Mexican cuisine is with a doubt my favourite cuisine and can be as elaborate as chile en nogada to a simple quesadilla. The combination of flavours, the spices, the cheese, the sauces, the variety of ingredients is harmonious and you must not leave Mexico without having some real Mexican food and forget about Taco Bell forever.
Mexican cuisine plays an important role in our culture; from spiritual rituals, traditions, holidays, religion, and due to it’s presence in spiritual rituals and traditions, the variety of fresh ingredients, unique cooking techniques, and tools and combination of flavours it was named a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010.
Out of hundreds of delicious dishes, I’ve picked out the most loved ones and a few of my favourites along with drinks you should accompany your meal with.
Important tip: Always always always try the sauces first! I’ve had a few friends from overseas forget this very important rule and regret it later. A little drop of habanero sauce goes a long way.
If you do forget this tip, try putting salt on your tongue, drinking milk or eating ice cream.
A staple on every breakfast menu, chilaquiles are fried corn chips bathed in red or green salsa and garnished with avocado slices, raw onion, cream and fresh cheese sprinkled on top and the option to add chicken or eggs (scrambled or fried) and refried beans. They are also great when you’re hungover!
For the best chilaquiles head to La Cueva del Chango.
Panuchos and Salbutes
Traditionally from Yucatán, these dishes are quite similar to one another and are definitely worth trying. A panucho is a refried tortilla stuffed with refried beans topped with chopped cabbage, pulled chicken or turkey, tomato, pickled red onion, avocado, and pickled jalapeño pepper. A salbute is the same as a panucho without the refried beans and the tortilla is a little softer.
Sopa de Lima
This delicious soup is made with seasoned poultry broth, shredded chicken or turkey, julienne fried tortillas, tomato and the key ingredient, lime. This sour lime which can only be found in Yucatán has a very more distinct sweet flavour, with a more floral aroma and a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Mole is a thick sauce with over 20 ingredients including chilli peppers and chocolate. Meat is usually served with mole and you can also find enchiladas de mole, chilaquiles con mole. There a variety of moles the most common ones are rojo or poblano (red), negro or oaxaqueño (black) and verde (green).
A poblano pepper is roasted and stuffed with either cheese or meat and coated in a light batter and covered in a red sauce and is usually served with rice and beans. The sauce is mild but some peppers can be spicy and some might not, so if you really can’t stand spicy food, I wouldn’t recommend ordering this dish.
Slow roasted pork marinated in a strongly acidic citrus juice and seasoned with achiote (annatto seed) and wrapped in a banana leaf. The meat is very tender and juicy and you generally find it in tacos or in a torta (sandwich) served with pickled onions. This dish is originally from Yucatán and dates back to pre-hispanic times and the whole pork was wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked underground, which is where the dish got its name from, since pibil in Maya means “under ground”.
If you love ceviche you should try aguachiles. Fresh raw shrimp is cooked in lemon juice, chilli, cilantro served with thinly sliced cucumber. This dish is originally from Sinaloa but has started gaining a lot of popularity in the area in recent years and once you taste it you’ll see why. Los Aguachiles located on 34th and 25th Av. or Constituyentes between 1st and 5th.
Aguas frescas roughly translates to fresh waters and are basically water and sugar combined with fruits, cereals, flowers or seeds. Most common aguas frescas you’ll find in restaurants and street vendors are agua de jamaica, (hibiscus flower), agua de tamarindo (tamarind) and agua de horchata (ground almonds, sesame seeds, tigernut, rice and barley). You can also find aguas made from cantaloupe, strawberry, pineapple, watermelon, guava, mamey, mango among many others.
Pastel de Tres Leches
A white sponge cake drenched in a combination of evaporated milk, condensed milk and regular milk topped with whipped cream and garnished with strawberries, be sure to try this sweet, moist, creamy cake.This is my all time favourite cake and I used to get pastel de tres leches for my birthday every year when I was little! It’s also not very hard to make if you want to have your friends and family try it back home!