Quality Menudo According to a Late Bloomer

Many Mexicans and Mexican Americans grew up eating menudo. It’s a traditional Mexican soup made with beef stomach (tripe), cooked in a broth flavored with dried red chile, onion, garlic, and oregano. There are a zillion variations of this recipe, with red or white broth, with or without the honeycomb meat pieces, yellow or white pozole (hominy), and sometimes no pozole at all. Toppings usually include lime, diced onion and jalapeño, and chopped cilantro. Oregano is always a plus.

I didn’t grow up with menudo, although pozole was a childhood staple. Pozole consists mainly of hominy, with either shredded pork or chicken as the added meat, and the toppings are similar: onion, cilantro, and shredded cabbage and thinly sliced radish. The first time I ate menudo was in 2012, when my mom took me out to a local family-owned place in South El Monte, California. I didn’t like it. It smelled weird, and the meat was rubbery. It was cow stomach, for crying out loud!

Undercover Mexican Girl Eats Menudo
Homemade Menudo on New Year’s Day, 2015

The second time I tried menudo was Thanksgiving of 2014, at The Pozole’s mother’s home. (If you’ve never read The Pozole’s writings or seen his film work, it’s about time. Go there after you’re done reading my stuff.) I have to admit, I really liked it. The secret to liking menudo was eating the homemade stuff. That completely raised the bar for me. Now I’m an addict, but I have very high standards:

  • Balanced ratio of hominy to tripe (a 40/60 to 50/50 ratio works well)
  • Quality meat, including a combination of smooth and honeycomb cuts
  • Cooked well enough, but not too much that it’s soggy
  • Fresh and plentiful toppings: cilantro (without stems), onion, jalapeño, and lime (must be juicy)
  • Robustly flavored but not overly salty broth
  • Not too watery, but not too thick and greasy broth

So there you have it. Check out my Austin, Texas menudo tours for my ratings. I’ll save you the misery of not finding any hominy in your menudo.

Menudo 101: Your Quick Guide to the Perfect Bowl

2 Replies to “Quality Menudo According to a Late Bloomer”

  1. This Thanksgiving I get to finally go to see my Mexican grandparents. I haven’t seen them in a long time and I am sure that my grandma is going to be making her special menudo. She makes it with pozole and I think that it is the best. However, because I don’t get to have her recipe so much I often eat it at a restaurant. Do restaurants normally put pozole in their menudo?

    1. Hi Raylin,

      Thanks for your comment and sorry for the late reply. I haven’t had as much time for my blog or my writing as I’d like to, but I’m hoping to change that in 2016. 🙂 What I’ve found, at least in eating menudo in the Los Angeles area and throughout Central Texas, is that most restaurants do put hominy (the “pozole”) in their menudo. However, there are a few that don’t — it seems that it’s a regional thing. Others also give you the option of with or without. That’s why I always ask before I order it, just to be sure. I hope your visit with your Mexican grandparents this past Thanksgiving was a great one! How was the menudo?


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