The Real Difference Between Fajitas And Tacos

At first glance, fajitas and tacos might seem like the same thing; after all, they've both usually got meat and veggies for filling wrapped in a tortilla. But while there are definitely similarities between the two, each one has its own unique place in Mexican cuisine. Not only does knowing the differences between them help you make more informed menu choices whenever you eat out, but it can also help make your cooking more authentic and tasty.

Especially if you've ordered fajitas at a restaurant, you'll know that you can hear them coming before you see them. According to Chowhound, fajitas are usually made with grilled meat (traditionally carne asada, which is a type of skirt steak, though some are also made with strips of chicken) that's been marinated before cooking. You probably won't hear the same signature sound if you cook them at home, but a lot of Mexican restaurants will bring your fajitas still steaming and sizzling from the grill.

The website for Eddie's Mexican Restaurant also notes that the fajita meat is usually served with grilled peppers and onions, and sometimes the veggies are marinated alongside the meat. Usually, no matter what extra toppings are on the side – sour cream, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, shredded cheese – fajitas are served with the tortillas alongside the meat so you can fill them yourself.

How are tacos different from fajitas?

According to PopSugar, the terminology is a big difference between fajitas and tacos. The word "fajita" is a reference to the type of meat being served, while "taco" refers to how the food is served. "Fajita" means "little belts" in Spanish, and only refers to meat from the skirt steak (even though the word is used to reference all kinds of fillings in the U.S., like chicken or seafood).

Chowhound also notes that the word "taco" means "wadding" or "plug" in Spanish, which is a reference to how the tortilla is folded over the meat and fillings. Unlike fajitas, tacos usually have a lot more variety than just grilled meat with peppers and onions. Tacos can have ground meat, strips of meat, beans, eggs, or just about anything you want. And rather than cooking the veggies, they're usually left raw for tacos and just sliced or chopped. Finally, though some tacos have hard, crispy shells, true Mexican tacos usually use corn or flour tortillas toasted in oil, while fajitas are traditionally served with flour tortillas.

The line between the two can get blurry sometimes, especially since you can combine the two to make fajita tacos. But while tacos have evolved to include almost limitless possibilities, fajitas are still usually made with grilled meat and veggies. Still, there are no rules about what you have to use for filling, so you can always experiment and create your dream tacos or fajitas.