This blog post was updated on October 16, 2020.
What happens when one of the world’s most delicious cuisines meets one of the world’s most dynamic megacities? Damas y Caballeros, welcome to Mexico City! We hope you’ve brought your appetite. This expansive capital city is a cultural and culinary hub that’s as exciting for a foodie frontier to explore as anywhere in the world.
Here’s our rundown of the best local food to try in Mexico City with suggestions on where the best places to go for each are.
Churros and Hot Chocolate
Deep-fried and dusted with a coat of sugar and cinnamon and a cup of oozy, hot chocolate for dipping – churros are one of the yummiest items you’ll encounter in Mexico City. For streetwise sweets, go to Churrería El Moro. Founded in the 1930s, this Centro Historico institution offers a variety of inexpensive treats (churros, mini churros, and ice cream sandwiches) with a choice of hot chocolates. If it’s just high-quality hot chocolate you’re after (along with an awesome breakfast and in a much more upscale setting) flutter over to El Cardenal, also in Centro Historico.
Tacos de Canasta
In Mexico City, tacos are a way of life with a variety of types to accommodate almost any lifestyle or mood. Some of the best on the street are tacos de canasta. These “basket tacos” are steamed in large wicker baskets and have a soft texture. Super cheap, it’s optimal to buy a bunch so you can try a variety of fillings and flavors. For the real deal, head to Los Especiales in Centro Historico or Tacos de Canasta la Abuela in Azcapotzalco.
Buenos dias! Let’s eat! Among the most moreish morning morsels in Mexico City are tamales. Unwrapping these moist parcels of flavor from their corn husk casing is only half the fun. The other half is gobbling them down! The smartest advice on finding the tastiest might be to see where local folks are lining up for their tamales and join them. In and around Xochimilco Market is a wise place to begin your quest. By the way, tamales make an excellent late-night snack as well.
Pozole is hominy soup and a classic Mexican dish. If you think chicken noodle soup is the best comfort food when feeling down, wait till ya have a slurp of pozole! Usually served with a fine broth, all sorts of garnishes, and lime, the most nourishing bowls of pozole are said to be served at Los Tolucos in Algarín and La Casa de Toño with almost 50 branches throughout the metro area.
Tacos al Pastor
Tacos al Pastor! Is there any food more associated with Mexico than a taco piled high with gyro-roasted pork with caramelized pineapple, white onions, cilantro, and salsa? Served fast and often with exceptional flair, enjoying one of these babies (or five) is probably the nicest thing you can do for yourself when strolling around town. Best of the best? Get ready for compelling (and sometimes heated) arguments if you’re asking locals. But we reckon you can’t go wrong (with any of the tacos) at El Vilsito in Narvarte Poniente.
Barbacoa is essentially a Mexican-style BBQ. The meat that’s cooked can vary, but generally it’s lamb or goat — and it’s delicious! For low and slow-cooked, smoked meats with loads of sabor head to El Hidalguense in Roma Sur. Another meaty option is Los Tres Reyes in Alfonso XIII, a family-run eatery that’s been doing barbacoa right for more than 60 years.
Tortas are monster-sized Mexican sandwiches with muchos ingredients stuffed between a crusty bread roll. What’s on the inside of one of these giant sandwiches can vary but it usually isn’t too different than what you might expect as filler for tacos. For especially massive and massively flavorsome tortas, cruise over to La Barraca Valenciana in Del Carmen for the bacalao or La Texcocana in Juarez for the sardines with queso fresco.
It’s the simple things in life that make it worth living, right? And to prove this point, we present elotes: char-grilled ears of corn dripping with mayo, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime juice. Similar to what we were saying about tamales, a good strategy for finding elotes is to keep your eyes and nose open for a street vendor grilling a batch.
Kind of a hybrid between a tamal and a tortilla, tlacoyos are oval-shaped cornmeal patties filled with a variety of ingredients. Pork, cheese, and ground beans are a few of the more popular choices. Look for vendors selling them outside Metro stations or other busy areas with lots of people. The neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma are particularly well served with these street snacks.
Okay. We know we left out all sorts of other amazing dishes in Mexico City. Care to share a few of your faves with us? Let us know in the comments below!