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Mexico is famous for its piquant and divine cultural cuisine that has inspired gastronomic flavors and experiences worldwide. There is something so wholesome and hearty about Mexican cuisine, which brings people together to break bread, share stories, and delight in mouthwatering dishes together! Read on to learn more about the top foods to try in Cancun during your next vacation!
Most of Mexico’s archaic cuisine was inspired by local culture and available ingredients, whether it be meat, fish, plants, or homegrown spices. And part of the beauty is that most of it is available on the streets! You don’t have to visit a restaurant to have the experience – simply take a walk along the enchanting streets and you’ll come across plenty of quaint food stalls.
Tamales are at the top of our list for foods to try in Cancun as they are one of the most traditional and emblematic dishes of Mexican gastronomy. The Mesoamerican food is usually made from corn dough that is stuffed with delicately cooked meats, vegetables, sauces, and other ingredients. The tamal is wrapped in natural leaves, usually being corn or banana leaves, and then cooked in steaming water.
Tamales can sweet or salty depending on which type you try. When in Quintana Roo, ask for a “tamal torteado de pollo”, which is a soft tamal covered in a delicious red sauce!
Sopa de Lima (Lime Soup)
Sopa de Lima is one of Yucatan Peninsula’s most native and traditional dishes that is one of our top foods to try in Cancun! The citrusy broth features strong seasonal flavors and is usually made using chicken, pork or turkey and seasoned with cumin, garlic, sweet chili, and oregano that is specially grown in the Yucatan.
The classic dish is usually served with tortilla chips or crusty warm bread!
Tacos al Pastor
Tacos al Pastor are one of the most popular taco varieties in Mexico and evolved from the Lebanese culinary traditions that arrived in Mexico in the late 19th century!
The divine tacos consist of thin slices of shaved pork that are delicately slow roasted on a rotating shawarma-spit, placed on a tortilla and then topped with salsa, chili, onion, and fresh coriander. It’s also common for them to be served with a fried spring onion to enhance the flavor!
The empanada is a traditional recipe throughout Mexico. The golden empanada is usually made using corn dough, which is folded and filled with either sweet or savory ingredients before being deep-fried to the perfect consistency.
In a savory empanada, you’ll commonly find meats, cheese, tomato, corn, and spices. A sweet empanada can be filled with fruit jelly or dulce de leche!
Our recommendation: go to Parque de las Palapas in Cancun and try the empanadas of Don Javier.
The Marquesita is popular sweet treat that you’ll find in the streets of the Yucatan Peninsula. Just look for the carts that have the sign “Marquesitas”. Watching them being made is part of the fun!
The beloved bittersweet dessert is a crispy crepe that is rolled up and filled with melted shredded cheese, which is traditionally Edam cheese, or a sweet filling of your choice, such as strawberry jam, hazelnut cream, or condensed milk.
Tacos de Cochinita Pibil
Tacos de Cochinita Pibil are native to the Yucatan Peninsula and one of the many local gastronomic delights. The tacos are traditionally made using suckling pig meat (hence the name ‘cochinita’, which means ‘tiny pig’), that is marinated in delicious acidic juices, annatto seed, and spices hours before serving.
Cochinita Pibil can also be served in a Torta. We recommend trying the Torta de Cochinita Pibil in the Tlachco Theatre at Xcaret for the ultimate experience!
Castacan (Fried Pork Belly)
Castacan is the Yucatecan version of the traditional crispy pork belly tacos however, unlike the traditional style, Castacan tacos are topped with melting cheese, which is applied using a special technique. The taco is placed up on a griddle and then slowly topped with shredded cheese. As the cheese softly melts, it oozes into the cracks and spaces between the meat and binds the pork belly together, which adds a whole new mouthwatering flavor and texture to the meat!
Chilaquiles are a favorite breakfast dish throughout Mexico. Chilaquiles consist of crispy fried tortilla chips that are simmered in either a delicious red or green sauce. Generally, the red sauce is more mellow and less spicy. The green sauce has more of a piquant kick and predominant flavor.
Once served, Chilaquiles can be topped with onions, cream, or salsa and they’re often served with refried beans.
Esquites are a popular and tasty street food snack that are made using boiled corn, creamy mayonnaise, lime juice, chili, and softly crumbled cojita cheese. Esquites are usually served in a plastic cup or bowl and you’re given a spoon to mix all of the ingredients together!
Churros are long, crispy sticks of dough that are deep-fried and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Crisp and golden on the outside and soft and delicate on the inside, Churros are one of Mexico’s most loved desserts that you’ll find in most streets! They’re usually served in little paper bags or in baskets.
We hope that you will find our list of top foods to try in Cancun helpful and that you will enjoy the ultimate gastronomic experience on your next trip to Mexico!