Mexican food reflects Mexican culture. People around the world love Mexican cuisine. The food is full of flavor and perfectly spiced. Some Mexican dishes are considered international favorites — tacos being one of them! Whether you’re dining in Mexico or abroad, you can find Mexican food in various places and styles. Even outside of the country, many Mexican dishes you’ll find are made authentically.
One dish, in particular, the tostada, has been popularized as street food here and abroad. However, the tostada has been a staple of Mexican cuisine for centuries. It is an easy dish that can be found on the streets and in homes all over the country. While the tostada may be simple, it can also be very messy. Today, we share how to eat a tostada without making a huge mess while providing some background on the popular dish and how to prepare your own.
What Is a Tostada?
A tostada consists of fried corn tortillas topped with beans or meat (or both), lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and sour cream. Every ingredient plays its part in making this an iconic dish, so even if they are a little messy, you don’t have to lose any of this deliciousness to neatness.
Some of the deliciousness includes:
- Meat: Tostadas can be made with shredded beef, pork, or chicken. These hearty meats are one of the things that makes tostadas such a filling and satisfying meal. With so many varieties of meat available, you can try different variations each time to see which you like the best.
- Beans: The beans are the second main ingredient in a tostada. Choose from refried beans, whole beans, or black beans. Beans are an essential ingredient for any vegetarian or vegan tostada lovers. By adding a heaping spoonful of beans to your next tostada, you can fill it up and keep it that way.
- Lettuce: Like the beans, lettuce is another main ingredient in a tostada. The best kinds of lettuce to use are iceberg or romaine which are very common in many different Mexican dishes. Lettuce is an important part of any tostada because it gives each bite a crunchy texture you just can’t get from tortillas alone.
- Tomatoes: The tomato gives the dish a pop of color and flavor. They are typically chopped or sliced and added after the other ingredients are layered on. The use of tomatoes in tostadas is especially common in Mexican cuisine.
- Cheese: Cheese is the final ingredient that makes a tostada, well, a tostada. After all other ingredients are piled on top, cheese is sprinkled on top of the dish to add an extra layer of flavor.
- Sour Cream: Sour cream can be used in addition to or in place of cheese, and it’s a common way to add richness and creaminess in Mexican cuisine.
The quality of ingredients is crucial to creating a perfect tostada. Once you have those in place, the tostada offers a variety of options. Vegetarians can just add beans, and vegans can simply leave off cheese and sour cream. Those with dairy issues can do the same – just with meat!
The word “tostad” means “toasted,” which gives you a sense of how it is usually served. Ingredients such as beans, cheese, and meat are put on top of a fried tortilla and then heated until they become crispy around the edges. Tostadas may also be topped with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and other sauces before being eaten. They make great snacks when paired with beer or classic margaritas and are always proven to be a hit.
What Is the Difference Between a Taco and Tostada?
If you aren’t sure what the difference is between a taco and a tostada, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Not everyone is clear on the difference between a taco and a tostada without a formal explanation. Truth be told, many ingredients are the same but configured differently.
A taco is a dish that consists of a corn or wheat tortilla folded in half and filled with meat, vegetables, cheese, beans, and other ingredients. Tostadas and tacos are comparable in that they both consist of a tortilla with toppings, but there is one key difference: Tostadas are always served open-faced. They might also be made with a thicker tortilla than your typical taco. People love tostadas for their crispy shell that mimics a plate, while tacos are more handheld and convenient.
Why Tostadas Can Be So Messy
Tostadas are typically messy because they have a lot of toppings that will inevitably fall off the tortilla. The ingredients used to make tostadas are usually quite wet, so it is very likely for them to spill over the edges of the tortilla and onto your hands or plate. Despite their messiness, tostadas are so scrumptious that fans will deal with the mess to enjoy the deliciousness. Others will eat them carefully, taking care to keep their hands clean. For those that want a tidier time eating a tostada, it’s time we dive deep into understanding how we can keep ourselves clean while enjoying the tostada.
From Your First Bite to the Last: Keeping It Clean
Well, it’s time to eat your perfectly created tostada. You may worry about making a mess, but there are several ways to avoid this.
The easiest method is to wait for your tortilla to cool slightly so that the cheese does not burn when it touches your tongue or lips after you take a bite. The shell will also be slightly less crispy after removing it from your oven or microwave, which might tempt you to take a bite immediately, increasing your chances of breaking the shell.
Next, you will want to make sure you are using the proper combination of ingredients. It is best not to use too many wet ingredients because they can create a soggy mess. For example, guacamole is delicious on a tostada, but you do not want it pouring all over your plate. If you find yourself in this situation, you can use a fork to scoop the excess ingredients off the top and eat that part before diving into your tostada. It will give you a preview of what is to come but certainly will not compare to the full taste of the dish with all the ingredients combined.
You will want to make sure you are holding your tostada correctly. A pinch grip with your thumb and pointer finger on the side of the ingredients and a thumbless grip in the middle are your safest bets and allow you to control the toppings without dropping them on the floor.
There is also an art to biting into this dish. You do not want to go straight for the center of it, where all your ingredients are resting. Instead, take a small bite on one of the sides that has fewer ingredients. Then, slowly work your way to the middle while trying not to let any ingredients fall out. The smaller the bites, the better.
Finally, using napkins is your best bet for eating messy foods like tostadas. You can wipe your hands and mouth to make sure you are clean before digging into the meal, but especially during the meal to wipe away any excess food on your lips, hands, or eating area.
When all is said and done, you will have a clean plate in front of you. All it takes is a little bit of patience and the right strategy. Having a tostada is all about having fun, not being stressed out. It’s quite a skill to master, but you are sure to get the hang of it with some practice.
The Perfect Side Dishes to Accompany Tostadas?
In Mexico, a tostada is usually served as an appetizer or a side dish. The perfect side dishes for tostadas depend on the filling inside and if it’s being eaten by itself. For instance: If you’re eating a tostada with beef inside, it would be best served with rice and beans, while if you’re eating one filled only with vegetables, you might want some guacamole on top with a side of fruit salad or refried beans.
When it comes to the perfect side dishes for your Mexican appetizer, there are so many possibilities. Of course, you can never go wrong with rice, but experimenting is key when preparing your tostadas to figure out what side dishes go along with your ingredients best.
A New Beginning on How to Eat a Tostada
As we have learned, tostadas are a delicious Mexican appetizer that can be very messy without the proper explanation. However, eating a tostada is a breeze once you have the right tools and strategy in mind – and they are definitely worth the time to figure it out!
If you are still worried about eating your tortilla without making a mess, you can eat it with a fork and knife. A tostada is a handheld dish, but if you find yourself struggling with it, using utensils might be the best plan of action. With these tips in mind, you should be ready to enjoy your tortilla without worrying about the impending mess.
Try the Tostada at Backyard Taco Today
For more information about how we at Backyard Taco make the perfect authentic Mexican tostada, check out our website to order online or come inside! Of course, we have plenty of other tasty treats down to our best of AZ chips and salsa.
We look forward to seeing you soon and being impressed by your new tostada eating skills!
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.