This post is about Mexico City. AKA Ciudad de Mexico––CDMX for short. More importantly, this post is about Mexico City FOOD.
My sister and I were there earlier this summer along with my friend Zoe, and it was an explosion of markets, street food goodness, and $8 taco mountains.
My first and only sojourn into Mexico (before this trip, anyway) was documented on the blog––last year when Zoe, my boyfriend Justin, and I crossed the border into Mexico from Texas (in a row boat) and ended up in the tiny village of Boquillas del Carmen.
This trip was decidedly different. We wandered the treelined streets of the capital city’s Roma and Condesa neighborhoods, walked through a sea of bicycles and pedestrians on Paseo de la Reforma, and checked out the pyramids at Teotihuacán.
But the highlight of the trip––the highlight of any Leung trip abroad, really––was all the amazing food we got to try, whether it was in restaurants, bakeries, street stalls and carts, or massive markets and food halls.
This post is a summary of everything we ate, as well as a rough guide to your own Mexico City food adventure. Let’s get to it––I’m ready to talk tacos.
Mexico City Food: How to Eat Your Way Through CDMX
1. Stop at Street Taco Stands
OK, the first thing you need to try when you step off the plane in Mexico City is a street taco––obviously.
We spoke with numerous locals who assured us that the best tacos in the city could be found on the street, like this makeshift stall we passed through on our first full day in Mexico City.
Now, this particular establishment was quite a bit bigger than many of the stalls you’ll see on sidewalks all around the city. We also learned that there were a couple things one should be looking out for in a good taco stand:
- Fresh ingredients: take a quick look at the salsas, limes, and condiments like chopped cilantro and onion that are all out and readily available for inspection. Do they look like they were chopped up that morning? Or are they a little limp and sad? Limp and sad is no bueno.
- Lots of patrons: We stopped at one taco stand that had a low plastic table next to it, where diners of every persuasion were happily chowing down––cops, businessmen, and families. Lots of people is a very positive sign. Lots of people from all walks of life? It’s gotta be good.
The morning we showed up at this particular street taco establishment, it was about 9 AM and most people were ordering breakfast tortas with eggs.
But we couldn’t resist the cochinita tacos (a slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatan peninsula, as we found out from a quick Google search). It was the pot that the woman behind the flattop grill stirred with greatest care and suggested we try. No regrets there!
2. Have a Pastry for Breakfast
Stop at Panadería Rosetta for some of the best pastries you’ll ever have.
(Fun fact: we ate these buttery, crispy delights approximately 20 minutes after the aforementioned early morning tacos. Vacationnnnn!)
We tried this delicious whole wheat croissant:
And while you’d think a whole wheat croissant wouldn’t be quite as good as one made with regular white flour, you’d be surprised. I certainly thought that. Happy to report I was wrong.
We also got this lemon ricotta swirl pastry. Mmmm.
And a chocolate concha, a Mexican sweet roll covered in a crunchy, sugary crust. (Not pictured before being devoured, heheh, oops.)
3. Go Looking for Tamales
Every morning, we’d wake up in our Airbnb and hear a man with a bicycle cart ride by, with a recorded track blaring from a megaphone-type device, shouting, “Tamales! **blah blah other stuff that our combined 15 years of grade school Spanish couldn’t parse** Tamales!”
But we understood enough. He had tamales.
We were never out of bed fast enough to catch up with that guy, but we––Kaitlin, in particular––were determined to find good tamales on the street.
Faced with a bit of a language barrier, this kind lady took her tamales out of the steamer and opened them up so we could see what varieties she had.
We settled on pork and salsa verde.
It was delicious.
4. Get the Churros at El Moro
Crispy, cinnamon sugary, and not the least bit oily, these fresh churros dipped in a thick, almost pudding-like chocolate sauce were the mid-afternoon snack dreams are made of. We tried them at El Moro’s location within Mercado Roma, but they also have other locations in the city.
They aren’t always made fresh to order, but happily, the girl before us in line cleaned them out, so they had to make a fresh batch for us. :)
5. Go to Mercado Coyoacán for Tostadas
After being turned away from the Frida Kahlo Museum (get their way earlier than you think, and try to buy tickets online!), we set out to explore the neighborhood of Coyoacán, stumbling on a huge, bustling food market, where locals were enjoying lunch and buying meat and produce.
No offense to Frida Kahlo, but I’m very glad we ended up spending a lot of time at Mercado Coyoacán, because of this:
The market is home to some of the best tostadas in all the land, including these mole and chicken tinga ones:
Washed down with cold horchata? Heaven.
6. Try Birria And Don’t Forget the Hot Sauce
Okay, so this was my favorite food discovery of the entire trip. We went to Mercado San Camilito for dinner one night (definitely off the tourist path). We asked our waitress which item on the menu was her favorite, and she immediately pointed to the soup at the top of the menu.
Birria. A flavorful, slightly spicy soup/stew of incredibly tender lamb.
It was served with the most flavorful fresh corn tortillas, a tangy hot sauce, and lots of salsas, limes, and pico de gallo.
When said waitress approached our table about 15 minutes into our meal and poured more hot broth into our bowl, I think I actually shouted, “YAY!”
The waitress thought this was hilarious, but she understood.
7. Order Pozole at Least Once
At San Camilito, we also tried pozole for the first time, a soup made with pork and hominy––also very delicious.
We also tried the pozole at a chain restaurant called La Casa de Toño. Despite the 80 degree heat outside, we demolished that hot soup with fresh avocado and tortillas.
8. Splurge at Pujol
Pujol is a Michelin-starred restaurant from Chef Enrique Olvera, lauded by some as the best restaurant in Mexico City. We splurged on a dinner there for our last night.
The first course was this adorable mini gordita, with a perfect little circle of avocado on top:
The next course was this baby corn with a mayonnaise made from toasted ants.
Yep, ants. BUGGGGS.
One of the best things we ate on the entire trip.
We tried their octopus, which was delicious.
My sister was enamored with this softshell crab:
And the duck main course was very tasty, though I couldn’t tell you what was on it or how it was prepared or what those little yellow fruit things are. They were sour and served as a good counterpoint to the gamey duck breast.
My sister ordered the beef tongue entree. It was incredibly tender, like a pot roast that had been simmering for hours.
And then we tried Pujol’s famous mole. The dark mole on the bottom is made from a “mother sauce” that had been started months before. Ingredients are added, and the flavor of the mole is constantly changing.
We also had a collection of desserts that included grilled pineapple and the most incredible fancy yet not fancy churro.
Great food is around every corner in Mexico City. Just explore a bit off the beaten path, and see what the city brings you!