The following blog post is a collaboration between myself and Sandy from http://www.timeinbites.com. Sandy recently joined me for a day of taco feasting that formed the basis for this post.
I’ve made it to Mexico City!!! Or as I now refer to it as…Taco Landia! I love tacos, but I grew up in Nashville and spent most of my adult life in New York so a taco is a taco, is a taco. That was until I arrived in CDMX.
I was so overwhelmed by the number of taco places in Mexico City. They were all delicious and cheap so for the first three days I just picked random taco places and ate there. After consuming my weight in tacos, I started to notice that there were different types of tacos, with different preparations, different types of meat and different toppings. I thought about doing some research BUT decided to take a food tour instead. Am I wise or am I wise?
I learned so much on the tour that I had to share, so Robert and I put our heads together to make a list of six types of tacos you MUST try when in Mexico City!
1. Guisado Style Tacos:
These tacos are typically eaten in the morning. Guisado style tacos are filled with stewed ingredients that are placed in ceramic pots called cazuelas to keep them warm. These are an ancient taco with endless variations as any ingredient that can be stewed has likely been used to make a guisado taco somewhere in Mexico.
Taquerías specializing in guisados will generally have plentiful vegetarian options as well as favorites for meat lovers like the picadillo hash (ground beef with vegetables), rice and beans are also common additions. Because the fillings are prepared in advance, guisado style tacos are known as the “fast food” of the taco world – its as simple as scooping your chosen filling onto a tortilla, so give them a try.
2. Canasta (Basket) Tacos:
Also known as a miner’s taco since they originated in the Mexican state of Guanajuato in the silver mines. The word “taco” referred to the small explosive charge used to excavate the ore. They make for a quick and delicious breakfast on the go.
The fillings are prepared in the early morning and the tortillas stuffed. They are then tightly wrapped in plastic, drizzled with oil and left to finish cooking in their steam. The sweat keeps them warm and fresh for hours. Typical fillings are potato, refried beans, adobo (pork marinated in a guajillo chile sauce), and chicharrón, add escabeche (pickled vegetables) with some salsa and enjoy.
These tacos can be found both in taquerías and sold from the baskets of vendors on bicycle or on foot. I will say these tacos aren’t the most glamorous looking but they are tasty so you should definitely give them a try one morning!
3. Carnitas (small meats) Tacos:
Originated in the state of Michoacan and are traditionally cooked in pork lard in copper pots. The entire pig is used in carnitas so if you ask for a carnitas taco you could get any part of the animal. If you are squeamish ask for the maciza (leg, shoulder and loin) or the chamorro (shank). A classic carnitas taco is topped with onion, cilantro, salsa and a squeeze of lime.
Carnitas tacos with all the fixings!
4. Barbacoa Tacos:
The name refers to the traditional method of preparation where the entire animal is cooked in an underground oven pit. The meat is wrapped in maguey leaves and left to cook for up to ten hours. In Mexico City barbacoa refers to lamb (under one year old) or mutton (over one year old) but each region has its barbacoa protein preference. Barbacoa is especially popular on weekends when vendors who have prepared it in the country bring it to the city to be enjoyed over long, leisurely lunches.
Barbacoa taco loaded up with salsa, onion and avocado.
5. Tacos Al Pastor:
This is probably the first type of taco you’ll notice because they are the most popular and are prepared in a similar way as gyros. They originated in the city of Puebla in the 1930’s when Lebanese immigration led to the introduction of the upright spit (trompo). El Huequito was the first taquería to introduce the taco al pastor to Mexico City in the late 1950’s. Aside from using pork instead of lamb, they have stayed true to the original Arabic recipes by not using chiles in their marinade or pineapple on their tacos – they do however, have a fantastic orange salsa!
All taquerías have their own proprietary marinade but they all contain achiote paste, which gives the meat its distinctive orange coloring. El Tizoncito was the first taquería to add pineapple to their tacos al pastor in the mid 1960’s. The magnificent sweet and sour flavor has created an insatiable demand for these tacos that are found across the country at taco stands and taquerías from the early afternoon to late night.
A mouthwatering plate of tacos al pastor.
6. Suadero Tacos:
This is one my favorite tacos because of how tender it is! Suadero is the beef brisket or chest of the cow and is the only taco to originate in Mexico City. Los Cocuyos specializes in suadero tacos but anything you eat there will be delicious! They cook almost every part of the cow in a gigantic pot of broth. Once you order your preferred taco, they take it out of the pot, chop it up, put it in a small tortilla, then its ready for you get to add a squeeze of lime and salsa. Simple but delicious!
This post was co-authored by the adventurous Sandy from http://www.timeinbites.com and on Instagram @timeinbites.
Until the next bite….Buen Provecho!