Friday, June 14, 2024

Where are the best tacos in Mexico City?

When we think of Mexico, one of the first things that springs to mind is surely the taco. And rightly so – this culinary powerhouse of a country has elevated the simple taco to an art form, with an array of complex flavors, fillings, and regional specialties that would make even the most seasoned gastronome weep tears of joy. But the most important question is obviously this: Where can I find the best tacos in Mexico City?

From the bustling streets of the capital, we bring you a survey of the crème de la crème of the Mexico City taco scene. We’ve sampled a wide spectrum of famous haunts to hidden gems, casting our net across the hundreds of varied vendors to bring you a curated roundup of the city’s taco treasures.

No matter how upscale the neighborhood, there is always a local taco shop providing delicious and authentic food. (Tacos Hola El Güero/Facebook)

Whether you crave the classics or seek to explore the bold and new, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our take on the nine best taco spots in CDMX. 

The (unofficial) best tacos in Mexico City

Tacos Hola El Güero (Condesa)

I’m hesitant to share this one since it’s my regular lunch spot and already quite buzzy, but it is more than well-deserving of an accolade. Tacos Hola sits squarely in the heart of Avenida Amsterdam in Condesa (and squarely in my heart), and offers a selection of consistently mouthwatering tacos de guisado (stew tacos) with fillings ranging from varieties of meat to vegetarian offerings cooked and sauced in ways one can only dream of. My go-to’s are the Chicken Tinga and Rajas (strips of peppers, potato, and onions) tacos, topped with beans and guacamole. Don’t forget to spoon over El Güero’s proprietary blend of fresh radish, onion, and jalapeño in a vinegary sauce.

Taqueria Selene (Anzures)

Those in the know are obsessed with Selene, and it’s easy to understand why. A beloved neighborhood favorite since 1964, it’s evident that this welcoming, family-run restaurant takes great care with every dish. Locals are enamored with Selene’s juicy and flavorful Al Pastor tacos, which are widely considered the best in the city. These tacos feature generous heaps of marinated pork, caramelized onions and pineapple, and plenty of cheese, all balanced with the perfect ratio of a blend of sweet, salty, tangy, and buttery flavors. Personally, my mouth waters for their gringa beef rib taco, similar to a quesadilla but with an incredible crispy texture. Order a side of guacamole and be sure to add it to every dish, along with their flavorful authentic salsa roja. 

Cariñito Tacos (Rome Norte)

At Cariñito, tradition meets innovation with a Southeast Asian-inspired menu offered in a classic Mexican-style street taqueria setting. Creatively plated on dried corn husks, each taco serves up a burst of complex flavors mixed with tangy sauces and unique oriental spices. You can’t go wrong with anything you opt for here, but my favorites include the Laos Eggplant taco topped with a handful of fresh herbs, and the Cochinita Thai taco, with its perfect soft pork belly-to-hoisin sauce ratio, complemented with crisp Asian cucumber salad. Whether patrons are taco aficionados or just looking to try something new, Cariñito offers a flavorful adventure that’s anything but ordinary.

If you’re stuck trying to decide between tacos and Thai food, don’t worry – Roma Norte’s Cariñito has you covered. (Cariñito Tacos/Instagram)

Autentico Pato Manila (Polanco, Roma, Hipódromo)

Autentico Pato Manila offers only one main ingredient: duck. And it is exceptional. I was so taken with their duck tacos on my first visit that I returned the very next day for another round. Offering small portions perfect for a light meal or snack, Autentico expertly blends the flavors and styles of Mexico and the Philippines into a refreshingly concise menu featuring just four items, and a garnish of five different types of sauces. For those eager to sample a bit of everything, half-orders are also available. My personal favorite is the tacos Kim, showcasing baked duck with hand-made flour tortillas and plum sauce. The combination of sweet and spicy flavors in all of their dishes is beautifully balanced, with crisp fresh cucumber accents to round them off. 

Siembra Taqueria (Polanco)

Offering a menu of classics with a gourmet twist, the food at Siembra Taqueria is undeniably delicious, earning it a reputation as a Polanco standout. The neighborhood spot is renowned for favorites like the Gaona with cheese tacos (my choice) and succulent fish pastor, all served on delectable blue corn tortillas from the eatery’s mill, topped with fresh onions and cilantro for a burst of flavor in every bite. Be sure to try the standout Fideo seco con tuétano, featuring dried noodles with bone marrow. With its inviting atmosphere and intimate outdoor seating, Siembra offers a delightful dining experience. And (you didn’t hear it from me) it’s rumored that their tuna tostada is whispered to rival even Contramar’s famed version. But let’s keep that between us, shall we?

Taqueria Orinoco (Locations throughout the city)

Taqueria Orinoco has been likened to the “In and Out Burger” of Mexico City – and with their bright red branding, hype, and pared-down menu, I can see why. The chain restaurant is admittedly quite touristy, but worth checking out (even if only to throw your opinion in during debates on the Mexico City food scene with friends). Best for late nights as it’s open until at least 3:30 am, the classic spot draws in crowds for a good reason. Their Trompo (Al Pastor) tacos are spectacular, as are the beef tacos. A sure crowd-pleaser is the taco de chicharron, which is soft on the inside yet crispy on the outside, and – unusual for a taqueria – they offer a side of tasty smashed potatoes to dip into the many salsa options they provide. 

El Turix (Polanco) 

Upon approaching El Turix, the first thing you’ll notice is the euphoric faces of noshers filling their mouths with tacos on the curb outside of this tiny, no-frills Polanco spot. Their expressions are reminiscent of painted Renaissance scenes of religious ecstasy, and the divine culprit is more often than not the cochinita pibil taco. With slow-roasted pulled pork cooked with achiote paste and citrus adobo, cochinita is the main specialty of this Yucatan-style kitchen. There are no tables or chairs here, but that doesn’t matter because you’ll be ripping into your order the moment after it touches your outstretched hand. Seating be damned. Spicy, juicy, and flavorful, every bite feels like a mouth fiesta at this eatery.

For a dose of pork served on the sidewalk, El Turix can’t easily be beaten. (El Turix/Instagram)

Los Guiris (Condesa) 

A trendy newcomer to the scene, Los Guiris is a hidden treasure. This modest setup with exquisite food operates from a window of the kitchen of Felina bar and offers wines for pairing in a casual outdoor table setting. Los Guiris chef Alexander Suastegui whips up a short selection of six experimental taco dishes with ingredients that take you from the chinampas of Xochimilco to the coast. While every option is outstanding, my favorite is the Chen Kai- Korean-style fried chicken served on a roti-esque tortilla. The runner-up is the deeply flavorful Shrimp taco on a Costa crust of cheese. I couldn’t tell you what they put in that taco sauce, but it had me surreptitiously licking my fingers, grieving over the final bite. 

Taqueria Gabriel (Zona Rosa)

In a welcoming locale nearly as lively as its neighborhood surroundings, Taqueria Gabriel is the definition of near-perfection when it comes to their taco offerings. Their street-style tacos are slightly smaller than usual, neatly folded to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. Made with fresh handmade corn tortillas and the ideal balance of protein, cheese, garnishes, and salsas, these tacos are a delight. The shrimp tacos are my favorite, along with the carne asada and mushroom tacos, but anything you order will be a treat to the senses. For an extra layer of texture, order your tacos “volcanes” style, featuring a crispy fried corn tortilla exterior topped with melted cheese, and wash it down with one of the spot’s famed mezcal margaritas.

Honorable Mentions: Tizne Tacomotora (Roma & Del Valle), El Rey Del Pavo (Centro), El Vilsito (Narvarte Poniente), Por Siempre Vegana Taquería (Roma Norte), Don Guero (Cuahtemoc), Molino El Pujol (Condesa), El Habanerito (Roma Norte, Narvarte), Taqueria El Greco (Condesa)

While we’ve highlighted nine delicious spots, it’s impossible to list all the amazing options that exist. Let us know your best Mexico City taco spots in the comments below.

Monica Belot is a writer, researcher, strategist and adjunct professor at Parsons School of Design in New York City, where she teaches in the Strategic Design & Management Program. Splitting her time between NYC and Mexico City, where she resides with her naughty silver labrador puppy Atlas, Monica writes about topics spanning everything from the human experience to travel and design research. Follow her varied scribbles on Medium at https://medium.com/@monicabelot.

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