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To some people, Mexico is palm trees and margaritas; to others it’s ancient ruins and sleepy villages; to others still it’s street tacos and fine handicrafts. Of course, Mexico is all of those things and much, much more, as the country is so very big and diverse in its topography, traditions, art, peoples, languages, and, of course, food. Mexican comida is perhaps as regional as it gets, with many of the 31 states (plus the Federal District, or capital city) contributing their own particular cuisine style and/or dishes to the nation’s overarching gastronomy. Many of those dishes have become so widely popular throughout the country that though they’ve originated somewhere, they might be considered typical Mexican foods (though keep in mind that different regions will still often put their own spin on any given dish). To that end, consider this an EYW primer on some of Mexico’s varied culinary offerings. We hope you’re hungry for more.
It’s not surprising that Mexico City, a megapolis of some 20 million people, has quite a reputation. Depending on whom you listen to, the Distrito Federal, or D.F., is a hotbed of pollution, crime, and out-of-control urban sprawl; or it’s a pulsing epicenter of history, art, and food—a whirlwind for the senses and amalgam of new and old in one of the most culturally rich nations on Earth. Intimidating? Sure, like most of the giant, significant cities of the world, Mexico City can be overwhelming. But for an adventurous and interested visitor with basic street smarts, the payoff is huge—important museums and edgy art galleries to occupy you for weeks, Aztec ruins a stone’s throw from modern skyscrapers, stunning Rivera and Tamayo murals seemingly around every bend, enough exciting food discoveries on street corners and in fancy restaurants to last you a lifetime. (Of course, it’s that last bit especially that’s brought us to revisit Mexico City over the years!)
The task of producing a list of D.F.-regional foods for such a melting pot of different regional Mexican styles was challenging, and since many of the foods we sampled in the city are so widely available around the country, you’ll find them showing up in the Typical Foods: General category (see above), too. But Mexico City does have its signature tacos al pastor (among other popular varieties of taco), a handful of interesting Aztec foods and drinks, regionally produced craft beer, and some other snacks that are particularly treasured by chilangos, the city’s residents. Many of those foods, in turn, are sold in what may be termed the most traditional Mexico City manner of dispensation: by vendors on the street or in markets, at dirt-cheap prices. Let the culinary exploration begin.
Of the many reasons to visit Oaxaca, capital of the rugged southern Mexico state of the same name, here’s just a few: its gorgeously quaint yet cosmopolitan heart (many streets of which have recently undergone a face-lift); a cutting-edge arts scene comprising small galleries, first-class museums, and a shopper’s paradise of local handicrafts; a roster of rich and accessible cultural events and festivals; a dramatic backdrop of mountains offering adventure and important ancient Zapotec sites; a simpático and passionate local population. And then of course there’s the food: a proudly regional and undeniably delicious cuisine that starts with the famous seven moles, utterly decadent things, before moving on to chocolate and mezcal, massive street tlayudas and incredible tamales, and some of the best food markets in the country. Just 6.5 hours by bus from D.F.—and with its own international airport as well—Oaxaca is a must in Mexico.
Finding a good eatery is a fine art, best practiced when you’re not in a state of hysterical starvation, but instead only pestered by mild hunger that still allows for careful evaluation… Read more
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