Before heading to Mexico City, pretty much everyone I asked for recommendations RAVED about Mexican street food.
“Eat ALL the street tacos!” “Try everything you come across in the markets!” “Don’t hold back!”
Just a few of the many enthusiastic responses I received…
Needless to say, all this hype got me pretty pumped up. I’m not ususally one to discriminate or play favorites when it comes to food, but Mexican cuisine is definitely one of my favorites. Is it just me, or do Mexicans just seem to get it? There’s nothing quite as flavorful as a good Mexican meal (something Chileans could really use a lesson in). I’m pretty sure I could live on tequila, tacos and guacamole and die happy.
We didn’t have very much time in Mexico City (a mere 4 days) and with my new job and busy schedule, I, unfortunately, didn’t have the time to do my usual before-trip prep. My family was also a bit nervous about coming face to face with Montezuma and his ‘revenge’ (the common Mexican holiday tummy funnies) with our short time in the city and we didn’t want anything to slow us down. We wanted to indulge in all the delicious street food without the possibilty of risk.
Long story short- we decided to take the easy way out and go with the obvious solution (& one of my favorite activities): a food tour!
Eat Mexico seemed to have the absolute perfect tour for us, an off-the-beaten-path mix of both street and market food, and so without hesitation, we booked ourselves some spots. Our tour met at 11AM downtown, opposite the Bellas Artes Museum and after some quick introductions with our tour guide Anais- we hopped right on into it.
I was born ready for a Mexican street food tour. The only question for me now- would I be able to pace myself?
First stop- Octopus for Breakfast- Mexican Seafood Tostada
Anais started off the tour strong with what was easily one of my favorite bites of the entire week in Mexico. She stopped us at an unassuming street stand and explained that this dish wouldn’t be a great example of your “typical Mexican breakfast,” but that this cart would simply be too crowded to fully enjoy later on.
This local spot started as one small street stand, but with growing popularity now took up pretty much the whole block. After tasting their food- I had no problem understanding why. We were given a choice of “crab, shrimp or octopus” and left the rest in the street vendor’s hands. With Anais’s recommendation, I went with the ‘pulpo,” or octopus.
Even at 11 o’clock in the morning, this octopus was some of the best I’ve ever had. It was so tender and flavorful, topped with an amazingly creamy avocado. I bottled up the idea of pacing myself with the idea to save it for stop number two, and gobbled the whole thing down.
Second stop- The Drink of the Gods- Pulque
Our second stop of the day was conveniently located right around the corner. Again, not your typical mid-morning indulgence, but nice to beat the afternoon crowds.
We entered what looked to be a colorfully painted dive bar and immediately were smacked in the face with an overwhelming sour smell. “Welcome to a Pulquería” Anais told us. “Here we’re going to sample some Pulque.”
Pulque is a fermented agave sap and what the Aztec’s used to refer to as the “drink of the gods.” In the time of the Aztecs pulque was only offered to ‘elders’ over 52 and interestingly enough, pregnant women.
We sampled some plain pulque first and then took a stab at guessing a few of the flavored mixtures including lime, guava, peanut, oatmeal and even celery! Pulque has a very interesting flavor, which honestly I find hard to describe. It didn’t taste like your typical alcoholic beverage at all, but rather a tart, thick juice-like concoction.
Third stop- A Trip Through the “Upscale” San Juan Market
The San Juan Market should really be considered a few stops wrapped up in one since we tasted samples at a few different stands, but for purposes of post-consolidation we’ll call this stop number 3.
In the San Juan Market we sampled a smattering of imported cheeses, got a look at the fresh fish market, tried some sweet and spicy homemade sauces, and then Anais pulled us over to, what I consider, the most interesting (and terrifying) stop of the day.
I’ve never been brave enough (nor had the desire) to eat insects before, but hey- when in Mexico! I somehow found the courage to try not one, but two different types of crickets, some crayfish and then wash it all down with a mezcal shot complete with chewy worm…. Yes like I said, interesting …
After all that excitement, we head over to a more colorful, less fear-inducing stall to try some typical fresh Mexican fruits. We got bites of a lime that wasn’t really a lime, 3 different kinds of creamy sweet mangos, a pink dragon fruit, a Mexican mamey (which tasted like a super sweet sweet potato) and one of my personal favorites a chirimoya! They were all SO juicy, SO fresh and SOOOOOO incredibly tasty.
Fourth Stop- Tortillería
Starting to get into the groove of things, we were buttered up and ready for the next stop- the neighborhood tortillería. In Mexico City, there’s one of these little local tortillas shops on every block. Everyone knows where they are, what the prices are, and around lunchtime the lines are sure to stretch around the corner. Anais told us that as a Mexican child growing up, one of your daily chores is sure to be to head down the street and pick up daily fresh corn tortillas.
Here we sampled a simple “Taco de sal,” or a rolled up tortilla sprinkled with salt, so that we could get a taste of a real, authentic Mexican corn tortilla without anything obscuring the flavor. Believe it or not, these babies alone are sweet, flavorful and actually fairly healthy. They’re only made with three ingredients- corn, water, and limestone- meaning they also qualify as vegan!
Fifth Stop- Mole, Mole, Mole
I hope you caught my Austin Powers reference there … but anyway….
Our fifth stop of the tour was at one of those small hole-in-the-wall you’d-never-look-twice-if-it-weren’t-for-the-tour type restaurants. This place was right outside of the market and barely big enough to fit our group.
Even though we were about ready to pop by this point, we geared up to try their specialty- a sweet, yet savory Mole Nupcial- their own secret recipe. A big fan of mole, I had pretty high hopes. They spread their incredible sauce mixture over a warm corn tortilla and then sprinkled it with fresh cheese. With hints of banana and cocoa, followed by a bit of a surprising kick, this was one of the most exquisite moles to ever grace my lips. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it … *sigh* …
Sixth Stop- Señora Rosa & Her Magical Blue Corn Tortillas
Although I’m pressed to decide between all the amazing bites I tasted in Mexico, this stop easily makes the top 5.
I’m not sure if these tortillas were really THAT good, or if it was the fact that they came off of a makeshift shopping cart street grill that surprised me the most. It was probably a combo of the two. Not to mention that Señora Rosa and her son were totally adorable.
But seriously, these thick, oval-shaped corn patties stuffed with beans, cheese, and fava beans were INCREDIBLE. I hardly had the space left in my belly to swallow a peanut and yet I happily scarfed down my entire portion. I may have even asked for seconds…
Seventh Stop- The Working Man’s Market- Mercado San Arcos de Belén
Our final stop of the day was through another market, a bit less lavish, but delicious all the same. Mercado San Arcos de Belén is a working-class, neighborhood market where you can find everything from fresh and prepared food stands to a nail salon and even a barbershop.
We made our way through the market taking a gander at all the different stalls and finally made our way to our last bite. At this point, we were all pretty much doubled over, full and siesta ready, but knew we’d have to find it in us to make room for one more!
In thinking of our overall well-being, we reluctantly decided to split one steak flauta, a decision I near reversed after tasting it. Still, it was for the better…
I’ll just have to go back and get a whole one for myself next time!
As expected, I ended my first Mexican food tour in a partial food coma (of my own doing), yet still grinning and wishing I never had to leave this city. We hit so many stops that I would never have found on my own, despite how much before-trip research I could have prepped. Eat Mexico provided us the perfect first taste of Mexican history and culture. I’m nowhere near done with Mexico City and I’m sure I’ll soon be back to stuff my face once more!
Eat Mexico Food Tour Practical Information
Eat Mexico Food tours are offered in two different Cities, Mexico City and Puebla. Their different routes include street food and market tours, taco tours, and Mezcal tasting tours. Tours last from 3-4 hours and are offered every day of the week. I covered the Gourmet San Juan Market and Street Food tour in this post, which you can find out more information about here.
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Disclaimer: The team at Eat Mexico graciously invited me as a guest on their tour for purposes of this post. Still, as always, all opinions expressed are my own. I would only recommend something that I genuinely felt would benefit my readers.
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