Eat like a local in Mexico City, follow your craving or “antojito” sold on any street corner, and let the food aromas delight your senses. You walk and eat something from a stall, satisfying your momentary hunger without emptying your wallet.
To eat the best Mexico City street food, you must challenge yourself and wander through the streets, finding the best carryout food or “garnachas” from the neighborhood. The best street food stalls offer low prices, fast service, and can be enjoyed easily, standing on the sidewalk, next to students and office workers or “godínez”.
José N. Iturriaga, an acclaimed Mexican historian and gastronomical writer, claims that “the essence of cravings is in their name: they’re eaten for the pleasure of eating — you crave the sensation”.
So, now that you know the centrality of street food in Mexican culture, we recommend some of the best types of snacks. Whether fried food longings or just cravings that reflect an everyday tradition from our capital, we will help you eat like a local during your visit.
(And, if you’re heading to Mexico City and wish to explore the street food scene in the company of passionate local foodies, consider joining us for our Mexico City Food Tour in the Historic City Center.)
Out Favorite Mexican Street Foods
Café de olla (pot coffee) and baked goods:
You can normally find these on street corners and are almost always sold by a young man riding a bicycle. You can recognize them for the plastic-covered basket or the bright orange container tied to the front part of the vehicle.
Chicharrón preparado con cueritos (prepared pork rind):
They cost a maximum of thirty Mexican pesos and undoubtedly make hunger disappear. They’re often flat and have cream, chopped cabbage, tomato slices, avocado cubes, lemon juice and a considerable amount of red salsa on top.
This is a very creative snack, perfect for those who can handle chili extremely well. It consists of a “Doritos” bag, with chopped jicama and cucumber, some cracker nuts, chamoy, lemon juice and a lot of red salsa.
We advise you to ask for them “con todo” (with everything) because the lemon juice, mayonnaise, grated white cheese, and powdered chili make these cooked corn grains’ flavor stand out and transform the corn-in-a-cup eating experience into a whole new thing. Don’t worry if you don’t tolerate a lot of hotness. There are always two types of powdered chili, with one of them being free of too much heat.
There is a never-ending food conflict between Mexico City Mexicans and those from outside our capital regarding whether quesadillas must or mustn’t contain cheese. However, the classic “folded tortilla” can be prepared with or without cheese, can be fried or heated on a Mexican griddle or comal and goes perfectly well with mushrooms, corn smut or huitlacoche, pumpkin flowers or pork rind.
Tortas de tamal:
Also called “guajolotas”, these are favorites for those who just have time to eat once a day because they are a complete meal more than a craving. The combination of wheat bread with a corn tamal is beyond question, something you can only try in Mexico, and that will definitely taste better if paired with hot flavored atole.
Tortas de chilaquiles:
The tortilla chips prepared with shredded chicken or breaded meat, green or red salsa, cheese, cream, and onions, better known as “chilaquiles”, are put inside a wheat bread called telera, with black beans spread on the inside to be enjoyed, as a whole, as a takeaway, perfect for a rushed breakfast.
Tacos de canasta:
They’re mostly found on sidewalks, inside a basket wrapped by a bright blue plastic cover, standing on a bike and under a sunshade. Whether you choose a potato, black bean or pork rind taco, it must not cost more than nine Mexican pesos. It should be soft, small and oily.
Gaznates and meringues:
You’ll identify them when you see a guy walking around with a wonderfully organized pyramid made out of cylinders standing over a tray covered with transparent plastic. Don’t mislead yourself with its bright pink filling; it is an exquisite Swiss meringue that goes perfectly well with the sweet fritter on the outside.
Raspado (Scraped ice drinks):
During a sweltering day, the guy with a massive block of ice on top of a trolley will become your favorite person. You’ll get to choose one of the many-colored syrups on the big glass bottles and personalize the flavor of your refreshing scraped ice drink.
After reading all this, you’ll probably start looking for the best quesadillas, the crunchiest prepared pork rinds, the best-served guajolotas or the most refreshing scraped ice drinks. Good luck! We’re sure you’ll find amazing things nevertheless be always cautious when eating street food, be aware of the hygiene practiced with each ingredient and don’t forget your stomach’s sensitivity when trying new things.
Article by: María José Ordóñez Platas