The humble taqueria can be found in every region of Mexico, with every region contributing a range of styles, ingredients, and traditions. In the D.F., you can find all of them. Whether you’re exploring the Centro by day and in the mood for a snack or stumbling around Colonia Roma by night, there’s a taco for you. Here are our picks for Mexico City’s best tacos:
TACOS AL CARBÓN
Taquería Los Parados
Tacos al carbon, where meats are cooked over coal fired grills, are the specialty of the open-air Los Parados. Sample meats like costilla (ribs), arrachera (steak), chorizo, or chicken, which can all be topped with cheese (called “volcan” style). Open late night. Monterrey 333, Col. Roma Sur; taquerialosparados.mx.
Taquería El Califa
Now a big chain, El Califa opened in 1994 with an emphasis on above average ingredients and fresh made tortillas. Their signature taco is the Gaona, thinly sliced steak that’s lightly seared and can be topped with cheese. They also invented something called the crater: tostadas topped with melted Oaxacan cheese and the meat of your choosing. Altata 22, Col. Condesa; elcalifa.com.mx.
Taquería El Farolito
One of the original tacos al carbon spots in Mexico City, El Farolito serves a long list of flame-grilled meats like rib-eye, arrachera, al pastor, chuleta, and Tampiqueño. Don’t miss the tacos with cecina de Yecapixtla, the salted and cured beef from the state of Morelos. Altata 19, Condesa; taqueriaselfarolito.com.
TACOS AL PASTOR
Taquería El Huequito
Tacos al pastor – a variation of tacos árabes, the spit-roasted pork tacos that arrived in Puebla in the 1930s – uses pork, cooked on a trompo that has been marinated in some form of adobo (pineapple, spices, achiote, chiles, garlic, etc). El Huequito, meaning “little hole in the wall,” which opened in 1959 and claims to have invented the form, prepares the purest version, never topping them with pineapple or cilantro. Ayuntamiento 21; Col. Centro; elhuequito.com.mx.
Taquería El Tizoncito
Opened in 1966, El Tizoncito claims to have invented tacos al pastor too, though they are likely fudging that declaration a bit. They do appear to have created the popular form of this style of taco, using chunks of pineapple that sit of above the spit and cilantro, and have expanded to more than a dozen locations around Central Mexico. In other words, it’s a big chain now, though still reliable in a pinch. Av. Insurgentes Sur 2355, Col. Villa Obregón; eltizoncito.com.mx.
Taquería El Vilsito
This auto-repair shop by day turns into one of Mexico City’s premier tacos al pastor spots in the evenings (and early mornings). Four stalls are lined up side by side and the crowd doesn’t scatter until 4am or so on some nights. Petén 248, at Avenida Universidad, Col Narvarte.
TACOS DE SUADERO
Taquería Los Cocuyos
Possibly the most legendary taco stall among Mexico City chefs and restaurant insiders, the unpretentious Los Cocuyos is run literally out of a hole in the wall. Owner Rigoberto can be seen at the cutting board beside a large cauldron of suadero (brisket), sesos (brains), tripa (tripe), chorizo, lengua (tongue), and various other cuts of lesser-utilized meats. Everything boils together in its own fat, then gets sizzled briefly on a comal before being served on a tortilla with radishes, cilantro, onion, and a choice of salsas. Calle Simon Bolivar 56, Cuauhtémoc, Centro Histórico
TACOS DE BARBACOA
Open only Friday through Sunday during the daytime, El Hidalgunese specializes in barbacoa, lamb (which they raise themselves on their ranch in Hidalgo) that is wrapped in agave leaves and roasted over an open flame. All parts of the animal are game – even the drippings are made into a consommé – and are served with blue corn tortillas. Campeche 155, Col. Roma Sur.
Hailed as “some of the best barbacoa in Mexico City,” family-owned Renato’s in the southern neighborhood of Azcapotzalco, has been in business for over 50 years. Once a stall, now a restaurant in the bottom of the family home, it’s a favorite of locals. While barbacoa is served differently throughout Mexico, here it’s served with cheese, avocado, salsa borracha (a salsa made with chiles and beer), consommé, and warm, fresh tortillas. Jacarandas 443, Colonia Pasteros, Azcapotzalco; Facebook Page.
Los Tres Reyes
Another family-run shop focused on barbacoa that’s equal parts popular and satisfying is southern-lying Los Tres Reyes, run by Alvaro Gonzalez and his sons. Open Saturday and Sundays from 7:30 AM – 5 PM, here the consommé gets high marks, and by mid-morning the band has arrived and the paired cerveza has begun to flow, creating a party-like atmosphere that’s hard to resist. Pablo Verones 12, Alfonso X111, Mixcoac; Facebook Page.
TACOS DE GUISADO
Taquería El Jarocho
Around since 1947, this old school tacos de guisado spot was recently modernized, but the flavors are still the same. Their specialty is the El Campechano, which pairs bistec de res with crunchy chicharrón. Make it a Super Campechano to add guacamole and cheese. Tapachula 94, Roma Nte; taqueriaeljarocho.com.mx.
Taquería El Güero (Tacos Hola)
Several dozen fillings are spread out behind the counter in clay cazuelas at this reliable guisado taco spot in Condesa that has been open since 1968. Options include standards like chorizo con papas, tinga, rajas, mole verde, and cochinita pibil. Amsterdam 135, Colonia Condesa.
Opened by the son of the owner of Taqueria El Güero, Tacos Gus emphasizes organic ingredients and many vegetarian fillings like acelgas (Swiss chard) or coliflór (cauliflower). His meat based tacos are also worthwhile, especially the ones with chicharrón prensado: post-rendered pork skin, pressed to remove that fat, and then re-hydrated in sauce. Ometusco 56, Col. Condesa; grangus.com.
Polanco is better known for swank fine dining spots and elaborate chef tasting menus, but this hole-in-the-wall gem could rival all of them. Though the line is long, you need to get on it and prepare to make your palate happy with a cochinita pibil panucho. This Yucatecan speciality, slow-roasted pulled pork cooked in achiote paste with citrus, is one of those life-changing delicacies and, outside of the Yucatán, El Turix corners the market. Calle Emilio Castelar 212, Polanco; Facebook Page
TACOS DE CABEZA
El Borrego Viudo
Late night or early morning tacos de cabeza, made with pieces of beef head meat, is believed to be a hangover cure in Mexico. This iconic spot has a range of offal meats like hígado (liver) riñones (kidneys), sesos (brains), suadero (brisket), cachete (cheek), lengua (tongue), as well as more common al pastpr tacos. Wash everything down with a tepache, fermented pineapple juice. Av. Revolución 241, corner of Viaducto, Colonia Tacubaya.
TOSTADAS DE MARISCOS
Marisqueria El Caguamo
A simple sidewalk shack in the center is where to come for a variety of seafood snacks like shrimp, mussels, clams, ceviches, and fried fish filets, which can all be served on a tostada or alone in a glass. Each tostada can be dressed up with olive oil, slices of avocado, chopped tomato, onions, and cilantro. Ayuntamiento 18 (López), Centro.
The best seafood tostadas in Mexico City come from this laid-back market near Coyoacán’s main plaza. Once in the market, look for the obnoxious yellow signs towards the center and choose a seat (the servers will try and pull you to different tables). Choose one of dozens of fillings such as ceviche, pulpo (octopus), camarón (shrimp), and jaiba (crab), as well as various non-seafood items. Pair with one of the many aguas de frutas offered. Calle Malintzi, Mercado Coyoacán, Coyoacán.
TACOS DE CANASTA
Tacos de canasta are named for the basket (“canasta”) in which they are traditionally served and sold. These made-in-advance tacos if you will, are a favorite street food of vendors, often on bicycles, and sometimes called tacos sudados, which translates to sweaty tacos, or tacos al vapor, or steamed tacos. Most popular are the carne en adobo and chicharrón en salsa verde. Though the line is always long, it moves fast. Av Francisco I. Madero 71, Centro Histórico
We’re not sure whether we like the vendor or the tacos better at La Abuela, a family outfit named after Arnulfo Serafín Hernandéz’s aunt. From Monday – Saturday, the family makes and distributes the tacos to the various stalls that are set up throughout the city, but it’s this one that’s worth the visit to say hello to Arnulfo. With eight varieties — mashed potatoes, refried beans, chicken in green mole, chicharròn prensado (carnitas cooked in red salsa), cochinita pibil, tinga de pollo (chicken in tomato sauce), ternera (veal) and chicharròn en salsa verde, this is one of our favorite spots. Esqina Calles Río Lerma 59/Río Rhin 71, Col. Renacimiento, Cuauhtémoc.