The best street food in Mexico City

From laidback local institutions and casual cheap eats to fast-paced food markets serving up the classics, seek out the best street food in Mexico City, one taco at a time

May 15, 2024
Chef prepares a taco at La Tonina in Mexico City
La Tonina. Photography by Alicia Vera
Street scene in Roma Norte
Roma Norte. Photography by Alicia Vera

Mexico City – or CDMX, as locals know it – is a world leader in food culture. From fine-dining restaurants to curb-side taco stalls and everything in between, Mexico’s capital has long captivated international travellers with its thriving culinary scene, which sprouted from the need to provide affordable and delicious food to blue and white-collar workers. The variety of street food in CDMX can be seen across its regional takes on tacos as well as tostadas (crunchy flat tortillas topped with an array of ingredients), deep-fried dishes, stews, grilled meats and comal cooking (which use a large flat griddle).

CDMX is a 24-hour city, so there is always something to eat at any time of day. Markets and tianguis (itinerant farmers’ markets) are daytime affairs, while some taquerias shine best in the late hours. As street food goes, expect lots of different meat cooked in animal fat and – although there are great vegetarian street-food options to be found – don’t count on street stands to offer gluten-free or vegan variations. You might have to adapt to the local palate and ingredients, not the other way around, to embrace Mexico City’s culinary diversity.

Food market in Condesa with vendors selling products
Condesa Tuesday Market. Photography by Alicia Vera

Where to find the best street food in Mexico City

Street food in Mexico City is abundant, so the best way to get acquainted with the offerings of each neighbourhood is on foot. The city has around 400 indoor markets, where locals shop for fresh produce and eat lunch at family-run restaurants known as fondas. Some of the best markets worth checking out for the quality of the fondas and street food are Mercado Medellín, in the Roma neighbourhood, and Mercado de Coyoacán on the city’s south side.

Mexico also has tianguis, which derives from the Nahuatl word ’tiankistli’, meaning market. In Aztec times, tianguis were spaces where inhabitants could go and exchange produce and goods. Nowadays, tianguis take the form of weekly daytime farmer’s markets where vendors offer fresh fruits and vegetables, household goods and some of the city’s best street food. Most neighbourhoods have a tianguis day: Condesa has two, one on Tuesday on Pachuca Street and another each Friday on Avenida Nuevo León, Polanco’s takes place on Saturdays, on Parque Lincoln, as does San Rafae’s tianguis on Jaime Sullivan Street.

Visiting a tianguis is an excellent way to learn about Mexico City’s enduring food traditions and to sample local fruits and a wide array of cheap street food, from agua fresca and raspados (shaved ice) to tacos and quesadillas.

The following is a compilation of some of the most popular street food and local eateries in Mexico City, highlighting different regional styles of tacos and other street food in central neighbourhoods such as Roma Norte, Condesa, Narvarte, Coyoacán, Polanco and Centro Histórico.

Freshly prepared food at El Vilsito Mexico City
Image courtesy of El Vilsito

Narvarte Poniente

El Vilsito

Best for: Late-night tacos al pastor
Address: Petén 248 y, Av. Universidad, Narvarte Poniente, 03020 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: Pastor taco at 22 MXN / 1.50 USD

Taco al pastor is one of Mexico City’s street-food staples and a must-have for first-time visitors. Meaning ‘shepherd style’, it typically features seasoned slices of pork cooked like a doner. El Vilsito, located in the Narvarte neighbourhood, is famous for the quality of its pastor taco and an essential in the late-night scene. The best time to show up at El Vilsito is somewhere between midnight and 3am, as people start gathering around the joint’s outdoor tables, the taqueros carve and grill pastor, gringas and steak tacos all night.

Tacos Tony

Best for: Brisket and tongue tacos.
Address: Torres Adalid 1702, Narvarte Poniente, Benito Juárez, 03020 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: Brisket and tongue tacos at 26 MXN / 1.50 USD

Located a block away from El Vilsito, Tacos Tony started as a curb-side taco stand specialising in Mexico City-style brisket and cabeza (steamed cow head) tacos. Nowadays, it has evolved into a brick-and-mortar taqueria, sitting across the street from its original stand, offering indoor seating and a more extensive menu. First-time visitors are recommended to stick with the classic Tacos Tony order of brisket tacos and tongue, but if you want to explore other options, try a huarache topped with brisket or a molcajete – a spread of guacamole, cheese, cactus, grilled spring onions and chunky pieces of house brisket. Tacos Tony also serves beers, micheladas (a spicy cocktail made with beer, lime juice and chilli) and classic cocktails like mojitos and margaritas.

A staff member displaying a plate of freshly prepared food
Image courtesy of Gonzalitos

Roma Norte

Gonzalitos

Best for: North-eastern-style tacos with flour tortillas
Address: Colima 71, C. U. Benito Juárez, Roma Norte, Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: Flour tortilla beef barbacoa tacos at 42 MXN / 2.50 USD

Representing the north-eastern style of tacos in Mexico City is Gonzalitos, a taqueria that entices locals with its beef stew barbacoa and chicharron (pork rind) tacos carefully wrapped in flour tortillas, as Mexico’s northerners do. Gonzalitos offers soft tacos and (crunchy) dorados, so try one of each. The taquería offers limited sidewalk seating and is a solid lunch and dinner option in Roma Norte. Vegetarians will be equally pleased with Gonzalitos’ stuffed pepper tacos.

People queuing outside El Compita Taqueria in Mexico City
El Compita Taquería. Photography by Alicia Vera

El Compita Taquería

Best for: Tijuana-style asada tacos
Address: Medellín 242, Roma Sur, Cuauhtémoc, 06760 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: Asada tacos at 41 MXN / 2.50 USD

Tacos de asada (grilled meat tacos) are famous in Tijuana, a border town regarded as one of the cities with the best street food in Mexico. El Compita Taquería brings asada tradition to Roma Norte with flour or corn tortilla tacos topped with velvety guacamole and pinto beans. Round off your order with a quesabirria, a Tijuana creation prepared with birria beef stew and cheese cooked on the comal until the tortilla is crunchy. El Compita Taquería is a grab-and-go operation with efficient service, typical of taco joints in the city. Indoor seating is limited.

Peopel sat at outdoor tables at Con Vista al Mar food stall
Con Vista al Mar. Photography by Alicia Vera

Con Vista al Mar

Best for: Seafood tacos
Address: Jalapa 145-C, Roma Norte, Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: Seafood tacos from 75 MXN / 4.50 USD

Con Vista al Mar draws inspiration from the shores of Mexico to showcase regional seafood street tacos and flavour variations from the country’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts. CDMX locals often enjoy seafood tacos for a casual weekend lunch, especially during the spring and summer. The menu does a great job of mixing seafood and inland ingredients, so try the Chilango taco, prepared with in-house shrimp longaniza and chicharron (pork rinds), or the Campeche taco – grilled octopus topped with habanero salsa and fried beans. Con Vista al Mar has different locations across town, with most offering sidewalk seating.

Building facade and people walking in Roma Norte
Roma Norte. Photography by Alicia Vera

Jenni’s Quesadillas

Best for: Blue corn quesadillas
Address: Merida 83, Roma Norte, Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: Average 25 MXN per quesadilla / 1.50 USD

Nixtamalized blue corn quesadillas cooked in a comal are among the best street foods you will find in Mexico City. The quesadillas are prepared to order with fresh ingredients including squash blossom, huitlacoche (corn smut), mushrooms and quelites (edible leaves), and the tortillas are always handmade with blue corn dough. Quesadilla stands in CDMX are ubiquitous, opening as early as 10 am and running orders until the quesadilla fillings are gone, usually around 4 pm. Jenni’s is a sidewalk stand on the corner of Mérida and Colima Streets in Roma Norte, and is among the most-frequented stop for comal cooking in the neighbourhood, where quesadillas, tlacoyos (blue corn patties) and pambazos (buns stuffed with potatoes) make up most of the menu. Start exploring the quesadilla universe of Mexico City with a squash blossom quesadilla topped with Jenni’s green tomatillo salsa, the most sincere form of comfort street food in Roma Norte.

Freshly prepared street food at El Turix in Mexico City
El Turix. Photography by Alicia Vera

Polanco

El Turix

Best for: Cochinita pibil tacos
Address: Av. Emilio Castelar 212, Polanco, Polanco III Secc, Miguel Hidalgo, 11540 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: Cochinita taco at 26 MXN / 1.50 USD
Since 1986, El Turix has been a bastion of Yucatan-style cooking in the heart of the Polanco neighbourhood. The cochinita pibil is the centrepiece of the menu, a traditional dish of the Mayan culinary repertoire consisting of pork marinated for upwards of 24 hours in an achiote and chilli sauce and cooked slow and low, then shredded and served in corn tortillas topped with habanero salsa. At El Turix, it is presented in various forms: tacos, panuchos (fried tortillas) and tortas. It’s hard to go wrong here, so order a taco or a torta, depending on your appetite.

People sharing tacos and beans at Barbacoa Los Tres Reyes in Mexico City
Barbacoa Los Tres Reyes. Photography by Alicia Vera

Mixcoac

Barbacoa Los Tres Reyes

Best for: Lamb barbacoa tacos and consomé
Address: B.E. Murillo 94, Santa María Nonoalco, Álvaro Obregón, 01420 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: 1 kilo of barbacoa at around 800 MXN / 47 USD

Barbacoa Los Tres Reyes is the best place to cure a weekend hangover in Mexico City. Specialising in lamb barbacoa cooked in a brick oven, Los Tres Reyes is the go-to spot for locals seeking to heal their hangovers with barbacoa tacos paired with a hot and spicy lamb broth known as consomé. Go for the food and stay for the live banda music and liveliness of Los Tres Reyes, as with every passing hour, the tables pack out with groups of friends and families indulging in juicy meats, salsas, garnishes and, of course, micheladas. Los Tres Reyes is a weekend-only spot, ideal for a hardy breakfast or early lunch, as the barbacoa usually runs out by 2 pm.

Chef prepares a taco at La Tonina in Mexico City
La Tonina. Photography by Alicia Vera

San Rafael

La Tonina

Best for: Machaca tacos with flour tortillas
Address: Serapio Rendon 27, San Rafael, Cuauhtémoc, 06470 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: Tacos starting at 30 MXN / 1.70 USD

La Tonina is a family-owned taquería offering northern-style stew tacos in the San Rafael neighbourhood, celebrated for the quality of its machaca (dried beef), Sinaloan-style chilorio (beef cooked with a chile sauce) and fried beans. The flour tortilla is the star at La Tonina and homely sharing plates like chilaquiles, northern guisado and stuffed peppers with machaca are also available.

People queue in front of the menu at Tostadas Coyoacan Las Originales, Mexico City
Tostadas Coyoacán Las Originales. Photography by Alicia Vera

Coyoacán

Tostadas Coyoacán Las Originales

Best for: Traditional tostadas
Address: Located inside the Mercado de Coyoacán. Ignacio Allende No.49, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, 04100 CDMX
Price: Tostadas with various toppings starting at 30 MXN / 1.70 USD

Located in the picturesque South CDMX neighbourhood of Coyoacán, Tostadas Coyoacán Las Originales is known for its generous tostadas (deep-fried flat tortillas) served with a variety of toppings, from salpicón (cold shredded beef salad) to tinga (shredded chicken cooked in tomato sauce) to grilled mushrooms, beef trotters and shrimp. There is something for everybody at this market stand, usually crowded with hungry customers around lunchtime. There are many tostada stands inside Mercado de Coyoacán, so make sure to hit the right one, recognisable by the big red and yellow signs and menu pictures. Regardless of the stew of choice for your tostada, each one comes with additional toppings: grated cheese, sour cream, shredded lettuce and salsa. Arrive hungry and ready to elbow your way to find seating.

Tacos and mixed plates at Los Tolucos, Mexico City
Image courtesy of Los Tolucos

Algarín

Los Tolucos

Best for: A bowl of green pozole
Address: C. Juan E. Hernández y Davalos 40, Algarín, Cuauhtémoc, 06880 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: Small pozole bowl at 130 MXN / 7.50 USD

Pozole is a pork and hominy (nixtamalized dried maize kernels) soup with pre-Hispanic roots, presented in multiple styles and variations across Mexico. The state of Guerrero is famous for its green pozole, prepared with pumpkin seed paste, green herbs and chillies. In Mexico City, Los Tolucos has carved a local audience for the quality of its Guerrero-style green pozole and carnitas (slow-cooked pork meats) tacos. The family-run restaurant has outdoor and indoor seating, efficient service and enough vegetarian side dishes for those not wishing to indulge in all things pork. Needless to say, Los Tolucos is a stop for serious eaters: the green pozole is filling, rich and packed with flavour.

Santo Domingo

Michoacaníssimo

Best for: Birria stew and birria tacos
Address: C. San Valentín 866, Pedregal de Sta Úrsula, Coyoacán, 04600 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: Bowl of birria at 170 MXN / 10 USD

Hit two birds with one stone if you plan to attend a sports event at Estadio Azteca (the largest stadium in Mexico City) by scheduling a pre-game lunch at Michoacaníssimo, a family-run eatery established in 1988. Michoacaníssimo prepares the best birria (meat stew) in town and locals flock to its tables all week. There are different styles of birria in Mexico and this place focuses on the Michoacán iteration, which is prepared with goat and served as a spicy soup. Birria tacos and quesadillas, avocado salad, fresh handmade corn tortillas and cold beer on tap are extra bonuses to the regular birria soup bowl order.

Vendors selling produce at Mercado de Jamaica, Mexico City
Mercado de Jamaica. Photography by Alicia Vera

Huaraches Rossy

Best for: Huaraches with beef steak
Address: Stand 472-473 Mercado de Jamaica. Av. Morelos 51, Jamaica, Venustiano Carranza, 15800 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Price: Huarache plate starting at 90 MXN / 5.50 USD

Mercado de Jamaica, Mexico City’s biggest flower market, also offers delicious and cheap street food. While traditional snacks like esquites (corn kernels with mayo), local fruits, sweets, and a wide array of street-food options are available, Jamaica Market’s to-go special is a huarache with beef steak. A huarache is an elongated corn dough patty filled with beans and cooked in a comal; the steak comes on top alongside sour cream, cheese, a slice of avocado, grilled cactus and salsa. Huaraches Rossy is the best stand in the market, with the huaraches prepared to order alongside well-seasoned salsas. Complete your Mercado de Jamaica experience by trying the tepache – a traditional fermented Mexican drink prepared with pineapple.

Tacos and freshly prepared food at Ricos Tacos Toluca, Mexico City
Image courtesy of Ricos Tacos Toluca

Centro Histórico

Ricos Tacos Toluca

Best for: Green chorizo tacos
Address: C. López 103, Colonia Centro, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Price: Tacos starting at 25 MXN / 1.50 USD

Ricos Tacos Toluca is a family-owned taquería in Centro Histórico that specialises in Estado de México-style charcuterie such as green chorizo and obispo – a sausage made with pork offal. This small taquería has been around for 20 years and is a classic spot to try artisanal chorizo topped with guacamole, fries and grilled onions. Ricos Tacos Toluca has limited seating and is the type of spot where locals swing by to eat tacos standing up by the sidewalk.