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Beginner's Guide: Dining in Mexico

DINING | Published on 24/07/2019
Optimizada dining in mexico

Mexican food is loved around the world; however, to try truly authentic Mexican cuisine, you’ll need to journey south of the border. Using food travel guides like this one, you’ll know what to eat in Mexico and where to find it. Relying on food and drink recommendations from other travelers and locals can lead you to some of the country’s greatest hidden treasures and the best restaurants in Mexico. Experiencing the dining in Mexico like a local will not only satisfy your cravings and introduce you to some of the world’s most flavorful cuisine, but it will also give you a stronger taste of the warm hospitality and vibrant culture that lies at the heart of the great nation.


Sometimes the best food in Mexico is also the simplest: tacos. When it comes to authentic Mexican cuisine, Mexican tacos are simply a corn tortilla folded in half over meat or vegetable fillings. Some of the most popular options you’ll find are carne asada (grilled steak), salchicha (sausage), al pastor (marinated pork cooked on a spit), and carnitas (shredded pork). For vegetarians, mushrooms and grilled veggies are the perfect taco fillings. No matter what you order, you can always top your tacos with onion, cilantro, and salsas to suit your taste. 


If you’re dining in Mexico and see mole on the menu, don’t hesitate to try this sweet and savory sauce. According to Mexican legend, mole sauce came together by chance as nuns gathered all the chilies and ingredients they had, including Mexican chocolate, to cook for a visiting archbishop, creating the first mole sauce. There are many variations depending on ingredients and region, and the best restaurants in Mexico have their own unique moles dishes, including chicken tacos and enchiladas. 


Sopes are a staple Mexican food in many households, made from a thick and soft corn tortilla with a small rim around the edge to hold all the toppings, which begin with a layer of beans. Many families top their sopes with shredded beef or chicken, lettuce, cheese, and salsas. Some of the best restaurants in Mexico for sopes aren’t the fanciest since local diners serve the tastiest and most authentic sopes. As you walk the streets and pick up recommendations, look for restaurants filled with diners and check out their menus.


For authentic Mexican cuisine that’s filling and delicious, tamales are a local favorite with a rich history dating back to the Aztecs. Today, you can still see the history in the corn husks or banana leaves wrapping the dough and filling while they’re being cooked. When you unwrap steaming tamales, you’ll find a soft masa dough and a filling of meat, cheese, chilies, or vegetables. If you’re dining in Mexico on tamales, order a variety of fillings to sample more of this historical dish.

Aguachile and Ceviche

Some of the best food in Mexico comes from the sea. With miles of golden coasts, it’s easy to find fresh seafood on your travels in the country. Unlike grilled shrimp and fish tacos, aguachile and ceviche are two commonly prepared seafood dishes you may not be familiar with. Both dishes are a combination of fresh seafood marinated in lime juice to “cook” the meat using a chemical process called denaturation and mixed with a combination of tomato, cucumber, and avocado. If you’re deciding what to eat in Mexico and are choosing between the two, be aware aguachile is often spicier and usually served with more of the liquid juices. 

Taco Stands

For food and drink recommendations on your travels, you can look at area food travel guides or simply ask other travelers and locals where to eat, and one of the most common answers you’ll get is to head to the local taco stand. Eating street tacos is a unique cultural experience in Mexico. Most stands have a posted menu, but you can also ask the cooks for a recommendation. Load your tacos with salsas and grab some cucumber if available, and take a seat by the stand on the chairs or bench. You can order fresh fruit-flavored water, soda, or more tacos at any point, and once you’re done, the staff will let you know how much you owe. Here, tipping is a polite way to thank the workers, and leaving a couple dollars or rounding up your bill is a great way to show your appreciation.


What to eat in Mexico ranges from the simple taco stands to gourmet restaurants. As you search for the best food in Mexico, you’ll likely eat at a variety of restaurants where dining is fairly similar to other countries. Before leaving the restaurant, be sure to leave a tip of 15-20% to thank your servers for making your vacation more enjoyable and memorable.

Whether you’re looking for food and drink recommendations or you’re curious to learn more about Mexican food, picking up local food travel guides will enrich your vacation. As you sink your teeth into delicious dishes and try new foods, you’ll start to feel more at home in the warm hospitality of Mexico.

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