A Basic Guide for Street Food in Mexico City

Updated: Nov 22

The wide variety of food we find in the streets of Mexico City can be overwhelming. All the new names and the strange appearances might be confusing. That's why today we'll be talking about the most common street foods in Mexico City.


TACOS



Puero (Pork):

  • Al Pastor: marinated in pineapple juice, achiote, chili, and spices, to then be grilled on a spit. It’s thinly sliced and served with a piece of pineapple. Average price: $15

  • Carnitas: simmered in lard for hours until juicy and tender. Each part of the body has its own particular flavor and texture. Find out everything you need to know about carnitas here. Average price: $20 MXN


Res (Beef):

  • Bistec: a flat cut of beef. The name comes from the English "beef steak". Average price: $20 MXN

  • Cecina: the meat is thinly sliced, salted and seasoned, and finally dried in the air, sun or smoke. Average price: $20 MXN

***We also eat cecina encihlada (cecina with chili), which is not beef but pork.***

  • Suadero: it's a sort of flank steak. It's cooked using a technique called confit, which consists of cooking the meat in fat at a lower temperature. Before putting it into a tortilla, the taquero grills the meat on the griddle to brown it. Average price: $20 MXN


Campechano:

Campechano is how we call any combination of two things. We order cerveza campechana (half light, half dark beer) and tragos campechanos (any cocktail to which we add sprarkling water), for example. So tacos campechanos are those with two different types of meat. My personal favorite is suadero with longaniza. Yum!


COMAL

(Griddle)

  • Quesadilla: one of the many fillings is put on the tortilla, which is then folded and grilled. While in the rest of the country quesadillas cheese is a necessary ingredient, in Mexico City it's not, so if you want your quesadilla to have cheese, you must ask for it. Average price: $20 MXN

  • Tlacoyo: thick tortilla filled with frijoles (beans), requesón (fresh cheese), or haba (fava beans). We usually add nopales, fresh cheese, onion, coriander, and sauce. It has the shape of a football. Average price: $20 MXN

  • Gordita: thick tortilla filled with chicharrón prensado (little pieces of pork rind cooked with spices). We put on it fresh cheese, onion, coriander, and sauce. It has a round shape. Average price: $20 MXN

  • Sope: thick tortilla spread with mashed beans. We can have it with or without meat, and we usually add fresh cheese, onion, coriander, and sauce. Average price: $ MXN

  • Huarache: a larger, oval-shaped sope. Average price: $20 - $30 MXN

Although these foods are usually cooked on a griddle, you'll also find them deep-fried. I personally only eat deep-fried street food in the stands that I know it's safe because there are places where oil is reused, turning it into a bomb for my stomach.


CALDOS

(Stews)

You won't find a better cure for your hangover:

  • Barbacoa: not to be mistaken for barbeque! it's sheepmeat steam cooked with chili and spices in an underground oven for 8 to 12 hours. Average price: $15 - $20 MXN

  • Birria: goat meat cooked with a blend of chilis and spices. Average price: $20 - 30 MXN one taco, $60 MXN one bowl of soup. 

***You can have barbacoa and birria as a taco or as a soup.***

  • Pancita: this beef tripe cooked with garlic, onion, and a mix of chilis. Average price: $60 MXN

MAÍZ

(Corn)

  • Elote: corn on the cob that is either boiled or grilled. It’s usually seasoned with mayonnaise, grated fresh cheese, and chili powder or lemon juice, chili powder and salt. Average price: $20 MXN

  • Esquites: boiled corn kernels usually prepared with mayonnaise, grated fresh cheese, and chili powder. You can also have them with lemon juice only. Average price: $20 MXN

***Elotes and esquites are sold mostly at night.***

  • Tamal: a steamed bundle of corn dough filled with pork or chicken marinated in mole or sauce, wrapped in a corn husk or in a banana leaf. If you are anything like me and love sandwiches, order a guajolota. Average price: $20 MXN

  • Atole: a hot corn-based drink. You’ll find it in the same stands where tamales are sold. Impossible to have one without the other. Average price: $20 MXN

***Tamales and atole are sold early in the morning and at night.***


VOCABULARY

Nouns:

  • El caldo - Stew (but also "broth")

  • El comal - Griddle

  • El frijol - Bean

  • La haba - Fava bean

  • El maíz - Corn

  • El puerco - Pork

  • El requesón - Fresh cheese

  • La res - Beef

  • La salsa - Sauce

Verbs:

  • Asar - To grill

  • Cocinar - To cook

  • Freír - To fry

Adjectives:

  • Asado - Grilled

  • Cocido - Boiled

  • Frito - Fried

  • Pesado - Rich

*** Practice this vocabulary on Quizlet. Enter the password "anacrischavez".***


What about burritos and flour tortillas? Well, they are not really part of Mexico City's street food. Both belong to northern Mexican food, so you will find them in restaurants that specialize in this type of food. I recommend Sonora Street Food and Taquería Orinoco. If you need more recommendations to figure out where to try all this, check out this map. It only includes places in Centro Histórico because it's the neighborhood I'm familiar with, but it would be great to hear from you and your personal recommendations from other areas of the city. Also, bear in mind you'll need to order food in Spanish, so I suggest you check out this article to learn how to do so.


That's all for today, amigos. ¡Buen provecho!