Have you ever been to an American restaurant serving Mexican dishes and wondered how authentic they are? Between grilled cheese sandwiches and hard-shell tacos stuffed with cheddar cheese, there are many Americanized versions of Mexican dishes available at restaurants.
One widely popular Mexican dish is the gordita. Though its fried, stuffed nature makes it seem wholly American, it is an authentic food staple in Mexican culture. No matter where you go in North America, you can probably find a gordita to satiate your appetite.
But what is a gordita exactly?
Unfortunately, there have been so many different versions of this dish that it can be hard to tell what’s the real deal and what isn’t. So, if you’re feeling lost or just want to know more about this classic dish, we’ve got the low down on the gordita.
What Is A Gordita?
First thing’s first; it’s essential to understand what this dish traditionally entails. Unlike some of the Americanized versions sold at chain restaurants today (Taco Bell, ahem!), the traditional Mexican Gordita is made with a masa pastry, the same dough used to make tortillas, and then stuffed or topped with cheese, meat, veggies or another filling.
It really doesn’t take much to turn a tortilla into a gordita, just pack the cornmeal a bit thicker and you’ve got the basic technique.
You can top these decadent shells with… whatever you want, really. There are options for fillings that include everything from nopal cactus to beef.
Some traditional fillings include:
- Carne Asada or Pollo
Because these little guys are so versatile, they are great for kids, Mexican themed parties and other events.
Is a Gordita Mexican? Where Did Gorditas Come From?
Gorditas are about as Mexican as a dish can get. The word “gordita” means “little fat one” in Spanish. Gorditas tend to be thick from the dough, with added girth from the ingredients within.
The tradition of this dish dates back to Mesoamerican people, and the process has been passed down and perfected ever since.
What Is the Difference Between Chalupa and Gordita?
The main distinction between traditional chalupas and gorditas is that the shell used for a chalupa is deep-fried, whereas a gordita is made in a skillet. As a result, chalupas tend to have a crispier exterior from the deep fryer, and gorditas are usually soft and sometimes even doughy.
Though the fillings or toppings for the two dishes are similar, you are more likely to find fillings like eggs and pork in a chalupa.
What Is the Difference Between a Gordita and a Torta?
“Torta” translates to “sandwich,” which is probably the best way to remember the distinction. A Mexican Torta is served on a soft roll and filled with meat, sauce and other toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, avocado, onions and other veggies.
There is a slight difference between ingredients in a gordita versus a torta. Whereas gorditas primarily include meat, cheese, and beans, a torta is more likely to have vegetables as well as meat.
Like any American food, there are differences in the way gorditas are prepared, depending upon where you are in Mexico. Gorditas in northern Mexican states are often made with wheat flour rather than corn masa, resembling small pitas. They are pressed with custom equipment that looks similar to an old-fashioned clothes iron, then stuffed with filling.
In northern Mexico, it is common to find gorditas that are large and flat, whereas central and southern Mexico tend to serve them as smaller, condensed, and round.
While gorditas themselves came from Mexico, other countries worldwide have created similar dishes in their own native cuisines. This creates exciting options for those who love gorditas and want to explore similar tastes.
In Venezuela and Colombia, arepas fill a similar void as gorditas. Many people have heard of arepas, which involve fried masa with fillings inside. The main distinction is that arepas tend to be smaller than gorditas.
In China, roujiamos are a gordita-like dish with fried dough and fillings. Because China is so far from Central and South America, it stands to reason that the seasonings are different. However, the concept of fried dough with meat and other fillings is still present in Chinese street food.
When to Eat Gorditas
Gorditas are great any time of day, for really any reason. Though they are not often eaten for breakfast, there are no rules saying you can’t start your day with some fried dough (after all, isn’t that what a doughnut is?).
Generally speaking, gorditas are considered side dishes. They are not very large and make a great appetizer or snack. Since they are considered street food, it’s common to buy one from a vendor on your way to the store, on a break at work, or during happy hour.
This doesn’t mean that you can not or should not eat them as a meal. Like tacos, when they’re eaten in multiples of three or four, they can make an excellent and filling meal. If you are only ordering one but are planning to make it your meal, be sure to order another side or two to get your fill.
Traditional MexicanSide Dishes
Because gorditas come in small portions, they are often eaten as a side dish or with other side dishes. Here at Backyard Taco our guests make a meal out of adding beans and a drink to their gordita order.
Some other side dishes that go well with gorditas are:
Elotes are one of the most delicious Mexican side dishes, but unfortunately, they aren’t very well known in the US yet. This tasty dish consists of grilled corn that has been charred and then rubbed in chili, garlic sauce, and cotija cheese. The result is a side dish with a kick that’s sure to thrill your guests.
Cilantro Lime Rice
Rice is a great option to balance out a meal of meat-filled gorditas and beans topped with cheese. The lime and cilantro give the rice a light flavor that really balances the heaviness of the meat and beans. When your gordita toppings inevitably fall onto your plate, you can scoop them up with a spoonful of rice and continue enjoying!
Chips and Salsa
We won’t insult your intelligence by telling you why chips and salsa are great as an appetizer. However, we will remind you that they are a great and appropriate side dish for many Mexican dinners. Though they are simple, the crunchy texture often makes the overall meal more satisfying. Our special chips and salsa comes with an authentic Mexican salsa you can only get when you order this side, so don’t miss out and order this next time you’re at one of our locations in Arizona.
Backyard Taco Gorditas
Here at Backyard Taco, we pride ourselves on creating delicious, high-quality Mexican street food. Our gordita/chorreada is no exception. Our menu was created based on authentic Mexican recipes and traditions, so you can be assured that our gordita is the real deal.
To appeal to every palate, we offer our gorditas in these options:
- Carne asada (steak)
- Pollo (chicken)
- Birria (shredded beef)
- Al pastor (pork)
- Bean and cheese
If you want to try an authentic gordita, there is no better place to do it than here at Backyard Taco. Our approachable style makes it easy to explore new Mexican dishes without wondering what you’re eating. As our owners hail from Mazatlan, Mexico, you know that our recipes are authentic and delicious.
So, if you’re in the area, stop by our Backyard and try something new. We hope to see you soon amigos!
Dr. Tyler loves tacos! He is one of the owners of Backyard Taco, and can sometimes be found moonlighting there at night or on the weekends.
Dr. Tyler Robison is an alum of Mesa’s Mountain View High School. He graduted from Brigham Young University before being accepted to the “Top Ten-nationally ranked” University of Louisville in Kentucky, where he earned his Doctorate in Dental Medicine and a Master’s Degree in Oral Biology. He graduated with honors in the top ten percent of his class. Dr. Robison continued at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco, where he received a second master’s degree in dental science and his orthodontic certification.
Dr. Tyler enjoys serving in his community. He is a provider for the Smile Back Foundation, which offers scholarships for free dental treatment to underprivileged East Valley students. He is also a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve and served during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2008.
Dr. Tyler Robison’s favorite pastimes include spending time with his family on the lake, at the beach, or on the slopes. He is an avid and crazy snowboarder! He has three incredible sons and one sweet daughter: Caden, Jace, Crew, and Bliss.