Not every meal in Mexico City can or should involve sous vide barbacoa or shrimp with tamarind four ways, especially when so many street level options are available, and especially when you’re traveling with Street Gourmet LA founder Bill Esparza. During last fall’s foray to Distrito Federal, I did experience those first two dishes, at Pujol and Izote, respectively, but we spent much more time roaming streets across the city. Here are three of my favorite taco stops.
On October 1, we ran the taco gauntlet that is Calle Lopez. Unfortunately, Esparza’s favorite chorizo verde vendor was MIA. Thankfully, the area offers dozens of other nearby options, including scintillating longaniza at Taqueria Gonzalez, LOCATED just north of our original destination.
The longaniza taco (12 pesos ~ $1) was a beauty, with paprika-stained crumbles of pork sausage and firm strips of nopal with none of the slime that can afflict less skillfully cooked cacti. The corn tortilla held up well to the pork juices and to the salsa, spooned from a pig-shaped molcajete.
Exquisitos Tacos de Canasta, aka Tacos de Canasta El Flaco, is another place Street Gourmet LA introduced me to in Mexico City. The stand is LOCATED near the NW corner of 5 de Febrero & Republica de Uruguay, two blocks south of the zocalo, amidst shops and hotels. On the morning of October 3, that’s where my morning began, and it took longer than expected for the tacos de canasta (basket tacos) to arrive, but it was worth the wait.
The menu is fairly simple, with a quintet of tacos costing 6 pesos apiece. Options including papas con huevo (potatoes with egg), frijoles refritos (refried beans), mole verde (green mole), chicharron (pork skin) and adobo, which was my choice. You can also get really fancy and add an agua fresca, which costs almost three times as much as a taco at 15 pesos.
The adobo-slathered pork taco arrived draped with onions, inside a tortilla infused with flavor and moisture from its travels. I dressed it with escaveche and chile-spiked avocado salsa from the salsa “bar.” As with every taco spot we encountered in Mexico City, eat first, pay later.
Tacos Las Cazuelas is LOCATED just outside the Metro Balderas subway station, with a blue Pepsi awning, seven yellow plastic high-top stools, a griddle and cazuelas filled with assorted tortes and guisados (stews). It’s been open 20 years, run by a local taquera named Lupe. She filled my first corn tortilla with rice and an egg-binded broccoli torte studded with strips of queso amarillo.
Of course, just like every other self-respecting Mexico City taco spot, Tacos Las Cazuelas featured an interesting salsa bar. As Esparza reinforced throughout the trip, “No naked tacos!” I dressed my tacos with cuaresmeno salsa studded with minced onions and a smoky salsa de chile de arbol.