What is Menudo? A Hangover Cure with Guts

BY: Reuben Westmaas |Feb 24, 2017

What is menudo? It’s more than a Puerto Rican boy band. It’s one of Mexico’s favorite meals for a big celebration—and, conveniently, a classic hangover cure that warms up nicely the next day. But that doesn’t answer what it actually is. Fortunately, we’re here to do just that.

What is In Menudo?

Menudo is very similar to pozole, another spicy Mexican soup whose signature ingredient is hominy. The big difference between the two is the meat. Where pozole generally uses pork and chicken, menudo just isn’t menudo if it doesn’t use tripe. So what is tripe? Don’t get intimidated—it’s the stomach lining of a cow, with a chewy texture not unlike sauteed calamari.

Who Makes the Best Menudo?

Menudo is most often found at family gatherings, so this could get contentious fast. Let’s focus on the regional varieties instead of deciding which is the “right” version.

Menudo rojo is the most familiar style, spiced up with dried chiles, and menudo blanco holds off on the red pepper (though jalapeño may be used instead). Other versions may swap out the hominy for pig’s feet, and chefs from central Mexico might use sheep stomach instead of beef tripe.

How Do You Eat Menudo?

First of all, with a crowd. Second of all, with lots of garnishes. Cilantro, onion, and lime are always a go-to with Mexican cuisine, and the tangy citrus helps to balance all that spice. Radishes will add an interesting new texture and soak up the sauce nicely, and you can never go wrong with avocado. Tortillas or tostadas are always good on the side, but we recommend bolillos for maximum dipability.

When to Eat Menudo?

Traditionally it’s a meal for big parties—especially New Year’s. But don’t be worried about the tripe soup going to waste if you can’t finish it while you get deeper into the champagne. As a hangover cure, its reputation is unmatched in Mexico. Also, as long as it’s refrigerated, it will stay good for days—and even improve. Because the longer it stews in its own juices, the richer its flavor will eventually become.

Where to Eat Menudo?

Though menudo is generally thought of as a traditionally homemade meal for the whole family, a hungry searcher can probably track some down in any major metropolitan area. Look especially for mom-and-pop style eateries, and drop in on the weekends rather than weekdays—because making menudo is a fairly intensive process, most restaurants will make it ahead of time and serve it on Saturdays and Sundays.