What to eat in Mexico City: 11 must-try local delights

From world-famous tacos to tostadas and tamales, Mexico City is an epicenter of Mexican flavor combinations. Savor the city with these 12 essential dishes.

With its beloved street food stalls and cherished cafes, Mexico City is a true gastronomic giant. Taste its famed exports like tacos and salsa as they’re supposed to be served, or snack on unique local favorites like tlayudas and cevicheas. You'll experience Mexican culture through its food, including ancient staples like chocolate. For those in search of more romantic activities, Mexico City's dining scene is ripe with memory-making options, from high-end restaurants to foodie-specific tours.

Mexican food is renowned for its fresh ingredients and well-spiced flavor combinations. Shopping for these ingredients is part of what makes the experience so special. You can take a walking tour of highlights like Mercado de Medellín, a bustling marketplace of colorful fruit and vegetables. Whatever you choose, it's well worth planning your Mexican adventure around the food, and Mexico City is a great place to start.

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1. Sample delicious tlayudas on a Polanco food tour

Tlayudas (also spelled "clayuda") are iconic in the local Mexican cuisine. They consist of thin tortillas topped with all sorts of flavors. This food is mostly served as a street food, but you can also find them in many high-end restaurants.

How to eat the best tlayudas in Mexico City?

Enjoy the best tlayudas by joining a Polanco food tour. All eateries in this experience are carefully chosen to make sure you get the best food in Mexico City.

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2. Savor tacos as you enjoy Mexico City's nightlife

Mexico City is undoubtedly the epicenter of the taco universe. You can try traditional tacos de barbacoa consisting of barbecued lamb, or taste the modern Mexico City classic, tacos al pastor, a fusion of Lebanese shawarma. Vegetarians can also get meat-free tacos in the city.

How to eat the best tacos in Mexico City?

You'll experience the best tacos on a food tour at night. A professional guide will take you through the best bars in the city.

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3. Indulge in fresh tortillas on a market tour

You can immerse yourself in Mexican culture by trying out tortillas (thin round flatbreads) and different traditional drinks. This famous food was first made by Mesoamerican societies and was originally made with maize flour. Many people now make them with wheat flour.

How to eat the best tortillas in Mexico City?

Visit La Merced Market and Mercado de Sonora for some of the freshest tortillas around.

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4. Taste the flavor of chinicuil worms and other exotic bugs

Edible insects like chiniculi (moth larvae) are a local delicacy sold in street stalls and high-end restaurants alike. While there's a tendency to be squeamish about eating insects, they were a main source of protein for pre-Hispanic civilizations and Aztec warriors. These low-carb, high-protein snacks remain a staple of Mexican food.

How to eat the best chinicuil worms in Mexico City?

Sign up for an authentic cooking class and market tour. This experience includes a hands-on cooking session with professional chefs.

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5. Enjoy cevicheas from the best street food stands in Mexico City

Another food to try in Mexico City is ceviche. This dish is made with fish or shellfish marinated in lime juice and seasonings. It's the perfect snack for a sweltering afternoon.

How to eat the best cevicheas in Mexico City?

Joining a walking street food tour will give you a chance to taste this must-eat food as you explore San Juan and Merced Markets. You’ll also get to see amazing street art.

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6. Try chicatana ants on a Mexico City market tour

Chicatana ants have an unparalleled flavor that is pleasantly fatty and smoky. This pre-Hispanic dish dates back hundreds of years and is a favorite for locals. The ants are native to Mexico, so you shouldn't miss the chance to try this food.

How to eat the best chicatana ants in Mexico City?

You can enjoy this food as you learn about the history of Mexico on a dedicated tour of its local markets. Make sure you also buy handicrafts from local vendors at Mercado La Ciudadela.

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7. Pair tostadas with local beers and cocktails

One of the best foods to eat in Mexico City is tostada (toasted tortillas with various ingredients and toppings). You will get the chance to try lots of different tostadas as you walk through the city.

How to eat the best tostadas in Mexico City?

Eat this dish like a local on a tour of Coyoacán. You'll also get a chance to taste antojitos (little snacks), as well as a traditional Coyoacán dessert.

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8. Delight in Mexican chocolate with unique combinations

If you ask anyone, ‘What food is Mexico City known for?’, you are likely to get ‘chocolate’ as the answer. This food is a staple in many cuisines and is often used as an ingredient in other dishes. You should note that Mesoamerican civilizations were the first to turn the cacao plant into chocolate.

How to eat the best Mexican chocolates in Mexico City?

During a Mexican chocolate experience, a professional chocolate expert can help you pair this food with unusual ingredients. You’ll taste six different flavors of Mexican chocolate as you learn about the origins of the food.

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9. Learn how to cook different varieties of Mexican salsa

Salsa is the bedrock of Mexican condiments and one of its most famous exports. Nothing beats Mexico City's variety of salsa that goes well beyond chunky red sauces to span yellow, green and deepest dark salsas. It can be slightly sweet, mild, or extremely spicy and may be made from tomatoes or other ingredients. You can pour it over eggs, fajitas, roast chicken, and more.

How to eat the best Mexican salsa in Mexico City?

The only thing better than tasting salsa is learning to cook it. A salsa cooking class will turn you into a salsa-making aficionado.

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10. Have a romantic dinner seasoned with poblano pepper

Poblano pepper is a mild chili pepper from Puebla, Mexico, and is used fresh and dry in Mexican cuisine. It looks like a skinny version of a bell pepper and is delicious when stuffed with other ingredients or used as a condiment.

How to eat the best poblano pepper in Mexico City?

You can enjoy soup and sauce made with poblano pepper during a romantic dinner at the Gala Dinner at Bellini in Mexico City. This restaurant offers excellent views of the city and serves delicious food for all tastes.

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11. Join a tamale cooking class with professional chefs

A tamale is a traditional Mexican corn-based dough package of deliciousness filled with cheese, beans, and various types of meat. Natives of the country have been enjoying this delicious dish for thousands of years, and it has evolved significantly over time. You can discover different varieties of tamales in Mexico City.

How to eat the best tamales in Mexico City?

A Mexican cooking class will show how to make perfect tamales. The class is led by an experienced chef and features small groups.

FAQs

What are the must-try traditional dishes in Mexico City?

One of the best foods to try and something you simply must eat in Mexico City is the taco. It is commonly served as a street food, so you can enjoy it as you tour different landmarks and city attractions. Other must-eat foods in the city are tamales, tacos, and chocolate.

What are the best food tours in Mexico City?

You can join the 3–Hour Polanco Food Tour or the Market and Beyond Tour. If you want to explore the city's nightlife, you can sign up for the Tacos & Mezcal Night Food Tour.

What are the top local food markets in Mexico City to visit?

For the best street foods in Mexico City, you should go to Chilpancingo Metro or Mercado de la Merced.

What is the best time of year to visit Mexico City for food lovers?

There are various food festivals throughout the year in Mexico City. To try some of the delicacies, time your vacation to coincide with one of two, such as the Three Kings Bread Fiesta in January or the Corn And Tortilla Fair in May-June. You will be able to explore traditional and contemporary foods at these festivals.

How much should I budget for food in Mexico City?

A typical meal in Mexico costs between €27 and €60, depending on where you choose to eat. Street food is the cheapest, but budget for some gastronomic treats in fancy restaurants, too.