10 Things Every Mexican Restaurant Kitchen Should Have
Mexican restaurants come with their own unique ambiance. But if you look at the menu, you'll see a lot of the same traditional dishes. Whether you're opening a new Mexican establishment or you simply want to add some Mexican flair to your existing menu, here are ten things your restaurant kitchen should have.
Having a fryer for taco shells, tortilla chips, salad bowls, chimichangas, and all those other Mexican favorites is a must. Skipping this means being forced to order everything pre-made, and you won't be able to get that freshly-fried crispness that customers love.
Specialty Fryer Baskets
When frying taco shells and salad bowls, you'll need a basket that can hold the shape of the food. Don't attempt a substitute with this. Baskets are super cheap, and they're much faster and more efficient than a stand-in tool.
No Mexican restaurant is complete without a warm basket of chips to serve newly arrived customers. And unless you plan to have your cook standing at the fryer and ready to serve up fresh chips to everyone who walks through the door, you're going to need a chip warmer. These are usually stainless-steel machines that have a large capacity, but you can get smaller models that rest on a counter top.
Similar to the chip warmer, a lot of Mexican restaurants like to keep other foods hot until ordered, and that's where the steam table comes into play. Certain foods will be partially cooked then placed inside the steam table to finish cooking and remain warm until served. This method is ideal for certain vegetables and potatoes, but meat should be thoroughly cooked before being placed in a steam table.
Naturally, you need something to cook on. But most Mexican restaurants use a griddle to cook large orders of hamburger as well as steak, onions, and peppers, especially for fajitas.
Most meat that's ordered in a Mexican restaurant is prepared on a charbroiler to give the food a nice, grilled appearance. Steak, chicken, fish, and pork are all delicious when prepared on a charbroiler.
Don't put soft tortillas in a microwave to warm them up; they tend to overheat and dry food out, not to mention they don't allow for a uniform temperature. A flash steamer will heat up soft tortilla shells in just a few seconds while keeping them nice and moist. This means tortillas that will take shape easily without tearing.
Think about all those yummy Mexican favorites that are chock full of fresh tomatoes and other vegetables. More than likely, they didn't get that way by being hand sliced. If your restaurant is busy, you'll be expected to cut a large volume of fresh veggies for salsa, entrees, pico de gallo, and different types of peppers if you decide to have your own signature hot sauce. You'll need commercial grade slicers, dicers, food processors, lettuce cutters, and don't forget the citrus wedger for those all-important side garnishes.
Being able to prep meat quickly and easily is just as important as preparing your vegetables. Most Mexican restaurants use cutlery that can cut thin slices of beef as well as long strips of steak and chicken for fajitas. Be sure to invest in a quality chopping block as well as a meat grinder for that delicious nacho hamburger.
Last but not least, a Mexican restaurant should be able to churn out frozen margaritas. The good news is that you can use the machine for other treats like sangria, slushies, lemonade, etc.
A margarita machine is a particularly popular choice for those restaurants that don't have a full liquor license and can only serve wine and beer. Agave wine is often used in margaritas that don't have triple sec and tequila, but you can come up with your own favorites.
To get a taste of all your favorite dishes prepared with many of the culinary tools above, check out local Mexican restaurants like El Molinito Restaurant & Catering.