Until not too long ago, my exposure to Mexican food was limited to two things: burritos and tacos. Little did I know that Mexican cuisine goes far beyond meat wrapped in a tortilla, and is just as rich, diverse and complex as Chinese, French and Italian food.
Over the years, Youali has introduced me to many amazing Mexican dishes, which opened up a whole new world for me. With my newfound knowledge, I was super excited to check out legit, local Mexican food when we were spending a few days in Mexico City and Puebla (two hours away from Mexico City).
Here are the most notable dishes I had in Mexico. Some of these dishes are super tasty, while others are, shall we say, more memorable… I didn’t note the restaurant name as part of the fun of eating in Mexico is that you will eat as you go and discover the best home-made food by not actively searching for it. So keep your head up, ditch your phone and just look around!
My top 5 notable dishes
1) Mole (in Puebla)
With both visual appeal and pleasant aroma, mole is on my list of favorite Mexican dishes. Mole sauce comes in various flavors, but are generally made up of over 20 ingredients, including chili peppers (pasilla and chipotle, for instance), tomatoes, black pepper, sesame and many other herbs (even chocolate in some recipe!). Mole Poblano is one of most well known dishes in Puebla, so you won’t have a hard time finding a place that serves this amazing spicy-sweet dish.
Omelette mole with cheese (~$4 US)
Omelette chicken with almond flakes (~$6 US)
2) Caldo de cameron (shrimp soup in Puebla)
There is something magical about Mexican soups. The broth is rich and flavored, enhanced with a mixed pureé of chili pepper, and meat cooked to perfection. I had this shrimp soup at a small shop in Puebla, where all dishes were elegant prepared and servers were refreshingly courteous. Finished with a simple yet perfect splash of onion and scallion, what is not to love?
3) Quesadilla with Chicharrón (Tortilla with cheese and fried pork rind in Mexico City)
Across the street from our hostel (Mexico City Hostel in Zócalo), a tiny mom-and-pop eatery was packed with locals, sitting in plastic stools. Right at the door front, the cook was tirelessly grilling a fresh batch of meat. It takes only a few minutes for a thick stack of tortilla to be topped with meat, served and consumed. The quesadilla we had was the most delicious street food we had on this trip. The heavily marinated meat was perfect with the melting queso and slightly turned tortilla. (As a side note: It was interesting that restaurant replaces a thin plastic wrapped around the plate so they won’t have to do the dishes…)
4) Albondigas (meat ball soup)
Yes, it’s not hard to tell that there is a soft spot in my heart for soups (my post on Seoul has a whole section on beef soups). Albondigas, or Mexican meat ball soup, always gets me excited as a comfort food, especially when served bubbling hot. The soup base is often made with sautéed onions, tomatoes and garlic, while the meat ball is made of ground pork or turkey. This particularly version of the soup I had in Mexico City was hearty and thick, and went really well with the rice. Each restaurant makes this dish in its own unique fashion, some with huge meatballs (as big as my fist) or a lot more vegetables.
5) Taco de ojo (Eye ball tacos)!!
No, it wasn’t like a big old pair of cow eyeballs start at me out of a corn tortilla. To be honestly, you can’t even tell what meat it was as the taco just looked normal the onion and cilantro. To me, this is one of those foods that I had to cross off the list of things to try. My verdict? It was a fun experience as I didn’t know what to expect, so there was a sense of excitement and anticipation when I put in an order of 3. The texture of the eyeballs was chewy and kinda squishy. It wasn’t as off-putting as it may seem, but I wouldn’t say I liked it. Now that I’ve tried it, I probably won’t have it for a while..,
This taqueria in Zocalo (Mexico City) serves 3 tacos for 27 pesos (~US $1.5)
Close up of Tacos de ojos.
What other awesome dishes have you tried in Mexico?