By Nina Boys
Looking for some of the world’s best street food? Mexico City’s Centro Histórico hits the spot.
Whichever way you turn, Mexico City is a feast for the senses – particularly taste. One of the world’s great culinary hubs, the colorful capital is home to a legendary street-food scene that reflects its multicultural soul, along with a vibrant historic center brimming with enough sidewalk specialties to fuel an entire trip.
Anchored by the Zócalo, its sprawling central square, the city’s Centro Histórico was once the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán until Spanish conquistadores invaded and built over it in the sixteenth century. Today, the neighborhood’s mix of architectural styles and impressive museums makes it an unmissable zone for exploration. But once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to truly dig in and experience what Mexico City is all about on this walking tour of our favorite street eats. On the menu: fresh local ingredients, traditional recipes, and a true sense of community and cultural connection. As Virtuoso travel advisor Mauricio Hanna puts it, “When it comes to street food, there are no economic or social differences. Everybody comes together to enjoy one of our greatest collective pleasures: a tasty meal.”
(Calle Simón Bolívar 56)
What this unassuming taquería lacks in seating, it more than makes up for in diversity of tacos, slung at nearly all hours but especially popular after nightfall. Watch as master taqueros chop and fold simmering meats into corn tortillas topped with onion and cilantro. Try the beef suadero tacos, widely considered the city’s best brisket, and the campechano tacos that combine suadero with spicy longaniza sausage.
Ricos Tacos Toluca
(Calle López and Puente de Peredo)
True taco aficionados flock to Ricos for its chorizo verde – an emerald-colored sausage from the nearby state capital of Toluca, made with a blend of chilies, herbs, raisins, and nuts. Top them with the stall’s array of mouth-tingling salsas.
(Calle Ayuntamiento between Aranda and López)
You’ll never feel far from the coast at this tin seafood shack, where the catch is always fresh, and crispy corn tostadas come topped with your choice of lime-marinated ceviches and crowned with thick slabs of creamy avocado for a perfectly briny bite.
(Calle Ayuntamiento 21)
This “little hole in the wall,” as its name translates, claims to be the first to serve Mexico City’s most iconic street food, tacos al pastor. The dish’s origins belong to the Lebanese immigrants who brought their shawarma spit-roasting technique to Mexico in the late nineteenth century, and El Huequito has been expertly carving layers of seasoned pork off its spinning trompo spit from this original location since 1959 for a loyal following of al pastor purists who prefer their tacos served without pineapple – a more recent addition.
Ricos Tlacoyos y Quesadillas Lights
(Calle Balderas between Avenida Juarez and Calle Artículo 123)
A pre-Hispanic snack found on comal griddles across the city, tlacoyos are discs of blue corn masa stuffed with fillings and finished with toppings such as cotija cheese and cactus (nopales). For some of Mexico City’s best, look for the Winnie the Pooh sign that marks this humble stand specializing in rotating stews called guisados, which are ladled over the masa dishes for an ever-changing taste of Mexico’s culinary traditions.
After your street-food feast, you’ve earned a cocktail and a siesta back at your hotel. Sip a signature Sangrita María, a local take on the Bloody Mary featuring mezcal and pasilla chilies, on the outdoor terrace of the 189-room St. Regis Mexico City’s King Cole Bar, overlooking the grand Paseo de la Reforma boulevard a short walk from Centro Histórico. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 dining credit. Nearby on the Reforma, sample a pre-nap Frijolito (Bulleit bourbon cooked with beans, Don Julio 70 tequila, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, lime, and agave honey) at Fifty Mils at the 240-room Four Seasons Hotel, Mexico City. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and one lunch or dinner per stay.
Your travel advisor can partner with Virtuoso on-site connection Journey Mexico to craft a four-day customizable tour featuring a private street-food crawl through Centro Histórico, an after-hours visit to the National Museum of Anthropology, and a hot-air balloon ride over the nearby pyramids of Teotihuacán. Departures: Any day through 2019.
Top photo: Getty Images