Cheap and ridiculously good, Mexican antojitos are an integral part of the country’s culinary culture. Here our guide to Mexican street food.
To truly understand Mexican cuisine, you need to first try Mexican street food, also known as antojitos. They’re usually cheap, bite-sized, and perfect to eat on the go. Mexican antojitos are found EVERYWHERE – at street side taco carts or eateries on every street corner, square, or market whether in big cities or tiny villages. Honestly, you can’t ever go hungry in Mexico!
I’m a self-acclaimed foodie born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico, so trust me when I say I know a thing or two about Mexican street food. Come join me as we hit the streets and suss out the best Mexican antojitos worth trying on your next trip to Mexico!
Table of Contents
- What are Mexican Antojitos?
- 25 Mexican Antojitos You Have to Try
- Mexican Antojitos from Oaxaca
- Mexican Antojitos from Puebla
- Mexican Antojitos from Yucatan
- Mexican Antojitos from Mexico City
What are Mexican Antojitos?
The word “antojito” translates to mean little cravings or whims. Mexican antojitos are usually small bites enjoyed on the streets, between meals. Because most Mexicans eat lunch late (sometime between 2 and 4pm), they often get hungry between breakfast time and lunch. That’s when they stop by a streetside cart and grab some Mexican antojitos to curb their craving.
To tell if a street food vendor is good, just look at how many people eat there. Good street stalls always serve the “vitamin T”, which stands for tacos, tortas, tamales, and tostadas (all of which are Antojitos Mexicanos). But beyond the T-family, there are a lot more antojitos worth trying when you’re in Mexico.
25 Mexican Antojitos You Have to Try
There’s a reason why guacamole is so famous around the world, and that’s because it’s so delicious. The nutritious and delicious mishmash of squashed avocados and diced onions and tomatoes is such a popular snack for Mexicans. In Mexico, Guacamole is not only an appetizer you can enjoy with tortilla chips; it’s also used as a dressing for tacos, tostadas, and other dishes.
Corn is a staple of Mexican cuisine, and of course, it’s eaten in many different forms. An elote preparado or “prepared corn” is a Mexican antojito you can find in almost every corner — it’s essentially a corn on a stick covered in mayo, cheese, chili powder, and sour cream. There’s also a less messy version known as an esquite or elote en vaso (corn in a cup), where you have the same ingredients but with the kernels cooked in butter and salt.
Probably the best known Mexican antojito, nachos are an all-time favorite worldwide. In case you don’t know this dish, it’s basically tortilla chips covered in fried frijole beans, grilled cheese, and pico de gallo (diced tomatos, onions, and cilantro). The authentic nachos in Mexico usually just have those toppings; when you see them topped with guacamole and jalapeño chili pepper, you’ll know those are more American than Mexican.
4. Empanada or Paste
Mexico has its version of empanadas, a type of baked turnover consisting of pastry and filling. Empanadas usually come with minced meat or cheese, but some patisseries in Mexico also serve sweet empanadas stuffed with dulce de leche or sweet and spicy pumpkin paste. In the state of Hidalgo, you’ll find famous pastes that are similar to empanadas and stuffed with a wide variety of preparations, from mole to fruit jam.
Tacos are probably the most famous Mexican antojitos, and you’ll find them topped with all kinds of meat and stews. One thing is for sure, real tacos are very different from the crunchy taco-shell version of Tex-Mex restaurants; they are usually served on warm, soft corn or wheat tortilla and topped simply with meat, onions and cilantro.
Here are the most popular kinds of tacos:
Taco al Pastor
This is the most popular kind of taco in the central highlands of Mexico (like Guanajuato and Mexico City). The tortilla is topped with pork meat marinated with a special dressing called adobo and grilled on a kebab-style spit. The most traditional taco places will include a slice of pineapple in their taco al pastor.
Taco de Carnitas
Carnitas, literally meaning “little meats”, are made by braising or simmering pork until soft and then fried up in its own juices and lard. They’re then chopped into small pieces of meat, resulting in a heavenly mix of melt-in-your-mouth meat, fat, and crispy fried pieces. While they originated in the state of Michoacán, they are found everywhere in Mexico.
Taco de Sirloin
Sirloin tacos are hugely popular in the northern regions of Mexico like Sinaloa, Sonora, and Nuevo León (you should visit Monterrey and try their famous tacos de carne asada). They’re made with grilled sirloin beef, cut to strips, on flour tortillas. The chargrilled flavor of the sirloin is unbeatable!
Taco de Chorizo
Chorizo is a spicy pork sausage, and it has a smoky flavor that I love. There are different kinds of chorizo according to the spices they use to make it: red (the most popular), green, and black. The sausage is usually chopped into minced pieces and generously spread on tortilla.
Taco gobernador is essentially a taco with grilled shrimps and melted cheese. There are variations to tacos gobernador all over the Pacific coast of Mexico, where seafood is a staple. It first originated in Sinaloa; legend has it that in 1987, the chefs at Los Arcos in Mazatlan invented these tacos to impress the governor of Sinaloa, who was visiting them. T
Imagine transforming a corn tortilla into a little plate and putting your favorite stew on it — that’s a sope. Sopes come with a wide variety of stews, from beans with cheese to chicken in green sauce. They’re small, so if you can, try many of them to taste the different variations.
Gorditas can be described as a “chubby” tortilla stuffed with a stew, resembling a pouch. They can be fried or grilled on a comal (griddle) and stuffed with chicharrón. Gorditas Doña Tota is the country’s most famous franchise focused on this kind of antojito. You can find it in many food courts; they’re 100% delicious.
A tostada is a fried, crunchy tortilla topped with all kinds of things. Many restaurants will offer this Mexican antojito as an appetizer. If you go to a contemporary seafood restaurant, tostadas are the star of the show and can range from caramelized shrimp tostadas to aguachile tostadas.
There’s a big discussion in Mexico about quesadillas. Most of the country says that the name implies the inclusion of cheese (queso) inside the tortilla, but it can have other ingredients. However, in Mexico City, a quesadilla doesn’t have cheese unless you ask for it. Quesadillas are simple but delicious; and you can have them in any Mexican restaurant.
Enchiladas are easy to make, but it will take you longer to eat than most Mexican antojitos. This dish is made up of corn tortillas rolled around a filling and covered with a savory sauce. The tortillas are filled with various ingredients, including meats, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables, or combinations. Enchiladas are also a popular Mexican breakfast dish and are sure to fill you up for the day!
Burritos are more common in northern Mexican states like Sinaloa and Sonora, and they are made by rolling a big flour tortilla around fried mashed beans, cheese, chicken, beef, pork, vegetables, and cream. Sonora has a type of burritos called “percherones” which are bigger than regular burritos but very savory.
A torta is a sandwich made with a special bread called “bolillo” and they can have many kinds of food inside, like ham, beef, cheese, and vegetables. You can find different kinds of tortas, and some of them are very famous, for example:
The most famous dish in Guadalajara is the torta ahogada, a torta that’s literally drowned in salsa. Some say the spicer, the better.
Torta de Cochinita Pibil
This is my favorite torta! Many taquerias that sell cochiita pibil will also sell tortas de cochinita pibil, so if you prefer bread instead of tortilla, try this delicious antojito.
This might be the most complex kind of torta. Unlike what its name implies, it’s not Cuban. The sandwich has includes different kinds of meat and makes for a full meal.
A flauta is a crunchy version of tacos, shaped like a flute. It’s made by rolling a tortilla around potato cubes, cheese, chicken breast, or some other type of meat and then deeo-frying it. It’s then topped with cabbage, lettuce, cream, and more cheese, and you can also add some spicy sauce. Flautas are usually served with a cup of hot chicken broth, so you can pour them over or dip them in it.
Mexican Antojitos from Oaxaca
Oaxaca is famous for its cuisine, and tlayudas may be its most popular Mexican antojito. Tlayudas are huge corn tortillas with cheese, beans, meat, and other ingredients. Akin to a Mexican version of pizza, it’s perfect for sharing with others. It’s also a popular Mexican breakfast dish. One of the best things to do in Oaxaca is having a tlayuda in the bustling Mercado 20 de Noviembre.
Mexican Antojitos from Puebla
15. Chile Relleno
Traditionally from Puebla, chile relleno is essentially a big green chile pepper (also known as chile poblano) stuffed with minced meat and cheese.; breaded and deep fried to golden perfection. The chile is actually not spicy and the stuffing gives it amazing flavors.
16. Chile en Nogada
This is a national dish of Mexico as it showcases the colors of the flag brightly, and it brings a fantastic combination of flavors to the table. This dish is similar to chile relleno, but the pepper is stuffed with picadillo (minced meat) and covered with a walnut-based cream sauce called nogada; it’s then decorated with pomegranate seeds to give it more color.
17. Chalupas Poblanas
These antojitos are very similar to sopes but easier to make, and they’re a traditional dish from Puebla. The magic of chalupas lies in what kind of salsa is used to make them. Chalupas are relatively small, but you can have more than one and try different combinations of salsas and topping ingredients.
Mexican Antojitos from Yucatan
Originally from Yucatán, papadzules are similar to enchiladas, but feature different toppings. The tortilla is previously dipped in a sauce made with pumpkin seeds, filled with hard boiled eggs, and covered with a salsa made of pepper and tomatoes. Perfect for a hearty breakfast! If you’re heading to Merida, here are some things you can do in Yucatán.
Yucatán also has a unique traditional dish made up of a puffed deep fried tortilla topped with lettuce, sliced avocado, pulled chicken or turkey, tomato and pickled red onion. What makes it unique is that the chicken (or pork) is stewed in orange juice and axiote (a Yucatan spice commonly used by Mayans in their cooking). They’re so tasty you’re going to want to have more than one.
20. Cochinita Pibil
Cochinita Pibil is also traditionally from Yucatán, and it’s well known throughout Mexico. It is essentially pork meat slow cooked with orange juice and axiote and other spices. “Cochinita” means piglet, and “pibil” comes from the name of the kind of earth oven they were traditionally cooked in. If you’re ever in Merida, be sure to try the cochinita pibil at Manjar Blanca (featured on Netflix).
Panuchos are another popular antojito from Yucatán, and they consist of a refried tortilla stuffed with black beans and topped with cabbage, chicken or turkey, tomato, onion, and avocado. It’s similar to a gordita, resembling a pouch; the only thing that makes it different is that it’s also topped with lots of ingredients.
Molotes are typically served as appetizers, and they resemble empanadas as well as croquetas. The pastry is made up of plantain dough or corn masa, sometimes blended with mashed potatoes, and stuffed with various ingredients, then fried in lard or oil. They’ll leave you wanting more!
Mexican Antojitos from Mexico City
A gringo/gringa is how Mexican people refer to Americans, but this dish is not American at all. Gringas are like quesadillas but with your favorite kind of beef or meat. They’re easy to make, so cheesy and gooey. The gringa de pastor and the gringa de chorizo are my favorites; most taquerias have them.
The word “huarache” means “sandal” and this antojito is shaped like one. The thick base is made of corn dough and pinto beans, and topped with salsa, lettuce, onion, potato, and other vegetables in pieces; it can have beef or chicken, and the finishing touch is some cheese. There’s a wide variety of huarache types, but the base is always the same.
This is one of the most traditional dishes of Mexican cuisine and they’re elongated tortillas stuffed with beans or requeson (a type of cheese). If you’re visiting Mexico City, be sure to try tlacoyos at the Zócalo. Every traditional market in the city will have them. We suggest trying the ones with chicharrón.
What are Your Favorite Mexican Antojitos?
Mexican antojitos are perhaps the most loved and commonly eaten foods in our day-to-day life. Eating Mexican antojitos is the best way to understand Mexico’s food culture and gastronomic traditions.
Have you tried any of the Mexican antojitos on this list? Which are your favorite Mexican street food? Let us know in the comments field below!
For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:
- 25 Mexican Breakfast Dishes to Try
- 30 Mexico Fun Facts
- 15 Best Mayan Ruins in Mexico
- 20 Safest Cities in Mexico
- 30 Pueblos Mágicos in Mexico to Visit
- Oaxaca Road Trip: My 10-Day Oaxaca Itinerary
- 10-Day Yucatan Itinerary
- 10-Day Guanajuato Itinerary
- 10-Day Copper Canyon Itinerary
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