquerias are unheard of in others.
Many taquerias specialize in burritos and tacos, two Mexican foods which are extremely popular, easy to make, and versatile. Since both of these dishes are typically constructed at the time of ordering from fresh ingredients, a taqueria can afford to have a large and varied menu, and to cater to specific customer requests. These dishes also tend to be relatively inexpensive to make, which can help a taqueria keep prices appealingly low.
In some communities, a taqueria may offer specials made by Mexican women in the community. If you happen to come across a taqueria which offers such things, you may be in for a treat; many of these foods are too time-consuming to make in a restaurant, but they are delectable, and they can provide a real taste of Mexican cuisine.
The atmosphere and décor at a taqueria can vary widely. Some establishments are literally holes in the wall, without any seating, offering food to go only, while others are larger, with space to sit and socialize, and some feature a celebration of Mexican culture in the form of dancers or live music. Many taquerias are decorated with objects and artifacts from Mexico, such as Mexican art and textiles, and almost all play traditional Mexican music.
Judging whether or not a taqueria is good is largely a matter of personal taste. Because Mexico's cuisine is so diverse, one may loathe the food at one taqueria, while adoring the cooking at another. It is good to keep this in mind when seeking out a taqueria; if you have the advantage of a guide, you might want to mention the kinds of Mexican food that you like, to increase the chances of finding a taqueria you will enjoy. Knowing at least some Spanish is also a distinct benefit when eating a taqueria, as it will make you more comfortable with the menu and staff.