I’m sure your stomach has already started rumbling at the thought of the amazing local food in Mexico City. This food scene is ripe with excellent spots for where to try real Mexican cuisine.
Between the street food and the incredible restaurants, Mexico City is a dream come true for travelers who love Mexican food. But even if you’re a Mexican food fan, you may not know about many of the traditional Mexican dishes.
If you have yet to venture past the world of shrimp tacos and chicken burritos, now is your chance. When I lived in Mexico City for eight months, I wanted to taste everything that I couldn’t get anywhere else in the world. Now, I’ve compiled a few of my favorite Mexico City dishes to try on your next trip. And while you’re here, be sure to bookmark my guide to the best Mexico City restaurants.
Let’s do this!
Table of Contents
- 19 Best Mexico City Food & Dishes to Try
- FAQs About Mexico City Food
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19 Best Mexico City Food & Dishes to Try
A traditional Mexican breakfast dish of sauce-drenched corn tortillas
Chilaquiles are basically corn tortillas cut into chips that have been simmered in either green or red sauce. The chips can be topped with sour cream, avocado, cheese, or anything that piques your interest. It’s a pretty simple dish, but man, it packs a lot of flavors.
Whether you’re looking for a dish that’s delightfully indulgent or you enjoyed Mexico City’s nightlife a little too much, there’s nothing better than a hot plate of chilaquiles.
Tacos Al Pastor
A legendary taco made with shawarma-inspired spit-roasted pork
Tacos Al Pastor is one of the few items on this list that most people would know, but the dish is so iconic that it would be an actual food crime not to include it (hey, it’s . Tacos Al Pastor is made from slow-roasted pork that’s cooked in a Lebanese-inspired style. This juicy, meaty concoction has turned this dish into a trademark of Mexican street food.
👉 Pro Tip: If you take a food tour in Mexico City, you’re guaranteed to try Tacos Al Pastor at least once. You can also gather some valuable insight from a local guide. To take some of the work out of finding the best spots for Al Pastor, I’d recommend trying out this Tacos and Mezcal Crawl.
A crispy delight made from fried pork skin or belly
Chicharrónes are one of those Mexican snacks that you can find in just about any corner of Mexico City. From the Roma neighborhood to the Historic Center, it’s a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Street vendors sell the ultra-crisp pork skin or belly with hot sauce as an on-the-go snack, but it’s also available as a filling in tacos or gorditas. It’s a very tasty and versatile ingredient.
A popular crunchy, smokey snack with a surprising main ingredient
Many Americans might find chapulines a little scary to stomach, but it’s worth taking the plunge. Chapulines are seasoned and toasted grasshoppers. The grasshoppers are caught by farmers in Oaxaca during the summer and fall seasons to feed Mexico City’s chapulines demand.
It may be an insect, but it has the crunch and tastiness of a freshly made potato chip. Plus, they’re super rich in protein.
Chapulines are commonly served with guacamole and some corn tortillas and are a super tasty, one-of-a-kind combination. If you can get past the thought of snacking on an exoskeleton, then chapulines are the perfect snack on an afternoon in Mexico City.
📚 Related Reading: Wondering where you can find the best restaurants Mexico City has to offer? Check out my guide to the 25 best restaurants in Mexico City.
Chiles En Nogada
A Pueblan dish with stuffed poblano chiles covered in a creamy walnut sauce
Chiles en nogada is a poblano pepper stuffed with a meat concoction and covered in a nogada sauce made from walnuts. You’ll know chiles en nogada when you see it because it’s traditionally spotted with little red pomegranate seeds as a garnish. The creamy white sauce and red spots give it a really photogenic look.
The combo brings out some super distinct flavors, and the recipe was popularized in Puebla, located about an hour outside of Mexico City. If you’re looking to eat some Instagrammable local fare, grab a plate of chiles en nogada. Chiles en nogada is unique from any stuffed pepper dish I’ve ever tried before.
👉 Pro Tip: Chiles en nogada is traditionally eaten around Mexican Independence Day. The colors of the dish resemble the flag of Mexico, so it shows some local pride. For more details about when events happen, check out my guide to the best time to visit Mexico.
Corn in a cup – a street food snack in Mexico with numerous variations
Esquites are a street food corn salad in a cup. It’s generally mixed with mayonnaise, cilantro, chili powder, lime, and crumbled Cotija cheese. That’s the base level of esquites, but you can upgrade it with toppings like crushed Takis, jalapenos, or Cheetos. If you’re on the hunt for tasty esquites, there are quite a few places to get them in the Roma Norte neighborhood like Esquite Dorado.
Esquites are extremely popular street food in Mexico City. Everyone’s mind jumps to tacos when they think of street food, but locals love esquites just as much when they’re craving a tasy street food snack. For travelers who are warming up to Mexican street food favorites, esquites is a good place to start.
📚 Related Reading: Every neighborhood in Mexico City offers something different in the way of food and ambiance. For more information, read my list of the 11 best Mexico City neighborhoods.
A pizza-style dish with a base of oval-shaped masa corn dough and refried beans
As a New Yorker, huarache isn’t exactly what I’d call a pizza, but it does have a similar style in its construction. The solid base makes huarache a favored street food in Mexico City.
Huarache is built upon a structure of corn dough with smashed pinto beans, or sometimes refried beans, slathered across the middle. Then, the huarache is delicately molded into a big, oval shape before being fried. Once it’s cooked, it’s time for toppings such as queso fresco, potatoes, onion, cilantro, protein, and some salsa to give it a fiery kick.
A super-seasoned filling made from beef, goat, or lamb that’s featured in many Mexican dishes
If you love Mexican food, then you’ve got to get your hands on some barbacoa when you’re in Mexico City. This dish is made with beef, goat, or lamb that has been doused with spices and chilies, and then slow-cooked. While you can probably find this particular item in the United States, Mexico City has the real deal of barbacoa.
You can get barbacoa from street vendors and it goes in just about anything, such as tacos, tostadas, and salads. It’s one of the most popular street food items in Mexico City.
A classic Mexican sandwich with many varieties
In Mexico City, tortas are really popular and are the classic street food go-to for lunch. Tortas are Mexican sandwiches that come in a bunch of different varieties. They are typically served with meat, some vegetables, and cheese on a fluffy bun. But that’s just the basics when it comes to tortas. They can be beefed up with spicy peppers, sour cream, bean spread, salsas, and more.
When you’re walking around Mexico City and have a hankering for an easy lunch, a torta will never fail you.
A torta-esque antojito of sauce-dipped bread and potato with chorizo inside
A pambazo is a special type of torta that’s soaked in guajillo chili sauce. Then, inside the saucy bread, there is a combination of potatoes and chorizo. This sauce-soaked delight of carbs is truly a sight to behold.
While you can find pambazo at restaurants around Mexico City, it’s mostly enjoyed as a portion of street food. There are some great pambazos around busy areas like Centro Historico, but they’re also available in quieter areas like Escandon. In my opinion, pambazo might be the most delectable street food in Mexico City.
A toasty, warm traditional corn drink that goes perfectly with tamales
Now that you’ve discovered some of the best foods around Mexico City, you might be getting a little thirsty. If so, you should definitely grab a mug of atole. Atole is a hot breakfast drink made from corn. It might sound like an odd main ingredient for a drink, but it’s creamy, delicious, and makes you feel warm and toasty inside.
Most tamale street food stalls have a few different flavors of atole on their menu. A morning cup of atole and a hot tamale always starts your day off right in Mexico City.
📚 Related Reading: If you are still needing your morning cup of joe, then be sure to read my list of 19 best cafes and coffee shops in Mexico City.
A rich chocolatey or nutty sauce that’s a staple in Mexican cooking
Mole is a famous and super popular dish from the Oaxaca and Puebla regions of Mexico. It’s a thick sauce that comes in many different variations that range from chocolatey to nutty. Mole is one of those traditional meals from Mexico that you just have to try at least once.
While you might not be able to find mole street side, there are plenty of restaurants that provide this delicacy throughout Mexico City.
👉 Pro Tip: Even though there are absolutely delicious moles in Mexico City, I’d recommend taking a day trip to Puebla to try it in its hometown. For more info about CDMX excursions, read my list of the 19 best day trips from Mexico City.
A masa pocket stuffed with meat, cheese, veggies, and more
Another amazing Mexico City street food is the gordita. The name might sound familiar to Americans that frequent a particular fast-food chain, but the actual dish in Mexico is very different from its Americanized counterpart.
Traditional gorditas are masa corn tortilla pockets stuffed with all types of fillings, from soft cheese to pulled pork. It’s kind of similar to an Arepa from Colombia or Venezuela. When you need hand-held food to bring with you as you’re exploring Mexico City, a gordita is a delicious and convenient option.
👉 Pro Tip: One of the best places to get a taste of traditional Mexican food is Mercado de San Juan. It’s a traditional mercado that specializes in exotic and gourmet foods. To learn more about Mexico City’s mercados, read my guide to the 11 best markets in Mexico City.
A regional delicacy made from steamed cornmeal cooked in corn husk or banana leaves
Tamales have become a worldwide favorite, and you can find some excellent ones in Mexico City. Tamales contain seasoned meats, cheeses, or veggies; all tucked away in a steamed cornmeal dough. They can be savory or sweet.
The treat is cooked inside of a corn husk or sometimes banana leaves. The husk or banana leaves provide the delicate snack with some protection from an open flame and seal all the juices inside.
Tamales are one of those foods that can be sold by a street vendor or at a restaurant. So, no matter where you go in Mexico City, you’ll be able to get your hands on some freshly made tamales.
📚 Related Reading: If you’re still learning about the many areas of Mexico City, don’t miss my guide to where to stay in Mexico City.
A fried and thick masa tortilla packed full of cheese, beans, or meat
Tlacoyos are similar to huaraches in their oval shape and masa foundation. They’re also filled with things like beans, cheese, and beef. However, Tlacoyos are a little smaller than huaraches, and they’re often made using a special blue corn masa.
Tlacoyos are another tasty lunchtime snack that is typically provided by a street vendor. If you want to get huaraches a shot and you’re not super hungry, tlacoyos are the perfect alternative.
📚 Related Reading: Have you been feeling nervous about your safety in Mexico City? Not to fear! Just read my guide to safety in Mexico City.
A delicious twist on corn on the cob with mayo, chili powder, cotija cheese, and more
Elote is the cousin of esquites, only instead of corn in a cup, it’s still on the cob. But, elote isn’t just your ordinary corn on the cob – Mexico City takes this simple snack to the next level by slathering on mayonnaise, lime, chili powder, and cotija cheese. But that’s just the beginning. From there, you can eat your elote in the classic style or personalize it to include some other toppings.
You can find a few different places to get a good elote in Roma Norte. Elote was one of the street foods that I was the most excited to try before coming to Mexico City, and it did not disappoint.
👉 Pro Tip: Elote is a great snack to grab if you’re on a budget in Mexico City because it’s widely available and super cheap. For more budgeting tips, check out my guide to Mexico City on a budget.
One of the oldest alcoholic beverages in Mexico made from fermented Maguey sap
If you’re hankering for a good drink, then a great local one to try is pulque. Pulque is an alcoholic drink that’s been celebrated in central Mexico since 200 CE. It’s made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant and is a bit reminiscent of kombucha. Pulque has a milky color and has a sour fermented taste.
While pulque won’t get you drunk, it’s said that consuming more than five cups of it can make you hallucinate. So, I’d recommend sticking to only four glasses.
👉 Pro Tip: There are quite a few pulquerias in Roma Norte. This area also has some of the best hotels in all of Mexico City. If you haven’t found your perfect stay yet, give this list of the 13 best hotels in Mexico City a read.
Swiss-style enchiladas with chicken and a creamy tomatillo sauce
Enchiladas Suizas literally translates to ‘Swiss Enchiladas’. The dish came into existence after Swiss immigrants introduced some of their cooking styles to Mexico.
Enchiladas Suizas features the same rolled-up corn tortillas with filling that we know and love with traditional enchiladas. Usually, there’s shredded chicken inside. The difference lies in the sauce that’s used. Enchiladas Suizas is known for the creamy tomatillo that’s poured over the enchiladas to complete the dish.
It’s a very rich and filling meal, so it’s ideal for dinner after a long day of activities.
A customary Mexican stew bubbling with hominy, pork, and red chiles
Nearly every country has its own legendary soup. In America, there’s chicken noodle. In Spain, there’s gazpacho. In Mexico, the stew that you just have to try is pozole.
A bowl of pozole is crafted with red chiles, rich and juicy meat like pork, and hominy. Hominy comes from dried-out maize kernels. The soup is topped with things like cabbage, avocado, radishes, and salsa before being slurped down.
The result is this tummy-warming, slightly spicy, rich stew that totally hits the spot when you’re feeling a little under the weather. Pozole is sold at restaurants, but I’ve also seen lots of street food stalls selling their homemade pozole on the go.
FAQs About Mexico City Food
What food is Mexico City known for?
Mexico City is best known for its variety of street foods like tacos, tortas, pambazo, and tlacoyos. Mexico City also has many well-known traditional sweets including churros with hot chocolate and sweet bread.
There are endless opportunities to find these foods within Mexico City. Many establishments have been making these traditional Mexican cuisine items for over a century.
What is Mexico City-style food?
There isn’t one defined “Mexico City” style food. The Mexican capital borrows many of its traditional dishes from nearby Mexican states and Latin America in general. However, Mexico City loves its street food. Many traditional food items can be found at street food stalls around Mexico City.
Which Mexican city has the best food?
Oaxaca has the best food in Mexico. Many of the traditional foods that the country loves originated in the Oaxaca region, like moles. In Oaxaca, you can find some of the most authentic regional cuisines around straight from the source.
You’ve officially finished my guide to Mexico City’s 19 best foods to try! Hopefully, you’ve found some hidden gems to munch on when you visit Mexico City. If you’re looking for some more advice before setting off on your trip, be sure to read these 23 Mexico travel tips.
Have fun in Mexico City, and don’t forget to try some traditional Mexican dishes!