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Food in Mexico

What is Mexican food, really? Mexican cuisine is a vast topic that could amount to volumes of written words, so, for the purpose of this page, I am going to publish the traveler’s experience of food in Mexico. Keep in mind that I tend to eat what the common people eat in just about every [...]

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What is Mexican food, really?

Mexican cuisine is a vast topic that could amount to volumes of written words, so, for the purpose of this page, I am going to publish the traveler’s experience of food in Mexico. Keep in mind that I tend to eat what the common people eat in just about every country I go to, which often amounts to eggs, chicken, beans, and rice. I am not going to pay three times the amount of money to sit down in a fancy restaurant to eat “authentic” food that is way too expensive for the local people of a country. In point, the food that I will write about here is that which the traveler will easily come into contact with as they travel through Mexico — the street food, the essential meals, and the snacks.

Even for the vagabond, Mexico proved to be a culinary adventure, as each new region of the country presented their own  food options.

Tlayudas, Mexican food

Tlayudas, Mexican food cooking on a grill

Types of Mexican food

Tlayudas- These are basically huge tortillas that are stuffed with meat, cheese, and salad that are typically cooked in the streets on a grill. They are most popular in Oaxaca, and are a complete meal in and of themselves. Generally, they cost around $2.50 each. More about Tlayudas.

Tacos Arabes- These have to be one of my favorite meals in all of Mexico. Tacos Arabes are just that: tacos with Arab pita bread. The combination is amazing, as the fluffy pitas soak up the juices of beef, pork, or chicken as well as any typical Mexican sauce you pour on top of it. Excellent. For $1.25 each, you can’t beat them. More about Tacos Arabes.

Coconut Stuffed Limes- These are an excellent snack food that are sold throughout Mexico. Said to be a favorite treat of Frida Kahlo, these sweet lime peels stuffed with coconut have a taste all their own. More about Coconut Stuffed Limes.

Dobladas- “What is the difference between a doblada and a Tlayuda?” I asked a girl working at a doblada restaurant in Zipolite. “Dobladas are smaller and don’t have as much salad.” Fair enough. Dobladas also tend to be a little cheaper, and two of them can often be had for the price of a single tlayuda. Dobladas are essential a pressed tortilla grilled with vegetables, meat, or cactus and cheese. They are truly an excellent street or small restaurant food in Mexico.

Mole Sauce- This is a sauce that is typical of Oaxaca which uses chocolate, amongst other ingredients, to give it a very special taste. It is often put over chicken, various meats, and vegetables. Often, the dishes the use this sauce are called, “chicken with mole,” etc. . . or, in Spanish, “Mole con pollo.”

Chilaquiles- This breakfast food is pure awesomeness. Day old tortillas are tossed into a frying pan with spicy sauces, and then slapped down on a platter with beans, cheese, and eggs. This is seriously the perfect breakfast food, and the thought of it alone has gotten me up and out of bed on many days in Mexico. Chilaquiles are also though to curb hangovers, so try it out and let me know if this works! More on Chilaquiles.

Aztec Soup- This soup was a surprise to me the first time I had it in Chiapas. I dipped my spoon into the bowel to find it full of soggy day old tortillas. Apart from the tortillas, this soup also had cheese, spices, and a few other treats thrown in. More about Aztec Soup.

Tacos- Perhaps the most famous of all Mexican foods, tacos are sold around the country. Generally, the meat for tacos are cut from large spits containing huge chunks of meat that spin in slow rotations before an open flame. Once a customer has their tacos dished up onto their plate they are generally free to add tomatoes, onions, radishes, and sauces from a common stock. A truly excellent and cheap food, tacos can often be had in Mexico at a rate of four or five for a dollar.

Chapulines- Very popular in Oaxaca, chapulines, or grasshoppers, make a great snack. They may sound disgusting at first, but these grasshoppers fried with plenty of spices present a taste, once acquired, is difficult to resist. More on Chapulines.

Photos of Mexican food

Chilaquiles Mexican food

Chilaquiles, an excellent breakfast food in Mexico

Photo of Aztec soup

Aztec soup in Chiapas, Mexico

Photo of a coconut stuffed lime

Coconut stuffed limes are a Mexican delicacy

Photo of chapulines, grasshoppers

Chapulines, or grasshoppers, Mexican food

More on Mexico

More information about finding cheap food when traveling

Read more about Mexico on the travelogue

Travelogue entries about Mexico

Mexico Travel Guide

Mexico Travel Guide

More Vagabond Journey.com Travel Guides

Ask questions or add comments about Mexican food


Filed under: Food, Mexico

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3691 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Trenton, Maine

6 comments… add one

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  • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com October 6, 2010, 9:47 pm

    Mexican food tends to be good and cheap. Tortillas, meat, tacos, milanesa, all kinds of soups, chips, and it can be had for a good price. A complete two course meal often goes for 40 pesos, or a little over $3.

    I am eating well in this country.

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  • Wade October 31, 2010, 7:00 pm

    Beer tends to be cheaper than the other countries in Middle America — except for Panama — and a bottle of decent beer often sells for 60 or 70 cents in a supermarket and a little over a buck in the bars.

    Beer in Mexico is good — Sol and Dos Equis being two overly watered down exceptions — and Tecate, Indio, Corona, and Bohemia topping the list of the cheaper beers in the country.

    There is also a wide variety of micro brews and local beers, but they are too vast and numerous to add here.

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  • Wade October 31, 2010, 7:09 pm

    Many hostels in Mexico offer kitchen facilities, so this means that a traveler can make full use of markets and super markets for obtaining the cheapest food available. So, when looking for cheap food in Mexico look no further than a hostel with a kitchen.

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  • Pato November 4, 2010, 9:16 pm

    Good places to eat in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico are as follows:

    La Mariana restaurant has some of the best food that I have ever eaten in my travels, all for a good price. For 40 pesos you can get a soup, bread, pasta or rice, and a main dish. This restaurant is run by an Italian guy, and the food is cooked amazingly.

    On Tuesdays the falafel restaurant on Calle Flores has three for two falafel — 3 for 80 pesos.

    The Indian restaurant on Cinco de Maya once had good menus for 40 pesos, but then they cut the sangria out of the deal, and it is now not so good.

    The Yik coffee house has some of the cheapest coffees around, and only charge 20 pesos for a heaping plate of nachos with beans, cheese, and jalepeno peppers.

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  • Barbara January 30, 2011, 2:45 pm

    In Oaxaca, I really enjoyed the great food at La Casa Del Tio Guero at Garcia Vigil 715. I am a vegetarian and still wanted to experience Oaxacan food. At this lovely restaurant there were meat and vegetarian options. A three course dinner plus juice was 55 pesos. It is delicious. Like the quality you would expect at a fine restaurant. There is an art gallery on the walls and a fun display of masks. The staff were friendly and helpful.

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com February 1, 2011, 3:50 am

      I agree completely, this restaurant is really good.

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