Over the past few decades, Australia has become increasingly multicultural, with immigrants from all over the world calling Australia home. One of the largest migrant groups in Australia is Mexicans, with over 20,000 Mexican-born people living in Australia as of 2016. With them, Mexicans have brought their vibrant culture and delicious cuisine, which have slowly become incorporated into mainstream Australian food culture. So what are some of the key Mexican foods that have made their way down under? Here are some of the top foods Mexico brought to Australia.
Tacos and tortillas
One of the most iconic Mexican foods that has become popular in Australia are tacos and tortillas. Tacos are a quintessential Mexican street food, consisting of a corn or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a delicious filling like meat, beans, cheese, lettuce and salsa. Tortillas on their own are also ubiquitous in Mexican cooking, used for everything from wraps to chips. While Australians have embraced tacos for decades, more authentic Mexican-style soft corn tortillas and fillings have become increasingly available at Mexican restaurants and fast food chains. Taco kits are also now commonplace in supermarkets, so Aussies can recreate Mexican tacos at home.
Burritos, fajitas and enchiladas
Related to tacos are burritos, fajitas and enchiladas, which have also become popular ‘Mexican-inspired’ foods in Australia. Burritos are flour tortillas stuffed with fillings like rice, meat, beans, cheese and salsa. Fajitas consist of grilled and sliced meat served on a sizzling hot skillet with warm tortillas, grilled peppers and onions. Enchiladas are corn tortillas rolled around meat, vegetables or cheese and covered in a hot chili pepper sauce. Aussies can now find these dishes on menus across the country.
Quesadillas are a favourite Mexican snack and meal, consisting of tortillas filled with cheese and other ingredients, then toasted until the cheese melts. This cheesy flatbread snack has become a staple menu item at many Mexican restaurants in Australia, with fillings like chicken, beef, beans, veggies and different types of Mexican cheese now readily available.
What Mexican meal would be complete without guacamole? This creamy green dip makes use of Australia’s abundant supply of avocados to recreate Mexico’s famous smashed avocado dip. Made from mashed avocado, lime juice, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and chillies, guacamole has become a beloved condiment and dip in Australia. It’s hard to find a Mexican restaurant or even pub without guacamole on their menu.
Nachos are another popular Mexican food Australians have wholeheartedly embraced. Consisting of corn chips covered in melted cheese, beans, salsa, guacamole, and jalapeños, nacho plates can now be found at restaurants and bars across the country. Aussies can even buy nacho kits from their supermarket to recreate this tasty Tex-Mex snack at home.
On the dessert front, a Mexican food that has won over Australians is churros. These fried dough pastries coated in cinnamon sugar have become a favourite at festivals, markets and restaurants. Paired with rich chocolate dipping sauce, warm churros are the ultimate sweet treat.
The Mexican cuisine boom
The popularity of all these incredible Mexican dishes has fueled a boom in Mexican restaurants, cafes and food trucks across Australia. In Melbourne and Sydney, you can find entire ‘Mexican precincts’ full of vibrant and authentic establishments celebrating Mexico’s unique food traditions. From hole-in-the-wall taco joints to upscale Mexican cantinas, there are more choices than ever for Aussies craving Mexican food.
Mexican ingredients and products
The Mexican food boom has also lead to an increasing availability of Mexican ingredients and food products at Australian supermarkets. Aussies can now easily find corn tortillas, tortilla chips, hot sauce, black beans, queso cheese, jalapeños, avocados and more Mexican staples. Grocery store shelves are also stocked with Mexican beers like Corona, which has become one of Australia’s most popular imported beers.
Mexican food festivals
To further celebrate Mexico’s iconic cuisine, food festivals dedicated to Mexican food culture have popped up across Australia. These vibrant events feature cooking demonstrations, restaurants/food trucks, music, drinks and more to showcase the best of authentic Mexican cooking. Major cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane all host annual Mexican food festivals attended by thousands of foodies looking to fiesta.
At home Mexican cooking
Of course, the popularity of Mexican food has also inspired everyday home cooks in Australia. Aussies are recreating Mexican dishes at home more than ever before thanks to accessible ingredients, YouTube tutorials and simple Mexican cookbooks. Taco nights are now weekly family traditions in many households!
Why has Mexican food become so popular in Australia?
There are several key reasons why Mexican food has taken off in Australia:
Increasing Mexican migration
The most obvious factor is the rising Mexican migrant population in Australia, now numbering over 20,000. Mexicans have brought their authentic cuisine, opening restaurants and sharing their cooking with the broader Aussie community.
Mexican food is fresh and healthy
Mexico’s cuisine makes use of fresh, healthy ingredients like avocados, tomatoes, beans, spices, herbs and corn tortillas. This aligns with Australia’s increasing fixation on fresh, nutritious foods.
Australian climate suits Mexican produce
Much of the produce used in Mexican cooking thrives in Australia’s climate, like avocados, chillies, tomatoes, onions and limes. This makes recreating authentic Mexican flavours easier.
Fast, flavoursome and fun
The Tex-Mex favourites like tacos, burritos and nachos have become a convenient and tasty fast food option for time-poor Australians. But they still pack bold, fresh flavours.
With its crunchy shells, melted cheese and mild spice, Mexican food is great for fussy children. Aussie kids have fallen in love with tacos, quesadillas and more.
Australia has a thriving cocktail culture, with young Aussies loving Margaritas and other Mexican-inspired drinks.
Adds diversity to Aussie food scene
As the Aussie palate matures, consumers seek out more multicultural diversity. Mexican food has provided a spicy change from typical ‘meat and three veg’ fare.
Media and pop culture
American movies, TV shows and music culture have also helped fuel the popularity of Mexican food in Australia. Think Taco Tuesday!
Tourism in Mexico
With Mexico a top tourist destination for Australians, more Aussies come home craving authentic Mexican flavours after holidays spent indulging in the local cuisine.
High student population
All of Australia’s major cities have large universities where Mexican eateries and food trucks have become standard student fare.
Unique aspects of Mexican food culture
Beyond the dishes themselves, Mexican food culture brings some unique elements to Australia’s culinary landscape:
Street food and markets
In Mexico, food culture revolves around vibrant street stalls, markets and hole-in-the-wall eateries. This casual, noisy dining style has influenced new establishments in Australia.
Slow food movement
The Slow Food movement also started in Mexico to champion traditional, local artisanal cooking against fast food trends. This aligns with Australia’s increasing fixation on quality over convenience.
Mexican cuisine varies between regions, showcasing local traditions, ingredients and techniques. This diversity is being emulated by more Mexican eateries in Australia.
Traditional cooking methods
Techniques like using a molcajete (stone mortar and pestle), comal griddle, tamale steamer and more give Mexican cooking an earthy, traditional appeal.
From paddock to plate
Mexican food celebrates fresh, local produce cooked simply to let natural flavours shine. This mirrors Australia’s seasonal, farm-to-table food direction.
Bold, vibrant flavours
Chilli, lime, coriander, avocado, onion, garlic, cumin – Mexican food is unapologetically bold. Australians have embraced these punchy flavours.
Washed down with margaritas!
What pairs better with Mexican food than a tangy margarita or ice-cold cerveza? Aussies have come to love Mexican-style beverages too.
Key regions introducing Mexican food to Australia
While Mexico’s cuisine has spread across Australia, there are a few key regions that have especially embraced Mexican food culture:
Melbourne has the highest Mexican migrant population in Australia. The inner-city suburb of Fitzroy has become Melbourne’s ‘Little Mexico’, full of authentic eateries and Latin culture.
Sydney’s multicultural food scene has fully embraced Mexican flavours. Suburbs like Chippendale host fantastic Mexican dives.
As a sun-soaked, laidback city, Brisbane has welcomed Mexican food with open arms. Brisbane now hosts multiple Mexican restaurants, food trucks and festivals.
Perth has a thriving Mexican food scene, with the suburb of Northbridge home to several popular Mexican restaurants. The city excitingly hosted its first Mexican food festival in 2022.
Adelaide may be a smaller city but it still delivers quality Mexican eateries like Boozy Tacos, La Popular Taqueria and Mesa Del Sol.
This hippie beach town has fallen for Mexican food in a big way. Byron boasts Beaches Burritos, La Tacqueria and the annual Byron Bay Mexican Fiesta.
The Gold Coast is one of the top tourist regions for Mexicans visiting Australia. It’s therefore home to lots of vibrant Mexican offerings.
The future of Mexican food in Australia
Mexican food has already become an established part of the Australian food landscape. But what does the future look like for Mexico’s cuisine down under?
Continuing popularity growth
All signs point to Mexican food continuing its upwards trajectory in popularity across Australia, permeating more suburban takeaways and country pubs.
Regional Mexican cooking
A move beyond Tex-Mex towards more regional Mexican cooking is happening, showcasing authentic Oaxacan, Baja, Jalisco and Yucatan cuisine.
Mexican ingredients in supermarkets
Supermarkets will keep expanding their Mexican produce sections to keep up with demand for ingredients like avocados, tortillas, queso fresco and Mexican chilies.
Quality over quantity
Established and upcoming Mexican eateries will focus on creating authentic, high-quality dishes over novelty value and Costco-sized burritos.
Cooking classes and tours
More Mexican cooking classes and foodie tours will emerge to take Australians on a deeper journey into Mexico’s incredible gastronomy.
Chefs will start fusing Mexican techniques and ingredients with Australian bush foods like lemon myrtle, quandongs and wattleseed for a unique Mexstralian cuisine.
Trendy tacos and tequila bars
Hip urban taquerias and cool agave-based cocktail bars will continue popping up across the big cities to cater to Australia’s savvy millennials.
At-home Mexican cooking
From taco kits to dried chilies and corn tortillas, supermarket shelves will expand to feed Australians’ desire to recreate Mexican food at home.
Celebrity chef endorsements
Popular celebrity chefs like Adam Liaw, Guillaume Brahimi, Matt Preston and others embracing Mexican food will drive further interest.
From a few niche restaurants in the 1980s to an integral part of the Australian food landscape today, Mexican food has cemented its place in the hearts and stomachs of many Aussies. With its vibrant flavours, authentic ingredients and festive spirit, Mexico’s cuisine looks set to keep growing in popularity down under. As more Australians experience real Mexican cooking first-hand in Mexico, their love affair with tacos, tostadas, tamales and tequila will only intensify. ¡Salud amigos!