If you want to know the truth of a matter, always go to its source. Based on that premise, when it comes to finding the world’s best tacos, the source of truth, in our opinion, is México City.

Javier Marín bronze head, Luis Cabrera Square, Ciudad de México, Mexico City

We recently got a chance to ‘dip our toes’ into this modern and cosmopolitan Latin American city to experience its food culture. With a rich mix of pre-Hispanic and modern architecture, history, art and gastronomy, México City offers something truly special to the curious mind seeking a meaningful travel experience.

México City is densely populated (approximately 25 million people call it home), vibrant and colourful. First timers may at first feel intimidated by its intensity. However, as you immerse yourself in its culture, those feelings soon give way to curiosity and then wonder.

Palacio de Bellas Artes | Mexico City | The City with the World's Best Tacos

With so much to see, we decided to begin our trip with a food tour. We find that food tours are a great way to ease our way into a destination and get an early experience of its sights, sounds and tastes from a local’s perspective. 

On this occasion, we were hosted by Robert Hoogeveen, a Canadian expat and México City local, who runs Tasty Bites Tours.

 

Mexican cuisine: origins and culture

Breakfast at Red Tree House | La Condesa | Mexico City

You probably know that Mexican cuisine is much more than tacos!

Rooted in ancient Mesoamerican culture, basic ingredients like maize, beans and chile peppers are a core part of the indigenous cuisine. Culinary traditions have been preserved through the centuries, being passed down from one generation to the other.

To understand Mexican cuisine is to first appreciate the significance of maize (also known as corn). Indigenous Mesoamerican peoples regarded this crop as the ‘beginning and end of humanity’, cultivating and preserving its knowledge through time.

The importance and versatility of corn (over 60 varieties exist) in Mexican cuisine are evident in the wide range of dishes derived from it, many of which are enjoyed by millions across the world.

Apart from corn, México’s biodiversity provides a ready source for a dizzying range of organic ingredients including native vegetables, cacti, and animal protein. This is an epiphany for creative chefs, of whom México has many.

Los Girasoles | Mexico City | The City with the World's Best Tacos

One of them is Chef Enrique Olvera whose restaurant Pujol has consistently featured on the list of the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’. Speaking to CNN, he says it is ‘extremely challenging’ to mess around with traditional Mexican food because it is so well made and carries so much history.

Nevertheless, he and other innovators are doing some amazing things with native Mexican ingredients and traditional recipes.

Food is intrinsic to Mexican culture and is an important part of indigenous traditions, religious festivals, and family celebrations. In Mexico, there is a dish for every festival. For example, the famous Día De Muertos (Day of the Dead) features its own bread (pan de muerto).

Día De Muertos (Day of the Dead), Mexico City

During our visit, we learned how food played a central role in helping communities heal in the aftermath of the 2017 earthquakes. We heard moving stories of restaurant owners who opened their kitchens and cooked food for their neighbourhood for days, despite some of them suffering damage to their own homes.

Earthquake in Mexico City

Mexican cuisine is as diverse as the country itself. However, México City is the country’s culinary melting pot, where visitors can experience regional versions of everything from tacos to tostadas.

 

Tasting México City

Chiltamal at Fonda Fina | Mexico City

México City has been described as the ‘birthplace of the taco’. It would literally take years to criss-cross all the neighbourhoods in search of the best taquerias (food stalls, carts or restaurant specialising in tacos). We were happy to have a knowledgeable local guide show us around.

The walking food tour focused on Colonias Roma and Condesa with highlights of history and Art Deco/Art Nouveau architecture. These bohemian enclaves provide an ample supply of green spaces, organic restaurants, al fresco cafés, off-beat stores and taquerias.

As well as a chance to hunt for tacos, the food tour was a great way to condense a variety of memorable food and drink experiences into a bite-sized (pun intended) four-hour window. Along the way, we bit into fresh pastry from Panadería Rosetta (by Chef Elena Reygadas) and sipped a mezcal (or two!).

Rob, our guide, introduced us to something called a ‘Chiltamal’ at Fonda Fina, a trendy and creative dining restaurant operated by talented local chef, Juan Cabrera. This ancho chile (dried poblano chile) was stuffed with masa, stewed tomatoes and cheese, creating a mix of sweet, spicy and savoury flavours all at once!

Mole was another dish that wowed us. This thick sauce, made from a mix of dozens of ingredients including chiles, herbs, nuts, and fruits can take up to three days to prepare. Chef Enrique Olvera created a version (mole madre) that has been going for 1,000 days – a feat of gastronomy in its own right!

 

Hunting for the ‘best tacos in México City’

The World's Best Tacos

Tacos are a hugely popular part of México City’s street food scene. It is literally possible to eat your way across the city, sampling different versions with thousands of fillings. In México City, if it is edible, you most likely will find it as a taco filling!

In many neighbourhoods like Condesa, it is possible to find a delicious variety of tacos within 10 minutes of each other. There are tacos árabe (served on a pita), al pastor, guisados (stewed meats) style tacos, seafood tacos, carnitas (braised pork) and steak tacos.

The City with the World's Best Tacos

The food tour helped us narrow down our final selection to two taquerias.

The first one, Tacos “Hola” El Güero, is a corner shop in Condesa popular with the locals. You’ll find a few plastic tables and chairs to sit on but the preferred method is to order, eat them standing up and go, in true street food style. This place is famous for its guisados but with over 20 different types of taco fillings, including vegan options, there’s something for everyone.

Tacos “Hola” el Güero, Condesa, Mexico City

The criteria for ‘best taco’ surely must include the preparation process and the taquerias in México City like to entertain. Following some dramatic tortilla flips, we were soon served with picadillo hash tacos (ground beef mixed with lime juice, onion and chiles) and a cauliflower (vegetarian) version.

The ‘king of México City tacos’ for us was the taco al pastor served at legendary taqueria El Tizoncito in Condesa. The basic road-side seating style allowed us to watch the passing traffic. Service was super-quick and soon, we were pinching our fingers around soft corn tortillas and stuffing our mouths with sweet and savoury goodness.

The World's Best Tacos

The meat filling (usually pork) is layered on a giant rotating spit and wedged between their signature skinned pineapple at the top and onions at the base. Seasoned with ingredients including dried chillies and garlic, the meat sucks in the juices from the pineapple as the spit rotates in front of a controlled carbon flame.

The resulting effect is a soft, juicy chargrilled meat (al pastor) with a light sweetness. Served with pineapple, onions, cilantro and salsa, we had found ‘taco heaven’!

 

The City with the World’s Best Tacos

The City with the World's Best Tacos

We were clearly going for ‘shock value’ by awarding the title of ‘The City with the World’s Best Tacos’ to México City. Everyone who claims their city has the best tacos in the world probably has a valid reason to back up their assertion.

What makes México City’s tacos extra special?

We think it is the sheer variety and consistency. Whether you’re sampling them in an upscale rooftop restaurant in Colonia Centro, eating from a cart under a bridge in Coyoacán or grabbing them from a trajineras (boat) in Xochimilco, you would be hardpressed to find bad tacos in this city.

Within the organised chaos that is México City, there are countless gastronomic gems to discover. If you want to find the best tacos, ask a local…and that’s the truth of the matter!

So tell us…where have you experienced the world’s best tacos?

#SeeMexicoCity The City with the World's Best Tacos

Full disclosure: We were guests of Tasty Bites Tours, México City and received a complementary food tour. However, all opinions expressed are ours. We are grateful to Rob and Antonia Hoogeveen for introducing us to the many gastronomic delights in their incredible city. To book a tour, visit tastybitesfoodtours.com.mx.

 

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Eulanda & Omo Osagiede are London-based freelance writers and award-winning social influencers who run the popular travel, food, and lifestyle blog HDYTI (Hey! Dip your toes in).

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