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Mexico City Food Tour: Markets and Street Food

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City has the most amazing food tour companies. They really do. There are several of them, and if you read their websites, you come to realize that these companies are created and driven by individuals who deeply care about the cuisine and culture of their city. Not only that, but they are passionate about responsible tourism, which means that their employees earn a living wage, and that their tours pay their vendors fairly.

One such company is Eat Like a Local, founded by Rocio. I absolutely love the feminist foundation upon which her company is built. She employees only women, and empowers girls through programs that teach them English, personal finance, sex ed, leadership, etc. She is making a huge difference in the lives of these girls who will become women able to make decisions for themselves, and support themselves.

Eat Like a Local doesn’t have plain old food tours: they have food safaris. Sounds adventurous, yes? And it is! I chose to do their Mexican Food 101 itinerary which is actually an immersive experience involving taking the “scary” Mexico City subway, visiting two massive markets, eating insects, and navigating the color and chaos of Mexico City’s vast food scene.

So on my 2nd full day of my Mexico City solo trip, I spent the morning with Eat Like a Local.

Coffee in Beautiful Condesa

Condesa is one of the peaceful and leafy neighborhoods west of Centro Historico that is such a pleasure to wander. Streets lined with trees and tropical plants, dog walkers, and joggers are a few of the things you’ll see on a quiet morning. We all met up at a lovely coffee shop called Cardinal Coffee House. Immediately I cracked my head on the top of the doorway because I’m too tall for Mexico. Somehow I managed to take no photos of this coffee shop, but soon we were on our way, walking south towards the subway station and stopping for some goodies along the way.

A common Mexican breakfast might be to grab one of these lovely pan de dulce with a coffee. We were offered the conchas in vanilla or chocolate and I love that they’re not sickly sweet. Just a delightful little pastry that’s not quite a bread and not quite a cake.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets | pan dulce in La Condesa

Street Food is Everywhere in Mexico City

Next we paid a visit to Don Antonio at his little table for a taste of tacos de canasta. “El Don” has been on the corner of Aguascalientes and Av. Chilpancingo since 1986 and is quite a legend! He starts his day at 4am to get everything ready. These little “basket tacos” are perfect for a quick bite. I chose the chicharron taco and it was delicious. Many others in the group chose papa (potato) and loved theirs as well. They are typically served with a little side of pickled vegetables and/or salsa that you can add yourself. They’re small in size and only cost 10 pesos which is like 50 cents.

This was my second taco de canasta in about 12 hours, since I’d had one the evening before with the Mexico City After Dark tour with Club Tengo Hambre.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets | "El Don" tacos de canasta

Just steps away from the Chilpancingo subway station, is Don Cesar’s Mixiotes taco stall. He has been in this spot for 15 years, and put his three children through college with his family’s recipe. He comes from the Hidalgo region where he learned to prepare mixotes, which is meat in a saucy adobo marinade that varies according to family tradition. It is then tied up in a parchment wrapper (the mixote), and either pit smoked or steamed. The result is a juicy flavorful meat for tacos or tortas.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets | Don Cesar Mixote

Navigating Mexico City’s Gigantic La Merced Mercado

The CDMX subway system is clean, spacious, easy to follow, and incredibly cheap. It sounds perfect in all ways. The only problem with it that I had is that it is suffocatingly crowded, and the doors only open for FOUR SECONDS at each stop. So that in itself is terrifying, when you are packed in the subway car as tightly as humans can be, and then there is a very real chance you will not be able to get out.

If not for that significant hurdle, I would have loved to use the subway during my trip. But I did not, other than on this tour. Our guide took very good care of us and did not let anyone get stuck on the train.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

We stopped into a little tortilleria where they make fresh blue corn tortillas. We watched as they pour the blue corn kernels into the machine, and out comes freshly mixed masa. Then, they pressed it into a tortilla and we got to eat it with a sprinkling of salt. Absolutely amazing!!

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets
Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

The market is a literal maze. I found myself having a hard time keeping up with our tour group. They went so fast, and it’s so easy to lose your way in the tight confines of all the stalls and vendors. I was still adjusting to the whopping 7500ft of elevation so I was huffing and puffing trying to keep up. It was pretty frustrating at times but in the end I did not get lost.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Our first stop in the market was a little stall featuring home cooking on the comal. We received something of a sampler plate, with tastes of three different items, including a torta and a huitlacoche quesadilla oozing with melty Oaxacan cheese.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Candy, Chapulines, and Micheladas

The candy section in La Merced is enough to rival Willy Wonka! The colors and flavors are arranged in dazzling displays. Sugar comes in a thousand flavors, and chamoy does too. I could never have imagined so many different kinds.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets
Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Let’s Eat Some Bugs

It was time to eat some bugs! I knew this was coming and I tried to mentally prepare myself. First we were offered a cup of fresh pineapple juice with vodka, and then our guide brought out a selection of insects. I did try a couple of chapulines (crickets) but I chose very small ones. They tasted crunchy and salty. Overall the texture was not bad except you can feel the little legs. Many others in my group freely tried all the scorpions and larvae and had no fear.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets | Merced Market chapulines

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

For our last stop at this market, we got to sit and enjoy a michelada. The chamoy on the rim is a sweet and sticky addition to the cerveza and it just looks cool. From there, we were on to the subway to the next market!

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets | Michelada

Mexico City’s Beautiful La Jamaica Mercado: The Flower Market

One of the first things we ate in the second market was a taco from Carnitas Paty, a popular eatery inside the market. I had pork belly and cheek taco which was amazing. I really just have a one track mind. The tacos were always my favorite tastings.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

We got a sampling of this freshly fried chicharron. They fry the whole skin in big sheets and it’s incredible. Then they serve with a little salsa that was crazy hot.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets | Fresh chicharron

We found this guy making fresh crema, so our guide got a tasting for all of us. I LOVE this. Mexican crema is just unlike anything you can find around here where I live. And I never really got a direct answer about what it is…… it’s not sour cream, and it’s not regular cream, so I’m still trying to figure it out. It’s delicious and I want it on everything. This little bite of tortilla chip, with fresh crema and a little cheese was one of my favorite bites of the day.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets
Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

You can still see signs regarding Covid requirements, but as of March 2023, not many people were wearing masks anymore. It was business as usual!

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets | Jamaica Market flowers

The fresh and tropical fruit vendors have beautiful stalls! They arrange them so attractively. We visited a stall that gave each of us a gorgeous little sampler of so many different fruits. Some things were familiar and others I had never seen anything quite like it!

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

One of the best and most unique tacos I had on the entire trip was this incredible green chorizo taco in the market. WOW. This nameless taco stand is actually called Las Mas Altas Montanas. The chorizo had all the flavor that it usually does, but it was also made with all the green herbs they could possibly fit in it, along with pine nuts, peanuts, and almonds, so it’s a crazy green color. It’s absolutely delicious. Pretty much everyone declared this the best taco.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets | Jamaica Market green chorizo

The Flower Market

One of the things the Jamaica Market is known for is the flowers! This is a massive market for any kind of flower you can think of. Flowers are available by the cut stems, as well as massive bouquets and arrangements.

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

And for our last tasting at the market, we had some super fresh corn right off the cob from Elotes La Guera. I think it was their esquites without all the toppings. And here’s another terrible picture of me, why not?

Mexico City Food Tour | Eat Like a Local | Street Food and Markets

Finally, after arriving back in Condesa via subway, we had our last tasting at the Manhattan paleta shop. By this time it was raining, and I think that was the only rain I encountered on my whole trip. And what a warm rain it was! Totally pleasant, and it didn’t last long at all.

Manhattan paleta | Mexico City Eat Like a Local | Food Tour

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