Taco Taste Test – Mexico City


This post is part 5 of 5 in the series Mexico City

Tacos are everywhere in Mexico and we’ve eaten more than we can count in the 16 months our Journey has spent here. But there’s something about the pace (need to grab a quick bite on my way to a meeting) and the coolness (need a snack before/during/after a night out) of Mexico City that is uniquely suited to tacos. Result? The town is lousy with taco joints.

Before we get a tidal wave of territorial taco tirades from folks who believe that they (and only they) know where to find the best tacos in Mexico’s capital city let us say one thing: this is not intended to be the last word on Mexico City tacos. Heaven forbid.

Okay, this taco stand is NOT in Mexico City (it's in Tuxtla Guitierrez), but we love the sense of humor in the name.

This is merely our take on the tastiest tacos we’ve tasted in Mexico City (so far) at places that are not mobile street vendors. Here we’ve focused on another level of tacos—one where there are tables and chairs and a permanent location and a cadre of loyal diners. For its combination of value, tastiness and sheer entertainment we prefer Los Paisas, but you be the judge…

A stack of el pastor meat on the spit--El Tizoncito in Mexico City claims to have invented this style of taco.

Name: El Tizoncito

Neighborhood: Condessa (though there are outposts across the city and across Mexico)

Vibe: Holier than thou. This place (the original installment of a chain) claims to have invented the ubiquitous tacos al pastor and its unique method of slowly grilling a cone-shaped stack of meat on a vertical rotating spit (like a gyro). This is like opening up a snack shop in Chicago and saying you invented hot dogs.

Strong suit: Um…

Insider tip: The al pastor tacos at El Tizoncito come with a fairly goopy, slightly sweep sauce on them—something we’ve never seen on any other tacos al pastor and which we do not generally consider a plus.

La cuenta: The al pastor tacos at El Tizoncito were, by far, the  most expensive we’ve ever had and really nothing special. In the end, we felt like we were paying for their claim to fame as the inventors.

And this isn't even a particularly busy day at Taqueria Los Paisas in Mexico City.

Name: Taqueria Los Paisas

Neighborhood: On the ddge of the Centro Historic

Vibe: Working man—and it’s always packed with working men and working women. Though there is a long comunal table with stools, be prepared for standing room only and join the crowd on the sidewalk.

Strong suit: A bar of DIY taco toppings which include grilled cactus, chunky potato salad and plump beans in addition to the usual salsas and limes. Pile on as much as you want. The handmade tortillas score points too.

Insider tip: The mustachioed grill master loves to practice his English and show off his considerable taco tossing skills. Smile at him and he’ll give you a goofy show.

La cuenta: 12 pesos (about $1.00) for a huge and hearty taco filled with thin slices of beef bursting at the seams with all the toppings you want.  Tacos al pastor and chorizo tacos are even more affordable.

The goofy grill master at Los Paisas puts on a show as he cooks up your food.

Name: Taqueria El Farolito

Neighborhood: Condesa  (though there are other outposts around the city)

Vibe: Jealous. It’s just not as cool as El Califa (see below) which is right across the street.

Strong suit: They serve their tacos with two tortillas so you can split up the ample fillings and their beef tacos come with the meat conveniently chopped for less-messy eating.

Insider tip: Our friend Crispin, who used to live and work in this neighborhood, swears by the tacos Campechano with special sauce here.

La cuenta: At 18 pesos for an al pastor taco and 34 pesos (nearly $US2.75) for a beef taco this place is on the pricey side, even for a fancy sit down taco joint in a hip neighborhood.


Name: Taqueria El Califa

Neighborhood: Condesa (though there are other outposts around the city)

Vibe: The model moms, hipster students and other so-called “Califans” seem to be saying “We’re only here to fuel up on our way to (or from) somewhere even cooler.”

Strong suit: All staff members wear black t-shirts with cool graphic representations of their jobs. The delivery guys’ shirts , for example, have stylized moto-scooters on them. Some of the waiters shirts have a classic waiter’s apron printed along the bottom.  Other waiters wear a great t-shirt that says “Gringa” on the top (referencing a popular type of snack) over a picture of a buxom, half-clad American pin-up. Also, El Califa also provides a tower of salsas, tasty re-fried beans and fresh tortilla chips on the table.

Insider tip: They’ll deliver (even to your hotel) until 4 am and the place is a convivial mob scene on Sunday afternoons.

La cuenta: Their copyrighted beef “Gaona’s” tacos are 38 pesos (without cheese) but we thought the common, everyday, non-copyrighted bistek (beef steak) tacos were tastier and they were more reasonable at 22 pesos (about US$1.70) and their tasty al pastor tacos were just 11 pesos.


This post is part of the Lonely Planet BlogSherpa Travel Blog Carnival hosted this time by Kat over at Tie Dye Travel. The Carnival is hosted every two weeks by a BlogSherpa member. The topic this time is Food Around the World.


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7 comments on “Taco Taste Test – Mexico City

  1. Although I am an avid taco-eer and I have been traveling to Mexico for over 10 years, I don’t really know the taco scene in Mexico City. The next time I’m there I will find some of these places and give them a try. I just got to Guadalajara and I stumbled upon a taco stand that people around here claim makes the best tacos in the city. I gave them a try and they are fantastic – Tacos Don Luis off avenue Chapultepec.

    • We missed Tacos Don Luis. Our favorite Guadalajara tacos were at a small neighborhood night food market in (near?) Colonia Normalista.
      Needless to say, when in GDL one must have Tortas Ajogadas. Spend a night at Barriachi, ideally with some friends to help you drink the bottle(s) of tequila and listen to the Mariachis.
      Are you heading to DF on this trip?

  2. What´s that of grilled cactus?? Jajaja, my friend, these are NOPALES ASADOS. Not cactus. Salud!! Oh yeah! By the way, what do you drink to accompany your tacos? If you eat at a street vendor is ok a coke, but if you get a table, give a chance to a mexican beer. If you asked to me, I prefer tacos de carnitas (pork). Greetings from México city mis amigos!

  3. Pingback: Travel Mexico: Karen & Eric of the Trans-Americas Journey - travelinksites.com

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