Some destinations have a really great reputation for their street food, and Mexico’s one of them. So, I think if you’re planning a trip here (which you can do through tour operators like Hayes Jarvis) you definitely need to make an effort to skip the hotel or restaurant meals once in a while and hit the streets to sample the authentic and tasty fare on offer. And, as an added bonus, street food is excellent value for money too!
I thought I’d start by giving you a brief overview of Mexican street food. Now, while there are a lot of different types, the one the country’s best known for is antojitos. In itself this term covers a pretty broad range of dishes, but these are all characterised by the presence of corn masa – or dough to you and me.
So, under this bracket of snacks come famous Mexican dishes like quesadillas, tacos and tostadas, to name but a few. It’s these that I’ll be focusing on for the purposes of this post.
Topping my list is a personal favourite of mine – quesadillas. At their most basic, these can be nothing more than folded tortillas filled with cheese and then grilled, but it’s pretty rare to find them being sold on street stalls with so little in them – good thing, too, because there’s a huge variety of fillings that are always delicious!
Some of the top combinations include mushrooms and garlic as well as chorizo and cheese, but stewed meat fillings are also popular. Another key characteristic of quesadillas is that they tend to be quite crispy, as raw masa dough is fried or grilled to achieve the desired effect.
Tacos are a famous dish that’s great for a quick snack. Plus, there are lots of different types – including plenty of veggie options – so you can normally find one to suit you no matter what your tastes.
The most basic description of tacos is cooked fish, meat or vegetables with salsa and coriander, all wrapped up in a tortilla. Tacos de guisado are variants that contain stew, while tacos al carbon feature grilled meat.
I absolutely love enchiladas, so I always seek these out on street stalls when I’m in Mexico. Again, tortillas are a key ingredient; this time, they are filled with chicken or cheese and covered in either a salsa or mole. The wraps can be either fried or baked and are typically served as a whole main dish, rather than a snack.
If you like your tortillas crispy, tostadas are the way to go. These consist of tortillas that have been either fried or baked before being left to cool and go hard. Once they’re nice and solid, they can be topped with a whole range of ingredients (in fact, the whole reason the tortillas are cooked in this way is so they can provide a stable base for lots of different toppings). While there are plenty of varieties, I recommend a combination of protein, beans and shredded lettuce known as tostadas de pollo.
Tamales are one of the kings of the Mexican street food world. There are loads of different kinds, from seriously spicy options to versions that are perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth. A tamal is a kind of stuffed corn dough, and I’ll use a savoury variant to give you an idea of what it is, with it typically involving masa stuffed with stewed meat or fish. That said, the variations between tamales of different regions are pretty huge. For instance, Oaxaca is known for its tamales that are wrapped in banana leaves.