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Mexican themed dinner party ideas

So, I'm hosting a dinner party for around 10 people in a week. It would be fun to make it mexican themed and serve good margaritas. But, I'm not sure what to make. I was thinking of doing a taco salad bar, with yummy toppings like homemade guac, mango salsa, etc. but I was wondering if you guys had any other ideas or recipies. I would especially appreciate recipies for the meat topings (perhaps chicken and beef/pork) and for desert.

I know there are so many toppings I would put on the perfect taco salad, but for some reason, I can't think of them right now!

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Aside from the standard beans, corn, meat, cheese, avocado, tomato...

    Daikon/white radish would be good. I've had some that were marinated for a little extra pop of flavor too. You can have it cubed or shredded.

    An assortment of chilies would be fun too. You could have some fresh and some roasted to give your guests some fun flavor combinations to experience. Maybe do three fresh and three that are the roasted version of each. Jalapeno/Chipolte for example.

    1. Love mexican. Just had tacos for dinner. Generally, when I make tacos I use corn tortillas, filled with a rice and beef mixture, refried beans, pickled jalopenos, salsa, guac, etc... pretty basic.

      Other things you may want to serve:
      - cheese quesadillas
      - ceviche
      - something with a mole sauce
      - tamales

      - fried donuts
      - caramel custard or other flan
      - fresh fruit (papaya, etc.)

      Margaritas sound great. Don't forget some good Mexican beer.

      1 Reply
      1. re: littlegreenpea

        Also, a big pitcher of agua fresca is a nice touch for a Mexican party for people who don't want to be drinking booze the whole time.

      2. I've done "taco parties" on a number of occasions, and the meal turns out great. There was an issue of Gourmet, probably about 10 years ago (it was July 1997 if you happen to have it laying around :-), that had a story on a taco party, and most of the recipes were quite authentic and very good. Here are some links:

        Carne asada (grilled marinated skirt steak):


        I like to give people an option besides beef, and so also like to serve grilled shrimp, for shrimp tacos:


        Serve with warm corn tortillas, and various condiments. I like to have a pico de gallo salsa, guacamole, crumbled mexican cheese (queso anejo or cojita), sour cream or mexican crema, diced onions and cilantro. Also good with the carne asada tacos is the following recipe for rajas con crema (roasted peppers in mexican crema):


        Here's a good salsa recipe:


        I typically serve a green salad and pinto beans (frijoles de la olla) on the side with the tacos. Here's a good recipe for the beans:


        1. just an idea as spring can't seem to spring - chicken pozole - it is a mexican soup that eats like a meal - here is a basic recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...
          I like to add some reconstituted dried chiles and roasted garlic and some lime juice and fresh cilantro - also nice to top with chopped tomato, avocado and homemade tortilla chips.

          1. A taco salad is a great idea for a party, but I know you know it's not Mexican food.

            1 Reply
            1. Just held a Mexican dinner for a bunch of friends over the weekend:

              - agua fresca
              - beer

              - jicama-mango salad
              - smoky pork tinga tacos (from Mexican Everyday)
              - shrimp salad tacos (also from Mexican Everyday)

              - creamy rice casserole with poblano chiles (this was the big hit of the night; I used chicken stock instead of water)
              (ignore the introduction to the recipe; it seems to be for a different dish


              - Kahlua flan

              6 Replies
              1. re: TheGloaming

                When Zarela's cookbook, "Food From My Heart," was published, I bought it immediately, just so I could make her creamy rice at home.

                I have no doubt it was a big heat; it is every time I make it too. One of my favorite side dishes. And substantial enough to be a vegetarian main.

                1. re: Old Spice

                  Just a couple of questions, is the recipe in her cookbook exactly the same as the one on the Internet, and do you think it would hold in a chafing dish? Thanks!

                  1. re: Rubee

                    Not sure if they're the same, but I would assume so, since the one on Zarela's website says it's from the book. I used the website version, and it turned out perfectly. Sorry, don't know whether it would hold in a chafing dish, as I've never used one myself and wouldn't know how that affects the texture of food.

                2. re: TheGloaming

                  I just looked at that tinga recipe - what did you think? I like the idea of slow-cooking it in the crockpot.

                  1. re: Rubee

                    It was quite, quite delicious. I made it based on a recommendation in the "What was the last great thing you made?" thread. I cooked it in a Dutch oven rather than a slow-cooker, and let it sit in the fridge overnight because I knew it would taste better the next day. I'm sure it would be awesome in a slow-cooker, because that's what Bayless tells you to do.

                    1. re: TheGloaming

                      Thanks so much! That's great. I missed that whole thread, and just happened to be going through my Bayless books and saw it. I love the idea of being able to make it ahead of time. I'll be needing the oven, so hopefully it's just as tasty in the slow-cooker.

                3. You could do fajitas on the grill, along side flour and corn tortillas, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, grilled or sauteed peppers and onions, and shredded cheese....Have a side of mexican rice and beans and you have yourself a feast...In Texas, that is often what we do....Do Margaritas on the rocks or frozen...they even have a "frozen margarita machine" now, and/or do Sangria...You can find a recipe for that on the Food Network...You really cannot go wrong with this menu...Make or pick up some pralines....

                  1. If you have a deep fryer... churros are a great end to a mexican meal.


                    1. My best friend hosted a Feliz Navidad party for our bike team. She wanted authentic, so I bought her the Rick Bayless "One Plate at a Time". She made the black bean soup which was magically delicious, and a quesadilla recipe w/ potatoes, red onion and goat cheese if I remember correctly.

                      I made Mexican Wedding Cookies and Mexican hot chocolate.

                      And of course, classic margaritas ...because frozen ones are an abomination ;-) I agree with the poster who suggested aqua fresca. I can't drink more than one good marg. unless it's a pajama party.

                      1. Instead of leaving raw seafood out, I make a fake ceviche with cooked shrimp and avocado, a bit of chipotle in adobo and onion. Serve with tortilla chips.

                        A question: how do other people hosting taco parties keep the tortillas warm? I don't have a microwave and when I make tacos for my small family I just heat the torillas briefly on a cast iron pan. What would I do for a crowd?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Glencora

                          Go to a restaurant supply store and buy a tortilla warmer. They are cheap and work quite well.

                          1. re: Glencora

                            Isn't ceviche technically "cooked" by the acid in the citrus? If so, I'm not sure that making a fake ceviche would be of much help if you're worried about leaving it out for a while. Alternatively, you can put the ceviche out in a serving bowl that has been cooling in the freezer. Unless you plan on leaving it outside in the sun, or out for more than a couple hours, it shouldn't be much of a problem (from my experience anyways).

                            Good question on keeping torillas warm; I was thinking about that last night. Thanks!

                          2. WHenever I make Mexican for a crows (and I live in Texas so that is often) I always make:
                            a tray of enchiladas (usually cheese)
                            grill up some chicken/beef fajitas
                            chili con queso
                            cheese stuffed jalepenos wrapped in bacon
                            refried beans, rice
                            flan or tres leches

                            1. You've received great suggestions...you might also consider this beautiful dish posted by Robert Lauriston on this board for Cilantro Rice--bright green in color and really delicious and pretty easy too:


                              1. I'm giving a Cinco de Mayo party with tacos for non-red meat eaters. I'm going to use many of the tips already provided. Any others? How did your party go?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Glencora

                                  Non Red Meat Tacos:

                                  Grilled Chicken Breast Marinated in Chipotle
                                  Sauteed Mushrooms with Epazote
                                  Fried Spinach sauced with extra thick Green Pipian
                                  Nopales sauteed with tiny Potato cubes seasoned with Chorizo spices
                                  Shrimp a la Diabla
                                  Fish dressed in Achiote and grilled over a banana leaf

                                  I can think of a few more if you want

                                2. Casa Eat Nopales will be hosting a Cinco de Mayo party for about 50 people.... here is what we came up (to minimize last minute & short-order cooking):

                                  Chips & 4 Dips
                                  > Roasted Tomatillo, Garlic, Ancho & Arbol Salsa (deep reddish-amber color)
                                  > Roasted Tomatillo, Garlic & Jalapeno Salsa (green, fairly mild almost sweet from roasted garlic)
                                  > Nopalitos (Basically a Cactus Pico de Gallo)
                                  > Oaxacan Black Bean Dip (I posted the recipe last night)

                                  Minature Tortas (using Hawaiin Rolls)
                                  > Trader Joes Carnitas, Guacamole Verde, Refried Pinto Beans
                                  > Guacamole Verde, Refried Pinto Beans, Grated Fresco Cheese (Vegetarian Version)

                                  Red Mole Sauced Mushroom Quesadillas

                                  Wings & Drummettes in Chipotle-Mango Sauce (uses canned Chipotles & Mango Sauce... blended with a little worcestire, vinegar, chicken broth & olive oil for the marinade... marinade is drained & cooked for the sauce).

                                  Street Style Corn Cobbettes (Grilled on the husk with a brushing of Chile-Oil, then cut in half served with lime wedges & an optional Cotija-Crema sauce)

                                  Tropical Fruit Skewers (Watermelon, Pineapple & Oranges with optional Chile Powder & Lime Wedges)

                                  Mexican Candy Station (Individually wrapped Coconut Fudge, Milk Fudge, Guava Rolls, Cajeta Wafers, Spicy Tamarind Candies etc.,)

                                  Fresh Strawberry Margaritas (mostly for the ladies)

                                  Lime Peel Margaritas (mostly for the machos that don't drink beer or girlie drinks)

                                  Mexican Beer, Sodas, & Jamaica Agua Fresca

                                  We rationalized & simplified it several times. Unless you are going to have someone cooking at the last minute, doing tacos successfully can be a challenge and ruin the fun.... everything we choose can be decent at room temperature and the vast majority of the food prep can begin a day earlier.

                                  We have thrown enough of these to realize... we aren't a restaurant so we have to be careful about what we take on.

                                  Hopefully this will give you at least one good idea.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    Well, I'm definitely adding tropical fruit skewers to the menu. I hadn't thought of tortas. That might be an idea. I'm having a lot fewer than 50 guests, however, so I think tacos could work. Sorry to be dense, but...guacomole verde...is it ever any other color?

                                    Your party sounds great. Wish I could ditch mine and crash yours.

                                    1. re: Glencora

                                      Guacamole Verde means no tomatoes.... often includes roasted or raw cubed tomatillos instead.

                                      BTW, I will try to make the next Bay Area Chow picnic / event and bring some food along with the baby.

                                      1. re: cristina

                                        2 PM.... I am putting together my music list.... lots of Cafe Tacuba, Susana Harp, Lila Downs, Real de Catorce, Iraida Noriega, and Inspector interspersed with some David Zaizar, Los Folkloristas and various classics from Son Jarocho, Chilenas, Son Huasteco etc.,

                                    2. I recently found an excellent guacamole recipe. It's made with roasted tomatillos:


                                      This has become my standard guac recipe. Enjoy!!!

                                      1. I'm having a Cinco de Mayo party with a bunch of local Boston Chowhounds (how fun will that be!). Like Eat Nopal, I've learned to entertain with dishes that can be prepped or completed ahead. Here are some ideas I've written down though I have to trim it way down since everybody's bringing something, and also trying to think of what I can contribute that will be different...

                                        Ideas on my list:
                                        A couple of dried chili salsas (guajillo, chipotle, pasilla, etc.)
                                        Homemade ancho-dusted potato chips
                                        Picadillo empanadas with cornmeal crust (I make these a lot - Epi recipe)
                                        Bayless' Topolo 'Caesar' (with green chili, lime, and cilantro)
                                        Chili Rellenos burritos
                                        Cochinita pibil tacos with pickled red onions
                                        Tortilla soup
                                        Frijoles Maneados (refried beans with chorizo and cheese)
                                        Chipotle sweet potato gratin (a Chowhound favorite that I've always wanted to make)
                                        Zarela's arroz con crema mentioned above

                                        Tres leches cake (with dulce de leche)
                                        Mexican wedding cookies
                                        Roasted fruit? Pineapple?

                                        Agua Fresca - either tamarindo or jamaica

                                        Bobby Flay's Chipotle sweet potato gratin recipe:

                                        7 Replies
                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            Any chance of stealing your Roasted Tomatillo, Garlic, Ancho & Arbol Salsa recipe? ; )

                                            1. re: Rubee

                                              Its actually always a hit... and very simple but I don't have a fast & steady recipe since I tend to feel out the ingredients and adjust the proportion but...

                                              2 handfuls of tomatillos
                                              2 Anchos
                                              2 Arbol Chiles
                                              6 Cloves of Garlic
                                              Handful of chopped Cilantro

                                              I toast the chiles over a direct flame then submerge them in lukewarm water for 30 minutes to soften

                                              Blacken the tomatillos & garlic on a grill... then wrap them in a foil pocket and cook for about 15 minutes

                                              Bring all the tomatillos, garlic & chiles together in a blender, add a tiny amount of water as need... puree until fairly smooth, taste ... adjust the salt, stir in the cilantro... then let it meld for at least 4 hours.


                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                Thank you so much. I'll report back - I'm sure it's going to be a hit!

                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                  Reporting back - not only did it look and taste delicious, but was my favorite of all the salsas I made that night (though I just realized I forgot the cilantro!). This is definitely a keeper - thanks again.

                                                  Report and pic:

                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                    Glad you liked it.... results from my own party...

                                                    The Mushroom-Red Mole Quesadillas were a big hit.

                                                    The Dips & Chips were a bust... people just didn't go for them

                                                    The Carnitas Tortitas ended up being too substantial for a Cocktail Party

                                                    The wings were great, people liked them... but 100 wings was way too much food along with everything else.... at least I know what protein I will be having all week long!

                                                    The California males (dang Metrosexuals!) went for the Strawberry Margaritas and complained that the Lime Peel version was too strong... the one NY Jewish guy asked if I forgot to to add Tequila to it!

                                                    The Mexican candy was much more popular than I expected... even the spicy stuff.

                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                      Sounds like a successful and delicious party! Shoot - now I need the mushroom-red mole enchilada recipe ; )

                                                      That's a great idea with the Mexican candy!

                                        1. Great ideas here- I'm going to have to steal a few!

                                          I love to make a Mexican Lasagne. It reheats well, so it can be made the day before. Let me know if you'd be interested in the recipe and I'll be happy to post.