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Walking Tour: Everything You Need To Eat In Mexico City’s Historic Center


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Randee Conley



Welcome to Mexico City’s Historic Center, a vibrant and bustling district brimming with rich history, stunning architecture, and most importantly, a food lover’s paradise. As you explore the cobblestone streets and ancient plazas, you will encounter a plethora of culinary delights that will tantalize your taste buds and introduce you to the vibrant flavors of Mexican cuisine.


The Historic Center, also known as the Centro Histórico, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the heart of Mexico City. It is home to iconic landmarks such as the Zocalo, the largest square in Latin America, and the imposing Metropolitan Cathedral. But beyond its architectural wonders, it is the food scene that truly sets this district apart.


Mexico City’s Historic Center is a treasure trove of street food, where you can find some of the most mouthwatering dishes in the city. From tacos to tamales, chiles en nogada to enchiladas, the culinary offerings are as diverse as the city itself. Whether you are a seasoned food traveler or a curious eater looking to explore new flavors, this walking tour will guide you through the must-try dishes that will leave you craving for more.


Get ready to embark on a gastronomic adventure through the streets of Mexico City’s Historic Center, and prepare to indulge in the flavors and aromas that define Mexican cuisine. From bustling markets to hidden food carts, we will take you on a journey to discover the essence of Mexico’s culinary heritage. So put on your walking shoes, bring your appetite, and let’s dive into the incredible world of food in Mexico City’s Historic Center!


Street Food in Mexico City’s Historic Center

When it comes to experiencing the vibrant food culture of Mexico City, street food is a must-try. The Historic Center is renowned for its bustling streets lined with food vendors, offering a wide variety of delectable dishes that showcase the rich flavors and culinary traditions of Mexico.


As you wander through the streets, you’ll be tempted by the mouthwatering aroma of sizzling meats, aromatic spices, and freshly made tortillas. From savory tacos to sweet churros, the street food scene in the Historic Center is a gastronomic adventure waiting to be explored.


One of the iconic street foods that you simply cannot miss is the humble taco. Mexico City’s Historic Center is filled with taco stands serving up a wide array of fillings, from succulent pastor (marinated pork) to tender barbacoa (slow-cooked beef). Grab a taco, customize it with your choice of salsa and toppings, and savor the explosion of flavors in every bite.


Another street food that shouldn’t be missed is the traditional tamale. These steamed corn masa pockets filled with various savory or sweet fillings are a true Mexican delicacy. As you walk through the Historic Center, keep an eye out for tamale carts offering different flavors like chicken, cheese, or even sweet options like pineapple or chocolate.


No visit to the Historic Center is complete without trying chiles en nogada, a dish that represents the colors of the Mexican flag. This traditional dish consists of a poblano chili stuffed with a blend of meat, fruits, and spices, topped with a creamy walnut sauce and garnished with pomegranate seeds. The combination of flavors and textures in chiles en nogada is truly a culinary delight.


For those seeking a quick and satisfying meal, tortas are the answer. These hearty sandwiches are filled with a variety of ingredients such as tender carne asada, crispy carnitas, or flavorful cochinita pibil. Don’t forget to try the different salsas and toppings to enhance the flavors.


If you’re feeling adventurous, step into a pulqueria and try pulque, a traditional Mexican beverage made from fermented agave. With a slightly sour taste and a unique texture, pulque is an acquired taste but worth trying for the authentic experience it offers.


These are just a few examples of the incredible street food options that await you in Mexico City’s Historic Center. As you explore the vibrant neighborhoods and soak in the lively atmosphere, be sure to stop by the food carts, stalls, and markets to truly immerse yourself in the flavors of Mexican street food culture.



Tacos are the crown jewels of Mexican street food and hold a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of locals and visitors alike. In Mexico City’s Historic Center, you’ll find an abundance of taquerias and taco stands offering a staggering variety of flavors and fillings.


The foundation of a good taco lies in the tortilla. In Mexico City, the most common tortilla used for tacos is made from corn masa. These soft and pliable tortillas serve as the vessel for an exquisite combination of fillings and toppings.


When it comes to fillings, you’ll be spoiled for choice. From succulent carne asada (grilled beef) and juicy al pastor (marinated pork cooked on a vertical spit), to tender barbacoa (slow-cooked beef) and flavorful carnitas (crispy pork), every bite is an explosion of flavor.


But it’s not just about the meat. Vegetarians and vegans will also find a wide selection of plant-based taco options. From grilled vegetables and huitlacoche (corn fungus) to vegan-friendly versions of classic fillings, there’s something to satisfy every dietary preference.


Once you’ve chosen your filling, it’s time to add the toppings. Salsa plays a crucial role in enhancing the flavors of the taco. Whether you prefer the fiery heat of a spicy salsa verde or the smoky richness of a salsa roja, be sure to add a spoonful or two to your taco. Freshly chopped onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime are also common toppings that add a burst of freshness and acidity.


One popular variation of the taco found in the Historic Center is the taco de canasta, also known as “basket tacos.” These tacos are pre-made and kept in a basket, which keeps them warm and moist. They are typically filled with a variety of options such as potatoes, beans, or tinga (shredded chicken or pork in a spicy tomato-based sauce). The taco de canasta is perfect for a quick and convenient snack on the go.


As you stroll through the Historic Center, you’ll come across many taco stands and taquerias, each with its own unique specialties. From the iconic El Huequito, renowned for its al pastor tacos, to El Califa, known for its wide selection of mouthwatering fillings, the choices are endless.


So, whether you’re a hardcore carnivore, a plant-based eater, or simply an adventurous food lover, exploring the taco scene in Mexico City’s Historic Center is a culinary adventure you won’t want to miss. Grab a few tacos from different spots, savor the flavors, and discover why these handheld delights have become an integral part of Mexican cuisine.



When it comes to traditional Mexican comfort food, tamales hold a special place in the culinary landscape. These flavorful bundles of masa (corn dough) filled with a variety of savory or sweet fillings are a staple in Mexico City’s Historic Center.


One of the iconic sights in the Historic Center is the tamale carts, where vendors sell an array of tamales steaming in large pots. As you approach these carts, you’ll be enticed by the aroma of freshly cooked maize and flavorful fillings.


Tamales come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the region and the specific recipe. In Mexico City, you’ll find two main types of tamales: the traditional tamales and the green tamales.


The traditional tamale is made from masa (corn dough) that is seasoned with spices and lard, then filled with a variety of savory ingredients. Common fillings include shredded chicken, pork in salsa verde or roja, rajas con queso (strips of roasted chili peppers with cheese), and mole (a rich, complex sauce made with chocolate and chili peppers).


If you’re looking for a vegetarian or vegan option, there are often tamales available filled with ingredients such as beans, cheese, and vegetables. These options are equally delicious and showcase the versatility of this beloved dish.


Another popular variation is the green tamale, which gets its vibrant hue from the addition of green ingredients like spinach or cilantro to the masa. Green tamales are often filled with ingredients such as chicken, cheese, or salsa verde, creating a delightful combination of flavors.


Once the tamale filling is placed in the center of the masa, it is wrapped in a corn husk and steamed until cooked to perfection. The result is a tender and moist tamale with a delicate corn flavor that melts in your mouth.


When enjoying tamales, it is customary to unwrap them from their corn husk and eat them with your hands. You can savor the tamale on its own, or add a dollop of salsa or a squeeze of lime to enhance the flavors.


During your visit to the Historic Center, be sure to seek out the tamale carts that pop up along the streets. These humble carts are often manned by generations of tamale makers who continue to uphold the traditions of making this beloved dish.


Sampling tamales in Mexico City’s Historic Center is not just a culinary experience – it’s a cultural journey that connects you with the rich gastronomic heritage of Mexico. So make sure to indulge in these delicious treats and embrace the flavors and traditions that have been passed down for generations.


Chiles en Nogada

One of Mexico’s most iconic and patriotic dishes, chiles en nogada, takes the spotlight in Mexico City’s Historic Center. This stunning and flavorful dish is not only a feast for the taste buds but also a feast for the eyes, with its vibrant colors representing the Mexican flag.


Chiles en nogada is traditionally prepared with poblano peppers, which are first roasted and peeled to impart a smoky flavor. The peppers are then stuffed with a mixture of ground meat, dried fruits such as raisins and chopped apples, as well as nuts and aromatic spices.


But the star of this dish is the creamy walnut sauce, known as nogada. Made from ground walnuts, milk, and a touch of sherry, the sauce is poured generously over the stuffed peppers, creating a rich and velvety coating.


To complete this masterpiece, the dish is garnished with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds, adding a burst of color and sweetness. The combination of the savory, slightly spicy pepper, the creamy sauce, and the sweet-tart pomegranate seeds creates a symphony of flavors in every bite.


Chiles en nogada is commonly enjoyed during the month of September, as it is considered a celebratory dish for Mexican Independence Day. Its colors – the green pepper, white sauce, and red pomegranate – symbolize the Mexican flag and pay homage to the country’s independence.


Although primarily associated with the month of September, you can still find chiles en nogada in the Historic Center throughout the year. Many restaurants and local eateries serve this iconic dish, ensuring you can savor its delightful flavors and appreciate the culinary artistry.


The complexity and artful presentation of chiles en nogada make it a must-try dish for any food lover visiting Mexico City’s Historic Center. So be sure to add this culinary gem to your list and experience the taste of Mexican tradition and pride.



When it comes to satisfying hunger and craving something hearty and delicious, tortas are the answer. These Mexican-style sandwiches are a popular street food option found throughout Mexico City’s Historic Center.


What sets tortas apart is the combination of flavors and textures packed between two slices of crusty bread. Whether you’re a meat lover or prefer plant-based options, there’s a torta to suit every palate.


The foundation of a torta is the bread, known as a bolillo or telera. These bread rolls are light and airy on the inside with a slightly crispy crust, providing the perfect vessel to hold all the delicious fillings.


For meat lovers, the options are endless. From the classic torta de jamón, which features thinly sliced ham, to the flavorful torta de pollo, filled with grilled chicken, tortas offer a variety of protein-packed options. Other popular fillings include tender carne asada, marinated al pastor, or juicy carnitas.


If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry – tortas cater to your needs as well. You can enjoy a torta de huevo con frijoles, made with scrambled eggs and refried beans, or explore options like tortas filled with grilled vegetables, avocado, and fresh herbs.


But the fillings are just the beginning. What sets tortas apart is the range of condiments and toppings that can elevate the flavor profiles. Slices of creamy avocado, tangy pickled jalapeños, and crisp lettuce are common additions. You can also customize your torta with a variety of salsas, from mild to spicy, to add an extra kick.


As you stroll through the Historic Center, keep an eye out for torta stands and shops. One popular spot is Tortas El Cuadrilátero, known for its oversized tortas filled with an array of mouthwatering ingredients. El Tizoncito is also a must-visit, famous for its variety of tortas al pastor.


Whether you’re grabbing a torta as a quick and satisfying snack or indulging in a full meal, these Mexican sandwiches offer a burst of flavors and a fulfilling eating experience. So make sure to add tortas to your food itinerary and discover why they are a beloved street food option in the Historic Center.



If you’re looking to explore the unique and traditional beverages of Mexico, then a taste of pulque is a must during your visit to Mexico City’s Historic Center. Often referred to as “the drink of the gods,” pulque is a traditional alcoholic beverage with deep cultural and historical roots.


Pulque is made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant, a type of agave native to Mexico. The process of making pulque involves extracting the sweet sap, known as aguamiel, from the maguey plant and allowing it to ferment naturally over a period of time.


Unlike its distilled counterpart, tequila, which is made from the cooked and fermented hearts of the agave plant, pulque is a living beverage. It has a slightly sour and tangy flavor with a creamy and viscous texture that comes from the fermentation process.


In the past, pulque was considered a sacred drink consumed by the Aztecs and was often reserved for religious ceremonies and important events. Today, you can find pulquerias in the Historic Center, dedicated establishments that serve this traditional drink.


When visiting a pulqueria, you’ll typically find a selection of different pulque flavors, ranging from natural to fruit-infused varieties. Traditional pulque is usually served unadulterated, allowing you to appreciate the complex flavors and unique characteristics of the beverage.


But if you’re looking for a twist, you can also try flavored pulque, such as pulque de fresa (strawberry) or pulque de piña (pineapple). These fruity variations add a delightful sweetness to the naturally tangy pulque.


Drinking pulque is a cultural experience in itself. The beverage is traditionally served in small clay cups called jícaras, which further enhance the flavors. It is common to enjoy pulque with traditional Mexican snacks, such as spicy peanuts or tostadas.


Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer seeking to immerse yourself in Mexican culture or a curious traveler looking to try something new, sipping on pulque is a unique and authentic way to experience the local traditions and flavors of Mexico City’s Historic Center.


So, take a detour from the bustling streets and step into a pulqueria to taste the history and tradition that is in every sip of this ancient beverage.



No visit to Mexico City’s Historic Center would be complete without indulging in the cheesy goodness of quesadillas. These quintessential Mexican treats are a beloved street food option that can be found throughout the bustling district.


A quesadilla is made by folding a tortilla in half and filling it with melted cheese. The tortilla is then cooked on a hot griddle until the cheese is oozy and the exterior becomes slightly crispy.


While cheese is the star of the show, quesadillas can also be filled with a variety of other ingredients to add flavor and texture. Popular fillings include sautéed mushrooms, grilled vegetables, squash blossoms, or even savory meats like chicharrón (pork cracklings) or tinga (shredded chicken or pork in a spicy tomato-based sauce).


But it’s not just about the fillings. What truly sets quesadillas apart is the intricate dance of flavors between the cheese and the accompanying condiments and toppings. Salsa, guacamole, and crema (Mexican sour cream) are commonly served alongside quesadillas, allowing you to customize each bite to your liking.


As you explore the streets of the Historic Center, you’ll come across vendors and food stalls offering an array of quesadilla options. From traditional spots like El Califa to hidden gems in local markets, be sure to seek out the best spots to sample this delicious street food delight.


Additionally, you may encounter regional variations of quesadillas during your culinary adventures. In some parts of Mexico, particularly the central state of Oaxaca, quesadillas are often prepared with a larger and thicker tortilla called a memela. These hearty quesadillas are topped with a variety of ingredients such as black beans, cheese, and salsa, creating a more substantial and satisfying snack.


Quesadillas are more than just a snack – they are a taste of Mexican culture and a testament to the versatility of Mexican cuisine. So, don’t miss the opportunity to savor these cheesy delights in Mexico City’s Historic Center and experience the simple yet satisfying pleasure of a well-executed quesadilla.



When it comes to comforting and flavorful Mexican dishes, enchiladas take the spotlight. In Mexico City’s Historic Center, you’ll find an abundance of eateries serving up these delicious and saucy delights that are sure to please any palate.


Enchiladas are made by wrapping tortillas around a variety of fillings, typically including meat, cheese, or beans, and then smothering them in a vibrant and flavorful sauce. The tortillas are usually corn-based and can be filled with chicken, beef, pork, or even vegetables, allowing for a wide range of options.


What truly elevates enchiladas is the sauce. Whether it’s the tangy and spicy red tomato-based salsa, the rich and earthy mole sauce, or the creamy and slightly tart green salsa verde, the sauce seeps into the tortillas, infusing them with irresistible flavors.


Enchiladas are often topped with additional ingredients to enhance the taste and texture. Common toppings include crumbled cheese, chopped onions, fresh cilantro, and a dollop of crema (Mexican sour cream). These toppings add a burst of freshness and creaminess, complementing the savory and saucy components.


In Mexico City’s Historic Center, you’ll find restaurants and local eateries specializing in various types of enchiladas, each with their own unique twists and flavors. From the classic enchiladas rojas (red enchiladas) to enchiladas suizas (topped with a creamy sauce), the choices are endless.


For a taste of tradition, head to Casa de las Enchiladas, a historic restaurant that has been serving up these beloved dishes for decades. Here, you can sample different regional styles of enchiladas, including the famous enchiladas potosinas, from the state of San Luis Potosí.


Enchiladas offer a flavorful and satisfying meal that showcases the diverse and vibrant flavors of Mexican cuisine. Whether you’re craving the comforting taste of home or seeking a culinary adventure, sampling enchiladas in Mexico City’s Historic Center is a must-do experience.


So, be sure to explore the enchilada scene in the Historic Center, and delight in the combinations of flavors, the rich sauces, and the comforting elements that make enchiladas an iconic and beloved dish in Mexico and beyond.



When it comes to traditional Mexican soups, pozole is a flavorful and hearty dish that can’t be missed. In Mexico City’s Historic Center, you’ll find numerous restaurants and street stalls serving up this beloved Mexican comfort food.


Pozole is a stew typically made with hominy (large corn kernels) and meat, usually pork, although variations with chicken or vegetables can also be found. The dish is simmered for hours, allowing the flavors to meld together and create a rich and savory broth.


What sets pozole apart is its vibrant and earthy flavor profile. The combination of tender meat, soft hominy, and aromatic spices such as garlic, cumin, and oregano comes together to create a comforting and satisfying bowl of soup.


Pozole is traditionally garnished with a variety of toppings that add both color and texture. Common garnishes include shredded lettuce, sliced radishes, diced onions, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Additionally, toasted tortilla strips, avocado slices, and a sprinkle of crumbled cheese can also be added to enhance the flavors further.


Alongside the garnishes, you’ll often find a selection of condiments on the table to customize your pozole. These can include spicy salsa, Mexican oregano, and chopped onions, allowing you to tailor the flavor to your liking.


While red pozole, made with dried red chilies, is the most prevalent in Mexico City’s Historic Center, you may also encounter green or white pozole varieties. Green pozole gets its color from the use of green chilies, such as tomatillos, while white pozole uses a milder broth made without chili peppers.


For a taste of traditional pozole in the Historic Center, head to renowned establishments such as La Casa de Toño or El Huequito, where you can savor a steaming bowl of this comforting soup.


Pozole not only satisfies the appetite but also represents a deep-rooted cultural and culinary tradition in Mexico. It is often associated with celebrations and festive occasions, such as Mexican Independence Day or birthdays.


So, take the opportunity to indulge in a steaming bowl of pozole in Mexico City’s Historic Center, and experience the warmth, flavors, and traditions that make this beloved soup an integral part of Mexican cuisine.


Churros and Hot Chocolate

No food journey in Mexico City’s Historic Center is complete without indulging in the irresistible combination of churros and hot chocolate. This iconic duo is a quintessential part of Mexican cuisine and can be found in numerous stalls and cafes, enticing locals and visitors alike.


Churros, known for their crispy exterior and soft, doughy interior, are fried pastries dusted with sugar and cinnamon. They are often served piping hot, straight from the fryer, making them the perfect treat to enjoy as you explore the picturesque streets of the Historic Center.


These delightful pastries can be enjoyed on their own, but the experience is elevated when paired with a cup of rich and velvety hot chocolate. Mexican hot chocolate is distinctively different from its counterparts in other parts of the world. It is typically made from dark chocolate, infused with warming spices like cinnamon and sometimes even a hint of chili powder, giving it a unique and satisfying flavor.


As you wander through the Historic Center, you’ll come across numerous churrerías and cafés that specialize in these delectable treats. El Moro, a historic churrería, is a beloved establishment where you can enjoy freshly made churros and indulge in their famous thick and frothy hot chocolate.


While there are many ways to enjoy churros, one popular option is to dip them into the hot chocolate, allowing the rich, warm liquid to coat the crispy exterior. The combination of the sweet and crunchy churro with the smooth and slightly bitter hot chocolate creates a match made in dessert heaven.


Churros and hot chocolate are not just a delicious treat; they hold a special place in Mexican culture and tradition. They are often enjoyed during breakfast or as an afternoon pick-me-up, and are particularly popular during festive occasions and holidays.


So, as you navigate the Historic Center and soak up its beauty and history, make sure to make a stop at a churrería or café to savor the magic of churros and hot chocolate. It’s a delightful way to satisfy your sweet tooth and immerse yourself in the delightful flavors and traditions of Mexican cuisine.



Exploring the food scene in Mexico City’s Historic Center is a journey that will awaken your senses and introduce you to the vibrant and diverse flavors of Mexican cuisine. From the bustling streets filled with enticing aromas to the local eateries and food stalls offering a vast array of delectable dishes, every corner of the Historic Center is a culinary adventure waiting to be explored.


Throughout this walking tour, we have uncovered some of the must-try foods in the area. From the iconic street food like tacos and tamales to the traditional favorites like chiles en nogada and pozole, each dish represents the rich culinary heritage and cultural traditions of Mexico.


We have also discovered the joy of indulging in comforting delights like tortas and enchiladas, the unique experience of sipping on pulque, and the wonder of enjoying the classic combination of churros and hot chocolate.


In Mexico City’s Historic Center, food becomes more than just sustenance – it becomes a celebration of history, culture, and community. It is a chance to connect with the local traditions and experience the passion that goes into every dish.


So, whether you’re a seasoned food traveler or a curious eater, allow yourself to get lost in the winding streets and let your taste buds guide you to hidden food gems and well-known establishments. Immerse yourself in the flavors, aromas, and textures that make up this vibrant culinary landscape.


As you savor the diverse and captivating dishes, remember to appreciate the incredible talent and dedication of the cooks and vendors who have preserved these culinary traditions for generations. Support local businesses and savor each bite with gratitude and reverence for the incredible culinary heritage of Mexico City’s Historic Center.


So put on your walking shoes, follow your appetite, and embark on a food-filled adventure through the vibrant and historic streets of Mexico City’s Historic Center. Bon appétit!