I can only think of a handful of places in the world where I can’t wait to eat all the food and Mexico is definitely one of them. There’s something I just love about the flavors of Mexican food. If you are visiting Mexico for the first time, or looking to see what types of food you might find there that you must try, we’ve got the list for you!
As we were heading out to Mexico City for the first time, I was super excited to try all of the popular Mexican foods like quesadillas and tacos that I already knew about, but also to find other foods eaten in Mexico that were new to me.
These 15 foods are just some of the amazing foods you’ll find in Mexico, but we encourage you to find and try each of them. Eating in Mexico is a real treat, and something you definitely shouldn’t miss. You can find these specialties at street food vendors, in marketplaces, and at many of the restaurants in the country.
» Heading to Mexico City soon? Here are our top recommended foodie things to do while you’re there. If you’re up for a road trip, we recommend this 2-week Mexico itinerary which will take you to some of the top spots around the country. If you need more inspirations check out these 8 beautiful places to visit in Mexico.
Top 15 Mexican Foods You Must Try
If you love Mexican food, you owe it to yourself to check these out. You might also like: Our Favorite Mexico City Food Experiences
Most of these foods can be found at street vendors or in a street market. They are popular Mexico street foods! Very few, if any of them, are only made in specific restaurants only, so it won’t be difficult to find any of these popular Mexican foods, if you’ve got your eye out for them. Often, we found a street vendor selling two or three of them at one booth.
I’m a huge fan of tortas, which are basically just delicious Mexican sandwiches stuffed with all the best Mexican ingredients. They can be piled up with meat, cheese, refried beans, peppers, onions, avocado – whatever you want. The important ingredient is the crusty bread roll that holds it all together. In restaurants and street stands, you’ll find tortas of all different types. You can get them hot or cold, grilled, toasted, or even pressed like a panini.
Pambazo (Mexican Sandwich Dipped in Salsa)
Pambazo is the name of a Mexican white bread. It’s also the name of a sandwich made with that bread, which is dipped in a red guajillo chile sauce. The sandwich is typically stuffed with shredded beef or pork, fried potatoes, fried beans, a sprinkling of cheese and lettuce, just like a torta. However, the extra step of dipping it in the chile sauce changes it quite a bit.
A Tlacoyo is an oval-shaped fried pockets taco. The tortilla is thicker than a traditional corn tortilla so it can be cut open in the cente and stuffed with ground beans, cheese, beef, pork or other ingredients. You can usually order it with whatever filling you want. The Tlacoyo can then be topped with rojo or verde sauce, shredded lettuce, queso fresco, cotija cheese and onions. These are the perfect street food. You can order from a stall and eat them while walking. Served hot, they are really delicious.
A gordita is very similar to a tlacoya, in that the masa cake is much thicker than a tortilla. Two pieces of griddled cake are used as bread to sandwich the ingredients. I’m sure there’s no end to what you can stuff in a gordita. The one we had was stuffed with cheese and then heated until the cheese was gooey and melted in the middle. Gordita means “little fat one” in Spanish. We had this version at a little stand in Mercado Roma, which I highly recommend, because it’s foodie heaven.
If you’ve had mole, it was probably covering enchiladas. The common ingredient to all moles is chiles, and the other ingredients vary. Modern moles are made with chocolate, additional spices and other ingredients like nuts, seeds, garlic, onions, cinnamon and all types of chiles.
The one we had at Pujol in Mexico City was incredible in that it had been cooked for 849 days, making it what chef Enrique Olvera’s calls the “mother sauce“. He serves it with his mole nuevo, which is a newly cooked sauce. The way he serves it, you just sop it up with tortillas. Mole is one of the most traditional Mexican foods, and it’s very good.
Elote (Mexican Street Corn)
You’ll find this corn on the cob at many street stands in Mexico. Yes, you will find plain ears of corn, roasted and hot, served everywhere, but the real treat is a version that is served with mayonnaise slathered on it and then sprinkled with cotija cheese and chili powder. It’s heavenly. All corn should be eaten this way.
A flauta is one popular Mexican food you’ve probably eaten or at least seen on a menu before at a Mexican restaurant in the United States. It’s a rolled-up flour tortilla and some type of filling, which could be beef, chicken or just cheese. The tortilla is then deep fried to make it super crispy. It’s usually served with shredded lettuce and some queso fresco on top. » Learn how to make flautas at home with this easy recipe.
Manchego Cheese Molcajete with Tomatillo Sauce
A Molcajete is a stone bowl that is the traditional Mexican version of the mortar and pestle. It is often used as a serving bowl in Mexican cooking because it keeps it heat so well, for dishes that need to remain warm throughout service.
The molchajete we tried was filled with a sort of spicy and sour tomatillo sauce with deep-fried Manchego cheese sticks and cactus plant bubbling away inside. The idea was that you put the cheese and sauce into a flour tortilla to eat it.
If you love nachos (and who doesn’t, really?), then you’re going to really love chilaquiles. Most often served as a brunch dish in Mexico, Chilaquiles are very similar to nachos in that they incorporate similar ingredients, but the tortillas are first soaked in a red or green chile sauce or salsa before being topped with cotija cheese and onions. The sauce coats each chip, giving this dish incredible flavor and a slightly different texture, though not in a soggy way.
» Try making these chilaquiles at home with our Global Gourmet recipe!
Fajitas are definitely one of our favorites of the foods eaten in Mexico. We often order this when we visit Mexican restaurants. Typically, you’ll find a beef, chicken or shrimp version, with peppers and onions. Of course, you’ll get a couple of tortillas on the side to put the filling in, too. The meat is flavorful and tender, and the peppers give it a nice acidic crunch. It’s some of the best Mexican food you’ll come across. Learn how to make fajitas at home with this easy recipe.
Guacamole with Chicaronnes
You sit down at a restaurant. You’re hungry and you know that your main dishes aren’t going to arrive for at least 15 minutes. What do you do? Obviously, you order guacamole! The couple of times we ordered it as an appetizer, we were shocked at how much of it was on the plate. We could have easily split the guacamole and had enough to eat. It’s super filling. A side of tortilla chips comes with guacamole, usually, but we were excited to see some crispy, crunchy chicharons to eat with ours.
Beef Barbacoa is a slow-braised beef shoulder cooked with chipotle chiles and cumin, sometimes in a pit in the ground. It’s tender, juicy, and well-seasoned, and lends itself well to shredded meat dishes, like sandwiches and tacos. You’ll find it on many menus you come across, in some form, across Mexico, but it’s most popular in and around Mexico City, near where it originated.
We’ve had churros in a number of different countries – from Spain to Peru and now Mexico. It’s a fantastic dessert – deep-fried and crispy on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. It’s often served with either a chocolate or caramel sauce, or with a sweet sauce stuffed inside. The one we had at Pujol in Mexico City was perfect in every way. It was a thinner rope of dough than usual, but it was perfectly crispy and chewy at the same time. It was served with a dulce de leche dipping sauce.
I saved the best two for last. Mezcal is one of the products of Mexico that we were the most looking forward to trying. It’s a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant native to Mexico. “The word Mezcal comes from Nahuatl mexcalli metl and ixcalli which means “oven-cooked agave”.”
Mezcal is basically a smoky version of tequila. True Mezcal aficionados would scoff at me for saying that. There’s so much more to it than that. You can learn more in this post. In any case, it’s a smoky flavored liquor that is often served with orange slices and chile salt on the side.
Oaxacan Mezcal Cocktail
This is my favorite new cocktail. We’re even making it at home now! Here’s the recipe. We found and fell in love with this cocktail at the Hilton Reforma Hotel in downtown Mexico City. The ingredients are Mezcal, basil, lime, agave syrup and a rim salt. Together, these ingredients are outstanding as a cocktail. It’s sweet, smoky and sour at the same time. Trust me, it’s the best cocktail I’ve had in a long time.
Want more? That’s just the short list of things you should eat in Mexico. Believe me, there are dozens more! But you’ll have to visit to find out. If you could recommend a few, what would be your favorite things you should eat in Mexico? Have a favorite Mexican food dish that is your go to? Tell us about it in the comments section!
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.
41 thoughts on “15 Delicious Things You Should Eat and Drink in Mexico”
The Tlacoyo looks amazing! And I haven’t ever seen that anywhere on any menu in an American Mexican restaurant. I guess some things you really have to eat in the country they originate from! I am like you, though. I love anything with cilantro and fresh tortillas!
Those Tlacoyas look amazing, and I have never heard of them, though I am a huge Mexican food fan. What a nice array of different foods you have described here. It’s making me hungry, actually!
We’d never seen the Tlacoyas before either. They were my favorite new find!
Ooooo I would love to try the Mexican microbrews, never had one before I don’t think! That churro also looks incredible – totally different from churros I’ve ever had. Love how thin it is, and that it was served with dulce de leche. It all looks incredible, take me back to Mexico please!
My kids love Mexican food, and making it is one of the best ways to get them to eat their veggies! I think they would eat almost everything on here (with the exception of Mezcal 🙂
Those tortillas and quesadillas make me hungry. I need to learn how to make them.
They are more like a deep fried taco. I tried homemade potatoe tacos on the beach and they were awesome!! I began to prefer those over meat!!
I’ve had a potato taco. I’d agree they’re pretty darn good.
The cocktail looks like mojito. I have never tried Mezcal but I’d love to try it one day :)… I love Mexican food but never tried gorditas something to try next time.
I’ll have one of everything, please? Those pictures made my mouth water. Mexican food is so amazing and delicious, if done correctly. Fresh ingredients, beautiful colors, bursting flavors, what more can you want?
I agree completely.
I lived in Mexico for a year and absolutely love Mexican food, which is bad because I’m hungry now and reading this post! One thing I would add to the list would be tacos al pastor, which we would eat at least once a week in Mexico. Of course, they hardly have anything to do with the tacos that we eat in the U.S. Also, did you try the hamburgers and hot dogs there? They are really (and surprisingly!) delicious.
We didn’t try hamburgers or hot dogs, but we went to a festival where they were being sold everywhere. Didn’t know that was a thing we should try.
Yes! Reading this post could not have come at a better time as we’re currently living in Mexico until April. It’s so great to see some of my favorites on your list (mole, gorditas, and the local Mexican brews) and more importantly all the other recommendations that I must try! I’m intrigued by the Oaxacan Mezcal Cocktail and will be on the lookout for your recipe 🙂
Mezcal! This is a new discovery for me too and I’ve been and fallen in love with Mexican cuisine. I badly want to try it as a cocktail. The Barbacoa looks delicious. The way it’s cooked reminds me of how kleftico (my Greek roots) used to be cooked – ie in a pit in the ground 🙂
Stefan, I just posted the recipe for that great Mezcal cocktail. You have to give it a try. It’s so easy and it’s amazingly delicious.
It’s been over 20 years since I went to Mexico and many of the foods you mention here I have never tried. Maybe it’s time for another visit. The deep-fried Quesadilla looks very tempting, I’d love to try it.
Definitely have another trip! But if not, it’s pretty easy to make most of these dishes at home, including the deep-fried quesadilla.
I love Mexican food in general- though I don’t like how I feel after (unhealthy) but we’ve all got to live a little 😉 By the way I tried Manchego for the first time in Spain last year and loved it- Manchego Cheese Molcajete looks really appetizing- I’d love to try that someday.
It doesn’t all have to be so heavy and unhealthy. Much of it is actually fresh and healthy. We just tended toward the heavier stuff. I love tortillas!
Most of them look quite caloric, but tasty nonetheless! I do love guacamole! 🙂
It’s worth it!
This is making me hungry! Great list 🙂
I haven’t tried all of them, but I definitely remember Mexico as one of the tastiest countries I have visited! I’d love to go back and experience more. It was also the country where I discovered that I actually like spicy food 😉
It definitely ranks at the top of my favorite culinary destinations.
I thought I knew Mexican food before I saw this.. so many more dishes to try .. Manchego Cheese Molcajete with Tomatillo Sauce is calling my name!
There is a vast array of foods in Mexico I’ve never had, which was surprising to me too!
Is it safe to eat lettuce there? Or any vegetables that are eaten fresh and rinsed and not cooked?
Hi Dien. As with any unfamiliar eating establishment, there is always the chance to unwashed vegetables. You do need to be cautious, but you don’t have to avoid them entirely. Look for a health certificate, or watch how the food is being handled and make a reasonable decision.
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Thanks for the tips
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You have mentioned so amazing facts about Mexican food and drinks and this can be so informative for them who are very much fond of Mexican food. I would like to try Mexican food and drinks because I love Mexican dishes so much rather when I went Canada I was tried some Mexican food in Senor Burrito Inc because there was so delicious Mexican food and drinks were found that I have eaten. I think this was the best restaurant for me in Canada because of its deliciousness of different Mexican food with drinks also.
I love that you can find great Mexican food all over the world!
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SHUT THE *#$%^$#%# UP
Fajitas? That’s more of a texted. Yes a lot of calories, but Mexican food is delicious. Beef Barbacoa? Next time try sheep barbacoa, that’s the original with the consomé.
I love mexican food. I almost forgot, next time try beef head tacos.
Hi there, I was born in México City, and I have to say, that most of the food mentioned by you, is not totally accurate in the description. Tlacoyos, do not have lettuce, tomatoes, etc . It is just the corn dough with a filling of ur choice and on top mexican cream ( not sour cream ), añejo cheese and salsa. Pambazos yes, they are “ like “ a torta , but the authentic filling is potatoes and chorizo. Fried quesadillas, the dough is made with a combo of regular flour and corn flour and yes, they can just be cheese, chorizo, potato and cheese, zucchini flower, pork in green sauce and things like that, not carne asada .
So if u are going to try this things go to a market, which there are many. I would be careful when you buy from street vendors.
I recomend tacos de canasta, sold from bikes with a big basket full of warm delicious flavors and the cheapest taco in the city
Good luck, and enjoy the food