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anomalously excellent food in mexico city airport

  • b

(hopefully the first of 3 posts on my week in mexico city and oaxaca)

The mexico city airport is not a promising place to find excellent food. The airport is pretty small to begin with, and the food court is almost all multinational chain restaurants (mcdonalds, burger king) and mexican chains (red baron, taco inn), a few upscale theme park restaurants ("La Cantina"), and a couple nondescript asian restaurants (picture "Chinese Food" in block letters on the sign, open trays of soy browned rice and chicken). I hate to call it exploring, but you know how, if you are going to find something special in a place like this, it's going to be at most 50 feet from where all the other restaurants are, and it's going to have almost no foot traffic.

The place is called Tacañon, and I had one of the best meals of my vacation there. It looked like a lot of small restaurants I had seen around the city selling typical Mexico City fare (Tacos de Guisado, tacos al pastor, tacos de bistec, licuados and fruit) and some less typical fare for Mexico City (tamales, tacos de mole negro). It wasn't dressed up, standardized, or paraded about at all -- just good home cooking. I had two tacos (they were way, way stuffed); the first one was a "guisado" with shredded chicken and peppers stewed in an extremely flavorful sauce and the second one was a "mole negro" with shredded chicken and rice. The guisado stood out -- it was flavorful and full of soul, and the mole was very good as well. The horchata y jamaica (flavored horchata) drink I had to go was absolutely perfect.

I just wonder how they got there, and how long they will stay there, as there's nothing else like them at the airport. They're not part of a chain (I asked).

Some directions: Go to the international terminal food court upstairs (there's a McDonalds there, not a Burger King). Go past the row of restaurants (Taco Inn, Chinese food, the Helado del Future) and turn right down a hallway that looks like a dead end. Go up a slight ramp; they're on the left. Their phone number is 3094-0189.

If you check them out, please respond here -- I'd like to know how they're doing.

Also, Before finding Tacañon, I tried Taco Inn. I had a taco árabe with pork (couldn't resist the idea). Competent. Really good guacamole. I'd definitely eat there if they were in New York.

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  1. Wow, great going. That's the sort of find that can make your whole vacation. I look forward to reading other reports from your trip!

    And I also hope the next hound to fly into/out of/through Mexico City posts a follow-up!


    1. Perhaps by now, someone has advised you that Taco Inn is a nationwide chain in Mexico, having started in Mexico City. There are several dozen stores in old Mexico and in resorts such as Cancun and Cabo. (in fact they have two in Cabo. They also have stores in Honduras and Guatemala. They are expanding by selling franchises, but no word as to whether they are going to try the USA. But who knows? What with Grupo Bimbo owning Wonder Bread, Grumma owning Mission Tortillas and Guerrero Tortillas, and TelMex owning Compo USA and The Good Guys. My favorite is the al pastor. To die for!

      1. So this thread is insanely old but I just wanted to say that I took your advice and ate at Tacañon while stranded at the Mexico airport recently. A happy discovery! Thank you for posting this, I just wanted to say that it's still there and still the best option that I saw at the airport (and I had a lot of time to look around).

        5 Replies
        1. re: Manybears

          have to pass through the airport for 4 hours next week. I'll look for Tacanon, any other info?

          1. re: TastELA

            4 hours!!! Get yourself to the metro stop near the airport and take it to La Merced. Mercado Merced has incredible eats for days.If you are feeling adventurous. We recently did this with only 2 hours, it was quick but well worth it.

            1. re: streetgourmetla

              Travel to La Merced with only a 2-hour layover? Not likely. Not likely with 4-hours, for most people I think. And why trek to La Merced? You can find similar food throughout the city because what you find in that market is not distinctive enough to risk missing your flight because you got stuck in traffic, didn't clear security in sufficient time, couldn't run to your gage quickly enough, etc. There are enough options inside the airport to keep someone busy for that relatively short (4 hour) time period.

              1. re: gomexico

                Well, did it in two hours.No problem making it back on the metro in time, no traffic worries on the metro. Four hours is perfect.Merced is a close stop, about 20 minutes each way, and the comida del dia and street food is plenty distinctive and there are a huge concentration of stands .Much more diverting than an airport torta, or cafe. Living in LA, even a tacos de guisado stall in La Merced is worth the trip.We don't have tacos like those, nor the incredible hauraches, and odd specialties you may come across.

                The airport is fine, but the mercado is a cultural experience as well. It's the best option of the nearby metro stops.

                Anonimo, I'm much more fussy about what to eat! Two hourswas tight, but whenever we have four or more hours it's a nice option, just check in first, skip security, and go.

                Or, not.It's just an option. Otherwise, Mexico airports always have nice places. Even a VIPS isn't bad, huevos divorciados, and some fresh squeezed papaya juice. Most places have preety good menus, maybe some Mexican wine or a paloma. Anyways, a chance to get out in DF is always a tremendous opportunity.

                1. re: streetgourmetla

                  "Anonimo, I'm much more fussy about what to eat! Two hourswas tight, but whenever we have four or more hours it's a nice option, just check in first, skip security, and go."

                  Sure, I can understand wanting to extract every possible great cultural/taste experience while in Mexico,. But as we live year-round near Pátzcuaro, we can get that whenever we want. So it's more important to us to be lo más tranquilo como posible when checking in at the airport, etc, and the ensuing process of air travel. When we are in Mexico City for diversion, then, yes, we go to mercados and fondas and street stalls as well as restaurants. But not when we need to get up at 6 a.m. in order to get to the airport to make sure thay have seats for us on the flight.

        2. We'll soon be flying out on Continental, from Terminal 2, and I wonder what some of the better food options there might be. It's a 9:05 a.m. flight, and it would be smart to check in 2 + hours before scheduled departure, because the flight is full.

          At times like those, I'm less fussy as to what I eat compared to not missing the flight or getting bumped.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Anonimo

            I doubt there'll be much choice in Terminal 2 at that hour - say, 8 a.m. in the unsecured zone of the airport (prior to clearing the security checkpoint process).

            A favorite restaurant of mine in the city is Restaurante Pollos Rio and there's an outpost of the restaurant in the food court of Terminal 2. I've not had breakfast there, however. Other spots I've yet to try but which have looked interesting to me are: Juan Camaron, La Ciudad de Colima, Tortas Don Polo and another city favorite of mine, El Fogoncito. A couple of these restaurants I've just mentioned feature seafood and that's not a typical choice of mine for breakfast.

            If this were my trip, at that hour of the a.m., I'd probably try to have breakfast before arriving at the airport but there's a lazy, delayed start to the city at the early hour of the morning and choices, other than tamales purchased street-side tend to be limited.

          2. That's the little ramp up to the bus terminal inside the airport - if you are having trouble finding it, ask for the "terminal de camiones" and they'll point you to the ramp. Bus service straight to some nearby cities - it's great!

            Also, Bistrot Mosaico, a Condesa standby, has a resto just to the right of the main international security gate now. It's a sit down place and all, but if you are killing time and don't want food court food, it's a good choice. Like any good Mexican restaurant, they also let you sit there for hours.

            3 Replies
            1. re: gueraaven

              Gueraaven, thanks for reviving this thread. I've looked for this mythical Tacañon on two separate trips now, and failed both times!

              I did go down the ramp. I did see the buses. I saw nothing. What's the trick here?

              I need to try Pollos Rio...

              1. re: Jim Leff

                I tried Tacañon a few months ago -- it was great! Here is how I found it: Walking from the far end of the terminal (American Airlines check-in counter/Sala F3 area), we walked past Bistro Mosaico, and through the food court. At the end of the food court, we saw a little hallway to the right, which didn't look like it led anywhere. But we turned right there, and sure enough, up on the left, there was Tacañon. It's not in the Food Court area proper, but very close to it.

                1. re: danebaxter

                  I am definately trying this place the next time I fly! I am in the airport all the time. I used to get the falafel, but they closed. Then the Japanese food, but then they closed.
                  I am glad to have a new place to go, as most of the places are really terrible.

            2. babar ganesh, manybears and danebaxter: I'm headed off to Mexico next week, and will have a 2-hour layover in DF airport between 8 and 10 a.m. Any idea if Tacanon is open that early? I've been dying to try it since first reading this thread....

              1 Reply
              1. re: DC in DC

                It's going to help if you know if your flight is arriving in terminal 1 or terminal 2 which was not open at the time this thread was originally posted. Tacanon is located in Terminal 1. If you're arriving at Terminal 2, there is tram service between the terminals.

              2. FYI I was just at the airport this past weekend. My flight took me into T2. I took the tram to T1 but there is security between the terminals before the tram and they looked at my next boarding pass (out of T2 still) and asked why I wanted to go to T1. I said I wanted to go to a restaurant there and they said okay. I found Tacañon just by walking randomly towards some exit towards buses and then turned onto a ramp on the left before the actual exit and suddenly there it was with a bunch of other small restaurants. It's more a walk-by restaurant. They don't have any of the options that they used to have anymore I guess. They didn't have any tamales, tacos de mole negro, or tacos de guisado. All I had was a tacos de bistec which was okay but nothing special. You can get better tacos for cheaper in Queens, NY. (Jackson heights comes to mind!)

                (Also note the tram only comes like 1x every 10 minutes or something like that. I had to wait over 8 minutes for it - it's not like the AirTrain in NY which I think is slightly more frequent, and the the terminals are closer).

                I then went back to T2 to the huge food court and had a tamal oxaquena from Restaurante Pollos Rio. It was okay. maybe too much mole and not enough meat!

                That food court, however, probably has the best selection of food in the airport. Once past security it's pretty bare bones. You can get a hot taco or anything inside T2. If I'm there again, I might give Tortas Don Polo in the food court a try. It had a large number of people eating out of there.

                3 Replies
                1. re: sedela

                  FWIW, Oaxacana tamales rarely have much meat.

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    well compared to the tamales at Antojitos Oaxaquenos in Queens, the tamales had a greater masa to meat ratio...

                    1. re: sedela

                      Nearly all Mexican food in America - even the impeccably authentic stuff served by/to immigrants - has more meat in it than you'd find in Mexico.

                      The tamales I've had in Mexico are just barely flavored with meat for the most part (you can find exceptions to every food rule down there!).

                      Where is Antojitos Oaxaquenos in Queens? I couldn't google it.

                2. Whenever I get off the plane and am on the way to Puebla or other points I stop for a torta to counteract the plane food. There is a shop on the walkway to the long haul buses just past and to the right of the food court. Nothing spectacular but it makes me feel somehow like " back in Mexico!"

                  1. is it easy to get to terminal 1 where i believe Tacañon is, from terminal 2? i have a layover for 2.5 hours at terminal 2.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: ckshen

                      Yes, there is a shuttle/tram that runs between terminals 1 and 2 at regular intervals. 2 1/2 hrs should be sufficient for you to go over to terminal 1 for a meal and get back, especially if you're on the same airline and checked all the way through to your destination. Keep your boarding pass and passport handy as you will be asked for those, perhaps multiple times.

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        Thanks. that's helpful to know. it seems from reading the posts that they are pretty strict about that the tram is for passengers only and as you mentioned, they check boarding passes. Would it be a problem if they see that i have a boarding pass/ flight in terminal 2 but want to have a bite in terminal 1?


                        1. re: ckshen

                          If they try to restrict you, tell them, with some passion, that you REALLY want to go eat at Tacañon (if you have no spanish, mime eating while repeating "Tacañon! Tacañon!"). Even the scariest machine gun wielding guard will likely wave you through. And I'm not kidding.

                          Quick story: I was once driving fast down Jericho Turnpike in Long Island, and was pulled over by police. He asked me what my hurry was. I told him I'm a food critic and needed to get to Umberto's Pizza before they closed at 11. He told me to "drive on".

                          That was unlikely in America. But things are more emotionally bendy outside our borders, especially if you seem sincere. That's why I like it there, in fact....

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            Thanks. I just passed through the airport two days ago. I didn't try Tacañon, because i wasn't hungry until about half hour before boarding so wasn't looking around for food.

                            I was looking around the food court in terminal 2, however, to see what i can my hands on in a short time. i saw some of the ones mentioned above- Torta Don Polo, Pollos Rios, Juan Camaron ( not opened) plus some others like 100% Natural (saw that also in Oaxaca, so i am guessing its a chain), American chains such as Subway, Carls Junior, etc.

                            I ended up picking up a torta pierna from Torta Don Polo. I am impressed by how mexicans do fast food. there is nothing particularly fast about it. the gentleman still cooks everything on the hot cooking surface from scratch, vs the usual American approach of assembling prepared ingredients. he grilled the meat, mixed the egg yolk/white and grilled it (from an actual uncracked egg), grilled the avocado (scooped out from an actual avocado opened just before scooping) and bread, all right in front of the customers.

                            I got one torta, it was delicious compared to most offerings one can find in a typical food court. i only got one because i made the stupid mistake of thinking of just eating some more airline food later on the flight. did not have time to go back and get more of the tortas once i finished this one in the secured area.

                            and of course, it turns out that the meal on the flight later on was one of the most dreadful inflight meals ever.

                    2. Hi, hounds:

                      I've been waiting for months to try Tacanon. Last week I passed through the DF airport and even printed these directions for help in finding it. But oh no! The terminal 1 renovation seems to have swept away all restaurants except one or two terrible-looking carry-outs. We looked absolutely everywhere and couldn't find any of the landmarks mentioned by the directions. Can anyone confirm our (sad) experience? Boo hoo.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: DC in DC

                        Not according to the Mexico City Airport Site. Click on the link below and change the type of food on dropdown from Cafeteria to Fast Food then find Tacoanon in the Terminal 1 Dropdown. From there click on "Locate in 3D map" and you find


                        Great site. Found my Santander Bank ATM for B of A free currency exchange at opposite end from American Arrival gate. Never would have found. Looking forward to Tacoanon next week.

                        1. re: DC in DC

                          Whole link didn't post. Just go to Mexico City Airport link


                          click on user services - food and follow directions 'change the type of food on dropdown from Cafeteria to Fast Food then find Tacoanon in the Terminal 1 Dropdown. From there click on "Locate in 3D map" and you find it.

                        2. Just at at Tacañon. Find the Krispy Kreme and it is up the small ramp on the left. Good food.