36 tasty Mexican foods & 9 delicious drinks | Get ready for a taste sensation!
Updated: Jun 9
Every article we have ever read on Mexico raves about the food and so we were really excited to eat our way around the country. We were hopefully we would enjoy the food, although perhaps a little sceptical about the variety we would find. I mean, how much can you really do with a tortilla?!
Well it turns out a lot!! They are so packed with flavour and so many variations that you never get bored.
Table of contents
4. Pan Dulce
5. Hot cakes
18. Tortas ahogadas
24. Chile en nugado
34. Flan Mexicano
1. Aqua Fresca
2. Jugo Verde
9. Craft beer
Well there is no better way to start sharing our Mexican food story than the first meal of the day. Fear not though, if you are just interested in main meals, what to order at taco carts & the best Mexican drinks, read on.
This is our absolute favourite breakfast dish. Chilaquiles is made by boiling crisp fried corn tortillas in salsa rojo or something salsa verde (lightly spicy red or green sauce) to soften slightly. Garnished with cheese/creme (or both) avocado & onion. On the side is refried beans and you can chose to add eggs (cooked to your liking) and/or meat.
Verdict = you've got to try it! It will set you up for the day as very filling.
2. Huevos rancheros
Fried eggs served on fried tortilla served with spicy tomato sauce. Normally topped with coriander & cheese alongside some refried beans.
3. Huevos a La Mexicana
Scrambled egg with tomato, onion & chilli peppers.
Verdict = I particularly like this served on a bagel.
4. Pan Dulce
The direct translation is sweet bread & it's hard to explain better than that. You'll often see street vendors selling these first thing in the morning before work. We particularly like concha & Galleta de Grajea.
Verdict = tasty!!
5. Hot cakes
Essentially thick fluffy pancakes, similar to how the Americans serve pancakes. Also served with similar toppings like maple syrup and/or fresh fruit.
Verdict = tasty & far more filing than a crepe.
These are without a doubt the most popular snack in Mexico & it’s easy to see why. They pack a whole lot of taste into such a small snack & they are soo cheap!! If you are travelling Mexico on a backpacker budget, you are definitely going to eat a lot of these!! These are eaten all day & night so could feature as your breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three!!
OK, what is a taco. A taco in the UK would normally be pictured as a hard shell corn tortilla but (thankfully!) they don’t seem to exist in Mexico. Taco’s are always soft, about 10 cm (4 inch) diameter & are either made of flour or corn (more traditionally corn). Our favourite is flour as they seem to hold together better but both taste great!
Verdict = simple, cheap & tasty!!
Tacos like a lot of the taco variations below come with loads of different fillings. To hear about our favourites see 9 must try taco fillings.
Quesadilla is essentially a taco (corn or wheat) that has the same choice of fillings as the taco but add cheese, foot in half & cook until the cheese is melted.
Quesadilla served with blue tacos have the edge for us but not 100% sure why or how to explain. If you see them just try them!!
Verdict = sticking the taco together with cheese means it's harder to fill. Tasty but messier than a taco.
Is very similar to the quesadilla apart from the tacos are place on top of each other rather than folded in half (a bit like a sandwich). The only other difference is that they are made with flour tortilla. Gringas is thought to get its name as it came down from the States (Gringos) using flour tortillas)
Verdict = although not as traditional as the quesadillas we prefer the flour tortillas (they hold together better) so Gringas over quesadillas.
Gorditas are made with a large oval, thick, corn-flour tortilla, split open after toasting (a bit like a pita pocket) & stuffed with a variety of fillings. We had it with ground beef & cheese, topped with some lettuce.
As with all tacos you add the spice to your liking, gorditas make a great lunch on their own.
Verdict = got to be a resounding yes
Large oval thick corn-flour tortilla (the same as the gorditas) toasted but not split open. Toppings are simply placed on top after cooking. We had it topped with bistec & cheese, again finished with lettuce.
Verdict = tasty!!
Corn tortillas, filled with shredded meat of your choice. Wrapped into a flute shape (flautes is Spanish for flute) then deep fried until crispy. Served topped with lettuce, cheese & a dollop of crème Mexicane (or sour cream).
Verdict = great if done well but can be greasy if not.
Made with dried or day old tortilla fried until crisp. Often served as a side with soup or guacamole. Alternatively toppings added on top at taco carts.
Verdict = great with guacamole but I'd stick to a taco at a taco cart
Sopes (not sopa, which is soup) may look a bit like a flat tortilla but there are a couple of subtle differences. Sopes are made with corn flour & curled slightly at the sides to make a sort of pie dish before frying. They are then topped with the same sort of fillings as tacos.
We've tried quite the array of different sopes across the country, our favourite of which where in San Pancho. There chef made more gourmet tacos than traditional & in some of them even included beetroot to his base. If you end up in that area you have got to take a trip to Su Pancha Madre!!
Verdict = great if made well
Essentially a corn tortilla fried until puffed & fairly crispy. Served with shredded meat or the standard taco fillings. Then served with lettuce/cabbage onion & avocado.
Verdict = pretty tasty but not our favourite
Similar to the salbutes, however part way through frying it is opened up & stuffed with refried black beans. Topped with shredded meat or the normal taco fillings & served with lettuce/cabbage onion & avocado. Originating from the Yucatan region in the south east of Mexico.
Verdict = a bit greasy
Not traditional Mexican but you will find them in touristy areas. Made with a large flour tortilla, stuffed with a meat of your choice, normally rice & beans & additional salad.
You will probably tell by the price anyway but you would normally only order 1 burrito in comparison to 3/4 tacos.
Verdict = although it's not traditional extremely tasty, what's not to love about double carbs!!
Tortas is essentially a sub sandwich offered at many taco stands with the same fillings. They are served on 2 different types of bread depending where you get them from.
Verdict = both bolillos (like a small soft baguette) & telera (oval bun made with wheat flour) are extremely tasty!
18. Tortas ahogadas
This was the only Tortas we didn't enjoy in Mexico & to be honest we weren't expecting to, the only reason we tried it was that it was a regional specialty in Guadalajara. It's basically a normal Tortas sandwich made with bolillos bread but then covered in a tomato sauce.
Verdict = soggy bread, why do it!!
Served in a large corn tortilla pre rolled, with the same choice of taco fillings & topped with salsa rojo (red pepper sauce), salsa verde (green pepper sauce) or chile con queso (cheese & chili sauce)
Verdict = Nice but prefer my tortillas not coated in sauce.
These are very similar to enchiladas but instead of being topped with cheese or red/green pepper sauce, they are covered with mole sauce and cheese. They are so popular they've got themselves their own name rather than just Enchiladas con mole!!
Verdict = We prefer my tortillas not coated in sauce as above & the mole doesn't add much for us.
Although it sounds similar it is not guacamole or even remotely similar (if I'm honest when I first saw it I thought it was). Mole (pronounced MO lay) is from the region Oaxaca but can be found all over the country & dates back to the Aztec's, "molli" as it was originally called is a Nahuatl word which simply means sauce.
Mole sauce varies a bit from place to place but as a guide it will consist of chilli peppers, tomatoes, fruit and mixed spices such as cumin, cinnamon & black pepper. You will find loads of variations including black, red, yellow & loads more. Go wild, try as many as you see!!
Verdict = this is going to be controversial but we aren't much of a fan
Pozole is a traditional soup which dates back way past Spanish colonialisation. We heard whilst doing the Mexico City free walking tour they told us that traditionally it was made with the sacrificed humans (maybe be carful with the pork Pozole!!)!! Now it's made with pork or chicken, we preferred the chicken as it was just shredded chicken whereas the pork was all parts of the pig chopped up & added to the broth.
The flavours of the soup is made with hominy (processed corn), meat, garlic & spices made into a broth. Normally served with chopped lettuce, radish & avocado.
Verdict = love chicken Pozole, pork not so much. This is more due to the texture & thought of the parts rather than the taste.
23. Chile rellano (stuffed chilli)
Large green pepper stuffed with meat, cheese or both, then battered or fried. Often served in a taco for some extra carbs in case you were lacking.
Verdict = chilli, meat & cheese. Yes
24. Chile en nugado
A publano chilli stuffed picadillo (shredded meat, fruits & spices) topped with a creamy walnut & pomegranate sauce. Originating in Puebla, it's on the must tries if you are in the area.
If you’ve travelled to any South American country, such as Argentina, Brazil or Bolivia you will be familiar with empanadas which are small pastry parcels filled with a variety of meats, veggies and cheeses. A bit like a Cornish pasty.
Mexican empanadas are the same concept except rather than a pastry case it is a deep-fried corn tortilla case. Different but just as delicious.
Verdict = love an empanada & great to have alternative to tortillas
Birria originates from the Jalisco state of Mexico, traditionally made with goat meat. Nowadays you are more likely to find this scrumptious stew made with beef. The sauce is made chilli's, annatto paste, onion, tomatoes, cumin & coriander slow cooked to perfection!
Verdict = it doesn't look that great but tastes amazing!!
This delicious sizzling dish is named after the served piping hot volcanic rock bowl it is served in. A Molcajete is the Aztecs answer to a pestle & mortar. It is normally served with Arrachera (skirt steak), Chorizo (Spanish sausage) or pollo (chicken) or a mixture of them. The dishes base is a 'tomatoey' sauce with chilli, onion & coriander.
Accompanied by some manchego cheese, cooked cactus.
Verdict = yum & looks impressive too!
Although you could argue many of the above dishes could be had as snacks & I have been known to grab a taco as a snack, the below are snacks & only snacks.
28. Elotes (corn on the cob Mexico style)
Corn husks grilled, some ask for the corn to be taken off & serve in a cup or alternatively eat straight from the cob. It is smothered in Mexican crema (similar to sour cream) & mayo, then coated in coriander, chilli powder, cheese & garlic. Often finished with some chilli sauce for good measure.
Verdict = love grilled corn on the cob so like these. Not sure if the extras add much.
Some may argue this is a side & I'd have to agree. However it is on so many menus as starters/snacks I'm adding it to snacks. Simple taste sensation loved around the world consisting of smashed avocados, tomatoes, onions, lime juice, coriander & of course some chilli for good measure.
When served as a starter or snack it will likely be served with plain tostadas or fried tortillas cut into triangles.
Verdict = fresh guacamole, what's not to love!
Not so much a traditional Mexican cuisine but you will see them all over the country. A pile of fried tortillas chips topped with a variety of options including pork/chicken/beef & normally has chillies and cheese.
Verdict = prefer guacamole
Why, why, why Mexico!! Basically a bag of crisps (often Doritos & Cheetos mixed) then add a load of hot sauce, cream, lettuce & other veggies.
Verdict = absolutely no!!
32. Chicharrones de Harina
Believe it or not, Mexico has come up with another name for crisps with stuff on top. This one is pretty simply, round wagon wheel shaped puffs topped with spicy sauce (normally Valentina).
Verdict = why?!?!
(like a crepe)
You will often see Marquesita & crepe stands combined as they are very similar (same batter) but cooked with more of a flat iron contraption rather than the frying skillet crepes are cooked on. The main difference being that the batter is cooked until the batter is crispy. A very popular marquesita is Nutella, cheese & strawberry. But they offer all types of fillings you would expect with crepes.
Verdict = nice but in all honesty we prefer a crepe.
34. Flan Mexicano
The main difference is that the French version is baked inside a tart crust while the flan Mexicano is a pudding-like baked custard baked in a water bath.
Verdict = we don't like flans, not just Mexican flans
35. Nieves de Garrafa
Nieves de Garrafa is lighter than an ice cream, it's essentially a Mexican sorbet. Made with fruit puree, sugar, ice & salt. This is all slowly rotated to make a nice refreshing snack for you & me! It's a great refreshing snack on a hot day!
Verdict = Yes
Churros are a taste sensation & a heart attack rolled into one. Made with tubes of dough (pushed through a shaper like what comes out of a piping bag), deep fried until crisp. Then, coating in sugar & cinnamon along with a chocolate dipping sauce.
Verdict = naughty but nice
1. Aqua Fresca
A light non alcoholic drink available in most Mexican restaurants. It's normally made with one or more fresh fruits (and sometimes seeds, cereals & even flowers), sugar & water. Depending on which some taste like a sort of light smoothies as it's watered down or a fruit cordial. A couple of our favourite is the Verde (cucumber, melon & sometimes kiwi) & Jamaica (hibiscus).
Verdict = extremely refreshing!
2. Jugo Verde
Fresh fruit juices & smoothies are readily available all over Mexico however the one we fell in love with during our time in Mexico has to be the Jugo Verde. I particularly like juices with herbs & vegetables in anyway but Becca is normally sceptical. This was a win for both of us.
From one place to the next the recipe changes slightly but the most common ingredients we've seen are cactus, parsley, celery, pineapple and orange juice.
Verdict = amazing!!
Best described as a Mexican Bloody Mary. This is a cocktail you will see all over Mexico. From one bar to the next the recipe alters slightly but it's like to be something along these lines, mix beer with tomato juice, then add Worcestershire sauce, Maggi sauce, chilli sauce & juice of a fresh lime. To serve coat the rim with a mixture of salt, chilli powder & tajin seasoning.
It San Sebastián we even tried one which was made similar to the above but to serve it was topped with cucumber, celery & cooked prawns!!
Verdict = we weren't the biggest fans but definitely a must try in Mexico, maybe we were missing something!
One of the most iconic exports from Mexico. Tequila is known all over the world, most commonly to do shots of in the early hours! However, there is more to tequila than you think. Not many people know it but tequila is a type of Mezcal. Like champagne is a type of sparkling wine which has to be made in the Champagne region of France, tequila can only be produced in certain areas of Mexico; specifically 90% is from Jalisco (there is also a town called Tequila!) but also certain municipalities in Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas have also been given permission to produce. Also, it can only be made using blue agarve.
In Mexico tequila is a drink to savour & appreciate. Take a trip to the town of Tequila to try many artisanal tequilas.
Verdict = our opinion of tequila now is that it's more than a drink to have at 2am & we enjoy it in a cocktail, however it is not likely to ever be our first choice.
On the other hand, Mezcal can be produced outside of the above controlled regions has a bit of a craze started & particularly in Oaxaca.
One of the most famous cocktails around the world hardly needs an introduction. In all honesty we were a little sceptical before we went to Mexico as we weren't the biggest fans of tequila. However, this is definitely a must try, we especially like the frozen ones!!
Whether frozen or not, the ingredients are simple tequila, Triple Sec (or Cointreau), lime juice (well lemon in Mexico) & sugar syrup.
Verdict = frozen margaritas are absolutely the best way to have tequila.
If you take a trip to tequila you will see these everywhere!! This refreshing drink is made with a generous pour of tequila, then add freshly squeezed lemon, pink grapefruit & orange. All served on the rocks in a cup made of pot to keep it cooler longer. Lastly the rim is lined with the same mix as a Micheladas (salt, chilli powder & tajin seasoning).
Verdict = this is definitely a win sitting in the sunshine listening to live music played in the square!
If you visit the town of tequila it's likely to include a stop at the bar, La Capilla. It's hard to believe looking at the place that it's world famous. Batanga is pretty simple, tequila, lime, coke & salt.
Verdict = It doesn't sound much but it is surprisingly better than it sounds!
9. Craft beer
Mexico isn't just about Corona, Pacifico & Sol, it actually has quite the craft beer scene. There are some amazing breweries spread across the country, enjoy!!
Verdict = craft beer, what's not to love!
This article has been put together part way through our trip through Mexico & we still have a month or so to go. If there are any must tries you know of that we are yet to sample please let us know so we can look out for to try & add to the list. Thanks!!