The Mexico City street food scene is on another level!
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well here, and regulation non-existent, leading to an unsurpassed amount and variety of food stalls, converted shopping carts, coolers, bikes, trikes, and repurposed vehicles slinging food on just about every corner, day and night.
I haven’t been everywhere in the world, but I imagine few places can match what this city offers when it comes to damn good, cheap street food.
There are certainly plenty of taco stands, pan dulce hawkers with giant baskets on bikes, and vendors selling greasy, fried foods (sopes, gorditas, quesadillas, etc) I try to avoid, but I wanted to go beyond those basics for my sidewalk sinning. Here are five of my favorites street food finds.
Torta de Tamal
A chilango original for the working class, this atomic carb bomb is as basic as it is delicious and filling: a tamal (not tamale, folks), unwrapped from its corn husk right before your eyes and placed gently in a bolillo, a.k.a. french bread. That’s it!
An uncomplicated, fast, cheap ($14 MXP) breakfast specialty, usually served with atole, you won’t have to search long before finding it them on any street in the morning, just look for a trike (and the usual crowd).
Pico de Gallo
Ah, fresh fruit is plentiful here, so I took full advantage of that and indulged in some pico de gallo action, often between meals. Chunks of fruit are piled high in a bag or cup, topped with salt, lime, chile powder, and some hot sauce (or any combination of those) for a damn good, healthy treat on the street.
You don’t have to walk too far to find one of these fruit stands, and while available options vary, you can ask for whatever combination pleases you, not just what they have prepared. Jícama, cucumber, mango, pineapple, and watermelon are the usual suspects on the menu, and my go-to is jícama & cucumber. Yum!
Another of my favorite all-time snacks, this savory cup full of corn, topped with grated cheese, fresh-squeezed lime juice, salt, chile powder and/or hot sauce, and, if you want, butter and mayo, is a Mexican classic and best when the corn is nice and hot.
These were absolutely impossible to find in Seattle, so I went all-in here, and I suggest you do, too. Great snack for $13 MXP!
The most Mexican of all drinks, this nectar of the gods is a viscous drink made from fermented maguey (agave) and dates back to pre-Hispanic times! At that point, its consumption was largely ceremonial, and limited to the elite (tribe elders, priests) and those defeated warriors who were allowed to get drunk before being sacrificed to the gods. But those restrictions are long gone, and given a recent resurgence, it’s easier to find pulque.
You can find the original, unflavored drink or get some tasty fruit-flavored ones like strawberry, pineapple, guayaba, appple, etc . Both versions pack a punch..and protein!
As it was one of Frida Kahlo’s favorite drinks, I grabbed a couple campechanos (flavored) from tiny hole-in-the-wall Los Paseos de Santa Anita before hitting Casa Azul in Coyoacán. Don Noé, the elderly owner, has been at it behind the bar for 45 years of its 90 years of existence, and had some great jokes and stories.
It’s only 20 MXP/liter for natural or $32 for campechanos. You can can even get it in a bag with a straw to enjoy on the road.
A Mexican classic taken to the next level when filled with chocolate, nutella, cajeta, strawberry, white chocolate or any of a crazy amount of options. Take it up two levels by choosing Bailey’s, Kahlua, or Amaretto as your filling, and you’ve got this fat kid’s fave for $15 MXP.
Coyoacán is your spot for these bad boys, where the stands are as plentiful as the fillings.