Mexico City is a foodie’s paradise. It’s the sort of place you can get food at any time of day. Whether you want a tamale for breakfast, a fresh juice at midday, or a taco at 2am, you’ll find it on a street corner here.
The food in Mexico isn’t anything like the Tex-Mex that I grew up on. It’s fresher, packed with spice, and balanced in a way my mother’s burritos never were.
It’s perhaps the only food that Mexico City can claim as its own, this meat is packed with flavors from foreign lands. It’s likely that it came from the Lebanese immigrants to Mexico City and if you walked past it on the street not knowing what it was, you might think it was a kebab shop. Pastor is pork marinated in spices, then thinly sliced and piled onto a spit roast. Sliced to order, it’s most popular on a taco. My personal favorite though, is having it on a gringa – flour tortilla, pastor, and cheese.
Best Place to Have it: El Huequito, Gante 1, Centro, 06000 Ciudad de México, D.F.
Literally “flute” shaped tortillas that have been stuffed with meat and then deep fried. They’re usually topped with cheese and crema (kind of like sour cream) and other salsas. You’ll likely never have the same flautas twice, so trying them whenever you see them is advised.
Flattened corn dough that is usually grilled on a flat top before having all manner of goodies cover it. You can have them with or without meat, but always be sure to taste the salsas before heaping them on top (I’m speaking from experience).
The Mexican answer to the sandwich, this is so much more than that. Fresh bread piled high with different meats. The most common are ham, adobo chicken, or milanese (breaded and fried pork). The best stands are the ones that make the sandwich and then toast it up on the flattop grill.
I’m not talking about the flour tortillas filled with cheese that you’ve had at your local Tex-Mex restaurant. Quesadillas here are completely different. They’re freshly made to order with corn-based dough and any kind of filling you can imagine. Some local favorites include: huitlacoche (corn fungus) and flores de calabacín (zucchini flowers), sometimes simply written as flores on menus. Then the best part happens. They’re deep-fried. The best stands serve them with cream and a variety of spicy salsas.
Best Place to Have it: Mercado de Antojitos, Higuera 10, La Concepción, 04000 Ciudad de México, D.F.
Literally meaning, “little fatties,” these are similar to huaraches, except the dough is cut open after being cooked then filled with everything good in the world. You’ll find these all over the city and most stands and they’re incredibly inexpensive.
Traditionally a breakfast food, you can now find tamales all over the city at any time of day. This dish dates back to the Aztec and Mayan cultures and was meant as a portable food for the military. It’s usually made of starchy corn dough and steamed in a banana leaf. Sometimes it’s stuffed with chicken mole, other times I’ve seen it with roasted vegetables. Almost every stand in the city has it’s own variation.
Not to be confused with Sopas (soups), sopes are like tacos with an edge, a mini pizza dough if you will. It’s usually topped with refried beans, cheese, lettuce, onions and usually whatever meat the stall owner is cooking up that day. The dough is a bit thicker than your usual taco tortillas, so it soaks up all the goodness that usually drips out of a taco.
This is probably the closest thing to what I always thought a taco was. Tostadas are hard shelled, flat tortillas that are then topped with different types of filling. My personal favorite is a ceviche tostada, but you can get chicken, mole, shrimp, tomatoes, the list goes on and on.
Best Place to Have it: Tostadas Coyoacán, Mercado de Coyoacán, Calle Ignacio Allende No.49, Del Carmen, 04100 Ciudad de México, D.F.
The ultimate Mexico City snack food, chicharrones is fried pig skin. You’ll see carts all over the city with piles of flat, fried chicharrones stacked up in a clear glad case. Order one and be prepared for questions – do you want cream? hot sauce? cheese? The possibilities are truly endless.
Are you hungry yet? Mexico is truly a food-lover’s Mecca, so get over here and get eating.
What are your favorite street foods in Mexico City? Answer in comments below: