Mexico City and tacos – two of the things I love most.
I´ve been thinking a lot about my favorite taquerias around the Capital City of Mexico – my hometown and where I have lived almost all of my life – and it was more difficult than I thought.
This big city has so much delicious food to offer and this “Top Ten” list has a little of everything – each one a very different type of taco, all of them tasty as f**k. I really hope that you, in your search for the best tacos in Mexico City, have the opportunity to try them all (or perhaps you already have, being the 2nd biggest taco-lover…just after me, of course).
The Complex Simplicity of a Taco
Tacos are simple and complex at the same time, as their elements are these:
- A good tortilla
- Something yummy to put inside it
But this simplicity comes in so many ways, shapes, and textures: fish tacos, tacos filled with a variety of meat, a mix of cheese, veggies, and, of course, a good salsa or a splash of lime. The tortilla can be fried, or made out of corn or flour…and the list goes on.
Another important factor of a good taco is the person who cooks it.
Each “taquero” brings their own personality to the table, giving you a different experience from taqueria to taqueria. It’s hard to explain, but you can taste the difference. It’s the love they put into their cooking.
Best Taquerias in Mexico City
Now the time has come to reveal my Top 10 best tacos (taquerias) in Mexico City…
El Vilsito is my number one on the list as it was the first taqueria to come to mind.
For me, this place has the best “taco al pastor” ever, which is – at least in Mexico City – THE G.O.A.T. (and most popular).
This palace of marvelous deliciousness is located in Colonia Narvarte, which is home to many great taco places, but it has a very special “magic” to it. During the day, this place is known for all of the car repair shops but as the sun starts to go down, the magic starts and the place transforms into a taqueria town that has a handful of “trompos” (trompos are the way tacos al pastor are made, which is similar to the way of cooking the meat for kebabs, shawarma or gyros. In fact, tacos al pastor were born as a result of Lebanese migration to Mexico in the early 1900s).
If you go to El Vilsito, you must order three “tacos al pastor con todo”, add some salsa verde (in this place it’s more like guacamole), and lime, and LISTO! Your soul will sense a new kind of joy after trying these tacos.
Apart from tacos al pastor, all tacos are delicious in this place. You may also find “volcanes” (crunchy corn tortillas full of cheese and your choice of meat), tortas (the great Mexican sandwich), and lots of other delicious stuff. You won’t go wrong.
As a bit of final advice, don’t ask what “mentadas gratis” on the menu means…unless you’re not offended.
This place is just like heaven.
El Turix offers tacos de cochinita, a typical dish in the Yucatán Peninsula, specifically the City of Mérida (one of the most beautiful places in Mexico) and they are THE staple – the real deal. Cochinita Pibil is pork meat that has been marinated in a mix of orange juice and a lot of spices. There’s one spice in particular called “Achiote” which makes this especially. Achiote is the powder made out of the seeds of a plant that grows in the southern part of Mexico and has a very special flavor – you may not have ever tried something like it, so this would be a good, new experience.
El Turix ONLY offers Cochinita Pibil, that is how good it is. Just go inside order your “tacos de cochinita”, put some red onion in it, and go easy with the salsa here, as it is made out of chile habanero (very spicy).
Hostal de Los Quesos
This taqueria literally has the word “cheese” in its name. This one is really special for me as I went there since I was a kid.
Here, they have the best handmade tortillas (“tortillas hechas a mano” makes all the difference, trust me) and their tacos are really good.
My personal favorites are tacos al pastor (they make them really chunky in here) and something called “Chile Hostal”, which is a mix of cheese, poblano pepper, bacon, and onion. I just love its flavor – it reminds me of my childhood and all the good times eating tacos with my family.
This is also a good option for vegetarians that want to try some nice tacos with nice flavor.
El Hostal de los Quesos is located in Colonia Del Valle, just next to Colonia Narvarte, as this entire zone has the best tacos in Mexico City. They also have another taqueria near Santa Fe, on the west side of the city.
Another one in Colonia Narvarte, El Hayito is kind of different from the other taquerias we have already talked about.
Here, you will find “tacos arabes” (the literal translation would be Arab tacos) and they are just delicious!
They are made with pita bread, not tortilla, and the meat is prepared similarly to tacos al pastor in a “trompo” (actually this type of taco may be considered the “grandfather” of tacos al pastor).
The flavor and juiciness of the meat are on another level. It will just blow your mind, as it’s surely a different take on tacos as you’d imagine! They have two types of salsas here and both are just delicious, as well as spicy. They also have some onions that seem to have ashes from the fire in them, I’m not really sure, but it just goes great with the tacos.
Another classic taqueria in Colonia Narvarte (see what I mean?), which started like a really small business but became really popular with time – now they have a huge restaurant that became famous because of their special way of preparing their meat.
This special way is called “Carne Manolo”, which is beefsteak, onion, and bacon.
Just imagine the taste and feel your mouth watering right now. I recommend ordering a “Taco Juanga”, which is pita bread filled with Carne Manolo and cheese – not a traditional taco, but my personal favorite!
This place usually is really crowded, so be patient when you go there. It will be worth the wait, I promise.
Antony Bourdain loved Los Cocuyos maybe more than I do, which is tough to do.
They have the best “tacos de suadero” in the whole world! Tacos de suadero are a classic taco in Mexico City as many taquerias offer them really cheap – they are the tacos for the people, as they say. And Los Cocuyos does it best.
This time you will need to go to Mexico City’s downtown area to try this gift from Mexico to the world. Suadero is made out of each and every piece that you may imagine from a cow, from the tip of its nose to the back legs – these taqueros don’t waste anything. Suadero is made with all the cuts of meat and then tossed into a big cauldron full of oil, so the meat is cooked and fried for a couple of hours.
In this legendary place, I suggest you try “taco campechano”, a mix of beef and longaniza (a spicy type of sausage), and also “tacos de lengua”, which are literally tacos made out of the tongue of the cow – sounds weird, but the meat is so tender and full of flavor!
You should also ask the taquero to give you some fried onions on your plate because they are sweet and delicious and go so well with these types of tacos.
Barbacoa Los 3 Reyes
If the variety of tacos we’ve covered isn’t enough, you can find a new type of taco in Los 3 Reyes, a place where you will find barbacoa.
Barbacoa can be somewhat translated to barbeque, which may be similar to US barbeques, due to the fact that meat is cooked in a slow way, but the flavors are a little different. It’s not your traditional BBQ flavor and sauce.
Preparing barbacoa is a work of art.
First, you dig a hole in the ground and burn some wood, so this rudimentary oven starts to get some real heat.
After you reach the perfect temperature, you will need some agave stalks to cover the meat, which is usually lamb meat.
After you cook it for a handful of hours, the result is one of the most tasteful bites of meat you will ever have in your life (watch out, southern BBQ fans).
Barbacoa is a very traditional dish in many parts of Mexico and it is known for being the perfect cure for a hangover. You will find many barbacoa places around the city, even on the streets and in farmers’ markets, but the one in Los 3 Reyes is simply marvelous. Start your barbacoa journey here.
This taqueria may be a bit controversial, as it’s known as a hipster taqueria and the original purists just won’t accept it, so you have some turf war…but the truth is that Taqueria Orinoco is the real sh*t, their tacos are so tasteful, their salsas are brilliant, and every bite is just pure happiness – no matter your taste in other things of life.
Taqueria Orinoco has its origins in Monterrey, in the north of Mexico, and they are famous because of their “taco de trompo” (it’s the same as tacos al pastor but from the north of Mexico) and their “taco de chicharron” (chicharron is the pork’s fried skin – think pork rinds).
This place is very “cool” and is a perfect spot to grab some tacos after a night out in Colonia Roma, as these tacos can be found in this neighborhood. When you go there, order a couple of tacos with flour tortillas as well as a couple of “smashed” potatoes so you can try all the salsas that they offer.
Now it’s time for another twist on tacos: duck tacos.
Yes, we also have duck tacos in Mexico City and they are brilliant – one of my favorite places anytime, no matter what day it is.
Pato Manila has a really short menu. It offers tacos that are kind of Asian style (based on their salsas and ingredients) as well as another type of taco that is a little more Mexican-ish, as it has beans and goes with corn tortilla. The truth is they are both delicious so make sure to try both.
They have a taqueria in Polanco and a couple more in Colonia Roma, two of the coolest neighborhoods in Mexico City, which have a lot to offer – not only in the taco realm.
Order a couple of “Tacos Kim” and a beer and taste another wonderful piece of this beautiful city and its various takes on delicious tacos.
And, to finish this great list, I will now mention one of the best places on Earth (not just Mexico City), which is Los Panchos.
This place is kind of a “Cantina” vibe, which offers “Tacos de Carnitas”, pork meat that is fried in a big bowl full of flavor and melted pork fat. The meat gets “candied” in the process and the result is a handful of very juicy and tasteful meat.
Just as in “tacos de suadero”, every part of the animal is used in this type of taco, as well (no waste here).
The star item at this place is called “Pretrolera”, which is not specifically a taco, but it is pretty similar – it is a bigger, fatter corn tortilla with some beans, cheese, and carnitas. There’s nothing else you could ask for, it is just something beautiful that makes you want to cry due to its perfection (don’t laugh until it happens to you).
Los Panchos is located in Colonia Anzures, just between Polanco and Colonia Juárez/Roma, and you can also find Los Panchos in El Palacio de Hierro, a luxury store that adopted this delicious dish, so if you got hungry after shopping, just easily stop by their food terrace and get some tacos from Los Panchos.