Street food to try in mexico city?
My husband and I (both street food addicts) are traveling to Mexico City in a couple of weeks and would like to try as many local specialties as possible. Can anyone recommend some street food items that we shouldn't miss? So far, I have chapulines and tacos el pastor on my list, but would like lots more!
Hi everyone! We returned a couple of weeks ago from D.F. and had a fantastic time...what an amazing city!! Thanks so much to everyone for their food suggestions, they were very helpful. We managed to try almost every one of your suggestions and the food was incredible!! So much better than the US version of mexican food...no sour cream in sight :-)
A lot of street food in Mexico City is (mostly meat) tacos, quesadillas (flor de calabaza, hongos, papa, or even cheese), or variations of fried corn masa with stuff (beans, cheese, salsa) on top: sopes, huaraches, garnachas, memelas, chalupas, gorditas etc etc etc and sometimes inside: tlacoyos. There's also tamales (more corn), atole (a drink made with... corn and some flavour, like strawberry, vanilla or chocolate), and the guajolota (a tamal torta) that sometimes people eat with atole!
Tacos al pastor is more "taquería" than street. If you're in Condesa, traditional places are Tizoncito (with several branches in other parts of the city) or Farolito. Other taquerías in nearby places are "Borrego Viudo" (pastor) in Tacubaya or "Los Panchos" (carnitas, tostadas de pata) between Chapultepec and Polanco.
Talking about, tortas is as Chilango as tacos. There's "La Castellana" in Revolución & Barranca del Muerto (there're other branches) or "La Texcocana" in the city center. "Los Guajolotes" near the bullfighting arena has good (but expensive) turkey tortas.
And of course, neighbourhood markets all have a cooked, sit-down food section, and a bunch of stalls outside.
Problem in Mexico City is not finding food, but avoiding it...
Adding to what has been said above: tamales (usually sold early in the morning or later in the evening, starting at 7:30 PM or so); crispy things (like fried potato chips, sold in little glass carts); fruit cups (I'm seeing mango stands everywhere these days); tortas (Mexican sandwiches); corn goods (esquites, corn on the cob).
I'm really not an expert on what is the very best place to try each of those (danebaxter is the expert on that!!), but you can eat most of the fried goodies in a place called La casa de Toño ( http://www.lacasadetono.com.mx/ ), which has many locations. Some of them are open 24/7. It's technically a 'restaurant', but a rather informal one, and I can tell you their food can easily stand up to average street food.
Pefect, more great tips, thank you! Does anyone know of any unusual fruits or vegetables we should try? I've been reading about La Merced as the largest market in the city and a good place to buy fruit. We just came back from a fantastic fruit market in Sao Paulo, Brazil and I'm wondering if there is something similar (as well as the San Juan as danebaxter mentioned. I write a travel and food blog and have written nothing at all on Mexico so I would like to taste as much as humanly possible while we are there (and snap many photos :-)
I don't think my dear DF can stand up to Brazilian produce, but let's see what we can think of.
- La Merced is indeed the largest, and it is also a mess. I was there today, hunting for traditional candy to take to friends abroad... It was exhausting. Everybody says it's unsafe. I really don't know what to tell you about it; I'd tell you to not carry lots of money, and to make sure you have insurance for your camera if it's a big one.
- San Juan doesn't, in my experience, appreciate visitors who aren't buyers. I went with a friend some months ago to see what they had, asked a few (honestly not many) questions and did plan to buy a few goods here and there, but by the end of our 45 min. visit everybody was like, "So are you going to buy or are you just looking?!" Maybe with a camera/notepad you'll spark their interest, though, blogger!
Unusual produce: zapote negro (if you can't find it fresh, you can try it in a sorbet in many local ice cream stores); chayote squash; not unusual, but pineapple and mango are good in this season, and much cheaper than in North America/Europe.
If you're willing to go south, the markets at Coyoacan and Xochimilco are both pretty manageable and not nearly as chaotic as La Merced. Good Food in Mexico City by Nick Gilman has a chapter devoted to the various markets in D.F. IIRC he talks about what each one specializes in, how to get there, what he likes or doesn't about each one.
As far as fruit, you may not find as much variety as you did in Brazil, but that's not necessarily the point of the markets in Mexico. And to only think in terms of fruit really kind of misses the scope of a Mexican market, there are unique and unusual things seemingly around ever corner. One has to keep in mind that the markets in Mexico are a direct link back to pre-Colombian times and serve the same function now as they did a thousand years ago. They are also a massive social network for those that work and frequent them. You go as much for the experience as for the produce. Each market has it's own rhythm and energy.
As far as the fruit, what you'll find is whatever is in season and some assorted imports. So in addition to the usual tropical exotics, you can be on the lookout for:
- Guanabana (sour sop) & Cherimoyas
- Pithaya (dragon fruit)
- Tunas & Xoconostles
- Capulines (small wild cherries)
- Small plums with yellow skins and used primarily for an agua
- Assorted citrus fruits other than oranges and limes
But there are also nopales, mounds of fresh and dried chiles in every color and variety, dried beans galore, squashes and their blossoms, mushrooms, some cultivated, some not, meats, seafood, nuts, dried and candied fruits, dairy products, flowers and more.
I'm sure you know to ask before you take photos. I was in Campache a couple of months ago and the market vendors didn't mind photos one bit, in fact some of them hammed it up for the cameras :-). But I've also been in markets where the the sight of a camera brought dirty looks and demands for money for the photo. Some of your best photo ops may not be the odd or unusual but how the vendor has chosen to display the ordinary and everyday.
Good luck, just enjoy yourself and have fun. D.F. is a marvelous food town on so many levels. You'll have a blast.
Any kind of quesadilla, chalupa, huarache, sope, gorda and of course tacos. Los Cocuyos in Calle Bolívar, Centro Historico, have great pork suadero, brain, and nopal tacos and they open all night. Chapulines are nor really street food, or that common in Mexico City, but you can find good ones in Mercado de San Juan or in some mezcalerías, small bars serving artisanal mezcal and beer, like Al Andar in calle Regina, Centro. In the Colonia Roma and Coyoacan you kind find several places like that too.