The more authentic the taqueria, the more Spanish you'll need to know. Here is a glossary of common words you may see on menus describing popular taco styles, meats and more.
Al pastor. Thinly sliced pork, seasoned and marinated, often involving pineapple, dried chiles and other spices, though recipes vary.
Barbacoa. A traditional Mexican method of cooking that involves slow-roasting in a pit, though modern recipes use a slow cooker. The term may also refer to the meat itself, traditionally lamb, goat or beef.
Birria. Marinated meat, traditionally made with goat but occasionally made from beef or lamb, and served as a stew.
Cabeza. Cow head, usually braised or steamed. Cuts may include cheeks, tongue and other parts of the head that are tender and rich in flavor.
Carne asada. Grilled beef.
Carnitas. Pork slow-cooked in lard.
Chicharron. Fried pork skin.
Chorizo. Pork sausage, heavily marinated in spices.
Cilantro y cebolla. Cilantro and onion, traditional taco toppings.
Lengua. Beef tongue.
Nopales. Grilled cactus.
Pupusa. A thick tortilla made with cornmeal, often stuffed with meat, beans and/or cheese.
Queso fresco. A mild, soft, white cheese often crumbled and used as a topping for tacos, enchiladas and more.
Tripa. Organ meat from the stomach of a ruminant, or any animal that chews cud (i.e. cows). Also known as tripe, chinchulines or offal.