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Mexican food is more than just tacos, nachos, and burritos. In fact, while tacos do reign supreme in the country, you’ll be hard-pressed to find nachos and burritos at all while traveling in Mexico!
Mexico is a large country – about one-fifth the size of the US – and has more than 120 million people living in 32 states. There are coastal areas, mountain towns, traditional pueblos, and major international cities, and each one puts its own spin on the national cuisine.
So, this guide covers all the best authentic food in Mexico from:
- Popular types of meat
- Mexican breakfast dishes
- Mexican soups
- Mexican street food
- Main dishes, antojitos, and (more) street foods
- Sauces, sides, and toppings
- Mexican desserts
- Traditional holiday dishes in Mexico
- And oh-so-much more.
Keep reading to dive into the deliciously diverse world of Mexican food with this list of 101 dishes, drinks, and desserts to try in the country!
Types of Meat in Mexico
Mexican food is meat-heavy and your choices go far beyond just the carnitas and barbacoa you see at Chipotle at home. These are some of the most common meats you’ll find in your tacos and quesadillas while traveling across the country.
1. Carne Asada
Carne asada means ‘grilled meat’ in Spanish. It’s always made from beef, but the cut can vary. Usually, it’s a steak that’s seasoned with a marinade of spice rub.
Because it’s made with a high-quality cut, carne asada can be eaten on its own or cut up as a filling for tacos. Try it at home with this carne asada recipe.
Barbacoa is a cooking style, not a type of meat.
Barbacoa is made by covering the meat with agave leaves and cooking it overnight in a pit. Because it takes so long, it’s often served on weekends and eaten as a breakfast meat.
In the US barbacoa is made with beef, but in Northern Mexico barbacoa is usually sheep, in Central Mexico it’s lamb, and in Southern Mexico, it’s usually made with pork.
Tesajo is another beef dish that’s popular in the more traditional areas of the country like Oaxaca. The beef is pounded thin, dried, and then cooked over a woof fire, giving it a smokey, jerky flavor and slightly tougher consistency.
4. Cecina Enchilada
If you’re eating tesajo, there’s a high chance that cecina enchilada is on the menu as well. This is another dried meat (pictured above with the tesajo), made with pork and seasoned with red chili spices.
It’s usually less tough than its tesajo counterpart – try it at home with this cecina enchilada recipe.
Carnitas is made from pork.
Carnitas is the term for all of the meat from the pig, and you can specify which cut you’d like, like costillas (ribs), pancita (pork belly), mixtas (a mix of different cuts) and many more.
Carnitas vendors display the meat in a glass case and usually sell it by the kilo to-go or with tacos in the shop. The dish originated in the state of Michoacan but you can find it everywhere in the country today.
Guisado is another popular Mexican food. It’s not exactly a type of meat, but a taco filling. Guisado means ‘stew’ in Spanish, so guisado tacos are stew tacos.
These stews are thick fillings made with anything the restaurant owner decides on that day, like chorizo and potatoes, liver and greens, or even chili rellenos.
Most shops will have 10+ options set out in large clay bowls and extra toppings you can choose from like salsa, guacamole, rice, beans, and cheese.
7. Al Pastor
Tacos al pastor are the most popular tacos in Mexico City.
You may think they’re kebab shops at first, because the recipe originated from Lebanese immigrants. The pork meat is seasoned and stacked and cooked on a spinning skewer.
Al pastor tacos are topped with pineapple, cilantro, and onion. These tacos are small, light, and Dan’s favorite food in Mexico.
8. Cochinita Pibil
Cochinita pibil is a Mayan dish that you’ll find primarily in the Yucatan Peninsula.
The pork is marinated in citrus juice, wrapped in banana leaves, cooked underground (pibil means ‘underground’ in Mayan) and served shredded, similar to a pulled pork dish.
Fish is somewhat common in Mexican food.
In the state of Tobasco, empanadas de pejelagarto are made with the fresh-water pejelagarto fish, in Oaxaca, trout is common in the Sierra Juarez mountain towns, and in Ensenada, fish tacos made with halibut, tuna, and other fresh-caught fish are a staple of this coastal city’s cuisine.
Cabrito is a whole, smoked goat, most popular in Monterrey.
The popular cabrito al pastor dish is made from a young goat, cooked unseasoned over a spit, but you can also eat cabrito in stews, in sauce, and many other ways.
Chorizo is Mexican pork sausage.
Unlike the smoked and dried chorizo in Spain that’s eaten like salami, Mexican chorizo must be cooked (making it more like a brat).
The most common color is red chorizo spiced with chili but you can also find green chorizo in markets and shops as well.
12. Tinga de Pollo
Tinga de pollo is similar to pulled pork but made with shredded chicken instead. It’s cooked and served in a tomato chili sauce. Try it at home with this authentic tinga de pollo recipe.
Mexican Breakfast Dishes
Breakfast menus in Mexican restaurants are usually a mix of Mexican food and international breakfast dishes from around the world. These are some of the most popular…
Chilaquiles are certainly one of the most loved Mexican foods, by locals and foreigners alike. No trip to Mexico is complete without scarfing down a dish of drowned nachos at least once.
Chilaquiles are made from thick, fried tortilla chips smothered in a red or green sauce and topped with chicken, cheese, sour cream, and other various garnishes. Try them at home with this chilaquiles recipe.
14. Huevos Rancheros
Huevos rancheros are another popular Mexican food that most gringos will recognize. This breakfast dish is made from corn tortillas topped with fried eggs and salsa. Usually, it comes with rice, beans, guacamole, or potatoes on the side as well.
Molletes are toasted open-faced sandwiches topped with beans, cheese, meat, and salsa – kind of like a Mexican breakfast version of French bread pizzas. Try them at home with this easy mollete recipe.
16. Machaca con Huevos
Machaca con huevos is a Mexican breakfast dish with dried shredded beef and eggs with veggies. It originated in Nuevo Leon, Mexico and is most popular in the northern part of the country.
Mexico may have a pretty hot climate, but soup is still a common menu item at most restaurants. These are some of the most notable soups to seek out and try across the country.
Pozole is kind of like the ramen of Mexico and probably the most popular soup on this list. Pozole is so hearty and filling that it’s usually served as a main dish.
There are three types of pozole: red, white, and green. All three are a hominy soup with pork, but the colors change based on the spices used to flavor it.
18. Carne en su jugo
Carne en su jugo means ‘meat in its juices’ which, when you think about it, describes pretty much every type of soup. But this one, in particular, is from Jalisco on the Pacific coast.
It’s made with steak, bacon, and beans and is known as a hangover cure for when you’ve had just a bit too much to drink the night before.
Menudo is also a popular hangover cure in Mexico, but this dish may be harder for gringos to stomach, especially when already feeling nauseous.
Why? Menudo soup is a red chili broth packed full of… cow’s stomach.
20. Sopa de Lima
Sopa de Lima is a Mayan dish so it’s commonly consumed in the Yucatan peninsula.
The Mayan people originally made it with turkey and corn and it became what it is today due to the Spanish influence. Now, this light lime soup has chicken, onion, pepper, cilantro, and crunchy tortilla strips.
Birria is also from Jalisco and a regionally popular dish in Guadalajara. The thick stew is made with goat or sheep meat and flavored with dried chili peppers.
This Mexican food is supposed to be a great hangover cure (are you sensing a trend with the soups here?) and you can try it at home with this birria recipe.
22. Sopa de Tortilla
The history and origin of tortilla soup isn’t widely known but it’s thought to have (probably) come from somewhere around Mexico City. Tortilla soup has a red tomato-based broth with chicken, onion, garlic, chilies and, of course, fried tortilla strips.
23. Caldo de Siete Mares
Caldo de siete mares is the ‘soup of the seven seas.’ As you may deduce, it’s full of seafood like shrimp, squid, crab, mussels, or all of the above and has a tomato-based broth. It’s most commonly found on the coasts of the country but you can try it at home with this recipe.
Street Food in Mexico
Snackers rejoice, because there’s always a street food stand on the next corner to taste test a delicious new Mexican food while traveling through the country.
Chicharron is a light, airy, crunchy snack. It’s similar to chips, but made from fried pork skin.
In Mexico, you can get it plain, but a popular way to consume it is as a massive flat piece of chicharron topped with onions, sauce, veggies, pretzels, and peanuts.
25. Fruit with chile
Fresh fruit is another popular Mexican food. Fruit cups come mixed or with a single type and are usually mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, or pineapple. Eat it plain or do as the Mexicans do and order it preparada with salt or chili powder and lime juice.
26. Elote and Esquites
Elote is one of my personal favorite Mexican foods.
This roasted or boiled corn on the cob is slathered with mayonnaise, sprinkled with cheese, and topped with chili powder and lime juice. You can also order esquites at the same stands, which are cups of corn with the same toppings.
Dorilocos may just be the peak of humanity.
Street vendors take a bag of Doritos, cut it open (long-wise) and smother it with a plethora of tasty toppings like hot sauce, veggies, Japanese peanuts, chicharron, and whatever else is on hand that day.
Eat it with a fork like a walking taco and continue on with your day, grateful to live in a world where Dorilocos exist.
28. Oaxacan cheese
You know those foodie friends of yours who love to tell you that ‘authentic Mexican food doesn’t have cheese?’ Well, they’re wrong.
Cheese is eaten throughout Mexico as a topping and filling in various dishes.
Among them, Oaxacan cheese is salty and has the consistency of a mozzarella cheese stick while queso fresca, crumbled like feta, can also be found on guisado tacos, enchiladas, and more around the country.
If you hear a whistle like a train coming into the station, look around, because a camote vendor is nearby.
Camotes are steamed sweet potatoes that vendors sell from carts, dish up the legumes saturated with sweetened condensed milk.
If you live in Mexico long enough, you’ll grow to love the long, lonely sound of the camote vendors passing through the city.
30. Tacos de Canasta
Tacos de canasta translates to ‘basket tacos’ because these tacos are pre-made and sold from giant baskets lined with blue plastic. They’re filled with meat and then dipped in the juice before being packaged up and steamed while they travel across the city.
The Taco Chronicles on Netflix has an episode dedicated to this street food staple, so I recommend starting there if you want to learn more.
Main Dishes, Antojitos, and (More) Street Foods
Now let’s get into the good stuff. If you’ve been waiting for the main staples of Mexican food – like tacos, enchiladas, and tamales – it’s finally time to dive in.
When we think of foods from Mexico, tacos are almost always the first that come to mind.
Tacos are the Mexican food most commonly associated with the country and a staple of almost every diet in almost every region.
At their most basic, tacos are meat on a small corn tortilla, but they usually have salsa, guacamole, onion, cilantro, lime juice, or a combination of these on top as well.
Morisqueta is a rice and bean dish from the state of Michoacan. For this simple dish, a white rice base is smothered in pinto beans, tomato sauce, and often a variety of other vegetables/toppings. Try it at home with this morisqueta recipe.
Enchiladas are corn tortillas filled with meat or cheese ad drowned in a red or green chili sauce. Their cousin enmoladas are drowned in mole and the enfrijoladas are submerged in a blended black bean sauce.
In Mexico they’re not baked like their American counterparts but usually topped with crumbled white cheese and cream sauce.
Papadzules are also from the Yucatan peninsula and showcase the region’s own special spin on enchiladas. The corn tortillas are dipped in a pumpkin seed sauce and filled with hard-boiled eggs.
Tlayudas are an authentic Mexican food that is the cuisine’s own version of pizza.
Large corn tortillas are topped with pork fat, black bean spread, Oaxacan cheese, meat, and fresh veggies like lettuce, tomato, and avocado and then grilled or baked until crispy.
They can be cut into pieces and eaten like a pizza or served folded in half like an overstuffed quesadilla.
Panuchos are fried corn tortillas stuffed with black beans. They’re then topped with meat, cheese, veggies, and salsas to make the dish extra messy and extra delicious. They’re most commonly found in the Yucatan peninsula.
37. Chile Rellenos
Chile rellenos are stuffed poblano peppers.
First the pepper is roasted until soft and then it’s peeled and filled with meat, cheese, or veggies. The peppers are coated in a whipped egg batter, fried, and served hot with salsa on the side.
They’re one of my personal favorite foods from Mexico and you can try it at home with this chile relleno recipe.
Bocoles are corn masa cakes. They’re so simple and cheap to make that they’ve been used as a go-to breakfast, lunch, or dinner for generations.
Bocoles are similar in texture and shape to a potato pancake and can – as with most everything else on this list of authentic food in Mexico – be topped with anything you please.
There’s a long-standing dispute over quesadillas in Mexico.
While most states serve the corn tortillas filled with cheese and other toppings Mexico City takes the queso in quesadilla as more of a guideline than a command.
So, if you want your meat or vegetable quesadilla to include cheese in the capital city, don’t forget to ask for it!
Chalupas are yet another Mexican food invented in Puebla (which rivals Oaxaca as the country’s culinary capital). They’re named after the chalupa boat because the soft-fried tortilla is cooked into a concave boat shape as well. They’re then topped with whatever salsa, meat, cheese, and veggies you desire.
No Mexican food guide is complete without tamales.
Masa dough (made with cornmeal) is filled with mole, chicken, salsa, veggies, (or even served plain) and then wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks and steamed.
Tamales are an authentic food in Mexico and their history can be traced back as far as 5,000 to 8,000 BC.
While we’re on the topic of tamales, don’t miss the zacahuil.
This authentic Mexican food hails from the Huasteca region and is just like a tamale – but it’s three feet long and have been known to get up to six or more!
The celebratory food can feed parties of a hundred or more people so you’re much more likely to find it at a large gathering rather than on a restaurant menu.
Tortas are the Mexican take on sandwiches and are made by topping soft telera buns with guac, refried beans, meat, and veggies – basically, they’re a taco on bread instead of a shell. Some cities, like Guadalajara, serve their tortas ahogada, drowned in a red chile sauce.
Poc-chuc is a Mayan dish so you’ll find it in the Yucatan Peninsula. Pork chops are marinated in citrus and then grilled and served with a side of guac, rice, beans, tortillas, roasted veggies, or salsa. Try it at home with this poc chuc recipe from Rick Bayless.
You won’t find hard taco shells in Mexico, but you will find their more dignified ancestor: the tostada.
These are simply hard corn shells that are flat instead of folded, and they’re best eaten topped with anything you’d find on a taco like meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, beans, or guacamole.
This Mexican food may have a habit of falling apart with the first bite but the mess is part of the tostada experience.
You know those frozen taquitos you ate late at night during sleepovers as a kid? Flautas are the authentic Mexican food version of that.
Corn tortillas are filled with meat (usually chicken or beef), rolled, and fried until they’re crispy. They come in servings of three or four topped with sauce, lettuce, salsa, and cream.
According to this article, there is a wide variety of empanadas in Mexico.
However the most common – that I’ve seen – are made with corn tortillas instead of dough and are more similar to a quesadilla than the fried, doughy empanadas you find in other parts of Latin America.
If that’s what you’re looking for, order pastes hidalguense, a filled puff pastry snack brought to Mexico by English miners.
Molotes are an authentic Mexican street food that look like fried footballs. They’re similar to the fried empanadas you find in other Latin America countries and made by stuffing meat or cheese into a thick cornmeal dough and deep frying it in oil.
49. Sopes, Garnaches, Memelas, Huaraches, and Migadas
These five antojitos (Mexican appetizers) are so similar I’m grouping them all into one entry. They are made from are small, thick corn tortillas that often have an upturned rim around them or a hollowed-out area in the middle.
They’re fried and topped with meat, veggies, cheese, and salsa and eaten as a starter or street food snack. Whether it’s called a sope, migada (the giant version of the sope), garnache, memelita, or huarache depends on subtle differences in the tortilla size, toppings, and location throughout the country.
Gorditas are made from masa dough that’s cooked a little thicker than a regular corn tortilla. It’s then slit on the side like a pita and stuffed with all the typical delicious taco goodness you love. Yum.
51. Bolillo con Relleno
Bolillo con Relleno comes from the state of Guerrero and is especially popular in Acapulco, where the bread rolls are slit down one side and stuffed with pork, peppers, and other toppings.
52. Queso Relleno
Relleno means ‘filled’ in Spanish, so queso relleno is stuffed cheese. Not, not stuffed with cheese – the cheese itself is stuffed in this Yucatan dish. (So, not only is there cheese in Mexican food, it can even be the main dish at times – take that food snobs.)
To make queso relleno, edam cheese rounds are hollowed out and stuffed with minced meat, raisins, nuts, and spices before being wrapped and steamed into a gooey, tasty mess.
Mexico has almost 6,000 miles of coastline and seafood plays an important role in the cuisines of the states that sit alongside it. These are some must-try seafood dishes in Mexico.
53. Arroz la Tumbada
Arroz la Tumbada is a seafood and rice dish from the coastal state of Veracruz. It’s similar to paella and is cooked (and sometimes served) in a thick clay pot called a cazuela.
Ceviche originated in Peru (or maybe The Philippines or Spain, depending on who you talk to) but it’s been part of Mexico’s coastal cuisine for hundreds of years.
This seafood dish may not be for the squeamish – the meat is ‘cooked’ in acidic lime juice instead of heat – but it’s the perfect way to cool down under the hot Mexican sun.
Aguachile is similar to ceviche but this particular spin on the dish comes from Sinaloa.
The seafood is cooked in lime juice and served in a sauce of chilies pulverized in water with tostadas and avocado on the side.
56. Lobster in Puerto Nuevo
The San Diegan calls Puerto Nuevo, 30-minutes from the California border, the ‘Lobster Capital of the World’ and we’ll take their word for it.
The small fishing village has 38 restaurants serving more than 1,000 meals every weekend. And did I mention that the signature lobster dish is deep-fried? Uh, yum.
57. Fish or Shrimp Tacos
Fish and shrimp tacos can be found on menus across Mexico now but the most popular are called ‘Baja-style’ for the Baja Sur coast that they originate from.
Usually, the fish and shrimp are battered and deep-fried and the taco is topped with a creamy sauce and crunchy slaw.
Sauces, Sides, and Toppings
No list of foods from Mexico would be complete without all of the sauces, sides, and toppings that add flair and flavor to their dishes.
Most people outside of Mexico are familiar with the brown mole sauce made with chocolate, but did you know that in Oaxaca there are more than 70 types of mole alone? (According to our Oaxacan taxi driver, that is.)
Like the word salsa, mole just means sauce, not a specific type of dish. Brown mole is well-known internationally but in Oaxaca, you’ll also find it in black, yellow, green, red, and every other color of the rainbow.
Does this really even need an entry?
Guacamole is a creamy dish made from lightly smashed or blended avocado, lime juice, red onion, tomato, and garlic. It’s eaten as a chip dip or topping on pretty much any Mexican food.
Salsa is probably the most ubiquitous food of Mexico and there are hundreds of types in different colors, flavors, and spice levels.
Salsa rojo, a red salsa with a red tomato base, and salsa verde, a green salsa made from tomatillos, are two of the most common categories but from there the varieties are virtually endless.
Escamole is must-try Mexican food for adventurous eaters.
Affectionately called ‘Aztec caviar,’ escamole was a delicacy and celebratory food eaten by Aztec emperors. It’s still eaten sparingly today, because even though it’s not quite as expensive as caviar, a small serving will typically run about $12 to $15 USD or more.
Why? The taco topping may resemble corn or beans, but it’s actually made from the larvae of black ants that live in agave and cactus plants.
Chapulines are dried grasshoppers that are particularly popular in Oaxaca. They’re harvested in the morning when the cool weather leaves them dormant and easy to gather up.
Then, the crunchy red insects are dried and seasoned and served as a topping, filling, blended into salsa, or even eaten plain.
63. Corn tortillas
Like guacamole, corn tortillas are so ubiquitous with Mexican food – they’ve been around for more than 10,000 years – an entry in this list almost feels insulting. We should just know they’re the most authentic food in Mexico and leave it at that.
Corn tortillas are made from ground corn flour that’s mixed into dough, pressed, and cooked on a hot griddle. They form the base of all the best Mexican dishes like tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas, or can be fried into chips, tostadas, and more.
While the yellow corn tortilla is most common, there are 59 species of corn in Mexico and you can find tortillas made from white and blue corn as well.
64. Flour tortillas
Sorry food snobs, flour tortillas are an authentic Mexican food and this great defense of the flour tortilla from a Mexican chef will tell you why.
However, they’re almost exclusively found in Northern Mexico (when I asked a Mexican friend for travel tips in the country, she told me to only eat corn tortillas in the south and flour tortillas in the north).
In Sonora, some flour tortillas are served so large they’re called “sobaqueras, which basically means arm-pitters, because they’re as big as putting it from your hand all the way to your armpit.” In Southern Mexico, anything served on a flour tortilla is usually called gringa.
Huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on corn, with a taste and texture similar to mushrooms. Sometimes it’s referred to as a Mexican truffle, though it’s not as rare, expensive, or delicious.
It’s common in quesadillas and soups but can (and is) utilized in many ways across many dishes in the cuisine.
66. Sal de Gusano
Gusano means worm in Spanish, so sal de gusano is worm salt. And no, that’s not a mistranslation or a play on words.
This fine spice is made from the moth larvae that live in agave plants. Dried and ground, it’s mixed with chili powder and salt and you’ll find it sprinkled on orange slices in mezcalerias across the country.
Nopales are the flat ‘leaves’ of the prickly pear cactus, and their taste is compared to asparagus or green beans. They’re cut up and cooked until tender and used as fillings, toppings, or in salsas.
Mexican food isn’t only savory, and Mexican bakeries are criminally underrated. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, these Mexican desserts will more than satisfy it.
Flan may be from Spain, but coming to Mexico without eating it is like visiting New York and not eating the pizza… it may not have originated from the place, but it’s so ingrained in the culture that you’ll still be missing out.
Flan is kind of like a mix between pudding and jello (consistency-wise) because it’s made from eggs and whole milk, flavored with vanilla and cinnamon, and often topped with fresh seasonal fruit.
Churros are also not 100% authentic Mexican food (they also came via the Spanish) but Mexicans put their own spin on them over the years.
In Mexico, churros are coated in cinnamon sugar and dipped in thick chocolate or sometimes filled with chocolate, vanilla, caramel, or cream.
It’s widely accepted that the best churros in Mexico are found at Churreria el Moro in Mexico City, which checks every box with their Instagram-worthy interior design, 24-hour availability, and perfectly crispy-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside sugary-sweet churros.
Conchas are found in nearly every Mexican bakery. These sweet rolls are topped with a crunchy sugar topping that makes it look like a conch shell and gives it its name.
71. Wedding cookies
Despite the name, Mexican wedding cookies aren’t only for special occasions – you can find them in bakeries and enjoy them whether or not you’re celebrating someone’s nuptials that day.
Order polvorones at any bakery and you’ll be treated to a dense, rounded cookie that’s filled with nuts and coated in confectioner’s sugar.
72. Fresas con crema
Fresas con crema is like strawberry shortcake without the cake.
This quick treat is served up by street food vendors and shopkeepers because it’s so easy to make with sour cream, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla, and, of course, fresh red strawberries.
Try it at home with this easy fresas con crema recipe.
Bunuelos in Mexico are crispier than the other countries’ soft and fluffy iterations you might be used too.
They’re usually shaped in a snowflake pattern and flavored with sugar or dipped in chocolate. You’ll see them stacked on bakery shelves or in bags sold by street vendors rather than fried and served fresh.
Nieve means snow in Spanish but this treat is more like ice cream.
There are two types: nieve with a leche (milk) base and nieve with an agua (water) base. Street food stands usually sell both from giant buckets kept cold in coolers.
While vendors have all the classic flavors like lime, strawberry, and coconut, they also serve up more unique versions like avocado, cheese, tequila, rose petals and, in the town of Dolores Hidalgo, shrimp-flavored nieve.
While nieve is the texture of sorbet or frozen lemonade, paletas are bars on a stick.
They also come in water or milk-based options and in every flavor from the fresh fruit popsicles to the creamy chocolate-dipped ice cream bars.
The La Michoacana paleta ‘chain’ has up to 15,000 locations across the country, so this tasty Mexican dessert is impossible to miss.
76. Raspas or Raspados
Mexico is a hot country, so if nieve and paletas aren’t enough to cool you do, raspas should do the trick. Raspados are snow cones with a shaved ice base and flavored syrup on top.
77. Tortitas de Santa Clara
Santa Clara cookies, like many Mexican desserts, originated from the Santa Clara nuns in Puebla. This simple shortbread cookie has a pumpkin seed and sugar glaze and is a delightful fusion of Spanish and Mexican traditions.
78. Chili Candy
Do you like your gummies and suckers flavored with spicy chili?
Mexicans can’t get enough and in 7/11 shops, Oxxo corner stores, and even Wal-marts across the country have candy isles packed full of gummies, suckers, tamarind sticks, and other sweets coated in the ubiquitous bright red seasoning.
You can smell a marquesita stand from a mile away. Vendors cover thin pressed waffle cones with you choice of topping – cheese, fruit, or nutella are common picks – and then roll it into a tube so it’s easy to take on the go.
From Mexican craft beer to cornmeal tejate and everything in between, this list breaks down the best Mexican drinks to try when you visit.
80. Mexican Craft Beer
Craft beer in Mexico is a scene in its infancy. Mexico City has only nine breweries – about the same number as my small city of 100k people in Ohio – but you can use this guide to visit every single one. You’ll also find breweries in Cancun, Oaxaca, Monterrey, and most other major cities in the country.
81. Mexican Wine
The wine regions in Mexico are concentrated in the northern half of the country and in the Baja Peninsula which has over 150 wineries alone. The country as a whole has more than 7,000 acres of vineyards spread across it.
What’s the difference between mezcal and tequila?
Both drinks are made from agave plants, but mezcal has a wider reach. Tequila can only get the name if it comes from a blue agave plant in Jalisco or the regions around it, while mezcal can be made from any type of agave plant.
Mezcal comes in smoky, strong, smooth, and sweet varieties and is usually chased with an orange slice instead of lemon or lime.
Tequila can only come from the state of Jalisco or in some regions of the states around it.
Of course, the best place to drink tequila in Mexico is in the town of Tequila where the liquor was born!
Pulque is called the drink of the Aztec Gods because it’s been around for 1,000 years. It’s made from fermented agave sap and has a thick texture kind of like – I hate to say it – mucus.
Pulque natural is white and unflavored while pulque curado takes on the color of the fruit that it’s sweetened with. Alcohol content varies from batch to batch but it’s similar to drinking a light beer.
Michelada isn’t a drink, but a way of serving it.
Order your next beer in Mexico con michelada and it will come with lemon and tomato juice splashed inside and salt or a red sugar-chili syrup called chamoy around the top.
Margaritas may or may not be Mexican but tequila certainly is. So, order this sweet cocktail blended or on the rocks and toast to the country that made them what they are today.
87. Damiana Liqueur
Damiana liquor is regionally popular in Baja California.
It’s made from the damiana plant and was traditionally used in religious ceremonies and as an aphrodisiac. Now you’re more likely to see it on the menu as an after-dinner digestive or mixed into a margarita.
Tejate is a prehispanic, non-alcoholic drink that’s most commonly found in Oaxaca.
It’s made from cornmeal, cocoa beans, and the rosita de cacao flower. Tejate is mixed by hand and served slightly chilled in a bowl or cup from street vendors around the city.
89. Cafe de Olla
Cafe de Olla is sweet coffee brewed in a clay olla pot (hence the name). Though it may look black when it’s served to you, it’s brewed with cinnamon and sugar so it still comes out tasting super sweet.
Horchata is a non-alcoholic drink with a long history – it traveled from the Arab world to Spain to Mexico and has been around for more than 1,000 years. Horchata is made in a variety of ways but in Mexico, it has a white rice and cinnamon base.
91. Hot chocolate
No article about food in Mexico can be written without coming back to Oaxaca, the culinary capital of the country, time and time again. This time it’s for hot chocolate.
In Oaxaca, hot chocolate is served in clay bowls and can be ordered either con agua, with a water base, or con leche, with a milk base. Live like a local and try them both – 2,000 tons of chocolate are consumed in the region every year!
For me, atole tastes similar to a thinner, hotter version of rice pudding. It’s flavored with cinnamon and vanilla but made with cornflour and milk.
The non-alcoholic drink is served hot in mugs and frequently found at celebrations like Christmas and Day of the Dead.
93. Aqua Fresca
Agua fresca is the best way to cool down during the dog days of summer in Mexico.
This Mexican drink is made with fresh fruit, water, and sugar and the large colorful jugs are impossible to miss lined up in markets and street food stands across the country.
The drink was born through a fusion of African and Mexican cultures and is made with chocolate, rice, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
Traditional Holiday Dishes in Mexico
Finally, we’re rounding out this list of 101 foods from Mexico with traditional holiday dishes in Mexico.
If you’re traveling in the country on Grito de Dolores (Mexican Independence Day), Easter, Christmas, or Day of the Dead, keep an eye out for these traditional Mexican holiday dishes.
95. Chiles en Nogada
This Mexican food is traditionally eaten on Grito de Dolores, Mexico’s Independence Day on September 15th. It’s most common in restaurants throughout the month of September but you can find it on menus all year round.
Chiles en Nogada are considered a national dish of Mexico because it showcases the colors of the Mexican flag with the green poblano chili (stuffed with fruit), the white walnut-cream sauce, and the red pomegranate seed garnish.
Capirotada is bread pudding usually eaten during Lent on the days leading up to Easter, and most commonly on Good Friday.
The bread is soaked in a cinnamon-sugar mixture and baked with fruits and nuts using recipes that date back to the 1600s.
Rompope is Mexican eggnog, consumed during the Christmas season. It’s made with eggs, milk, sugar, and various spices and liquors and tastes like, well, eggnog.
98. Ponche Navideno
If you’re not into eggnog, this Christmas drink in Mexico may be more up your alley.
It’s a hot drink made from tejocotes, the fruit of a hawthorn tree, and other fruits, sugar, and spices. A blogger at Experience San Miguel de Allende says: ‘It looks like a bubbling pot of hot fruit salad. It smells like heaven.’
If you’re not around for Christmas, you can also find it during the Day of the Dead celebrations as well.
99. Ensalada de Noche Buena
Ensalada de Noche Buena is eaten on Christmas Eve in Mexico.
When families celebrate the holiday with a large dinner before heading to midnight mass, you can usually find this colorful fruit and nut salad on the table made from regional and seasonal produce.
100. Pan de Muertos
Dia de Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is celebrated from October 31 to November 2nd and brings plenty of tasty Mexican food along with it.
On this holiday, Mexicans believe the veil between earth and the afterlife is at its thinnest. (If you haven’t seen Coco, the Disney-Pixar animated film about the holiday, stop what you’re doing and watch it immediately.)
Pan de Muerto, the bread of the dead, is a staple of the celebration. It looks like a bun covered in sugar but is characterized by the X of ‘bones’ on the top (made from bread) or a colorful sugar skull pressed inside.
101. Candied Pumpkin
Beans, corn, and squash are the three most authentic Mexican foods and though we sometimes forget (because we mostly eat it in pie), pumpkins are, in fact, a squash.
Calabeza en tacha is an authentic candied pumpkin snack eaten on Day of the Dead. The pumpkin slices are cooked until tender in sugary-sweet molasses and eaten plain or as a filling in other dishes.
Try 101 Authentic Mexican Foods With This Guide
The food of Mexico is as varied as its people, geography, languages, and cultures, but one this is for sure: every corner of the country has something new and delicious to try.
Eat your way through 101 authentic Mexican foods with this list, and then comment below to share your favorite dishes!
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This article is part of the Mexico City Gluttony Guide. Read the rest below:
Then, browse the complete Mexico Series for 40+ more articles on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in the country.
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