How to Sound More Authentic When Ordering Mexican Food

We talk with Malena Basave, co-owner of Mom’s Old Recipe Mexican Restaurant, about why skipping taco night may not be such a bad idea.


Skip the burrito.

The bundle of tortilla love is unheard of in Mexico, says Malena, who was born and raised there. Instead, she suggests opting for a dinner of enchiladas or flautas followed by sweet bread.


Coca-Cola is king.

“Some days, you don’t even drink a drop of water in [Mexico’s] smaller towns,” Malena says. Instead, locals cure parched mouths with hefty gulps of soda pop, specifically Coca-Cola, which is Mexico’s go-to beverage with every meal, including breakfast.


Step outside the box.

Everyone knows about tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas. Skip ahead to the house-specials section of a menu, and you may be pleasantly surprised. Malena’s menu, which is built upon her mother’s recipes from Mexico, includes shrimp sautéed in a red-wine sauce with pasilla peppers and cranberries that will take a taco to the mat in a culinary arm-wrestling match.


The eclectic Norwood Park eatery pairs rustic wood floors and exposed ductwork with crisp linen tablecloths and oversize paintings of mermaids. On any given day, Malena can be found in the kitchen mixing a secret organic basil sauce for carne asadas, filling poblano peppers with cinnamon cheese, and stuffing ingredients into burritos—which she only added to her menu after customers requested them.

BY: Katie Cortese