20 Mexican Street Food dishes you must try

Mexico has one of the most exciting and vibrating street foods in the World. If you love street food, then Mexico is the place to go.

With a strong street food culture and one of the largest populations in the world, millions of people run to work or home, and everyone grabs a bite on their way. Everyone eats in the street, as it is so convenient and delicious. Mexican call street food antojitos, which means small bites.

The best street food is usually found around markets and public transportation. And the best food stalls are the ones with the longest queues. However, you can’t go wrong with Mexican street food. It is nearly always good, creative, and cheap. Plus, Mexican food is one of the best in the world. It is even recognized as an Intangible Cultural heritage by UNESCO.

We gathered a list of the most popular Mexican street food to guide you as there are so many options it can be overwhelming. So, these are the best street food in Mexico!

Best Mexican Street Food

Tacos

Tacos are the quintessential and most famous Mexican Street food. But bear in mind that there are several types of tacos and many fillings. In Mexico, every region has its specialty. So you will find loads of different tacos.

Tacos are made with small wheat or corn tortillas (most frequently corn), about 10 cm in diameter, topped with various fillings. A taco is usually made with two tortillas because of the sauce. And to eat them, you must fold the two ends and eat with one hand.

There is a big variation of tacos. You have tacos made with deep-fried tortillas called Tacos Dorados and Tostadas. You can find tacos made with pita bread like tacos Arabes. There are so many options.

We think the best tacos are in Mexico City. It has a wide variety of street food and a representation of the different regions of Mexico.

Let’s explore some of the tacos you can’t miss in Mexico street food!

Mexican Street Food
Tacos with different types of moles from Puebla

Tacos el pastor

Tacos el pastor is one of the most popular tacos in Mexico. It is based on the shawarmas brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico.

These tacos are made with pork meat that is marinated in adobo past. The meat is cooked on a skew in a vertical rotisserie. The meat is slowly roasted.

The tacos are filled with meat salsa, onion, cilantro, and pineapple. It is just a delicious combination.

Best Mexican Street Food
One of Mexico’s favorite street food – Tacos el Pastor

Tacos Arabes

Tacos Arabes are similar but different from tacos al pastor. They are both based on Middle Eastern food but adapted to Mexican cuisine. So, Tacos Arabes use pan Arabe (pita bread) instead of tortillas.

These tacos originated in Puebla, Mexico. They are made with pork meat marinated with cumin, oregano, and onion. The meat is cooked on a spit-roasted vertical rotisserie.

What to eat in Mexico
Taco Arabes and Taco with meat

Carnitas tacos

Carnitas tacos are one of the most common tacos in Mexico. They are hand-sized tacos made with pork meat and served with pico de galo (Mexican salad). The meat is braised in lard or oil for several hours until tender.

Mexican antojitos
Carnitas tacos topped with onion and salsa

Tacos de tripa, lengua e cabeza

Tacos de tripa are made with pig tripe, de lengua are made with beef tongue, and cabeza are made with brains. All of them are made with the less noble parts of the pig.

But don’t be put off by the ingredients. They are delicious and well worth trying. It won’t seem like you are eating tripes, head, or tongue.

They can be served as an individual ingredient or served as a mixture. In the end, they are topped with pickled onion and cabbage.

Best tacos in Mexico
Tacos of a mixture of tripa, lengua and cabeza – One of Mexico’s most popular taco

Tacos de longaniza

These tacos are made with Longaniza (smoked sausage) and topped with pico de galo or pickled onion.

Longaniza is a type of chorizo. It is longer and spicier than chorizo. To make tacos de longaniza, you need to dice the longaniza and give it a light fry so it becomes crunchy and moist.

These tacos have a strong flavor; it is a fantastic bite with the acid salsa.

tacos best street food in Mexico
Tacos de longaniza and tripa in Mexican City

Birria Tacos

Birria Tacos are hand size tacos filled with Birria made with goat meat, beef, lamb, mutton, or chicken. The meat must marinate in a sauce of chilies, garlic, herbs, bay leaf, thyme, and cumin. Then slowly cook with tomato sauce and onion until soft and juicy. The dish can be served on its own, as a soup, or as a filling for tacos.

The meat is very moist with a delicious taste. To do Birria tacos, you must use two tortillas due to the sauce. You can also top it with fresh onion and lime juice. It is the best kind of taco. It just melts in the mouth.

Street food of Mexico
Birria tacos from Playa del Carmen in Birria de la 30 – One of the best tacos we ate

Tacos de pescado

Tacos de Pescado is a fish taco. Usually, the fish is deep-fried in crispy batter. It is topped with pico de Gallo, a Mexican salad. It works so well.

Usually you will find these tacos in beach towns, but there are also several food stalls in Mexico City. Besides Tacos de Pescado, you can also find Tacos de Camaron (Shrimp tacos), which are also delicious.

Cheap street food in Mexico
Delicious Tacos de pescado in La Condesa (Mexico City) in El Pescadito. We highly recommend them.

Tacos de Canasta

Tacos de Canasta is sold from a basket (canasta) that keeps the tacos warm. If you see a street vendor on a bicycle with a basket and salsa containers, he is likely selling tacos de Canasta. These tacos commonly are eaten in the morning.

They are made with papas (potatoes), chicharrĂ³n, and frijoles to prepare you for the rest of the day.

Tacos dorados

Taco dorados or flautas or taquitos are made of rolled tortillas that are stuffed and then deep-fried until crunchy.

There are stuffed with several fillings like shredded chicken, minced beef, or cheese. The street stalls normally serve three tacos dorados and top them with crema (sour cream), pico de galo, or cabbage thinly sliced and shredded fresh cheese. They are crunchy and delicious.

Delicious street food in Mexico
Taco dorados or flautas or taquito topped with cabbage and pickles

Tostada

Tostada is like a taco, but the base is made with deep-fried tortillas and, like tacos, topped with a wide variety of ingredients.

This is a crunchy antojito covered with beans or cream for other ingredients to stick on top. There are tostadas of various things: meat, seafood, and cheese. You will find different kinds of tostadas depending on the region of Mexico.

They are sold in nearly any street food joint and are deliciously crunchy.

What to eat in Mexico
Tostas with frijoles and shredded chicken

Chalupas

Chalupas are very similar to tostadas. Both are deep-fried tortillas topped with a variety of fillings and salsa. The difference with chalupas is in the formate. Chalupas form a wide boat shape with a concave container in the middle.

This street food is more famous in the USA than Mexico because Taco Bell created a version of this Mexican antojito.

good street food in Mexico
USA Chalupas

Sopes

Sopes are traditional Mexican antojitos made with a base of maize dough fried and topped with refined beans, vegetables, crumbled cheese, red sauce, and sour cream. Sopes are thick and have pinched sides. They are toasted on the outside but soft inside. Not to be confused with tostadas which are fried thin tortillas but crunchy.

In different parts of Mexico, sopes have different toppings. In Oaxaca, they use chapulines (roasted grasshoppers); in the North of Mexico, they use chorizo or longaniza.

quick street food in Mexico
Sopes with relleno negro, avocado, and salad from a lovely food stall in Bacalar, Mexico

Tlayudas

Tlayudas is a Mexican street food originally from Oaxaca. It is made with a large crispy tortilla (30 – 40 cm) topped with refried beans, asiento (pork lard), meat, chorizo lettuce, avocado, and Oaxaca cheese.

The tortilla is crunchy because it is cooked in a clay coral until toasted, giving it a smoky taste.

Tlayudas are nicknamed “Mexican pizza” due to their size and the fact they look like one. They can be served opened face or folded in half. It is crunchy with a delicious topping.

beast antojitos in Mexico
Tlayudas known as Mexican Pizza traditional from Oaxaca

Memela

Memelas are a typical Oaxaca street food. They are made with thick, oval corn tortillas and fried in a hot comal (flat griddle). They are similar to sopes, however, they have different toppings, and the format is a bit different.

The most common topping are black beans, salsa, shredded cabbage, mole negro guacamole, and cheese. They are delicious, crispy on the edges but tender on the inside.

what to eat in Mexico
Mamela with Beans, pico de galo, and avocado, typical from Oaxaca

Salbut

Salbut is a typical Yucatan street food. It resembles a taco, but the tortilla is fried in lard. This makes the tortilla inflated, puffy, and light.

On top of the salbut, lettuce, tomato, pickled onion, and avocado are added. Plus, pulled chicken or turkey, or Cochinita Pibil (slowly roasted suckling pig), or Relleno negro (a complex dish with turkey meat and eggs, covered with a black sauce).

Best food in Mexico
Salbut topped with avocado and meat – A Yucatan dish.

Panucho

Panucho is another typical Yucatan street food. It is made with maze tortillas. The middle of the tortilla is filled with fried beans. The tortilla is fried in lard with stuffed beans. Then, they are topped with tomatoes, pickled onion, carrot, avocado, and turkey or chicken.

They are delicious and crunchy but, at the same time, moist.

Delicious Mexican antojitos
Panucho filled with frijoles and topped with shredded chicken and onion – Traditional of Yucatan.

Gorditas

Gordita means chubby in Spanish, as the name indicates this antojito is thick. It is made with corn dough, the same used to do tortillas. The dough is fried until the outside is crunchy and the inside soft and cooked.

Gorditas are stuffed or filled with different ingredients. They look like a sandwich. A traditional ingredient is chicharron, and pork rind, which is sometimes mixed directly into the dough.

There are also flour Gorditas, especially in the north of Mexico, and sweet Gorditas.

what antojitos must you eat in Mexico
Gorditas with cheese and frijoles from a food stall in Merida

Quesadilla

Quesadilla is also one of the most famous street foods in Mexico and worldwide. They are made with a large corn or flour tortilla. And filled with cheese, its main ingredient, thus its name (queso means cheese in Spanish).

Quesadillas may have other fillings besides cheese: meat, chicken, or vegetables. After filling the tortilla, it is folded into a half-moon shape and grilled.

There are plenty of different types of quesadillas with different fillings. It is a street food that can’t go wrong. It is always delicious.

Most delicious food in Mexico
Quesadilla one of Mexico’s most famous street foods

Burritos

Burrito is another street food that doesn’t require much explication. It is a Tex-Mex dish but is widely spread throughout Mexico.

It consists of a large flour tortilla that is steamed or fried. The tortilla contains various ingredients such as cheese, meat, shrimp, and/or vegetables like refried beans, lettuce, and tomatoes. It is then seasoned with salsa, chilies, or pico de gallo (Mexican salad). In the end, the tortilla is wrapped tightly with all the stuffing.

It also has some variations, like the Breakfast Burrito, which is filled with eggs. Wet Burritos that are covered with sauce.

top street food in Mexico
Delicious shrimp burritos a Tex-Mex and Mexican street food

Tostilocos or Dorilocos

Tostilocos or Dorilocos is a strange exotic street food of Mexico. This dish is made with tortilla chips, normally tostitos, a Mexican chip brand. But it can be done with any brand of chips, Doritos (called “Dorilocos”), Cheetos, or any kind of chips.

To do tostilocos you need to cut the bug of chips lengthwise and add several ingredients like sweet corn, lime juice, chamoy sauce, jalapenos, Japanese peanuts, mayonnaise, and nacho cheese.

There are so many variations you basically can put anything in this street food dish. You will see the street vendors selling tostilocos with everything. As weird as this may seem, it is worth a try as the combination works.

Usually, these street vendors also serve elotes and esquites.

different street food in Mexico
Tostilocos is a strange exotic street food of Mexico.

Elotes

Elotes is a street food that you will find anywhere in Mexico. It is a staple Mexican Street food. And it consists of sweet corn boiled in water or grilled in charcoal. Seams simple, but the Mexicans upgraded it. It is served with salt, butter, mayonnaise, and grated cotija cheese around the corn. If you wish, you can add lemon juice and chili powder.

There is also a sweet version, elotes covered with Nutella, condensed milk, or dulce de leche. That is also very good.

You can find elotes in food carts on the street or mobile eloteros (vendors of Elotes).

famous Mexican street food
Elotes – Popular street food of Mexico

Esquites

Esquites is also a Mexican street food made with sweet corn. It is made with boiled corn kernels, placed in a disposable cup, and covered with various ingredients. Like Mexican cream, mayonnaise, and cotija cheese as the base ingredients. Plus, it can be topped with chili powder and lime juice. It is eaten with a spoon.

It is a rich combination, but very unique and fun to eat.

mouth-watering Mexican street food
Esquites topped with cheese

Empanadas

Empanadas are a traditional pastry eaten in Latin America, originally from Spain. They are made with shortcrust pastry in a half-moon shape and filled with various salty stuffings. The most common stuffing are chicken, beef, fish, cheese, beans, chaya, and mole.

In some states of Mexico, there are also sweet empanadas of fruit, jam, or Nutella. You can easily find empanadas from street vendors.

Tempting Mexican street food
Empanadas with different filling

Tamales

Tamales are one of Mexico and Central America’s most traditional street food dishes, especially in Yucatan. They are made with corn, which is grounded until a paste. Then steamed in banana leaves or corn husks.

They can be sweet or salty. And have different feelings like meat, cheese, vegetables, or pineapple raisins and berries.

Tamales are a Pre-Columbian dish made and eaten by the Mayans. They are frequently eaten as breakfast or dinner, usually accompanied by a hot atole. They are comfort food. A visit to Mexico isn’t complete until you try tamales.

Traditional Mexican street food
Sweet Tamales of berries- traditional Mexican street food

Chapulines

Chapulines are grasshoppers, and as it is going to be the food of the future may as well try the Mexican ones. They are a frequent Mexican street food, especially in Oaxaca and Puebla. And they are available from May to early autumn.

Chapulines are toasted in the comal and are seasoned with garlic, lime juice, chilies, and salt. They have a strong and pungent flavor. It wasn’t our favorite street food, but it was well worth trying them.

Mexican food
Chapulines (grasshoppers) with chili, salt, and lime

Tortas

Tortas mean sandwiches in Mexico. They are made with white bread and can have a big variety of fillings. Usually, they are made with two kinds of bread: bolillo, a crunchy crust like a small baguette, or Telera, soft bread without a crispy crust.

Tortas can be eaten with anything inside, and Mexican people have plenty of imagination. The best and most famous tortas in Mexico are:

Cemitas

Cemitas is one of the best tortas in the World. Cemitas are originally from Puebla, Mexico. They are even caled cemitas poblanas.

These sandwiches are made with a bread roll covered with sesame seeds called cemitas. The cemita is filled with avocado, milanesa (frequently pork), Oaxaca cheese, onions, chipotle adobado or jalapeno and papalo (a Mexican herb).

They are massive and a mouthful of good things. You can find cemita poblana everywhere in Puebla, but we recommend going to Las Poblanitas in Mercado del Carmen. Besides Puebla, it is challenging to find cemitas in the rest of Mexico.

Best tortas in Mexican
One of Mexico’s best torta – Cemita traditional from Puebla

Torta ahogada

Torta ahogada is a typical sandwich of the state of Jalisco, particularly the city of Guadalajara. The sandwich name means drowned in Spanish because it is submerged in a chili tomato sauce. It can be totally submerged (bien ahogada) or half-drowned (media ahogada).

The sandwich is made with a bread called Birote that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It contains refried beans, pork carnitas, cheese, and marinated onions. The sauce has tomato and arbol chiles, vinegar, garlic, and oregano. The sauce can be mild or very spicy; when we mean spicy, it is very hot.

Although messy torta ahogada is usually eaten with bare hands, this sandwich is everywhere in Guadalajara, but it is more difficult to find in the rest of Mexico.

Best street food in Mexico
Spicy torta ahogada traditional of Guadalajara

Pambazo

Pambazo is a sandwich made with white flour bread called pambazo. The bread is dipped in a sauce made with guajillo chili, giving the bread a red color. For those worried, this doesn’t make the bread very spicy.

The bread is fried. It is filled with papas (potatoes) and chorizo or only with papas, lettuce, salsa, crema, and fresh cheese.

This sandwich has several variants, depending on the region of Mexico, like the state of Puebla, Vera Cruz, and Mexico, using different ingredients.

What to eat in Mexican
Best tortas of Mexico – Pambazo

Torta Cubana

Despite the name Torta Cubana is a Mexican Sandwich. Please do not confuse it with the Cuban Sandwich, which was created by Cuban immigrant communities in Florida. They are not related.

The origins of torta cubana are uncertain. Some say they came from a restaurant called Republica de Cuba in Mexico City. Others say they are from Puebla. Independent of their origin, they are a very big sandwich that has nearly everything possible and is simply divine.

Torta cubana is made with white bread, called bolillos. And is filled with various meat milanese, chorizo, ham, and sausage. Plus cheese, refried beans, avocado, sliced jalapenos, and mayonnaise or Mexican cream. It is a massive sandwich and so delicious. How can it be bad?

Delicious Mexican street food
Massive Torta Cubana is so satisfying.