The first time I visited Mexico, I was there to attend a conference. Being inside a hotel the entire time, I did not experience much of the country.
So I went back a couple of years after my first trip for a self-organized food tour with a friend. After all, Mexican food is more than only tacos, burritos and quesadillas. I decided to focus my trip on a few cities: Mexico City (where I would land), Puebla, Guadalajara and Guanajuato.
Having been to Mexico City a few years back, I wanted to spend more time in other cities. But even though I was only there for 2 days, I still visited some delicious food places.
As soon as I landed that night in Mexico City, I was greeted with a lovely hug and a trip to a local restaurant for some midnight tacos. Copacabana has 3 locations in the city, but we went to the ones my friend usually hangs out at. The restaurant stays open late, perfect for midnight munchies (1 or 3 AM, depending on the location).
You can find tacos of any kind here (except vegetarian): chicken, al pastor (pork), bistec (with steak) or with all kinds of parts like ears and tongue.
For breakfast the next day, we grabbed some steamed tamales at the bus station before heading to Puebla. Tamale is a dish the size of a sub filled with cornflour stuffed with meat, usually pork or chicken, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed or baked.
On the last day of my trip, I wanted to visit the Frida Kahlo Museum. However, the lines were insanely long and knowing I wouldn’t have enough time to wait; I explored the neighbourhood: Coyoacan.
It turned out to be a blessing because instead; I went to Leon Trotsky’s house, then checked out the Mercado Coyoacan, the neighbourhood market. There, I stocked up on some cooking ingredients like dried chipotle peppers and stopped by the food stalls for some octopus tostadas.
For my last meal in Mexico City, my friend took me to La Casa de Toño for their famous pozole: a soup with hominy (from corn), shredded chicken, topped with slices of avocados and crispy tortilla chips.
Puebla was, without a doubt, my favourite stop during this trip for food. The absolute must-try in this city is a cemita at Cemitas Las Poblanitas. It’s a bit further from the old centre and once you arrive, there will be a long line. Be patient! This cemita is worth your wait!
In between lunch and dinner, I had cravings for sweets and the best place to satisfy those cravings was Calle de los Dulces (The Street of Sweets). You will find many shops where you can find sweet wafers, camotes (candies made from sweet potato), palanqueta (Mexican peanut cookies) and rompope (a much sweeter Mexican version of Irish cream).
Another must-try meal is the mole poblano, a dish native to Puebla. It’s a chicken dish served with a complex black sauce that can have up to a dozen ingredients. I’m not sure what’s in the sauce, but the most recognizable ingredient is cocoa. Yes! Chocolate with chicken, and it’s delicious!
Lastly, a place not to pass up on is Antojitos de Acapulco (Snacks from Acapulco). It’s a street food stall without a sitting room. But this is the go-to place for some late-night molotes. They are like deep-fried quesadillas with a stuffing of your choosing inside (I had pastor, octopus, and mushrooms). Drench them (or not) in sour cream sauce and green spicy salsa and indulge!
Guadalajara is a gorgeous city at dusk, but during the day in mid-May, it’s scorching hot. My friend and I only had enough energy to venture out for a torta ahogada (literally translates to drowned sub) and a horchata rosa (pink rice milk), the 2 specialties of the city.
If during a summer day, as you wander around the city and need a refreshing drink to cool down, try a tejuino: a sour, lemonade-like drink made from fermented corn.
If you’re a meat-lover, a restaurant worth checking out is La Chata. It’s been around for over 50 years and is always crowded. They have a wide selection of grilled or fried meat dishes, accompanied by rice, enchiladas, refried beans, etc. (carne means meat).
Guanajuato might be my favourite city in all of Mexico and deserves a blog post on its own. It’s a university town so the best food here must satisfy the student criteria: cheap, fast and delicious. Here are a few places that meet the criteria.
My first stop was the heart of the city, at the main square in front of the cathedral. Before heading out to bar-crawl with some friends, I stopped by the food stall run by an old lady. Be warned, she deep-fries everything and all the dishes contain pork or beef (enchiladas, quesadillas, etc.). She also does not have any sitting room, so just stand and eat your messy food. It’s part of the experience!
At the end of the night, after the bars and the drinking, one last stop for the munchies is El Potro Loco for a meat-filled burrito. It might lack points in the presentation, but at midnight or 1 AM, the only thing that matters is taste.
For breakfast the next morning, another food stall to seek is the lady at Ave Maria, Alameda. A lady has set up shop by the sidewalk and makes gorditas on the spot. Gorditas are the Mexican equivalent of Venezuelan arepas: a corn pocket filled with meat, beans, and salsa.
I also ate other things on this trip that aren’t particular to any city, you can easily find them around any street. And when you have a chance, definitely try: empanadas (similar to meat pie) with a nice cup of agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea).
There you have it, a long list of things to order in Mexico for when you want more than just tacos and burritos. Savoury dishes:
And drinks that aren’t tequila:
- Rompope for alcoholic option
- Horchata (rice milk, white or pink)
- Agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea)