First things first, Mexican food has nothing to do with TexMex. It’s so much more exciting fresh, vibrant and varied than anything you can find in Europe. Along the way, we’ve tried so many dishes and varients of tacos. Here are a few of our favourites:
Julian: Tacos al pastor, it’s a shawarma spit-grilled marinated pork, the name ironically means shepard cause it was brought by the Lebanese immigrants in the 19th century, who usually made with lamb. The meat is marinated wih spices and pineapple and slow-grilled on a spit, then served fresh from the heat with sweet white onion and pineapple. A squeeze of lime and it’s sooooo good! Forget burritos and fajitas, this is the real deal! You order by the weight of meat you want to your table, then get unlimited tortillas (tiny and corn based) and a bunch of different sauces, with each place making their own “blow your head off” spicy salsita. Best place for tacos al pastor: El Fogon in PLaya Del Carmen or Taqueria Medina on Isla Mujeres.
Andrea: Ceviche – So simple and so good! Fish, prawn or octopus raw with diced tomato, chopped coriander leaves, salt and shit loads of lime juice. The acid cooks the raw fish and it takes on such a delicious texture almost melting. We were on a tiny island Holbox where most restaurants have only fish since they have to ship in meat. The fish ceviche served just with corn tortilla chips was so fresh and the perfect dish to enjoy on a beach with a corona. It’s acidic, it’s salty, it’s juicy, it’s heaven! The marinade is so delicious, that in Peru, they call it Leche de Tigre (tiger milk) and serve it as a shot! Best place for Ceviche: Las Planchas on Isla Holbox or Loncheria Alexia y Geovany on Isla Mujeres.
Elisa: Tacos arracheras – it’s hanger steak marinated and grilled, very juicy and flavoursome. The meat is so tender, it’s easy for children to eat and delicious in tacos with a squeeze of lime and some avocado slices. I think it’s also fun for children to eat with their hands, rolling up their own food. Best place for tacos arracheras: Taqueria Euphemia in Tulum.
Edward: Empanadas, these are meat-filled pastries, the origin is much debated, but they are all over Latin America, perhaps related to Indian samosas, coming from Portuguese trade routes, perhaps even from Galicia in Spain – anyway, they’re a bit like Cornish pasties in England or pirog in Sweden. They come with a variety of fillings, we tasted 2 types of fish, chicken, meat, potato and chorizo (Edward’s absolute favourite), ham and cheese, shrimp and lobster. In Mexico it’s a breakfast or early lunch food, so don’t expect to find any in the afternoon! Edward devoured a whole plate of these dipping them in a delicious tamarindo barbecue sauce. They’re super cheap, easy to eat with hands and not too messy, but be warned, very hot inside. Best place for empanadas: La Conquista on Isla Holbox.
Our best meal overall? Probably El Meson del Marques in Valladolid. The atmosphere and open courtyard was stunning, Edward thought zorro lived there and Andrea had the most amazing flambeed chicken with pineapple, and tequila.