I'm not familiar with Mexican cuisine, but I enjoyed the things I've eaten so far. To me, they are all quite similar. Is there a real difference between fajitas, enchiladas and tacos?

The taco is perhaps most distinguishable, because of the hard shell, but I've seen pictures of soft tortillas as well. But fajitas and enchiladas are both rolled up meat + veggies + sauce in tortillas, no?

I've checked some websites and pictures, but I can't find a good criterion.

Is there a real difference? If so, what is it?

  • Fajitas, enchiladas, tacos
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 21:03
  • Yes, I've seen that. But there's also in the text that you can substitute a lot of things.
    – Mien
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 21:35
  • Apparently real tacos have soft shells. Taco Bell's hard shell tacos are not real tacos. Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 21:42

2 Answers 2


Enchiladas are normally shredded meat and/or cheese rolled in corn tortillas, covered in red (or green) enchilada sauce and cheese, and then baked.

Fajitas are normally strips of meat either grilled or sauteed (often with onions and peppers). They can be used in tacos, burritos, or served on their own or with tortillas on the side (corn or flour depending on preference).

Tacos can be either hard or soft shelled and are usually meat (shredded, ground, grilled etc) with some sort of cold veggies (like lettuce, raw onions, pico de gallo, etc) and perhaps cheese etc.

  • Fajitas may tend to have larger tortillas than soft-shelled tacos (though there's of course overlap), probably because the meat is in strips rather than smaller pieces or ground/shredded.
    – Cascabel
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 21:30
  • 1
    basically all are tacos: fajitas filled with griddled strip-steak; now anything arriving on a griddle is called 'fajita'; enchilada is sauced before and often after filling (but so can a wet burrito), doesn't have to be baked.
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 8:17
  • 2
    "Enchilada" essentially means "infused with chili" and means the tortilla is, well, infused with chili sauce, prior to the preparation. "Enfrijoladas" are also common in Mexico, which means, as you might expect (if you speak any Spanish at all), "infused with beans (frijoles)", and are made essentially the same way, but the tortillas are soaked in a bean sauce rather than a chili sauce.
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 21:05

note: I am a native English speaker, but some Spanish helps here. a Native speaker will probably correct me on at least part of this:

Enciliada - " in Chile"-- A tortilla soaked/covered in some sort of chile based sauce. Almost always with some sort of filling

Fajita - "little strip" or "Little Girdle or belt" - I'm not sure which is the more significant part of the meaning. these are small strips of meat, traditionally from the skirt steak (which is why I am thinking girdle). Fajitas are the strips of meat, but you usually serve them with tortillas/sauces/sides.

Taco - "A Stopper or plug" - so something to stop up your stomach. Basically, nearly anything folded/wrapped in a tortilla. similar to how anything between two slices of bread is a sandwich.

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