I’m obsessed with street food.
I definitely don’t let my vegetarian restrictions or varying lack of language fluency stop me in trying out new and interesting street side delicacies, no matter where I am in the world. And Mexico City street food is certainly no exception.
At first glance, it might seem that a tour is best suited to tourists, but that assumption is totally wrong! I’ve found that taking tours in the city I live in gives me a much deeper understanding of many aspects of culture (in this case: FOOD!) and makes me a better, more informed citizen of the city. Not to mention it’s just fun… especially when the tour involves eating new foods and learning more about the history and cultural importance of each item.
I set off on my guided street food expedition hungry in more ways than one. I was pretty famished from skipping breakfast in anticipation of a few hours of chowing down, but I was also hungry to learn more about Mexico City street food than Wikipedia had previously offered me.
I arrived to the meeting point at Sanborns a bit early (it’s that American in me, if I’m not 5 minutes early I feel like I’m late), and was surprised to see the guide Paco was even earlier than me! We had a few minutes to chat before the other tour participants arrived, and then set off on our culinary exploration.
our little group of foodie explorers
Mexico City Street Food: Tamales and Atole
Our first stop was a traditional tamale stand – a very typical Mexican breakfast. A cornbreadish dish offered in a wide variety of sweet or savory flavors, tamale ingredients are wrapped in a corn husk and then cooked by steaming. You eat a tamale by pulling back the corn husk (sort of like a wrapper) and taking bites with a fork
Tamales are often paired with atole, a thick sweet drink that reminds me of pureed oatmeal (but not in a bad way).
Paco explained that most tamale sellers are women, who make their tamales at home in the early morning hours before bringing their fresh tamale-filled carts to popular spots, especially street corners. People on their way to work will then stop and grab a tamale and maybe a cup of atole. Each tamale vendor will have her own special recipe, usually passed down through the generations of her family.
tamales waiting for a hungry customer
Traditional Mexican Life
Mexico City Street Food: Tlacoyo
Mexico City Street Food: Tacos de Canasta
Tacos de canasta are quite different from the tacos you’re used to (especially in the US!)
They are soft, squishy, and prepared by steaming. After the vendor prepares the tacos for the day, he or she usually leaves them in a covered basket to keep them moist and warm.
While that doesn’t quite sound appealing (slippery steamed tacos?), it’s worth a try or at least a visit to the taco stand to check it out – especially if you’re visiting this guy.
Definitely the most charismatic and cutest street food vendor I’ve EVER run across, the grandpa to Grandma’s Tacos is a total character. Make sure to check out the photo tacked to the beam of the stand of him climbing a volcano in his youth.
Mexico City Street Food: Hangover Soup
Mexico City Street Food: Burritos
Of all the stops on the tour, I think the burrito had to be my favorite. The grilled veggies, delicious avocado, and spicy (but not too spicy) salsa formed the PERFECT combination. I think I found my new favorite street food spot!!
Mexico City Street Food: Dessert
Eat Mexico’s Mexico City Street Food Tour
You can book a range of food tours with Eat Mexico. While I went on the Mexico City Street Food tour (the best option for vegetarians), there are many other options for carnivores.
The tour lasted just short of four hours and costs $85. Tours start at 9:30am or 1:30pm and are available Monday through Friday (many of the street food stalls close on weekends).
The tour is within the Cuauhtemoc neighborhood, and involves a fair amount of walking though the pace was slow and included frequent (food) stops.
I’d definitely recommend skipping breakfast especially if your tour starts in the morning. Remember to bring a camera or phone for photos and a bottled water (some of the food is SPICY!). Be sure to let Eat Mexico know of any food restrictions before booking your tour, so that they can direct you to the best option for you.
While not all stops had vegetarian options (meat is a big thing in Mexico), including 3 of the main stops, this wasn’t a problem for me. I had MORE than enough food at the others stalls. I was more interested in the food culture of Mexico (which is largely NOT vegetarian) than I was in eating at every single stop.
To keep in mind if you are a strict vegetarian like me: Paco informed me that all of the tamales were made with pork lard, the soup was made with a meat-based broth (and filled with meat), and the canasta tacos were made with chicken broth. Whether or not the beans I ate in the tlacoyo had lard in them was debatable (Paco said it was vegetarian, but one of the other tour participants warned me otherwise).
the sauced meat definitely isn’t vegetarian… but many other options were!
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Have you ever tried a street food tour? (Especially a Mexico City street food tour?) What did you think?