Sandwiches were invented with convenience and portability in mind. Those characteristics, paired with their ease of preparation and sheer diversity of customization options, make them a popular meal all around the world. But when people think of Tex Mex foods, sandwiches usually don’t make the cut. Simply put, if a place bills itself as a Tex Mex eatery, you’re far more likely to see entrées wrapped in—or at least enveloped by—a tortilla instead of buns or two slices of bread.
So, is an avowed sandwich-eater doomed to never truly enjoy Tex Mex food? Could a diehard fan of Tex Mex ever find something to please their palate at a sandwich shop? Are these categories of cuisine totally incompatible?
Of course not; we’re just being dramatic, here! Read on for some sandwich-style entrées that wouldn’t be completely out of place in a Tex Mex restaurant:
Taco burgers are made by taking all of the fillings from a crunchy or soft taco (e.g., shredded chicken / ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese) and squishing them together within a hamburger bun. For an extra punch, you can even spread salsa, mashed avocado, or even hot sauce on the inside of the bread to serve as condiments. The end result is a curious fusion between a taco and a cheeseburger—and because burgers (and chicken sandwiches) actually share several ingredients, a union of the two works surprisingly well. If you have small children who are reluctant to try new things (or older children who are fussy eaters), then a taco burger might be able to entice them into giving Tex Mex food a chance.
South of the Border “Chili” Cheesesteak
Many foodies find it hard to resist a good Philly Cheesesteak sandwich; that combination of thinly sliced steak, provolone cheese, mushrooms, and bell peppers really is a thing of beauty. And while the traditional recipe for this dish doesn’t really need to be “improved” upon, there is a way to prepare it Tex Mex style if you would like to do so. For example, ditch the sweet bell peppers and add sliced jalapenos, chipotle peppers, or—for the truly daring—some habaneros. Instead of melting down provolone or American cheese, use Monterrey Jack or even queso. And if you want to moisten your bread, try sour cream or salsa. The resulting dish will still be pretty easily recognizable as some variation of a Philly cheesesteak, but eating it will provide a completely new experience!
Okay, so a hamburger (or a cheeseburger, for that matter) isn’t really Tex Mex food. If anything, it’s purely “Tex.” But a very large number of Tex Mex restaurants have some kind of hamburger-and-fries entrée on their menu. And there’s a simple reason for that: not everyone likes Tex Mex food. The hamburger is essentially a “safe” choice for folks who feel overwhelmed when they see Spanish writing on their menu or get heart palpitations when they even think of consuming anything spicy. There are also various other issues that could prevent a person from freely eating Tex Mex. So, rather than ignoring this demographic of potential customers completely, restaurants will usually offer less “exotic” items for people who would otherwise pass on eating there at all.
It may seem silly to go to a Tex Mex place and order a hamburger, especially if you do like Tex Mex food. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Taking a chance on a burger may end up being an absolutely delicious choice! And as long as you leave the restaurant happy and well-fed, you’ve at least experienced the most important aspects of Tex Mex dining.
Does a quesadilla count as a sandwich? A lot of people would say “no,” as it doesn’t really look like a sandwich. But think about it: a quesadilla is two tortillas (a type of flatbread) with meat and cheese between them. Does that not describe a sandwich? If a quesadilla isn’t a sandwich, doesn’t that call into question the validity of other sandwiches made with flatbread? What about grilled cheese sandwiches; aren’t they usually prepared in a manner that’s almost identical to the way in which quesadillas are made?
We’ll let folks talk about the “correct” answer these questions in the comments section of this post. Our main point, though, is that Tex Mex food and sandwiches aren’t as mutually exclusive as diners often think they are. Food has a real knack for blending cultures together; that’s a sentiment we’ve explored before on this blog. And when we merge different dishes or prepare classic entrées in creative ways, the end result is something quite unique.