Eating Our Way Across Mexico

tacos-al-pastor

Our seven week trip through Mexico is slowly coming to an end.  As we work our way across the country, we are doing our best to sample every menu item possible.  Since we only have seven weeks, we are setting ourselves up for failure given the regional and national diversity of food in Mexico.

The food was a key motivator in our decision to come to Mexico.  It’s good.  Really good.  So good that I eat it all the time at home (mostly cooked in my own kitchen).  In fact, while we were on our summer vacation in Canada last year, I suffered from Mexican food withdrawal in Quebec City.  Here in Mexico we are (obviously) surrounded by Mexican food every day.  And I love it.

I tried to include pics of everything we have eaten so far on our vacation, but I had to cut it off at 29 images so this article doesn’t time out when loading in your browser.

If your eyes are still hungry after reading this article, then check out a few more food pics from our first week in Mexico, our day trip to Guanajuato, and in this article where I question whether we could retire abroad to Mexico.

 

Meaty eats

Who doesn’t love meat?  Vegetarians I suppose.  Meaty goodness forms the core that anchors most Mexican dishes.  The smell of meat on a grill often wafted us in to a restaurant or food stand where we had our fill of carne.

In addition to the meaty treats shown here, we also feasted on roasted chickens, tortas al pastor, empanadas filled with things like tuna, chicken, pork in mole sauce, chilis and cheese, and picadillo (ground beef and veggies in a tomato sauce).

The tlayuda with a fat strip of steak on top.  Quintessential Oaxaca cuisine.  35 pesos;  $2.25 USD.

The tlayuda with a fat strip of steak on top. Quintessential Oaxacan cuisine. It’s basically a medium sized pizza covered in beans, cheese, and avocado.  35 pesos; $2.25 USD.  Enough to feed two hungry children.

 

"Mixed meats" on the lower right including pork ribs, steak, and chicken.  Eggs with chorizo on the lower left.  A vegetable medley of potatoes, onions, and poblano chiles in a garlic butter sauce.  On top, a freshly made tortilla and a tlayudita.  Part of the 40 peso ($2.50 USD) all you can eat buffet.

“Mixed meats” on the lower right including pork ribs, steak, and chicken. Eggs with chorizo on the lower left. A vegetable medley of potatoes, onions, and poblano chiles in a garlic butter sauce. On top, a freshly made tortilla and a tlayudita. Part of the 40 peso ($2.50 USD) all you can eat buffet.

 

alambre

An alambre. Basically an omelet without the egg. Or a Mexican stir fry. Steak, pork, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and bacon covered in melted cheese. Served with a stack of 10 or so tortillas and another onion. 40 pesos or $2.50 USD.

 

memela

The memela, another Oaxacan regional specialty. A thick tortilla covered in pork lard (“aciento”), refried beans, chorizo and cheese. Then smothered in green and red salsas. Incredibly good and cheap at 10 pesos or $0.60 USD. Two or three of these will bust your gut.

 

entomatadas-con-carne

Entomatadas. Corn tortillas drenched in a delicious mild tomato sauce served with a strip of steak on top (steak is Mexico’s bacon – a very common topping). 40 pesos or $2.50 USD.

 

dinner-at-home-in-oaxaca

Leftovers for dinner one night. Clockwise from the top: steak in gravy with potatoes (or was it jicama??) and cactus (“nopales”); chicken in mole sauce; refried beans with panela cheese; lime; bean tamale wrapped in a corn leaf; onions and poblano chiles. In the center, cochinita pibil pork on the left and a meatball on the right.

 

steak-marinated-pork

A small mountain of steak and marinated pork. It comes thin sliced from the grocery store butcher for $2-3 USD per pound, with the pork already marinated in a perfect chili seasoning. You just have to cook it.  Delicious on tortillas or in a sandwich. Or plain. Because it’s meat.

 

yummy-crickets-in-oaxaca

Chapulines. Crickets. Piles of crickets. Do these belong in the “meat” category?

Did I try them? Of course. Twice. I even fed a handful to our 3 year old and he kept asking for more. They are covered in lime and chili powder so you taste that more than the crickets, which I think taste a little like shrimp.

We hired a taxi for a day and had a chance to chat with the driver.  The subject switched to local cuisine and we talked about food in the market.  The taxi driver asked if we tried chapulines (crickets) yet.  I said I had and they were okay, but I didn’t like the crunchy parts left in your mouth after eating them.

I asked him whether he eats crickets.

Of course!  I’m Zapotec and we grow up eating crickets all the time, so it’s just another food.  You really have to put a big handful in a tortilla to get a true taste of them.

I’m not sure I like crickets enough to eat a whole taco full of the little critters.  But I realize it’s just another source of protein like cows or pigs or tofu (just a lot smaller and crunchier).  If you’re used to eating them growing up, I guess there’s nothing weird or disgusting about devouring a big mound of crickets for lunch.

Later on, we observed a family shopping in the market with a few kids around age 4-8.  The little kids couldn’t keep their hands out of the bowls of crickets.  Sample after sample, these little ones were eating all the cricket vendor’s profits, one insect at a time.  At least the parents had the kindness to buy a few bags of chili lime crunchy goodness.  These kids and their insatiable snacking prove that if you grow up eating crickets, there’s nothing weird about it.  Just a fun taste of the local food culture.

 

cochinita-pibil-torta

Cochinita pibil torta with a side of pyramids. Cochinita pibil is Yucatan style marinated roasted pork. We bought a kilo from the grocery store for 90 pesos ($6 USD) and were able to get many meals out of it (on tortas or in tortillas).

When we plan on being away from home for many hours at a time (like the trip to the Monte Alban pyramids in Oaxaca), possibly in areas without a lot of food service options, we’ll often pack a picnic lunch.  Three or four bolillos or torta rolls total $0.20 or $0.30 USD.  Add some meat, maybe some refried beans, cheese, and onions and you have an incredible picnic lunch.  We tried a bunch of the local cookies and pastries and those make great sides on the go.

 

pick-your-own-meat

Walk up to the huge meat displays and pick the cut you want. We tried pork, steak, and chorizo sausage. The tripe didn’t make the cut for our table. They grill it up right in front of you (grill with hood on the right).

 

basket-of-meat

A big basket full of meat. That’s 1 pound of steak, half a pound of marinated pork, and half a pound of chorizo sausage. Tortillas and roasted onions and peppers on the side. Everything at the grilled meat stand is a la carte. The meat totaled 155 pesos ($10 USD), tortillas 10 pesos ($0.60 USD), and grilled veggies 25 pesos ($1.50 USD).

 

Vegging out

I love meat.  Fruits and vegetables are good too.  In addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables shown in the pictures here, we also gorged on mangoes, coconuts, papayas, oranges, bananas, watermelons, and broccoli.  Everything was incredibly fresh and ripe compared to grocery stores in Raleigh and the prices on most fruits and vegetables were 50-75% less than comparable prices at home.

a-la-carte-vegetables-and-sides

The selection of veggies and sides at the grilled meat place. Grilled nopales (cactus), avocados, various salads (including nopal salad), salsas, and radishes. Everything was 15 pesos ($1 USD) except the 5 peso limes ($0.33 USD). Want more? Wave at the veggie lady. Don’t forget to pay the tortilla lady, the veggie lady, and the meat guy at the end of your meal because they are all independent operators.

 

cactus-fruit

What has blood red meat and tastes like a toned down version of a kiwi? No, that’s not a joke about cannibalism in New Zealand. It’s a description of this cactus fruit.

While walking through the open air markets, it’s easy to pick up a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried, ask “como se llama?” and “cuanto cuesta?” then buy one.  This cactus fruit, which tastes like kiwi and is about the size of a kiwi, was one peso or about 7 US cents.  Perfectly ripe and juicy.

 

rajas-con-queso

Rajas con queso, or alternatively, rajas con crema. Served with a side of rice, beans, and a bag of tortillas. 30 pesos or $2 USD. It’s sliced poblano chiles with corn and onions in a creamy cheese sauce. I could almost be a vegetarian with eats like this.

 

Souping it up

Lots of varieties in soups.

pozole

Pozole with hominy corn, beef, lettuce, onions, and cilantro in a tomato broth.  Pozole is a native food from pre-Columbian times.  30 pesos or $2 USD.

Mmmm pozole.  It used to be made with people meat in the days of human sacrifices. Now beef and pork are much more common.

According to Wikipedia’s article on pozole:

After the Conquest, when cannibalism was banned, pork became the staple meat as it “tasted very similar”, according to a Spanish priest.

 

fish-soup-and-fried-fish

That’s seafood soup on the right. A big chunk of skin on, bone in catfish cooked in a broth of tomatoes and cream. Subtly seasoned. Part of the 60 peso ($4 USD) seafood buffet. It reminds me of the $8 USD she crab soup at a fancy restaurant we used to visit for special occasions.

 

caldo-de-pollo

Caldo de pollo con arroz. Chicken soup with rice and vegetables in a light broth. Served with tortillas. That’s a whole chicken thigh steeping in the broth.  40 pesos or $2.50 USD.

 

caldo-de-piedra

Caldo de piedra. Stone soup. 120 pesos or $8 USD. Large chunk of fish and a half dozen shrimp cooked in a light broth with tomatoes and onions. They take a stone out of the fire pit and drop it in the soup which causes it to boil instantly.  One downside is the rocks apparently split occasionally.  I bit into a small pebble.

The stone soup was just okay, and at $8 USD it was probably the single most expensive food item we bought.  Hey, it’s a novelty to watch the chef cook your soup by throwing a red hot rock in it.  We’re also spoiled by eating crazy awesome soups and broths at home like pho, tom yum soup, and tom yum ramen.  And Mrs. RoG’s mom’s various Thai/Cambodian beef, pork, chicken, and fish soups rich with some combo of garlic, fish sauce, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and Thai basil.

 

At the grocery store

We spend a lot of time at the grocery store.  The Mexican grocery store includes a tortilleria (tortilla shop), a panaderia (bakery), carniceria (butcher), and a cafe or hot foods counter (sometimes called the “soda fountain”).  Sweet sales ladies ply you with free samples of bread, tortillas, salsa, hot dogs, cheese, spreads, peanuts, and other snacks.

It’s a great place to grab a bite or a whole meal.  The prepared foods from the cafes are usually average to good and often less expensive than at a restaurant.

 

moles-in-the-grocery-store

Mole in bulk. Mole isn’t a furry little critter that digs tunnels just below the surface of your lawn. It’s a sauce or paste that is a mix of dozens of different ingredients and comes in a variety of flavors and colors. We bought 20 pesos worth ($1.33 USD) of a spicy mole paste while in San Miguel de Allende and it was more than we could eat during our two week stay.

 

grocery-store-tacos

5 tacos for 36 pesos ($2.25 USD) at the grocery store lunch counter. The meat fillings were cochinita pibil pork, barbacoa pork, and pork carnitas.

Fun story.  We bought two orders of the five taco packs for 36 pesos each.  When the taco lady asked what kind of tacos we wanted, I asked for four cochinita pibil, four barbacoa, and two pork carnitas (because I bought 10 total tacos, right?).  No, that’s not how it works.  After a couple minutes of confusion, I realized she wanted me to give her the order for just five tacos at a time, and then repeat the order when preparing the second tray of tacos.  This was the only time I had a problem ordering tacos in Mexico.

 

Non-traditional Mexican food

Mexico isn’t all steak, beans, tacos, and tamales.  We enjoyed a few dishes that aren’t Mexican food at all but were still delicious.  Sometimes you want comfort food that reminds you of home, especially when you have kids that aren’t as adventurous at the dining table as you are.

In addition to what is shown here, we also cooked rice at home (served with eggs and soy sauce) and visited KFC for fried chicken and french fries.  KFC’s sauces were unique, with jalapeno and pica-pop being two interesting ones.  I also accidentally ordered one set of fried chicken drenched in green chimichurri sauce.  I was the only one that liked the chimichurri chicken.  Lucky me, I got to eat fried chicken leftovers for a couple of meals.

 

chinese-takeout-oaxaca

Chinese take out. Pretty much like what you get in the US. Beef, broccoli, pork, onions, carrots, cabbage, and sweet and sour chicken served on lo mein (aka spaghetti noodles) or rice. 32 pesos ($2 USD) per plate. Egg rolls were 2 for 15 pesos ($1 USD).  This was also about twice as much food as we could eat in one meal.

I had an interesting conversation with the server at the Chinese restaurant.  Her Spanish was just a little worse than mine, but we managed to ask each other where we were from (I think she knew I wasn’t from Oaxaca).

She was from China, which explains the broken Spanish on her end.  I told her the food they serve is very similar to the “Chinese” food we have in Raleigh.  When asked if this was like the food they eat in China, she first said “no”, then “yes”.  Then I explained the question again and she laughed and shook her head “No, of course not!”.

 

pizza-in-oaxaca

I love pizza. This pizza did not disappoint. Pepperoni pizza was 104 pesos for two ($7 USD). The specialty pizzas were “Mexican” and “Party” for 140 pesos ($9 USD) for two. We visited this pizza place on Thursdays to take advantage of their weekly 2 for 1 special.

Almost every pizza place in Mexico has a “two for one” special on certain days of the week (usually Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday).  Some pizza parlors have two for one deals all the time, where the price of two pizzas is just a small fraction more than the price of one pizza.

The Mexican pizza in the picture came with chorizo, jalapenos, onions, sliced tomatoes, and refried beans.

Watch out for non-traditional toppings.  Hot dogs (“salchicha”) and bologna (“salami”) are pretty common toppings and not that great on a pizza in my somewhat expert pizza-eating opinion.

one-dollar-mexican-hamburger

The one dollar burger. At home, I can’t get much more than a thin sliver of beef between two buns at McDonald’s for a buck. The one buck burgers (17 pesos) in Mexico City came stacked with a slice of American cheese, a huge chunk of queso Oaxaca, a slice of ham, toasted sesame buns and mayo, mustard, ketchup, tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos (to your liking).

We bought two burgers to share as a snack.  Then we realized how good they were and bought three more and finished them on the spot.  Embarrassed a bit, I walked back to the burger stand and bought five more.  “To go.  For dinner.  For all my kids over there” I apologized to the burger entrepreneur.

 

Did you save room for dessert?

We usually don’t.  But we made room for a few sweets from time to time.  In addition to what’s in these pics, we also dined on churros, budin (bread pudding), ice cream, flan, malt chocolate milkshakes, freshly ground chocolate paste, cookies, and tejate (a corn meal drink with cinnamon and spices).

panaderia-picks

From the panaderia at the Bodega Aurrera grocery store in Mexico City. With a couple of Indio beers and tequila partially visible in the background.  All the pastries were 4-8 pesos each ($0.25-$0.50 USD).

 

the-sweet-shop

The sweet shop (dulceria) in the market.

 

pasteleria-1

A pasteleria in Mexico City. Huge slices of cake for 12-15 pesos each ($0.80-$1.00 USD). We visited this place a second time. Amazingly good cake.

 

beautiful-cakes

It’s art that you can eat.

 

Now I’m hungry

If you made it this far without stopping for a snack, congratulations.  The food in Mexico is incredibly diverse, delicious, and full of flavor.  And for those with their savings in US dollars, it’s incredibly cheap too.

We never spent more than about $20-25 USD for a sit down meal for a family of five including drinks and tip.  And occasionally we wouldn’t spend more than $3-5 USD on street food where we grab some grub and sit in the park and chow down.  As our trip wraps up, I realize we spent significantly less than our budgeted $40 per day on food.  That’s not for a lack of trying though!

 

 

Which dish do you want to try the most?  Would you try just one cricket?  

 

 

44 comments

  • The Mixed Meat looks delicious, It’s hard to believe how inexpensive good real food is in Mexico. A while back I caught an episode of Shark Tank where a small company was pitching their cricket protein powder. By converting the crickets into powder it takes away the crunch and “ewe” factor most Americans have. It will be interesting to see if it ever takes off in the US.

  • That looked delicious. I’ll admit, I didn’t make it through the whole article without a snack.

  • Well, now im super hungry. Thanks for that.

    Seriously though, the food looks great and it looks like you’re having a great time. I cant believe how cheap it is!

    • It’s amazingly cheap. And the multiplier between grocery store costs and restaurant costs isn’t very high. In the US, a gross rule of thumb is you’ll pay 4x the price in a restaurant for the same ingredients you could buy at the grocery store. A $16 restaurant steak might cost $4 at the grocery store for example. Here, it seems like maybe a 1.5x or 2x multiplier, which makes dining out much more reasonable. The grilled steaks cooked at the market grill stands, for example, were about $5.30 per pound versus $3.30-4 USD per pound buying it raw at the inexpensive grocery store.

  • I would probably stick with the tacos and strip steaks slathered in salsa. Sounds like the food is an extremely good value in relation to price. I am surprised the stone soup was so expensive, was it because of the shrimp? Thanks for the photo documentary, now I need to go have a snack.

    • I’m not sure why the stone soup was so expensive. The fish and shrimp were pretty regular. Seafood is a bit more than beef, pork or chicken. It almost felt like a tourist trap given the cost but it looked like locals dining there. It was a lot of soup though (roughly 1 quart), so maybe that’s part of the price. I bet I could find similar soup elsewhere for about half the price.

  • On our travels, my family tends to turn the event into a culinary crawl of epic proportions, while also being mindful of things like food related health and calories. BTW, your descriptions and pictures are wonderfully tantalizing and since I’m hungry right now, I’m thinking Chipotle! On that note, I have a few questions about your Mexican food adventures. First are the foods in Mexico labeled in terms of calories and content? We’ve gotten in the habit of knowing exactly what and how much we are putting in our mouths. Another question is about the quality of the food. Did you have concerns about the freshness or cleanliness of foods being sold in the open markets? Is there any kind of FDA or grading system to let you know when the food was processed and when it might not be safe to eat?
    The Mexican food you’re eating looks very fresh and tasty which leads to my biggest concern on most of our travels – how I’m going to lose the weight I gained on the trip?

    • Packaged foods are labeled pretty well, with FDA-like nutrition labels (in metric and English units usually). Yogurt, milk, bottled drinks, rice, packages or cans of beans, salsa, boxes of cereal, etc. But a lot of the stuff we buy is fresh or from bulk containers. Things like fruits, meats, cheese, fresh baked breads and pastries, even grains and cereals. You can look up most of the nutritional info online to get a gross approximation of calories, etc.

      As for freshness and cleanliness, there’s always a concern. We only buy meats and cheese from refrigerated cases and not from the open air markets where it might have been hanging around (ha ha) for most of the day at room temp. However I bet some of the meals we eat at food stands and market restaurants consist of those same unrefrigerated meats we don’t want to buy. I can tell there’s an awareness of proper food handling practices, as some places will advertise the fact that their dairy and meat products are refrigerated. Eggs are a weird thing here – never refrigerated and they have sell by dates about a month out. Not a problem unless there’s salmonella lurking inside the egg. So we’re cooking the eggs all the way and not doing over easy while here. Otherwise, the sell by dates are there sometimes and not there sometimes. The grocery stores are very similar to the US for packaged foods.

      I think we’re doing okay in terms of avoiding stomach bugs. So far we’re at about 2 episodes of bathroom issues per person six weeks in. Zero vomiting (other than 1 episode of motion sickness for 2 kids). Other than a couple of OTC anti-diarrhea pills, we haven’t had any need for a doc or anti-biotics.

      We’re not counting calories down here, and hoping that the huge quantity of walking we do will go a long way toward burning off most of the calories we consume. We’ll often walk even when a taxi might make sense to normal people (1+ mile walk ain’t nothing!). Maybe average 2-5 miles while we’re out and about sightseeing and 1-2 miles if we’re having a “do nothing” day and just hanging around the house. Since we are carless, a trip to the grocery store or to the market to grab some produce and take out food is good for a mile or two walking per day.

      • Thanks for the reply. Safe travels.

      • The US is one of the few places in the world that refrigerates eggs. Also salmonella actually comes from the outside of an egg (from the chicken poop) so it usually spreads from cross contamination. Like you crack an egg, than touch bacon or chesse or whatever. So amount of cooking has nothing to do with it. Not a biologist or anything but did some digging around when my neighbors started giving us eggs (:

        Sounds like you guys are having a great time!!

        • CDC says Salmonella can come from the inside or outside of the egg: http://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellaeggs/ Though I imagine the outside of the egg is way worse of a risk of carrying salmonella than the inside (especially the eggs in Mexico that are often dirtier than the eggs in the US).

          To play it safe, we’ll keep cooking the eggs fully down here. The whole point of refrigeration is to slow or prevent the growth of the bacteria if the egg is infected, so that an infected egg in the US might have a small number of bacteria cells whereas an egg sitting on a shelf down here for a month might have a ton of bacteria cells.

  • I’m so jealous! All those goodies! Indeed prices are surprisingly affordable in Mexico when it comes to food, and almost everything else. Fresh produce is always available, even in small communities because of sustainability practices. It seems like you and your family are having a great time. Way to go!

  • As you’ve certainly experienced, it’s super easy to eat unhealthily in Mexico. What we’ve loved in our (albeit limited) travels in Mexico is how easy it’s been to eat pretty healthily, too. There’s fresh fruit sold on nearly ever corner, and many places have lots of veggies on offer. Even something like fish tacos can be piled high with lots of veggies, and for cheap, too! We loved that! (Very different from, say, the US Midwest!)

    • Yes! The cost differential for fresh fruits and vegetables is much larger than for meats. Produce is so cheap and fresh here. No excuse that healthy produce is expensive like many places in the US.

      And like you say, available everywhere. We’re constantly picking up mangoes, papayas, and tons of other fruits to snack on and have for breakfast.

  • Incredible prices; congratulations on the trip! I was eating lunch while reading your post, so while I did not need a snack, I have a real craving for dessert. Go figure.

  • Oh man! That food looks incredible, and here I was thinking I was something special when I made homemade chipotle yesterday!

    • Homemade chipotle still sounds pretty good. 🙂 Maybe you can try some new dishes shown here? I know I’ve picked up a few ideas for new dishes or variations on my old recipes.

  • There’s too much food in this post – it’s making me feel sick just looking at it all (perhaps my brain is thinking that I am going to eat it all at once).

    It all looks delicious though – and it’s so cheap!

    • I’ve certainly had those feelings of remorse after eating a full meal then walking by ridiculously delicious looking food being cooked right on the street. First world problems – having more food than stomach room…

  • Ok, I admit, I made a run to the kitchen to make a homemade burrito! All this food really got my appetite going.

    Living in the west and southwest for most of my life, we get to see foods like this in the local restaurants and some grocery stores. However, what we don’t get is anywhere near the inexpensive prices for this awesome food you are experiencing on your trip.

    Glad you and the family are enjoying the trip!

    • Food here is just dumbfoundingly cheap. Today is a great example of that – 2 plates of mole chicken and rice with a huge bag of tortillas plus 3 huge tamales (salsa verde chicken). 82 pesos or $5 USD for more food than the five of us can eat in one sitting.

  • Thanks man, now I have to get a midnight snack. I would love to try more Mexican food. Most restaurants here serve border food. I haven’t seen much Oaxaca specialties in the restaurants. Mrs. RB40 spent a quarter in Oaxaca and she loved the food there. Someday we’ll make it down.

  • As usual you are eating like a king. Your pictures make me look forward to our Biennial trip back home to south asia next year. When we go back home our whole family goes on a culinary crawl for a whole week to all our favorite places in different cities. Can’t wait.

  • Oh My. Lovely update. I’m going to have a hard time sticking to my diet today now. Curses!

  • Yes the food is great, and you did make me hungry thanks. I cant believe the prices of some of the meals, and here for a family of 5 you can easily go over 75 dollars. I like trying local places, because its real food and real prices, not corporate trickery. Keep the pics coming.

  • Man, that $1 burger looks fantastic! Amazing what a little cost-of-living decrease will do to a food budget. This sounds like a vacay opportunity for my family. My wife loves food.

    Do you have any food regrets? Other than hot dog pizza?

    Eric

    • One food regret was asking our maid to make empanadas for us. We thought it would be a good way to get cooking lessons and delicious food for a relatively cheap price. In the end, it was way more expensive than we expected and there was almost zero filling in them so we had to buy additional ingredients to put inside of them. I’m pretty sure our maid hustled us for 700 pesos ($46 USD). We learned our lesson and have since bought empanadas from the bakeries or from random people on the street. They’re only $0.40-$1.00 USD each and we can try them before buying a bunch.

      Otherwise, the food has been pretty good overall with very few disappointing meals.

  • OMG I LOVE mexican food!! I could eat it every day all day! Ill be in Tulum in a few weeks and hope to pig out on some good mexican food. Thanks for making my mouth water! 😉

    • Tulum is proving to be a little disappointing. We’re staying in the “town” part of Tulum, not the beach. There are some decent looking restaurants but it’s certainly a tourist-centered trade here with prices maybe double what we have seen elsewhere. Also disappointing is the lack of decent fruits and vegetables everywhere. And what we do find is 2-3x the price of elsewhere in Mexico (which is roughly the price at home!).

      The huge “Tropical Fruit Stand” market on the main road, for example, had zero fresh coconuts (only dried grated stuff).

      In any event, if you’re in the “town” part of Tulum at night, there’s an awesome taco stand on the main road about a kilometer south of the bus station. It doesn’t open till around 6:30-7 pm but it’s very good and dirt cheap (10 pesos for a taco). Ask for the Root of Good Buy 15 get 1 free deal if you go there (that was the discount I worked out with them). A couple of red plastic tables and chairs on the side of the road and the front of their stand says “Montejo” (after the local Yucatecan beer, which is also pretty tasty).

      • Oh Man that is disappointing to hear about the cost in Tulum. We are staying on a cabana right on the beach and Ill have a rental car as well so the plan for now is just explore around. Arriving in Tulum this Monday and we’ll be there for 5 days. Really excited!

        Ha, ill be sure to hit up that taco stand and say the magic words! Awesome!! Thanks

        • Sounds nice! Hope it’s air conditioned because it is hot as Hades there. 🙂 We never made it down to the beach strip. Looks scenic though from the pics we saw online. One bad piece of luck for you – the algae or seaweed growth is horrible at this time along most of the coast between Tulum and Cancun, so you might be SOL for swimming in the beach. It even made the water less clear at the one beach we visited at Tulum ruins/pyramids. Only place we found to swim in the ocean was on the north side of the hotel zone island in Cancun but 2 blocks away on the east side there were literally mountains of seaweed on the beach (from cleanup efforts) and plenty more clogging the waters.

          In Tulum, there are a few cenotes you can swim in and snorkel/dive that aren’t too far especially with a rental car. Like 10-15 minutes away. Definitely check those out! Have fun!

  • If anyone wants to know the way to my heart – it’s food (and money of course). I also LOVE Mexican food and have a slight addiction to Chipotle (I know not authentic Mexican). All that food looks amazing. I can’t wait to do a similar trip someday!

    • Ha ha, I’m a fan of fast casual Mexican food too (though I’m a Moe’s fan). Pretty different than most of what we had south of the border, but good in its own right.

  • OMG – I’m in a food coma just looking at your photos! Seriously, I have traveled the world and food is awesome when on location, but Mexican food is by far my favorite cuisine. I have to stop writing now, before my drool shorts my computer out. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your independence!!!

  • Hi! Got here by chance and loved your posts. I am from Mexico, and all my family is there. If I could name one thing that still gets to me (I’ve lived in the US for 18 months now) and can’t get used to is how expensive food is here. I miss going to the grocery store and spending 1000 pesos for a whole week of food and other things for a family of 5. Here I struggle to spend less than 100 dollars a week just for 2 people, because I can’t give up on buying fruits and vegetables…anyway, my husband and I are going in a few weeks to visit family (they live in the State of Mexico) and looking at your picures I am getting even more excited. Tacos de cecina y al pastor, here I come! Thanks for your great posts and showing the beautiful side of Mexico.

    P.S. in my opinion crickets are way better in a taco with guacamole 🙂

    • The grocery prices are unbelievably nice in Mexico. Especially all those fresh fruits and vegetables. We would spend $200-400 pesos on a typical grocery store run ($12-25 USD) and usually get some meat, bread, tons of fruits and vegetables, pastries, tortillas, snacks, etc. Up here $12 would get you just a few fruits and vegetables and maybe a small cut of meat, depending on where you shop.

      I’ll make sure to get the crickets on a tortilla with some guacamole next time I’m down south. 🙂

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