Eating Street Food

David Simmonds 

Street Food in Mexico…Is it Safe? For the most part, it’s not only safe…it is cheap and it is good. In all of my years of traveling Mexico I have eaten more bad food than a landfill rat. But I can’t think of one time that I could trace the problem back to eating street food.  In recent years I rarely get sick…ever. And it’s not because I have become “used” to it, somehow convincing rogue bacteria that they are powerless trying to invade my aging immune system. Sanitation and proper food preparation have improved immensely in Mexico over the past 15 years or so, and if you use a little common sense and do a ritual dance daily to the juju gods, you too can chow down at the street stands just like the savvy locals.

The first thing you should look for when choosing your street food is to discover who is doing all of the business. If a street stand operator is dishing tainted food he’ll be out of business in a week. The locals know who has safe food, and just as importantly, who has good food. You can fill up on three sizzling meat-filled tacos (try to find the stand that is cooking with mesquite or another hard wood for the best flavor) for under $2.00. There is usually a small tienda nearby to grab a soda, beer or bottled water. Generally, you’ll order what you want and they’ll hand over your plate in a minute or so. Load up the tacos with the contents of the bowls of salsa, guacamole, onions, cilantro, etc. Find a street curb, a short wall or lean against the counter to enjoy your meal. Then you pay the lady at the cash register after you have finished (try that at Mickey D’s). You can find busy stands selling food all day, but many don’t open until the evening, staying in business late into the night. If you don’t know what to order just point and drool. A couple of tacos right after a night of cantina and club hopping will lessen the hangover symptoms immensely the next morning…or so I have been told.

4 thoughts on “Eating Street Food”

  1. I am glad a foreigner (with hopefully some credibility among other foreigners) wrote about this. Travel guides tell you do not eat or drink anything in Mexico unless you had it at the Hilton or McDonalds. The fact is, common sense is the key. Clean places look clean, feel clean and usually have a lot of people around. If the place looks dirty, or if you see the cook handling money and food together, or if the food looks of bad quality of impropery cooked… stay away… here in Mexico and everywhere around the world.

    One advantage of street food is that you can see the food being cooked right in front of your eyes. So, you know what to expect. Who knows what happens behind the scenes of fancy restaurants…

  2. So, Rodrigo, what is your favorite street food? I also always try to find a little storefront that sells carnitas by the kilo with salsa fresca and fresh tortillas. And my favorite dish anywhere is a bowl of birria (goat stew)…usually in Jalisco.

    Dave

  3. I’d have to lobby for the taquitos al pastor. With lots of salsa verde. And a cold bottle of Sidral Mundet.

    Or else the carnitas at this little hole in the wall on the way out of town in Zihuatanejo. Don’t remember the name, but the tacos were hard to forget…

    By the way, I fly into “el DeFectuoso” this Friday, Simmonds. I’ll write and let you know just how deeeeee-licious my taquitos were, heh heh heh…

  4. Simmonds,
    Lola took my Carnitas! I found that hole-in-the-wall place next to the bus station in Zihua! Had many a hangover breakfast there complete with bus fumes and an ice cold coca cola. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.
    If you want the BEST street food in Mexico, has to be the Carnitas in Quiroga in Michoacan. Seriously, there is NO competition… Best in Mexico!

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