While in Mexico, I was pretty amazed at how delicious the street food is. I loved it so much that I actually preferred sampling foods from different vendors than sitting down at an actual restaurant and ordering a meal. You’ll see street food vendors sprinkled around just about every city in Mexico, and there are so many yummy options to choose from! I’ve put together some of the most common street food vendors you’ll see…give ‘em a try!
Tacos are the most common and most popular Mexican street food. Created from the custom of not using utensils and picking up food with tortillas, alas the savory taco was born. Tacos are a pretty informal meal in Mexico, and are normally eaten standing. No matter your social economic level, you can find just about everyone gathered around a local taqueria enjoying a bite to eat. Traditionally tacos aren’t even a main meal, but are eaten before mid-day or late evening.
Some of the most common tacos you’ll find are:
Tacos al pastor/de adobada – This is extremely popular in Mexico! This type of meat preparation is actually called a shawarma, and was inspired by Lebanese immigrants. Here various types of meats are placed on a spit, and may be grilled for as long as a day.
Tacos de suadero – Tacos made from a thin cut of grilled beef (garnished with onion, cilantro, and salsa)
Tacos el asador – Tacos are made from meat cooking on a griddle. You’ll find carne asada and chorizo asada in this category. (garnished with guacamole, salsa, onions, and cilantro)
Tacos al carbon – Tacos made from meat cooked over charcoal, creating a smoky flavor
Tacos de pescado (aka fish tacos) – popular in Baja California and is made from fresh fish from the Pacific Ocean. Can come grilled or fried and typically garnished with cabbage.
Tacos de camarones (aka shrimp tacos) – Tortillas filled with cooked shrimp and topped with cabbage and lime.
Traditional to Mexico City and the surrounding areas, this Mexican dish hasn’t really made its way up north to the US yet. The torta is a large sub-like sandwich that’s filled with various ingredients such as ham, egg, chicken, or other meats. It can be served cold, but typically it’s pressed and toasted.
Similar to the torta, a pambazo is made from a Mexican white bread that’s been dipped in a red guajillo pepper sauce. Although it can be filled a variety of meats, typically it’s made with potatoes and chorizo.
At first glance a sope can look like a really thick tortilla that’s topped with various ingredients. And that’s honestly kinda what it is. The dough is made from masa (the same base used for tortillas) but its fried, and then topped with refried black beans, cheese, lettuce, onions, salsa, and sour cream. Various types of meats can also be added.
A hurache is basically a variation of a sope, however it is three times as large and is an oblong oval shape. It is also usually topped with your meat of choice.
The word tostada is Spanish for “toasted”. Basically a tostada is a deep fried tortilla that is topped with ingredients such as a meat, refried beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and avocado.
A Tlayuda, sometimes spelt clayuda, is a variation of a tostada from Oaxaca that’s very large (typically the size of a pizza).
Flautas come with a few different names including taquitos (Spanish for “small taco”) or tacos dorados. They are a small, deep-fried rolled up tortilla that’s filled with meat.
Most people know what a quesadilla is, but they’re still worth mentioning. Queso is Spanish for “cheese”. A quesadilla is a tortilla that is filled with cheese, folded in half, and then grilled (however just about any type of filling can be added).
Quesadillas can also come deep-fried. For a while I was very confused by this since I am so used to the traditional soft tortilla version.
A tamale is a traditional dish made from a dough that’s filled with meats, cheeses, and vegetables. It is cooked from being steamed in a cornhusk or banana leaf…just be sure to not eat it!
- Elote or “Mexican Corn on the Cob”
Also known as “Mexican corn on the cob”, this is a very popular street food. I’ve seen it served either on a stick or as kernels in a cup. The corn is mixed with mayonnaise, butter, and cheese, and topped with salt and chili powder.
- Churros Rellenos
Churros can be found in many different countries and they generally are all made the same way. They are a fried-dough that can be eaten with chocolate or topped with sugar and cinnamon. It is also commonly dipped in a beverage such as hot chocolate or coffee.
Relleno means “stuffed” in Spanish. So a churro relleno is a churro that is stuffed with various ingredients such as chocolate, cajeta (thick confectionate syrup), caramel, or fruit spreads such as blackberry, pineapple, and peach.
Basically this could be described as a souped-up Mexican chip. They are nacho-flavored Tostito chips garnished with a number of toppings such as lime juice, Valentina hot sauce, chamoy (a Mexican fruit sauce), and tajin chili powder.
- Mango Preparado
These mangos are one of my favorite street foods in Mexico! The sliced mangoes are served with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, a drizzle of chamoy, and topped with a sprinkle of chili powder.
Gorditas are a pastry that’s made from masa (the base to also make tortillas and sopes). They look like a thick tortilla and can be stuffed with a filling that’s then fried. There are different variations of gorditas such as the gordita de chicharron (filled with chicharron, a fried pork belly or pork rinds) or gordita de nata (similar to small cream based cookies).
A yummy dessert! A chamoyada is a flavored sorbet that’s topped with chili powder, lemon, and a drizzle of chamoy.
Over to you! What’s your favorite Mexican street food?