Trying new dishes and exploring the different foods of a region is very much a highlight for us when we travel. Street food is a cornerstone of the Mexican culinary culture…in fact, Mexico has one of the most extensive street food cultures in Latin America…and we just happen to LOVE it!! Although an extremely wide variety of items can be found (i.e., tacos, tamales, gorditas, quesadillas, tostadas, chalupa, elote, tortas, fruit, vegetables, beverages, soups and much more), we want to tell you about our personal favorites thus far.
Given that Aaron’s heritage is part Israeli and he grew up loving Lebanese food (which he introduced to Rachael within days of meeting her), it’s not surprising that tacos al pastor is by far a favorite for both of us!! Developed in Central Mexico, this dish is based on the spit-grilled meat brought by the Lebanese immigrants to Mexico called shawarma. Whereas shawarma is lamb-based, al pastor in Mexico is pork based. In our opinion, it gets better the later at night you eat it…as the meat has been cooking in its juices and is slow roasted to a pristine crisp. (And the fact that it is usually consumed after a night of drinking tequila and cervezas has nothing to do with it still tasting better at this time of the day!)
Carne literally meaning “flesh/meat/beef” and asada meaning “roast/broiled/grilled,” the skirt, flank or flap steak that is typically used to make this dish is seared to impart a delicious charred flavor. We have found that the secret to why this is particularly amazing in Mexico is that it is generally cooked over charcoal or wood. For the “to-die-for” experience, combine the al pastor meat with carne asada in your taco, quesadilla, or torta!
Tacos de pescado
Fish tacos were invented here in Baja California…enough said. Delicious. Ok…we’ll elaborate just a bit. Take some flaky, white fish, either deep fry it or grill it, top with lettuce or cabbage, pico de gallo, and a sour cream or creamy avocado-based sauce, and serve on top of a corn or flour tortilla. Many people like a similar style taco but made with shrimp instead. Either way…you’ll be certain to be dreaming about them for nights to come!
If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably purchased some version of a store-bought “tamale” or tried them from a local restaurant in the States. As we discovered, once you taste the authentic, home-made street version of these, your tastebuds will be forever changed! Besides being outrageously good (perfect combo of flavor and texture), we were surprised to learn of the wide variety of types available. So far, we’ve tried beef, pork, chicken, cheese, and sweet corn, as well as more dessert-style ones like nuts, strawberry, and pineapple – all of which have been great!
Even though it seems like the majority of our meals we eat out are street food (and it’s certainly quite often!), we feel like we have just skimmed the surface and have a lot more to try and to learn about! Luckily, the cost of eating out at such places is usually very inexpensive…for example, we get 3 tamales for 60 pesos or ~$3.50, which is plenty for the two of us. We’ve found that the cost is similar, if not less expensive, than cooking at home. So why not?! Join the locals and dig in!