Hello, dear adventurers & foodies! We got a new post for those who want to learn more about the dishes that are part of the delicious Mexican cuisine.
Our immersion into the heart of Mexican gastronomy continues in this post. Our goal is making your vacations in Cancun and the Riviera Maya an unforgettable experience full of flavors that not only feed your body but also your soul.
If you had to name just one specialty of Mexican cuisine, we are sure that the first thing that would come to your mind would be the taco, a dish that is already famous all around the world.
The most amazing situation regarding taco is the fascination it causes despite its simple composition based on a tortilla and, most of times, meat. We know, you're already thinking about it. Don't worry, that craving is perfectly normal 😋.
The taco (“taquito” for friends) is more than the symbol of Mexican cuisine. It is a poem of flavors, a palette of tastes that varies according to the region and the craft of each taco maker or “taquero”. It should never be overlooked that the hands that prepare the tacos are key for them to become a true culinary experience.
During your vacations in Cancun and Riviera Maya, you should definitely try the key recipes that embody tasty Mexican tacos and we're here to make sure you don't miss a thing!
In our short culinary dictionary of Mexican dishes we want to tell you more about this simple, charming and addictive dish / snack / appetizer, you can call it as you want.
A kiss in three bites.
Here is the list of symbols we will be using to make reading easier:
- 🌶️ spicy dishes
- 🐄 🐑 🐖 🐓 🐟 types of meat
- 🌽 gluten free
- 🌾 suitable for vegetarians!
Tacos al Pastor. A delight with exotic flavors! 🐖 🌽 🍍
An emblematic recipe of Mexican cuisine, the “al pastor” mix is a preparation based on pork meat and spices macerated with pineapple juice.
The meat is mounted on a spit to be cooked on the grill. This spit is called “trompo”. For those unfamiliar with the term “trompo” it is the Spanish word used in Mexico to refer to a spinning top. “Tacos al pastor” are cooked just the same way a Turkish kebab is cooked.
“Tacos al pastor” are served in a corn tortilla with a few pieces of pineapple, chopped onion and coriandor.
Did you know?
Tacos al pastor are a staple of Mexican cuisine, rooted in the country's signature flavors. However, this recipe was introduced to Mexico long ago by Lebanese immigrants!
🌾 ⛔ Vegetarians
Barbacoa. Flavors of old! 🌽 🐄 🐑 🐐
In the family of tacos, barbacoa is among the favs, a true delicacy of Mexican gastronomy.
Barbacoa comes from a pre-Columbian cooking technique. It consists of letting the meat cook over low heat in its own juices or steam for long hours.
Beef or lamb barbacoa tacos (sometimes even goat!) will make your taste buds tingle with delight.
If you like barbacoa, also go ahead and try the consommé. Hot sauce-based broth to which is added rice and/or chickpeas, chopped onion, a little coriander and a splash of lemon juice.
🌾 ⛔ Vegetarians
“Los de Cabeza” (Beef head tacos). An unconventional delicacy! 🌽 🐮
One of the most delicious tacos. At least, in our opinion, they are part of the Top 3. A delicacy that you can hardly find anywhere else.
Yes, we know that they are difficult to imagine in the first instance. How is the meat? What will it taste like? How is it cooked?
Don't be overwhelmed with so many questions. This culinary experience requires a bit of a will to get into the unknown and let yourself go. You will discover that these tacos reveal delicious flavors and multiple textures coming from pieces of meat from different areas of the head of the beef. They are definitely a feast for the palate.
The tongue and cheeks (commonly called ‘cachete’ in Mexico) are particularly appreciated for their tender texture. You will also find the brain (‘sesos’), lips (‘labio’) and even the snout (‘trompa’).
For the true adventurers of flavors and textures, the most peculiar part remains to be discovered: the eyes! Eye tacos are one of the subcategories of head tacos. 👀 Do you dare?
🌾 ⛔ Vegetarians and picky eaters better not even try it!
Tacos from the basket (Tacos de canasta). Perfect if you’re on a budget. 🌽 🐮
Tacos from the basket or “Tacos de canasta” are the cheapest tacos from the wide range of tacos that we offer you in our culinary guide to Mexican specialties.
Tacos de canasta get their name from the basket in which they are stored and transported.
These tacos are usually stuffed with potatoes, beans, ‘rajas’ (roasted green peppers cut into strips) 🌶️ or meat, which is almost always pressed pork rinds.
They are perfect option if your budget is low or you simply want to save money by eating something that can be serve almost instantaneously.
Carnitas (little meats). Pork at its finest! 🌽 🐖
It is impossible to talk about Mexican cuisine without mentioning "carnitas" tacos.
Pork lovers, know that carnitas will be a culinary experience that you will hardly forget. Thanks to their slow cooking in oil, Carnitas acquire an incredibly tender texture.
🌾 ⛔ Vegetarians and "healthy foodies", you can ignore this one!
As with the head (beef) tacos, you can choose carnitas from different parts of the pig's anatomy, the piece that you like the most or that arouses your curiosity (the local name in parenthesis): pulp (‘maciza’), shank (‘chamorro’), ribs (‘costilla’), snout (‘trompa’), liver (‘hígado’), throat (‘buche’), belly (‘panza’) or even ears (‘oreja’). Or if you want to try a bit of everything, you can always order mixed meats (‘surtida’).
Carnitas tacos are enjoyed with chopped onion and cilantro with a touch of green or red sauce.
Fried Taco (Taco dorado). The crispy taco! 🌽 🌾
The fried taco is a little different than the other tacos you will find on your Cancun and Riviera Maya food tour.
This type of taco is fried in oil. And yes… this one is anotherr feature of Mexican street food. Fat and oil are part of the fun!
These fried tacos can be found at street vendors in their small version. They are usually stuffed with meat, cheese or potato.
There is a larger version of the fried taco called “Flautas” (Flutes). You can find this well-known appetizer in Episode 1 of our gastronomic wise man!
🌾 ⛔ Vegetarians and "healthy foodies" ignore this one!
Stew made tacos: the flavors of Mexican homes. 🌽 🌾 🌶️
The urban legend states that stew made tacos, rice-based tacos, were created by Doña Felicia Sánchez at the beginning of the 20th century to support her family.
Tacos became famous during the Mexican Revolution, when Doña Felicia sold her famous tacos at railway stations.
Stew made tacos represent the soul of Mexican home-made food. Based on red rice, sliced hot pepper with cream, “mole” sauce or potatoes and chorizo, they are usually served with a hard-boiled egg.
But where does the unique flavor of stewed tacos come from? The way they are cooked! Each stew is first cooked in a Mexican pot called “cazuela”. Probably, you will recognize them from their terracotta-like look. Those pots give Mexican stews that unmistakable flavor.
🌾 These tacos are perfect for vegetarians!
Although stew tacos are the king in Mexico City’s street food, you will surely find some during your vacations in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
Each region has its specialties.
Our tip, ask the vendor what their favorite stewed tacos are and try that one! 😋
Liver: Try the liver taco once, you won't regret it! 🌽 🐄
Liver tacos are a true delight, especially for those people who have a predilection for strong flavors.
Liver tacos are made with beef liver. They are usually served with the same garnishes as the other meat tacos, a mixture of vegetables (white onion and coriander) and red or green sauce depending on your preference.
🌾 ⛔ Vegetarians!
Longaniza and Co. The sausage in all its forms. 🌽 🐖
Let's take a group photo to talk about sausage-based pork tacos.
Whether it is longaniza, chorizo (red or green depending on the region) or even “obispo”, a type of sausage that is somewhat reminiscent of the French andouille, pork sausage tacos are a classic in Mexican street cuisine.
Served with French fries and cooked onions, almost candied in sauce, longaniza tacos are very filling. They are usually found in markets and in “tianguis”.
It's best to eat them in moderation if you don't want to end up sleeping all day long.
🌾 ⛔ Vegetarians!
Fish and Co. Seafood Tacos! 🌽 🌾 🐟
We have talked a lot about meat in Mexico, but the importance of fish in Mexican gastronomy should not be overlooked, especially if you are spending your vacations in Cancun and the Riviera Maya or in another region by the sea.
👉 To learn more about fish and seafood in Mexican gastronomy: read our article about Mexican culinary specialties.
Fish tacos are very common in the Mexican Caribbean, due to its vicinity to the sea. These allows a supply of fresh fish all year long.
Fish tacos are served on corn tortillas, accompanied by chopped white onion, coriander and a preparation based on tomato and jalapeño pepper called “pico de gallo”.
You will find many taquerias with fish specialties in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. We have also referred to the best fish restaurants in an article focused on restaurants in Cancun. If you want to take a look at it: click here.
We recommend marlin tacos or marlin 'al pastor' tacos. A variation to die for!
Useful info: You don't like corn tortillas? The Yucatan peninsula has adapted to the different palates of its visitors and also offers wheat flour tortillas. Feel free to ask when ordering!o!
Thanks to this little culinary dictionary, you have become a true specialist in Mexican tacos! All you have to do is enjoy the pleasures of Mexican gastronomy.
If this information made you want to discover Mexican tacos not with your eyes but with your taste buds, now you know what to do and where to go!
In Cancun and in other towns of the Riviera Maya, you can go on a guided taco tour in the company of professionals who will share their taco secrets with you.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT TOURIST ACTIVITIES AROUND MEXICAN GASTRONOMY?
Discover our article about gastronomic tours in Cancun and the Riviera Maya: click here!
For gourmets who want to learn more about other Mexican specialties, discover Episode 3, of our article on the essentials of Mexican gastronomy.