Trying new food is one of the best reasons to to travel, but if you don’t have a plan it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why, if you’re headed to Mexico, there are a few items – and a few restaurants – that should absolutely be on your agenda.
In The Capital: Pujol
It would be an injustice to start your culinary tour of Mexico with anything other than Pujol in Mexico City, a destination that consistently makes the list of the world’s 50 best restaurants. Headed by Enrique Olvera, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, Pujol adds French-style technique to traditional Mexican ingredients with incredible results.
On the menu at Pujol, you’ll find such dishes as “mother mole,” a sauce that takes over 100 days to make and a version of esquite made with wheatberries instead of corn. The restaurant also prides itself on its extensive list of mezcals. Pujol is a pricy take on traditional Mexican cuisine, but it’s well worth it.
Immigrant Cuisine: Tacos Al Pastor
Tacos al pastor may seem like a quintessentially Mexican dish at first glance, but it’s really an innovation that developed as Lebanese and Syrian immigrants arrived in Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s. A pork taco made from spit roasted meat, the name means “in the style of the shepherd” and is a humble food that’s really elevated by the pineapple and coriander seasonings added to the dish. Grab this at a stand or any local restaurant.
Cook Across The Yucatan: Mexico Lindo Cooking School
Once you start tasting Mexican food, you’ll quickly realize you want to be able to replicate these dishes at home, which is why you should spend a day studying at Mexico Lindo Cooking School in Cancun. There, you’ll have the opportunity to learn how to make cochinita pibil, sopa de lima, and more under the tutelage of a professional chef. You’ll be the most popular dinner party host when you arrive home with these recipes in your repertoire.
Don’t Skip Breakfast: Chilaquiles At Publico
It’s always tempting to sleep in during vacation, but during your time in Mexico you won’t want to miss out on chilaquiles, a breakfast favorite. Composed of fried corn tortillas topped with cheese, salsa, scrambled or fried eggs, and chicken, this is a craveable breakfast you won’t find at your local diner back home.
We recommend the chilaquiles at Publico, a hot new restaurant in Mexico City, but you’ll find this dish wherever you’re staying – and will likely discover delightful regional variations. And don’t overlook the fact that chilaquiles are considered an optimal way to recover from a night of hard drinking, so this is the perfect dish if you’ve overindulged in tequila or mezcal the night before.
Mexico has a rich cuisine and the food culture extends from casual street food to fine dining, so keep an open mind and know that the best meals of your trip could happen anywhere. And keep it light – eating lots of small meals means that you can try more things!