Young and Hungry

Mex Perplexed

Seems like there are a million new Mexican-ish restaurants, and each one calls its version of the cuisine something different. To keep them all straight (and to introduce you to some new terms), we've put together this handy guide.

Tex-Mex

Texas-style Mexican means Texas-sized portions, typically slathered in cheese with refried beans and flour tortillas. Burritos, fajitas, and nachos are definitely on the menu. If they have margaritas, they're probably served in pitchers.

Example: Lauriol Plaza

Mod-Mex

Chefs get fancy with Mexican food and call it "modern." A sure indication: vanilla and rose in the ceviche and hibiscus ice and "absinthe mist" in the cocktails.

Example: Oyamel

Texican

American fare with a Mexican twist. Think chorizo burger with Oxaca cheese and yucca fries.

Example: Maddy's Taproom

Cal-Mex

The Golden State's healthier take on Mexican food, highlighting fish and veggies.

Example: Not a lot of good examples in D.C. Maybe Surfside.

Hip-Mex

Any stylish Mexican restaurant that has margaritas on tap, house-made sodas, Edison light bulbs, a DJ booth, or a rooftop bar. It's just as much about the scene as the salsa.

Example: El Centro D.F., Bandolero

Specs-Mex

Like Hip-Mex, but with more spectacle-wearing hipsters.

Example: El Chucho

Text-Mex

Fast casual spot where people are in a hurry and more concerned about reading their iPhones than the menu.

Example: Chipotle, Lime Fresh Mexican Grill

Vex-Mex

A Mexican restaurant that vexes restaurant critics.

Example: Bandolero

Photo of Mexican food via Shutterstock

  • David

    how about Salv-Mex? El Tamarindo in Adams Morgan (SoMo!) or El Rinconcito in Columbia Heights are two good examples. two different countries but at least worthy of a mention if specs-mex makes the list.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/youngandhungry/ Jessica Sidman

    That's a good one @David

  • Tweaked

    Salv-Mex...or Mex-adorean

  • Charlie Adler

    Mex-Schmex - any Kosher Mexican restaurant..still looking for one though!

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