Each year I come down to Mexico City to visit my friend and gastronomist Javier Burillo, and if there is anyone who knows tacos it is him. Javier and I met in Miami when we were kids, and shared a passion of street food, which of course we indulged on a weekly basis. When Javier went back to Mexico I couldn’t wait to get down there and try out all of these tacos which he had been telling me about, and now I am recommending all of you to do the same. When you do get to Mexico City, here are my fave 5 for you to try.
Tacos al Pastor
The most famous and commonly eaten taco in Mexico is al pastor, which is pork meat that has been heavily marinated in many spices, and then layered onto a split where it is slowly allowed to cook. These tacos can be bought for less than 30 cents each and they can be found all over the city. Served with a slice of pineapple and the customary onions and cilantro, not to mentioned lime and hot sauce, these tacos absolutely slay.
Generally considered to be a hangover cure, you’ll find barbacoa mostly sold on a Sunday in the city, and they are absolutely delicious. The meat is mutton and the cooking process is super slow which gives you a taco of slippery soft perfection. Usually you will buy the stock of the meat as well, which makes for a great starter ahead of some tasty tacos.
The delightful named carnitas (little meats) are sold throughout the city and mainly found in the indoor markets. The meat which features in the taco is pork which has been braised or simmered in lard until it is juicy and tender. Generally the meat will be cooked for 3 or 4 hours which is what gives it the supple texture and depth of flavor. As well as the lime, salsa, cilantro and onions, beans and guacamole is also added to these tacos.
A personal favorite of mine is mixiotes, delightful little bundles of joy which are packed with flavor and punchy scents. Normally they will use chicken for the mixiotes but they can be made with rabbit, lamb, mutton or pork. The meat is seasoned with guajillo chili and other spices like marjoram, thyme, garlic and others, then the entire mixture is placed into small bags made of maguey leaves, which are then boiled. When you buy a mixiote they’ll pop the bag open and then you serve it onto a tortilla with nopales, radish, chili and some salsa and lime, delicious.
Although Mexico is heavily into meat, there are some delicious alternatives such as vegan tacos with tempeh and tofu, or some fish tacos for the veggies out there. Usually they use tilapia or a similar white fish for the tacos, diced up and served with plenty of spice and lime. These are a tasty alternative to meat tacos, and they will keep you coming back for more.