Picture this: you’re hanging out with your Mexican friends when suddenly they suggest going for ‘garnachas’. You’re not familiar with the term, so you search for it online and, well, the word ‘grenache’ pops up in your fave translation app … which turns out to be a variety of black grape (huh!?).
Perplexed, you follow your pals, and they lead you to a food stall where all you can see are fried tortillas with different fillings!
In short – ‘garnacha’ means ‘grenache’ in Spanish (i.e., a variety of black grape used to make wine), BUT it’s also a traditional Mexican dish made with thick fried tortillas stuffed with different fillings.
HOWEVER, ‘garnacha’ can also refer to other kinds of street food!
Curious yet? Then keep scrolling to find out all you need to know about this fun Mexican word!
Uses / Meanings of ‘garnacha’
‘Garnacha’ can be used in the following ways –
- A traditional Mexican dish
- Any tortilla-based street food in Mexico City
A traditional Mexican dish
Corn is one of the most important elements in Mexican cuisine and it’s the main ingredient in ‘garnachas’; it’s moulded into small, thick tortillas that are cooked on a “comal” (a traditional Mexican griddle) then fried in oil or lard and stuffed with different fillings, such as beans or meat.
‘Garnachas’ are traditional in the southern states of Mexico, where each state or region has their own particular take on it, so if you’re lucky enough to visit Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz or Yucatán, make sure to taste the local ‘garnacha’ (you’ll thank me later!).
In Oaxaca they’re usually stuffed with shredded pork, and topped with cabbage, fresh cheese, and spicy tomato sauce, but in Puebla, after being fried, they’re bathed in hot green tomato sauce, and in Orizaba they’re filled with chicken instead of pork … yummy!
En la casa de un amigo
Paola – ¡Qué ricas garnachas! ¿Dónde las compraron?
Bruno – Mi mamá las hizo desde cero.
At a friend’s house
Paola – These garnachas are scrumptious! Where did you buy them?
Bruno – My mom made them from scratch.
Martha – Voy a ir a Veracruz* la próxima semana.
Pablo – ¿Vas a ir a Orizaba?
Martha – No, a Xalapa, ¿por qué?
Pablo – Es que me encantan las garnachas de Orizaba.
Martha – En Xalapa también son ricas. Te traigo unas.
Martha – I’m going to Veracruz next week.
Pablo – Are you going to Orizaba?
Martha – No, to Xalapa, why?
Pablo – I absolutely love the garnachas from Orizaba.
Martha – In Xalapa they’re delicious as well. I’ll bring you some.
*Erika’s note – Veracruz is a Mexican state; Orizaba and Xalapa are cities in Veracruz.
Any tortilla-based street food in Mexico City
This is because ‘garnachas’, being both high in calories AND easy to prepare, became a staple of Mexico City street food and an important part of city life for workers from all socio-economic backgrounds.
‘Los puestos de garnachas’ (i.e., food stalls) are so common in the capital that people got used to calling any street food made with tortilla ‘garnachas’, such as sopes, tlacoyos, quesadillas, gorditas, flautas and even pambazos (a type of sandwich that’s not even made of corn!).
Patricio – Ay, muero de hambre. ¿Y si vamos por unas garnachas?
Ema – ¡Vamos! El puesto de la esquina es muy bueno.
Patricio – Oh, I’m starving. Wanna go for some garnachas?
Emma – Let’s go! The corner stall is very good.
People may also refer to this kind of food as ‘garnachas’ even if it’s from a food stall –
Olivia – Quiero hacer algo tranqui para mi cumpleaños. Una reunión con amigos, nada más.
Martín – Suena bien, podemos hacer unas garnachitas*.
Olivia – I wanna do something small for my birthday; just a small meet-up or something.
Martín – Sounds good, we can rustle up some garnachitas.
*Erika’s top tip – if you wanna sound like a true native-speaker in Mexico, make sure to throw in some diminutives! In the case of ‘garnachas’, you can say ‘garnachitas’.
‘Garnacha’ has three syllables:
- ‘Gar’ sounds like ‘gahr’
- ‘Na’ is said like ‘nah’
- And ‘cha’ sounds like ‘chah’
/ gahr-nah-chah /
Similar words / expressions to ‘garnacha’
‘Antojitos’ (literally, “little whims”) are small portions of corn dough, cooked in various ways and with an array of different ingredients.
Oftentimes, people use ‘antojitos’ interchangeably with ‘garnachas’ –
En casa de mi primo prepararon unos antojitos riquísimos.
There were some tasty antojitos at my cousin’s house.
People also refer to any type of fried street food as ‘fritangas’ –
Tienes que empezar a comer más nutritivo en vez de llenarte de fritangas de la calle.
You have to start eating healthier instead of just filling yourself up with fried food from the street.
Hungry yet? Well, now you know about this delicious treat, which you definitely have to taste if you happen to visit Mexico City or the southern states of Mexico. You’ll also find ‘garnachas’ in Guatemala, but obviously with a tasty Guatemalan twist!
And since we’re on the subject of food, I suggest you check out our article on all the different ways to say ‘lunch’ in Spanish (it’s not as simple a topic as it may seem!).