Guide To Mexican Street Food: More Than Just Tacos

If you find yourself in Mexico, you can expect to see plenty of sand and sun, unique landscapes and colorful cultures across the country. But one of our favorite pastimes is learning about (and eating) traditional Mexican street food. While most of us are familiar with tacos, burritos, and nachos, authentic Mexican street food is much more than that!

Al Pastor cooks with saliva at food stand
Al Pastor cooks with saliva at a food stand.

We don’t consider ourselves experts (yet!) but we’ve done our research and are currently eating through Mexico. Rather than shy away from the unknown and sometimes unpronounceable, we’ve put together a guide to Mexican street food with some common options for you to try at the food stand. If you know what to look for, you can enjoy delicious food at a fraction of the price of a restaurant meal. You can also enjoy Mexican Michelada in these Mexican dishes, which would be a great is the recipe How to Make a Traditional Mexican Michelada.

The list is endless, so here’s just a taste of street food from all over Mexico. So let’s get straight to meat and potatoes. Here’s a breakdown of some of the traditional meats you can find at food stalls:

mexican street food

Polo: chicken

Seasoned and grilled chicken that can be sliced ​​or shredded

Kahn Asada: BBQ

Usually thin slices of corned beef (sirloin or rib)

sausage: Spanish sausage


Seasoned and usually red ground pork sausage

Priest: Shepherd Style (pork shavings)

Very thin slices of pork, spit-roasted (similar to shawarma), usually served with grilled pineapple

Pescado: fish

The fish is either mashed or fried (cloak) or roasted (a la parilla)

When ordering street food, you can combine any of the above meats with any of the following:


A staple of Mexico, and one of our favorites.Tacos are made with tortillas and you’re often asked if you want it Harina (flour) or Miz (corn).


Essentially, cheese tacos. Fold in tortillas, fill with cheese and bake until cheese is completely melted. You can have a regular quesadilla or add your favorite meat to it.


These are made in small but very thick tortillas with rims or pinch edges. They’re usually layered with beans and meat of your choice, then topped with lettuce, tomato, cream, and cheese.


Mexican sandwich. These are served hot after roasting or roasting in a press. The buns are nice and crispy on the outside and warm on the inside. They are usually filled with your choice of meat, as well as lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Flour Tortilla Cheese Quesadillas
Flour Tortilla Cheese Quesadilla.


Gorditas are made with cornmeal, similar to a pita bag. Form dough into small discs and pan fry until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and steaming hot. They’re then stuffed with meat of your choice along with beans and cheese.


This is a traditional Mexican dish that dates back to the local Aztecs. The seasoned meat is wrapped in cornmeal dough, then steamed or baked in corn husks or banana leaves. Tamales are usually served in large pots at food stands to keep them warm, and they are opened before serving.

Tamales wrapped in banana leaves
Tamales wrapped in banana leaves.

Food Stall 101

Food is usually served on plates, which are sometimes wrapped in a thin layer of clear plastic so that dishes do not have to be washed. You can also find an assortment of fresh toppings, limes and homemade salads at the food stand.But be sure to ask which are Picante (spicy) because color doesn’t always determine spiciness.

Busy street food stall in Mazatlan
Busy street food stall in Mazatlan.

In Mexico, street food stalls are busiest in the morning or early evening, when locals sit down for a hearty meal around the afternoon.

If you’re hesitant about which street vendor to approach, our advice is to look for a busy stall where the locals are dining. We once followed a group of construction workers to a booth during their lunch break and were not disappointed!

Various salsa ingredients
Various salsa toppings.

As with all street food, people who check cleanliness and pay attention to food preparation should not be dealing with money at the same time. We also always carry hand sanitizer with you as you’d be hard-pressed to find a rack full of sinks and soaps for you to use.

So, if you’re in Mexico, go there and see how great the street food is. As they say in Spanish, Provico (enjoy your meal)!

Besides tacos, what’s your favorite Mexican food?

About the author: Felicia and Wesley are currently in Mexico on their second long-term backpacking trip.The couple wrote about budget and beginner travel feather and wind. They hope their tips and travel stories inspire others to pack their bags and see the world.

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