Just after finishing college my ex-roomie Eugene Bernshtam and I went down to Mexico for 3 weeks and had the most amazing time, so good in fact that I have since returned multiple times to Mexico and in particular, Mexico City which I absolutely fell in love with during my time there.
There was so much which swept me away about Mexico, the people, the culture and the heritage, for example, are truly special and unlike anything that I have ever really witnessed before.
In terms of Mexico City I instantly fell in love with the variety in the city, the mixture of traditional and modern, the feeling of chaos and calm and the wealth of things that there is to do here. I have to be honest however in saying that my favorite thing above everything else here in Mexico and especially in the capital, is the range of food options which they have here.
Mexico has managed to maintain its traditional cuisine which dates back centuries and whilst there is foreign food to be found here, in the main the food is traditional and very local. If you happen to visit Mexico City then these are the foods that I would recommend that you try in order to get that authentic experience.
I can’t overstate just how important tacos are in Mexico, they really are life. Now the tacos that you may know in the US or in other countries differ greatly from what you can find on the streets and in the restaurants of Mexico City.
Here the tacos involve a soft tortilla, usually pretty small, which is then filled with your choice of many options and then topped with cilantro, onions, and spicy sauce, with the occasional touch of pico de gallo. There is a massive range of different tacos here which incorporates all meats and all parts of the animal, try them all and find your favorite.
My personal favors are ‘tacos al pastor’ which is marinated pork which has been layered and then cooked on a spit, absolutely delicious and super cheap. For those vegans out there who don’t want to miss out on tacos, this is a city with a vibrant vegan culture and there are many taco stalls throughout the city selling seitan, tofu, and tempeh in place of meat, equally as delicious!
As I have traveled I have recognized that almost every nation and culture will have a stew as part of its menu, and Mexico is no different. There are a number of soups and casserole-style dishes which you can get here and a national treasure is a pozole.
This is made using maize kernels which have been slow-cooked in a meat broth, usually beef. The stew then has additions to it when it is served such as radish, lettuce, salsa, white crumbly cheese, and lime, and it is a delicious and heartwarming dish. You can find pozole throughout the country and in Mexico City, it is everywhere.
This breakfast dish is super simple but very tasty and very filling. Chilaquiles features flavorless tortilla chips that have been bathed in tomato salsa, green or red. The chips are added at the last moment so you get some which are soggy down below and some crispy ones up top. Added to the chips is cream and white cheese, and then you will have some optional extras. More often than not the extras are pulled chicken or a piece of beef, as well as the option of having an egg on top.
What I love most about the food culture here is that much of is based around a sort of tapas-style snack, rather than a full sit down meal, and quesadillas are the perfect example of that. Using corn dough these little beauties are fashioned into flat, oval shapes and then loaded with the filling of your choice.
Personally I am always happy with a straight-up cheese quesadilla, which is normally filled with gooey cheese from Oaxaca, a nearby state. Other fillings include chorizo and potato, pulled chicken, pumpkin flower and even a certain delicacy called huitlacoche. This is a fungus that actually grows on diseased corn. In the US and other countries, it is thrown away but here in Mexico they have unlocked the power of huitlacoche and they say that there are great benefits to eating the fungus.
These are my favorite foods here in Mexico and they are very much my go-to meals here. If you come here then you will not only be trying this but also hundreds of other locals plates featuring some of the country’s finest fare. Which will you be trying first?