It’s the restaurant with no name. At least, as far as I can tell, no formal English name.
We had already tried Hokkaido’s famous grilled mutton dish called jingisukan (pronounced jing-giss kahn) or “Genghis Khan” at the Sapporo Beer Museum. We enjoyed it so much that we wanted to have it again, but this time, we wanted it over coals and a wire grill instead of the customary convex metal skillet. The thing is, we didn’t know where to get it.
Googling “wire grill charcoal jingisukan sapporo” didn’t give us many leads so we decided to walk around Susukino and try our luck. Thankfully, we found this place just a couple minutes away from Susukino station.
It doesn’t seem to have an English name, but it does have one in Japanese – ホルモン食堂 4条店 – which when plugged into an online translator, roughly translates to “Hormone canteen 4 st stores”. Not the catchiest of names is it? 😆
Hormone Canteen 4 St Stores
The restaurant is about a couple minute’s walk from Susukino subway station. It’s across the street obliquely from this building with all the Japanese lanterns.
Jackpot! That picture of the wire grill over charcoals told us we were at the right place. As described, the restaurant’s Japanese name loosely translates to “Hormone canteen 4 st stores”. By “hormone”, it’s referring to the Japanese word horumon which means “offal”. We didn’t know it at the time but this restaurant specializes in grilled offal as well. I wish we knew! 😥
It’s a long and narrow restaurant with booths, counter seating, and sunken Japanese tables. See that poster on the right? You can get three draft beers for just JPY 980 if you order over JPY 3,000 worth of food. That’s basically giving you one free beer since draft beers usually cost JPY 500 in Japan. Awesome!
We went with one of these sunken tables. There are four at the far end of the restaurant with pull-down partitions between tables for privacy.
We were here for the lamb so that’s what we got. Aside from the tongue, I think we also got an order of the belly and shoulder. All prices listed below are before tax.
What we wanted – a wire grill over charcoals. Because jingisukan is traditionally served over a convex metal skillet, our server was going to give us that when we ordered the lamb. We asked if we could have it over a wire grill instead and she agreed. If you want to try jingisukan over this type of grill, then be sure to ask for it.
I think this was the lamb shoulder.
Lamb belly in the front, tongue at the back, and a bowl of kimchi to the side. I highly recommend you order some kimchi as well. It went so well with the meat and rice.
Grillin’ like a villain! Jingisukan or Genghis Khan is rumored to have gotten its name in prewar Japan, when lamb was thought to be the meat of choice among soldiers in Mongolia. This isn’t it but the dome-shaped skillet commonly used today is meant to represent the soldiers’ helmets which they allegedly used to cook their food. Interesting! You can see it in my Sapporo Beer Museum post.
I took some mouthwatering footage of the meat cooking as well which I’ll include in a “Things to Eat in Japan” video. If you think this looks good, wait until you see (and hear) the meat sizzlin’ like a villain. 😉
Once cooked, you dip the meat in the sauce…
…then eat it with your rice. This was SO. DAMN. GOOD. Cooking over coals is way better than using a gas stove. It imparts that unbelievable charcoal flavor which you can’t get cooking any other way. The wire grill seems to help with the caramelization of the meat as well. More charred bits = more flavor and texture. Yum!
Three orders of meat weren’t enough for the three of us so we ordered two more and a bunch of veggies and shrooms. ♥
It wasn’t until after our trip and I started doing research for this restaurant did I learn that not only do they specialize in offal yakiniku, but they also offer an all-you-can-eat deal after 10PM. It’s true! After 10PM every night, you can have as much of the 33 yakiniku items and drinks on their menu for just JPY 2,380 (plus tax). If you have a big appetite and like to eat late, then this is definitely the way to go.
If you’re a carnivore, then there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll enjoy Hokkaido’s famed jingisukan. You’ll probably want to have it more than once so be sure to try it both ways – on a convex metal grill and over a wire grill like this – just to see which method you prefer. Me? I enjoyed both. What’s more important than the grill I think is to find a place that cooks it over coals. The charcoal really does wonders for the taste. ♥
ホルモン食堂 4条店, Susukino, Sapporo, Japan
Japan, 〒064-0804 Hokkaidō, Sapporo-shi, Chūō-ku, Minami 4 Jōnishi, 4 Chome, 中央区南4条西4丁目 Tel: + 81 11-512-4533 Facebook: ホルモン食堂-4条店 Operating Hours: Mon-Sun, 6PM-6AM What we paid: Around JPY 2,500 each with drinks
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the subway to Susukino station. Exit the station and walk south. Make a right on the first street and the restaurant will be on your right. CLICK HERE to see its exact location on a map and get walking directions from where you are.
For more travel tips to Sapporo in winter, check out our Sapporo Winter Travel Guide.
The fact that it was our favorite city on a recent 5-week trip to Europe was surprising to both of us.
Before our trip, we knew very little about Budapest. Other than Szechenyi thermal baths being popular and goulash soup having beef, we really didn’t know what to expect.
I knew it was a treasure trove of Gothic architecture*. I knew the Danube River divided Buda from Pest but what I didn’t expect, was to find a cool and trendy city with an edginess that belied its classical feel and recent socialist past.
We loved Budapest so much that we’re already planning a return trip back. And when that happens, we’ll stay for no less than a month. Budapest resonated with us to such a degree that we want to experience what it’s like to actually live there, even for just a month.
Not everyone has a month so if you have limited time, then I’d say 3 days in Budapest is enough. It’ll give you a good taste of the city and hopefully make you fall in love with it as much as we did.
This 3 day Budapest itinerary lists many of the city’s top attractions and restaurants to help first-time visitors plan the perfect 3 days in Budapest.
*I know very little about architecture. I don’t feel comfortable talking about it but it’s such a key part of the Budapest experience that it’s important to describe it in some capacity. I apologize in advance for any incorrect descriptions.
BUDAPEST ITINERARY QUICK LINKS
This Budapest itinerary is long. For your convenience, I’ve compiled links to recommended hotels, tours, and other travel-related services here.
Top-rated hotels in District I, one of the best areas to stay for first-time visitors to Budapest.
Luxury: Hilton Budapest
Midrange: Ékszerdoboz A Budai Vár Alatt
Budget: BudaHome Apartments
Walking Tour: 3-Hour Grand City Tour and Castle Walk
Széchenyi Baths: Széchenyi Spa Full Day Entrance
Food Tour: Hungarian Cuisine Tasting Experience
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
BUDAPEST TRAVEL GUIDE
If you’re visiting Budapest for the first time, then be sure to check out our detailed Budapest travel guide. It’ll have all the information you need – like when to go, where to stay, which restaurants to visit, etc. – to help you plan your trip.
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WHAT TO DO IN BUDAPEST IN 3 DAYS
Listed below are the city’s top attractions and a few recommended restaurants you can visit with 3 days in Budapest. You can jump to the location map at the bottom of this post to see exactly where they are in the city.
Budapest has a great public transportation system so getting around shouldn’t be a problem. We explored Budapest on our own but if you’d rather go on a guided tour, then you can choose one from the many offered on Get Your Guide or Klook.
BUDAPEST ITINERARY QUICK GLANCE
DAY ONE • Andrassy Avenue • 9BAR (breakfast) • St. Stephen’s Basilica • Erzsebetvaros • Great Synagogue • Bors GasztroBar (lunch) • Heroes’ Square • Szechenyi Thermal Bath • Karavan Street Food (dinner) • Szimpla Kert (drinks)
DAY TWO • Szechenyi Chain Bridge • Matthias Church • Fisherman’s Bastion • Baltazar Budapest Grill and Boutique Hotel (lunch) • Ruszwurm Confectionery (dessert) • Buda Castle • House of Terror or Flippermuzeum • Mazel Tov (dinner and drinks)
DAY THREE • Molnar’s Kurtoskalacs (breakfast) • Great Market Hall (takeaway) • Danube River Cruise • Margaret Island • Hungarian Parliament Building • Shoes on the Danube Bank • Stand25 Bisztro (dinner)
BUDAPEST ITINERARY DAY 1: THE PEST SIDE
On your first of 3 days in Budapest, take a stroll down Andrassy Avenue which is the city’s main boulevard. It’s about a 2.3 km stretch that starts in central Pest and goes all the way to Heroes’ Square.
On either side are beautiful Neo-Renaissance buildings with cafes, restaurants, luxury boutiques, and embassies. The Hungarian State Opera House, considered by many to be one of the world’s most beautiful opera houses, is located along Andrassy Avenue.
Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002, Andrassy Avenue is a chic shopping street and a great place to get a feel for the city.
From our AirBnB in Liszt Ferenc Square, we walked down Andrassy Avenue to have breakfast at 9BAR, a terrific little cafe near St. Stephen’s Basilica. They make great croissants and serve a good selection of sandwiches and cakes.
9BAR is a local favorite with a perfect 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. It was the ideal place to have breakfast before proceeding to St. Stephen’s Basilica and exploring the Jewish Quarter.
Address: Budapest, Lázár u. 5, 1065 Hungary Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, Mon-Fri / 8AM-4PM, Sat (closed Sun) What to Order: Coffee, croissants, sandwiches Expect to Spend: About HUF 1,000-1,200 for coffee and a croissant
St. Stephen’s Basilica
After breakfast at 9BAR, you can proceed to St. Stephen’s Basilica which is less than a 5-minute walk away. It’s one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks and a must-do on any Budapest itinerary.
Completed in 1905, St. Stephen’s Basilica is the biggest church in Budapest and considered the most sacred Catholic church in all of Hungary. It’s named after Stephen I, the first King of Hungary, and houses his mummified right hand.
St. Stephen’s Basilica was designed by Miklos Ybl, one of Hungary’s most influential architects and the same person responsible for building the Hungarian State Opera House.
Entrance to the church is a nominal HUF 200 per person. We didn’t do it but you can climb up to the basilica’s dome for an additional HUF 600.
If you’re Catholic or have an interest in Catholic churches, then Get Your Guide offers a guided church tour that takes you to St. Stephen’s Basilica and two other churches of note in Budapest’s Old Town.
Operating Hours: 9AM-5PM, Mon-Fri / 9AM-1PM, Sat / 1-5PM, Sun Admission: HUF 200 (church), HUF 600 (dome) Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins – 1 hr
Erzsebetvaros (District VII) and the Jewish Quarter
This was my favorite neighborhood and where we spent most of our 3 days in Budapest. Erzsebetvaros or Elizabeth Town refers to an area south of Andrassy Avenue. It’s home to the Jewish Quarter and the Great Synagogue, not to mention the city’s ruin pubs.
The Jewish Quarter is where we spent most of our evenings. It’s a youthful and vibrant area with plenty of interesting dining options. In fact, we enjoyed some of our most memorable Budapest food experiences here in the Jewish Quarter.
I suggest walking around the area for a bit before lunch, and then coming back later in the evening to experience what it’s like at night.
The Great Synagogue or the Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and another essential addition to your Budapest itinerary. It was built in 1859 and designed in the Moorish Revival style with a mixture of Byzantine, Gothic, and Romantic elements.
I didn’t go inside but there’s a HUF 5,000 admission fee which gives you access to the Heroes’ Temple, the Jewish Museum, a graveyard, a memorial site, and the synagogue itself.
You can pay for admission at the gate or book a guided tour that stops at the Great Synagogue.
Photo by Boris Stroujko via Shutterstock
Operating Hours: 10AM-8PM, Sun-Thurs / 10AM-4PM, Fri Admission: HUF 5,000 Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs
About a 5-minute walk from Dohany Street Synagogue is Bors Gasztrobar, a tiny street food joint where we enjoyed one of our best meals during our 3 days in Budapest. They make gourmet interpretations of Hungarian street food like baguette sandwiches, soups, and stews.
We had this terrific baguette sandwich made with chicken breast, raspberry onion jam, and edamer cheese. It was so unbelievably delicious. The soup we had was fantastic as well.
Bors GasztroBar is located along trendy Kazinczy Street in the Jewish Quarter. It’s a popular place with a perfect 5-star rating on TripAdvisor, even after accumulating 3,200 reviews. Don’t miss it!
Address: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 10, 1075 Hungary Operating Hours: 11:30AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Grilled baguette sandwiches, soups, stews Expect to Spend: About HUF 750 (half) / HUF 1,200 (full) for grilled baguette sandwiches
After lunch, it’s time for a bath. If you need to go back to your hotel for a change of clothing, then go ahead and do that before taking the bus or metro to Heroes’ Square.
Located at the eastern end of Andrassy Avenue, Hosok Tere or Heroes’ Square is one Budapest’s major squares. It’s known for its statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and the Memorial Stone of Heroes.
The statues are impressive but most tourists seem to be more interested in taking selfies with this large Budapest sign. After snapping a few pictures, take your swimsuit and walk to Szechenyi Thermal Bath.
Operating Hours: 24 hrs Admission: FREE Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins
Szechenyi Thermal Bath
Szechenyi Thermal Bath is one of the most popular attractions in Budapest. It’s the largest medicinal bath facility in Europe, featuring fifteen indoor thermal pools and three outdoor pools, including one with a whirlpool.
The water in these thermal pools reach temperatures of up to 40°C (104°F). They’re rich in calcium, magnesium, and hydrogen carbonate and are said to be good for joint pain, arthritis, blood circulation, and disorders of the nervous system.
We visited Szechenyi Thermal Bath but we didn’t bathe in the pools, which was a decision I would later regret. Everyone we know who’s done it says it’s one of the best things they did in Budapest. In one friend’s words: “I wish I did it everyday.” With 3 days in Budapest, you have plenty of time to experience this.
Follow the link for a list of bath services and prices. You can buy a spa package at the gate or book one in advance through Get Your Guide or Klook.
Photo by Anna Dunlop via Shutterstock
Operating Hours: 6AM-10PM, daily Admission: Starts at HUF 5,600 per person Estimated Time to Spend: At least 2 hrs
Karavan Street Food
After your spa experience, head back to the Jewish Quarter for dinner. As described, there are plenty of interesting restaurants in the area, but if you want more street food, then check out Karavan.
Karavan is a food park on the same street as Bors GasztroBar. There are about 10-15 food stalls to choose from but we were here specifically for one place – Langos Burger.
As their name suggests, they make burger versions of langos which is a classic Hungarian food made with deep-fried dough. Langos Burger was voted one of the ten best street food stalls in Europe in 2018.
Karavan is a fun place with a youthful, energetic vibe. It’s a great place to have dinner and a few drinks before continuing to Szimpla Kert, Budapest’s most famous ruin bar.
Address: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 18, 1075 Hungary Operating Hours: 11:30AM-11PM, Sun-Wed / 11:30AM-1AM, Thurs-Sat What to Order: Langos Burger, Langos Expect to Spend: About HUF 1,100 (classic) / 1,690 (burger) for langos
Located two doors down from Karavan, Szimpla Kert is the original romkocsma. Romkocsma means “ruin pub” in Hungarian.
A ruin pub is basically a drinking establishment set up in an old abandoned building. Szimpla Kert was the first and most iconic, but many others have sprouted in and around the Jewish Quarter.
Ruin pubs have become so popular over the years that they’ve become synonymous with the Budapest experience. You definitely need to add this to your Budapest itinerary. They cater mostly to the young and creative so many ruin pubs can be loud and club-like in feel, though some like Mazel Tov have evolved to become more elegant dining spaces.
Szimpla Kert was the only romkocsma we went to but you can refer to this article for more of the best ruin pubs in Budapest. Get Your Guide offers a few ruin pub crawls as well.
Address: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075 Hungary Operating Hours: 10AM-4AM, Mon-Sat / 9AM-4AM, Sun
BUDAPEST ITINERARY DAY 2: THE BUDA SIDE
Szechenyi Chain Bridge
After exploring the Pest side on your first of 3 days in Budapest, it’s time to walk along Szechenyi Chain Bridge and cross over to the Buda side. The bridge is only 375 meters long (1,230 ft) so it takes less than 10 minutes to get to the other side.
The Buda side’s top attractions are at the top of a hill so walking will be difficult. You can either ride the funicular to Buda Castle Hill, pay for a hop-on hop-off castle shuttle, or go on a guided tour.
The line to the funicular was too long so we chose the hop-on hop-off castle shuttle. If you’d like to explore Buda’s historical attractions with a guide, then a fun way to do that would be to go on these segway or bike tours.
St. Stephen’s Basilica may be larger and more physically impressive but I found Matthias Church to be more beautiful. It’s one of the city’s most striking landmarks and a highlight on this 3 day Budapest itinerary.
Originally built in the 11th century, Matthias Church is a strikingly beautiful church with a colorful roof covered in diamond-patterned tiles. It was used for centuries as a coronation church by Hungarian kings and a mosque by Ottoman Turks before becoming the Roman Catholic church that it is today.
You can visit Matthias Church on your own or go on a guided tour.
Operating Hours: 9AM-5PM, Mon-Fri / 9AM-1PM, Sat / 1-5PM, Sun Admission: HUF 1,800 Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins – 1 hr
Just a few steps away from Matthias Church is Fisherman’s Bastion, one of the city’s most popular monuments and another must-add to any Budapest itinerary. It was built in the early 20th century by Frigyes Schulek, the same architect responsible for the restoration of Matthias Church.
Though Fisherman’s Bastion looks like a fortification, it was designed primarily as a viewing platform where people could appreciate some of the best views of the city and the Danube River. It gets its name from the medieval guild of fishermen responsible for defending this section of castle wall.
Some people claim that Fisherman’s Bastion served as the inspiration for the Walt Disney logo. I think this is a stretch. What do you think?
Fisherman’s Bastion is easy enough to visit on your own but you can also go within the context of a guided tour.
Operating Hours: 9AM-11PM, daily Admission: FREE (lower terraces), HUF 1,000 (upper towers) Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins
Baltazar Budapest Grill and Boutique Hotel
About 500 meters from Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion is Baltazar Grill, an Hungarian restaurant and boutique hotel which some say serves some of the best beef goulash in Budapest.
If you’d like to try beef goulash and other traditional Hungarian dishes, then you may want to have lunch at Baltazar Grill before proceeding to Buda Castle. We had the goulash and chicken paprikash but they do offer less traditional fare like burgers and ribs as well.
Address: Budapest, Országház u. 31, 1014 Hungary Operating Hours: 7:30AM-11PM, daily What to Order: Beef goulash soup, chicken paprikash, burgers Expect to Spend: About HUF 5,000-6,000 per person with drinks
Ruszwurm Confectionery is a great place to have coffee and cake. Located less than a hundred meters from Matthias Church, it’s one of the city’s oldest pastry shops with a reputation for serving some of the best dobos torte in Budapest.
Dobos torte or drum torte is Hungary’s signature cake. It’s a type of sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with a hard caramel coating.
We had a slice each of dobos torte and kremes or Hungarian cream cake. Both were delicious.
Address: Budapest, Szentháromság u. 7, 1014 Hungary Operating Hours: 10AM-6PM, daily What to Order: Cakes Expect to Spend: About HUF 600-800 for a slice of cake
After polishing off your cake, you can jump into the hop-on hop-off shuttle or walk to Buda Castle. It’s a little over a kilometer away.
The term “Buda Castle” was confusing to me at first. If I understand correctly, it can be used to refer to both the actual structure and the castle district or quarter.
Buda Castle, the physical castle, is located within a fortified complex called the Castle Quarter (Varnegyed), which is located on top of a hill known as Castle Hill (Varhegy). Buda Castle, Matthias Church, and Fisherman’s Bastion are all located within the Castle Quarter.
Much of the Castle Quarter is now residential so you’re free to explore the area. Buda Castle is home to the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. You can explore the area around Buda Castle for free but you’ll need tickets to enter the national gallery or museum.
We were perfectly happy exploring the castle district on our own, but if you’d like to go on a guided tour, then you can book one through Get Your Guide.
If you still have time after exploring the Buda side, then you can head back to the Pest side and visit either the House of Terror or Flippermuzeum.
Operating Hours: 24 hrs (Castle Quarter) Admission: HUF 3,200 (Hungarian National Gallery), HUF 2,400 (Budapest History Museum) Estimated Time to Spend: Between 2-5 hrs, depending on how many sites you want to visit
House of Terror
The House of Terror is a museum along Andrassy Avenue, located inside a beautiful building that once served as the headquarters to both the Hungarian Arrow Cross Party (Hungary’s Nazi Party) and AVO/AVH Communist Terrorist Organizations.
It traces the history and horrors that transpired during the Hungarian Nazi regime, much of it occurring within the bowels of this very building. It’s an important but harrowing exhibit that may not be for everyone.
Photo by Bartlomiej K. Kwieciszewski via Shutterstock
Operating Hours: 10AM-6PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) Admission: HUF 3,000 Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs
I wanted to be entertained, not depressed, so I skipped the House of Terror and went to Flippermuzeum instead. Flippermuzeum is both a museum and an arcade featuring fully functioning pinball machines from every era.
For HUF 3,500, you can stay for as long as you like and play any machine for free. Aside from pinball machines, they have other vintage games as well like early foosball and rod hockey tables from the 1930s and 40s. It’s definitely one of the more interesting stops I made in our 3 days in Budapest.
Operating Hours: 4PM-12MN, Wed-Fri / 2PM-12MN, Sat / 10AM-10PM, Sun (closed Mon-Tue) Admission: HUF 3,500 Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs
I wanted to have dinner at Mazel Tov but I read about the long waits so we decided against it. It’s one of the more popular ruin bars in the Jewish Quarter that’s evolved into a more upscale but unpretentious dining space.
Middle Eastern cuisine and Israeli fusion dishes are the specialty here. As described, it’s a popular place so reservations are highly recommended.
Address: Budapest, Akácfa u. 47, 1072 Hungary Operating Hours: 11AM-1AM, Sun-Wed / 11AM-2AM, Thurs-Sat
BUDAPEST ITINERARY DAY 3: THE DANUBE RIVER
Now that you’ve explored the Buda and Pest sides of the city, it’s time to take a cruise on the river that divides them. But before then, you need to have a breakfast of kurtoskalacs, a delicious spit cake that was one of our favorite things to eat in Budapest.
Kurtoskalacs or chimney cakes are spit cakes that are specific to Hungarians from Transylvania. Popular in Hungary and Romania, they’re made by wrapping yeast dough around baking spits and roasting them over charcoal.
While roasting, they’re basted with butter until they turn a deep golden brown. They’re then dusted with toppings like ground walnut, powdered cinnamon, sliced almond, or grated coconut.
Crisp and caramelized on the outside but soft and buttery on the inside, they’re absolutely delicious and go great with coffee. Trying kurtoskalacs is something you definitely need to add to your Budapest itinerary.
Molnar’s Kurtoskalacs is often cited for serving some of the best chimney cakes in Budapest. Situated close to the river on the Pest side, you can easily get there by metro, tram, or bus.
Address: Budapest, Váci u. 31, 1052 Hungary Operating Hours: 9AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Kurtoskalacs Expect to Spend: About HUF 990 (kurtoskalacs) / HUF 2,190 (kurtoskalacs with ice cream)
Great Market Hall
Before proceeding to the dock, I suggest making a stop at Great Market Hall (Central Market Hall), the biggest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. It’s less than a kilometer south of Molnar’s Kurtoskalacs so you can either walk there or take the riverside tram.
The market is in a beautiful 19th-century building with lots of food and souvenir stalls spread out over two floors. You’re probably still full from breakfast but you may want to pick up a few items to go if you plan on following this Budapest itinerary and proceeding to Margaret Island.
Like the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, locals commute to work on the Danube River everyday. If a quick ferry ride is all you’re interested in, then keep reading. Otherwise, you can book a proper Danube River cruise on Get Your Guide.
If you’re happy to experience the Danube River on a ferry, then take the tram from Great Market Hall to the Boraros ter H tram stop. You’re looking for the Boraros ter H (Petofi hid) ferry terminal which is about a 2-minute walk north of the tram stop.
You’re going to take the D12 ferry to Margaret Island. The one-way fare is HUF 750 and you can get off at Margitsziget, Centenariumi emlekmu ferry terminal which is seven stops away. You can refer to this ferry map for more details.
NOTE: The D12 ferry line doesn’t seem to be operational in winter. If that’s the case, then you can take the D11 ferry instead from Boraros ter H (Petofi hid) to Nepfurdo utca (Arpad hid) ferry terminal. It’s a 1-minute walk to the island from there.
One-way Boat Fare: HUF 750
Margaret Island is a small island sitting in the middle of the Danube River. It’s connected to the Buda and Pest sides by two bridges on the northern and southern ends of the island.
Margaret Island is a pleasant green space and city park that offers good views of some of the city’s grandest attractions like the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and Matthias Church. Attractions on the island include a Japanese garden, an Art Nouveau water tower (pictured below), and the Palatinus Strand Thermal Bath.
If you’d like to explore the 2.5 km long island, then you can do so in fun vehicles like golf carts, egg-shaped cars, electric scooters, and Segways. A few guided tours will take you to Margaret Island as well.
There are a few restaurants on Margaret Island but perhaps a better option would be to have a picnic lunch with food bought from the Great Market Hall.
Photo by VAGABOND via Shutterstock
Admission: FREE Estimated Time to Spend: About 2-3 hrs
Hungarian Parliament Building
From Margaret Island, you can take the ferry or bus to the Hungarian Parliament Building, one of the grandest structures in Budapest. It’s an impressive sight and a highlight on this 3 day Budapest itinerary.
Completed in 1902, the Hungarian Parliament Building is an architectural marvel built in the Gothic Revival style. It’s the third-largest parliament building in the world and contains 691 interior rooms, 10 courtyards, and 12.5 miles of staircase.
There are many impressive buildings in Budapest but this was by far the most spectacular. To fully appreciate it, you need to view it from a distance. From a boat on the Danube River or directly opposite on the Buda side is perfect.
We didn’t do the tour but I read that it’s a good idea to purchase tickets in advance. You can do so directly from the Hungarian National Assembly website. You can also visit the Parliament Building as part of a guided city tour.
Photo by Matteo Gabrieli via Shutterstock
Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, daily (summer) / 8AM-4PM, daily (winter) Admission: HUF 3,500 (EU citizens), HUF 6,700 (non-EU citizens) Length of Tour: About 45 mins
Shoes on the Danube Bank
A short walk from the Parliament Building is this haunting tribute to the thousands of Jews murdered by Hungary’s Nazi Party.
Approximately 20,000 Jews were shot along the banks of the Danube River by the Arrow Cross Party in 1944-1945. Shoes were a valuable commodity during WWII so the victims were made to remove them before being shot into the river.
The memorial consists of sixty pairs of 1940s-style shoes cast in iron. They’re in different styles and sizes, from men’s work boots to women’s heels to the tiny shoes of a child.
Set by the beautiful Danube River, it was one of the most sobering attractions we visited in our 3 days in Budapest.
Operating Hours: 24 hrs Admission: FREE Length of Tour: About 15 mins
For a special meal in Budapest, you can take a taxi or bus to Stand25 Bisztro, a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant that offers 2- or 3-course menus featuring modern interpretations of traditional Hungarian food. We had lunch at their former Hold Street Market location but it looks like they’ve since moved to the Buda side.
We had many fantastic dishes at Stand25, some of the most memorable being their meatloaf with yellow pea puree and a delicious layered potato dish with sausages and beetroot salad.
Pictured below is an interesting grilled eggplant tartare with Vaszoly cheese and pumpkin seeds. You can refer to my article on Stand25 Bisztro for more pictures and information.
Address: Budapest, Attila út 10, 1013 Hungary Operating Hours: 12NN-2PM, 6-10PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: 3-course menu Expect to Spend: About HUF 14,900++ (dinner)
BUDAPEST LOCATION MAP
I made a map to help you better understand this 3 day Budapest itinerary. Click on the link to open the interactive map in a new window.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS BUDAPEST ITINERARY
As described at the top of this article, we fell in love with Budapest and would have loved to stay longer. But if it’s your first time in the city, then 3 days in Budapest is a good amount of time to get a decent feel for the city. It was certainly enough time to make us fall in love with the place and want to experience more.
Whether you’re into architecture, design, history, food, or nightlife, Budapest has something for you. It’s a surprisingly cool city that turned out to be one of our favorite stops in Europe. We reminisce about it often and can’t wait to go back.
Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope this itinerary gives you plenty of ideas on how to maximize your time when you visit Budapest. If you have any questions, then let us know in the comments below. Enjoy your trip!
This Budapest itinerary contains affiliate links, through which we’ll earn a small commission if you make a purchase or booking at no extra cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and can personally vouch for. We appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you very much!
We love Mexican cuisine. Mexican food is delicious throughout the country but some states like Puebla and Yucatan have a reputation for being top food destinations. Oaxaca is one of those states.
When it comes to Oaxacan cuisine, mole probably comes foremost in many people’s minds. Mole negro and mole coloradito are delicious dishes but in my opinion, the best traditional Oaxacan food can’t be found in fine dining restaurants. They’re served in market fondas and mobile carts on the street.
There are many things to love about Oaxaca, but Oaxacan street food dishes like tlayudas and memelas are two of my favorite things about this city.
If you’re planning a trip to Oaxaca City and want to find the best street food, then this list of 25 Oaxaca street food stalls, eateries, and fondas will be your new best friend in Oaxaca.
This guide focuses on street food stalls and similar establishments but if you’d like to book a table at one of the city’s best restaurants, then be sure to check out our Oaxaca restaurant guide as well. If you have a taste for mezcal, then our guide to the top mezcalerias in Oaxaca will also be of interest to you.
OAXACA STREET FOOD QUICK LINKS
To help with your Oaxaca trip planning, we’ve put together links to popular hotels, tours, and other travel services here.
Top-rated hotels in Centro, one of the best areas to stay for first-time visitors to Oaxaca.
Luxury: Hotel Escondido Oaxaca, a Member of Design Hotels
Midrange: Los Pilares Hotel
Budget: Andaina Youth Hostel
Sightseeing Tour: Guided City Walking Tour
Food Tour: Night Street Food Tour with Transfers and Tastings
Mezcal Tour: Mezcal Adventure
Cooking Classes: Oaxaca Cooking Classes
Day Trip: El Tule, Mitla, and Hierve el Agua Tour with Mezcal
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
Mexico SIM Card
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WHAT STREET FOOD IS OAXACA FAMOUS FOR?
There’s so much delicious food you can enjoy on the streets of Oaxaca but in my opinion, tlayudas, memelas, and empanadas de amarillo are three of the tastiest and most interesting. These street food dishes are important parts of Oaxacan food culture so they’re definitely something you need to try when you visit Oaxaca.
Before anything, it’s important to familiarize yourself with what to eat in Oaxaca City before learning where to eat, so be sure to check out our Oaxacan food guide for a list of 25 must-try traditional dishes and drinks in Oaxaca.
When it comes to the most delicious Oaxaca street foods, nothing stands above tlayudas. Sometimes referred to as a Mexican pizza, this Oaxaca street food classic consists of a large toasted or fried tortilla topped with unrefined pork lard, black bean paste, Oaxaca cheese, and other ingredients.
Considerably smaller but every bit as delicious as tlayudas are memelas. They consist of toasted or fried rounds of masa corn dough topped with a variety of different ingredients like beans, spicy tomato sauce, queso fresco (fresh cheese), guacamole, and chicken tinga.
Empanada de Amarillo
You’ve probably had empanadas in other parts of Mexico or Latin America but I’m guessing you’ve never seen one like this. Oaxacan empanadas de amarillo are much larger than your average fried or baked empanada. To prepare, a large corn tortilla is filled with mole amarillo (yellow mole sauce), shredded chicken, and hoja santa (local Oaxacan herb) before being folded in half and toasted on a comal.
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST OAXACAN STREET FOOD
To help organize this list of Oaxaca street food stalls and restaurants, I’ve categorized them by type of establishment. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
Street Food Stalls
Markets / Fondas
Street Food Stands
We love Mexican cuisine in general but street food is what really makes us tick. There is so much amazing food to be had in Oaxaca City and much of it can be enjoyed on a sidewalk or street corner like memelas, tacos, tamales, empanadas, and tlayudas.
1. Memelas San Agustin
Memelas are a popular Oaxaca street food or breakfast dish that you can find at restaurants, markets, or roadside stalls. Personally, I think they’re best when enjoyed from a mobile cart on the side of the road.
We enjoyed memelas at many different places in Oaxaca City and the Memelas San Agustin stall was one of the best. Pictured below was my tasty trio of memelas topped with chicken tinga (tomato and chicken stew), chicharron, and pico de gallo.
What makes Memelas San Agustin special is their variety of toppings. Many places make them with just simple toppings like refried beans and cheese, but you can get them with different kinds of toppings at this stall.
Don’t you just love the ambiance of a roadside stall? It feels so much more authentic and immersive than restaurants. Not only is the food cheap and delicious, but you get to rub elbows with Oaxaca locals as well. In spite of the language barrier, there’s an instant connection when locals see how much you enjoy their food.
Memelas San Agustin is located on C. de Manuel Fernández Fiallo, between Colón and Vicente Guerrero. You can check the location map at the bottom of this guide to see exactly where it is.
Memelas San Agustin
Address: C. de Manuel Fernández Fiallo 309, Zona Feb 10 2015, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 8:30AM-5PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Memelas
2. Empanadas del Carmen
We’re huge fans of Netflix’s Street Food series so visiting Empanadas del Carmen was a priority for us. As their name suggests, they specialize in empanadas de amarillo but they make good quesadillas and memelas as well.
To be honest, mole amarillo was my least favorite of Oaxaca’s seven famous moles so empanada de amarillo wasn’t my favorite Oaxacan dish either. However, Empanadas del Carmen makes damn good empanadas. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a fan of the show. This was easily the best empanada de amarillo we had in Oaxaca.
Here’s an inside look at the empanada de amarillo. If you’re familiar with Latin American empanadas, then you may find this Oaxacan empanada to be a little different.
I’m used to smaller empanadas that are pinch sealed and then baked or fried, but this one is more like a quesadilla. A large corn tortilla is topped with ingredients and then folded in half before being toasted on a comal.
This is a quesadilla. See what I mean? It’s very similar in form to the empanada de amarillo except it’s made with cheese, hence the term “quesadilla”.
We tried a few of their quesadillas and they were all delicious. This one was filled with flor de calabaza (squash blossoms), Oaxaca cheese, and salsa verde (green salsa).
This quesadilla was filled with mushrooms, Oaxaca cheese, and salsa rojo (red salsa).
This one was filled with chorizo, Oaxaca cheese, and salsa verde.
As you can tell, we had a street food feast at Empanadas del Carmen. We tried all their offerings in one meal, including these memelas. Unlike the offerings at Memelas San Agustin, the memelas at Empanadas del Carmen are pretty basic – just refried beans, asiento (unrefined pork lard), salsa verde, and queso fresco.
Empanadas del Carmen is located in a busy part of downtown Oaxaca, about a block away from Santo Domingo Church. They’re open from 5-10PM daily and set up right next to a similarly named stall called Tacos del Carmen (#5).
As described, tlayudas are among the most popular street food dishes in Oaxaca. Depending on the restaurant or stall, tlayudas can be served folded in half (see below) or open-faced like an Italian pizza. You can enjoy them with some type of roasted meat, usually tasajo (thin dried beef), cecina (chili-crusted pork), or chorizo.
You can find tlayudas everywhere in Oaxaca. One of the best places to try it is at Tlayudas La Chinita, a popular roadside stall about a few blocks east of Mercado de Abastos. Like Empanadas del Carmen, it was one of the stalls featured on the Netflix series.
From what I can tell, the main difference between tlayudas served at different restaurants or stalls is in the texture of the tortilla. Some are thin and crispy while others are thicker and chewier, like a pizza. This one was somewhere in the middle. It was delicious.
Don’t let this picture fool you. I came shortly after they opened so it wasn’t that crowded yet, but Tlayudas La Chnita is popular. By the time I left, this alley was packed with both locals and tourists.
Thankfully, Tlayudas La Chnita is very organized. They keep track of customers by handing them a number as they arrive. That way no one gets their tlayuda out of turn. A tlayuda melee around hot coals would be dangerous.
Unlike the other tlayuda restaurants we visited, La Chinita offers two sizes – small and large. This was a small and more than enough for me so I assume the large is enough to feed 2-3 people. The radish comes standard but I got mine with an extra side of tasajo and chorizo. You can see the chorizo just barely peeking its head above the tlayuda in the picture below.
Unlike American-style pizzas where the toppings are evenly distributed, tlayuda vendors will give you the roasted meats on the side. Taking bites of the meat after bites of tlayuda is the perfect way to eat this dish. You can really taste the smokiness of the meat that way.
Tlayudas La Chinita is open from 8PM till midnight. They usually set up on this spot, at the corner of 20 de Noviembre and C. de Nuño del Mercado. But for some reason, they set up shop in an alley about a block away on Wednesdays. You can see a befuddled pair of tourists in the picture below. “But Google Maps says it’s supposed to be right here!”
If you decide to go to Tlayudas La Chinita on a Wednesday, then just walk west on C. de Nuño del Mercado after getting to this corner. You’ll see them set up in an alley on your left side (see the next picture).
This is the alley. Just look for the number 405 on the wall and the Tlayudas La Chinita stall will be right around the corner.
Tlayudas La Chinita
Address: Corner of 20 de Noviember and C. de Nuño del Mercado, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 8PM-12MN, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Tlayudas
4. Taqueria Chava
We absolutely loved this taqueria. Taqueria Chava is a humble roadside stall that serves some of the best street tacos in Oaxaca.
Taqueria Chava offers just two things on their menu – tacos and consommé. I don’t know if they make their tacos with different types of meat but on the two days we went, they were offering tacos de cabeza or tacos made with meat from the animal’s head.
Tacos de cabeza are among our favorite types of tacos. We’ve enjoyed them throughout Mexico, including Mexico City, and these were some of the best we’ve had. They’re delicious.
The tacos are delicious but you cannot miss their consommé either. It’s basically a cup of soup filled with the same meat they use in their tacos.
In our case, we got a cup of consommé overflowing with that soft and gelatinous head meat. You actually get more meat in the consommé which is why it’s more expensive than the tacos. It’s so damn good.
Taqueria Chava is located on the corner of C. de Los Libres and C. de Mariano Abasolo. We walked by their stall a few times and it would always be crowded with locals enjoying their tacos and consommé. Based on what I’ve read, they stay open only for as long as they have food so it’s best to go early if you can.
Address: C. de Mariano Abasolo 503B, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 10AM-5PM, Mon-Thurs / 9:30AM-8PM, Fri-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Tacos, consommé
5. Tacos del Carmen
Tacos del Carmen is the street food stand that sets up right beside the similarly named Empanadas del Carmen (#2). They have similar offerings and are just as popular so you should try them as well.
Pictured below are a pair of memelas with Oaxacan cheese and a quesadilla filled with squash blossoms and quesillo.
As I said, Tacos del Carmen is just as popular as Empanadas del Carmen. Don’t worry about confusing the two because the former opens from 8AM till around 3:30PM while the latter doesn’t open until 5PM.
Tacos del Carmen
Address: Jesús Carranza 110, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 8AM-3:30PM, Mon-Tue, Thurs-Sat (closed Wednesdays and Sundays) What to Order: Tacos, quesadillas, memelas, tlayudas
6. Tacos de Cazuela del Carmen Alto
Tacos de guisado were among our favorite tacos in Mexico City but they don’t seem to be as common in Oaxaca. Thankfully, I found this street food stand – Tacos de Cazuela del Carmen Alto – a block away from Tacos del Carmen and Empanadas del Carmen.
As its name suggests, a taco de guisado is a variety of taco made with different types of stewed ingredients. The one on the right was filled with liver and vegetables while the other one was made with a stew of hard-boiled egg and other ingredients.
Tacos de Cazuela del Carmen Alto is located on a street corner exactly a block north of Tacos del Carmen and Empanadas del Carmen. Pay them a visit if you get a hankering for tacos de guisado in Oaxaca City.
Tacos de Cazuela del Carmen Alto
Address: C. de Quetzalcóatl 103, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, La Paz, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 8AM-4PM, Mon-Tue, Thurs-Fri (closed Wed, Sat-Sun) What to Order: Tacos de guisado
7. El Lechoncito de Oro
El Lechoncito de Oro is arguably the most famous stall for tacos de lechon in Oaxaca City. A taco de lechon is a type of taco made with roasted suckling pig.
At Lechoncito de Oro, you can get it in tacos, tostadas, or tortas with the addition of either pork leg meat (pierna) or chicharron. Personally, we’re fans of pork rinds so we always get them with chicharron.
El Lechoncito de Oro is open from 8PM till 3AM, making it a great place to get street tacos after a night of mezcal drinking in Oaxaca City.
This stand is popular. There was already a line of people waiting for their lechon tacos even before they formally opened.
El Lechoncito de Oro
Address: C. de Los Libres s/n, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 8PM-3AM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Tacos de lechon
Street Food Restaurants
I enjoy eating street food from roadside stalls but you can have street food in Oaxaca at humble restaurants as well. Here are some of our favorite restaurants for Oaxaca street food.
8. Tlayudas El Negro
Tlayudas El Negro was one of my favorite tlayuda restaurants in Oaxaca. Aside from the usual offerings, they have interesting variations like tlayudas topped with mole negro (enmolada) and chapulines (grasshoppers).
I was excited to try the enmolada but unfortunately, they were out of it that day. I went with a regular tlayuda topped with a side of chorizo instead. It was delicious but if you go to Tlayudas El Negro and enmolada is available, then I suggest trying that. We went to several tlayuda restaurants and this was the only place that had it.
If you’re used to eating American-style pizzas, then you may be tempted to chop up the chorizo and evenly distribute it on the tlayuda. Resist the urge. The meats wind up losing flavor if you do.
Instead, take bites out of the chorizo or whatever meat you ordered it with after each bite of tlayuda. You’ll appreciate the smokiness and flavor of the meats much more that way. I learned that here.
Most tlayuda restaurants in Oaxaca City open only at night or later in the afternoon. I think tlayuda is something Oaxaqueños enjoying eating with a round of beers or other drinks. The dining space of Tlayudas El Negro seems to suggest that as well. There’s a stage for live bands or musicians to perform.
Another thing I liked about Tlayudas El Negro is its location. It’s located in a more residential part of Oaxaca, about a 15-minute walk east of the zocalo (main square). It has a largely local clientele, which speaks to the quality and authenticity of their tlayudas.
NOTE: Google Maps says that Tlayudas El Negro is open from 12NN-12MN. I don’t think this is correct because I tried going there a little after noon one day to find it closed. It’s a bit of a walk from the zocalo so I suggest going later in the day to be safe.
Tlayudas El Negro
Address: Vicente Guerrero 1029, Zona Feb 10 2015, Obrera, 68115 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 12NN-12MN, daily What to Order: Tlayudas
9. Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña
Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña is another great tlayuda restaurant in Oaxaca. It was already on our list and our Airbnb host recommended it as well. It’s located in Barrio de Jalatlaco, one of the coolest neighborhoods in Oaxaca.
Like Tlayudas El Negro, Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña offers more interesting tlayuda toppings like chapulines and tripas (small intestines). We got ours with a combination of two meats, which they chopped up and evenly distributed on the tlayuda. This was the only tlayuda restaurant we went to that did that.
Many restaurants will serve your tlayuda with a side of chepiche. It’s a Mexican herb that tastes similar to fresh coriander.
Check out all those delicious strands of quesillo or Oaxaca cheese. Oaxaca cheese is a delicious mozzarella-like string cheese commonly used in many Oaxacan dishes. It’s popular outside of the state as well. In Puebla, it’s a key ingredient in cemitas.
Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña offers other dishes like tacos, tostadas, and pozole as well. Pictured below is a tostada topped with Oaxaca cheese, avocado, and tomato. A tostada is basically a crunchy deep-fried corn tortilla served with a variety of toppings.
Here’s a tostada topped with one of the more interesting ingredients in Oaxaca – chapulines or grasshoppers. Chapulines have been consumed in the region since pre-Hispanic times and can be used in many dishes like tlayudas, tostadas, and tacos. It can even be used to flavor nieves or Mexican ice cream!
A closer look at the chapulines. You can find them in two basic sizes in Oaxaca – small (like below) or large. We’d sometimes get bags of the larger chapulines from markets and bring them with us to mezcal tastings. The saltiness and crunch from the chapulines go so well with the smokiness of the mezcal.
Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña is a colorful and spacious restaurant in Barrio de Jalatlaco. They open from 1PM till 1AM daily.
Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña
Address: Calle de Lic Primo Verdad 119D, Hacienda, 68080 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 1PM-1AM, daily What to Order: Tlayudas, tostadas
10. Tacos Roy
Located just a block away from Taqueria Chava is Tacos Roy, another great taco restaurant in Oaxaca. This place was highly recommended to us by two locals and they weren’t wrong. The tacos here are phenomenal.
Unlike Taqueria Chava that has a highly focused menu, Tacos Roy has plenty of offerings. They have tacos a la plancha, tacos al vapor, tortas, pozole rojo, and other typical taqueria dishes like alambres, volcanes, and quesadillas.
Pictured below is a pair of Mexico’s most iconic taco – tacos al pastor. If you’ve never had it, it’s a type of taco made from grilled marinated pork shaved off a vertical spit.
Tacos Roy’s tacos a la plancha are delicious but what we really fell in love with are their tacos al vapor. Also known as tacos de canasta (basket tacos) or tacos sudados (sweaty tacos), tacos al vapor are filled with a variety of stews and then bathed in oil or melted butter. They’re commonly known as basket tacos because they’re sold from baskets covered with cloth to keep them warm.
We’ve enjoyed tacos al vapor throughout Mexico but the offerings at Tacos Roy are different. They aren’t as wet as the usual basket tacos and they’re rolled like small enchiladas. You can get them with different types of meat like carnitas (shredded pork), oreja (ear), corazon (heart), and sesos (brains).
If you’re a fan of texture like I am, then be sure to try the oreja. Soft and crunchy from bits of cartilage, it’s so incredibly delicious. We love tacos, especially tacos made from parts of the head, but this was the only time we saw tacos made with pork ear.
Be sure to try a bowl of their pozole rojo as well. Pozole refers to a Mexican dish made from hominy, shredded cabbage, radish, onion, garlic, chili, and some type of meat. You can get it in white, red, or green versions, the color coming from the type of ingredients used. Pozole rojo is made from different kinds of red chili pepper so it’s usually the spiciest of the three.
Tacos Roy specializes in red pozole served with either pork, beef, or chicken. I’ve had pozole in other parts of Mexico and this was the best I’ve tried so far.
Tacos Roy has several branches in Oaxaca City, two of which are located in the centro area.
Address: Calle de José María Pino Suárez 313, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 12:30PM-1AM, Sun-Fri / 2PM-1AM, Sat What to Order: Tacos, pozole rojo
11. El Embrujo
Like Tacos Roy, El Embrujo was one of our favorite Oaxaca street food restaurants. They serve Mexican breakfast dishes, memelas, and quesadillas but for us, the best things on their menu are their tacos and consomme. You can get them with various ingredients but our hands down favorite was the ojo or beef eye.
Pictured below is a bowl of their consomme especial with hefty chunks of ojo. My god was this delicious.
We tried different fillings but their tacos de ojo are the best.
We were chatting with the bartender of a mezcaleria one night and we told him about El Embrujo. As popular as this place is with locals, he didn’t know there was a restaurant in Oaxaca City that served ojo! He thanked us for the tip and said he’d be visiting them soon.
Pictured below is a memela topped with ojo. It was delicious though it perhaps contained a little too much ojo meat, which is a good problem. They have the same “problem” with their ojo quesadillas.
El Embrujo serves a few desserts as well, like this flan de vaso…
…and this pay de queso or Mexican cheesecake. Both were very good.
You can’t tell from this picture but El Embrujo is hugely popular with locals. Located near Mercado de la Merced, it’s a big restaurant but it was always packed with Mexican customers.
Address: Mártires de Tacubaya 218, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, daily What to Order: Tacos, consommé
12. Tacos de Lechon Oaxaca Panteón General
As their mouthful of a name suggests, Tacos de Lechon Oaxaca Panteón General specializes in tacos de lechon. They have the same offerings as the more famous Lechoncito de Oro but in our opinion, they’re even better.
You can get two variations of the same dish – tacos de lechon and tacos de lechon with chicharron (pork skin). Definitely get the latter. The chicharron adds another layer of flavor and texture to the dish. It’s so good.
Tacos de Lechon Oaxaca Panteón General is located in a less touristy part of Barrio de Jalatlaco. I believe its name is just “Tacos de Lechon” but Google Maps adds the second part due to its proximity to the Panteón General cemetery.
Tacos de Lechon Oaxaca Panteón General
Address: C. Del Refugio #154, Barrio de Jalatlaco, 68080 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 5:30-11PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Tacos de lechon
13. El Torito
El Torito is another great taco stand that not as many tourists get to try because of its location. They serve a few types of tacos but we always get just one thing – tacos de tripa or tacos topped with small intestines.
Tripa has a soft and chewy texture similar to squid rings. These tacos de tripa at El Torito are absolutely delicious and one of our favorite tacos in Oaxaca City.
Open only at night, El Torito is a hole-in-the-wall with just a few tables so we’d always get our tacos de tripa to go.
Address: FERROCARRIL, Victor Bravo Ahuja Sur, 71244 Santa Lucía del Camino, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 6:30-11:30PM, Mon-Tue / 6:30PM-12MN, Wed-Sun What to Order: Tacos de tripa
14. Los Sombrerudos
As much as we love tlayudas and memelas, nothing beats street tacos. For us, it’s the ultimate Mexican comfort food and street dish.
Los Sombrerudos is another great taqueria in Oaxaca City. They serve the usual taqueria offerings like tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, and volcanes topped with arrachera (skirt steak), costilla (pork ribs), carnitas, chorizo, or campechanos.
Pictured below is my beautiful platter of taquesos campechanos or tacos made with a mixture of different meats plus cheese. This was pure taco bliss.
More taco deliciousness from Los Sombrerudos. What you’re looking at here is a trio of regular tacos (no cheese) filled with arrachera, costilla, and chorizo. ¡Que rico!
This tasty dish is what Los Sombrerudos calls a super gringa. It’s basically a big quesadilla filled with the meat of your choice, two cheeses, cilantro, and onions.
Los Sombrerudos is located in the Barrio de Jalatlaco area, not too far from Mercado de La Merced. It’s in a more local part of town so I don’t think you’ll find too many tourists there, which is always a good thing.
Address: Avenida Universidad 112, Universidad, Trinidad de las Huertas, 68120 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Tacos
15. El Posito
El Posito was another restaurant featured on the Street Food Latin America series. They serve just two things – piedrazos and aguas frescas.
Meaning “stone” in Spanish, piedrazo is an interesting snack made with dehydrated bread soaked in fruit vinegar and served with carrots, potatoes, onions, Oaxacan cheese, chili powder, and salsa. It’s a highly acidic and spicy dish that gets its name from the bread that’s as hard as rocks before they’re soaked in vinegar.
Piedrazos may be too acidic for some people but pair the bread with some Oaxaca cheese and it all comes together beautifully. The creaminess from the cheese goes so well with the acidity of the vinegar.
Aguas frescas are a family of non-alcoholic Mexican drinks made from different types of fruits, flowers, cereals, and seeds blended with water and sugar. Meaning “fresh waters”, they’re available throughout Mexico but according to the owner of El Posito, two are traditional to Oaxaca – agua de chilacayota and agua de horchata con tuna.
Pictured below is agua de chilacayota. It’s an incredibly refreshing drink made with fig leaf gourd, cinnamon, piloncillo (unrefined whole cane sugar), and water. The molasses-like sweetness of the agua de chilacayota is another component that adds to the experience of eating piedrazos. They go so well together.
El Posito is a small restaurant located southeast of downtown Oaxaca. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the zocalo but definitely worth the effort.
Address: Calz. Cuauhtémoc 112-201, Trinidad de las Huertas, 68120 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 9:30AM-5:30PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Piedrazos, aguas frescas
Markets / Fondas
There are a lot of great fine dining restaurants in Oaxaca. Casa Oaxaca and Alfonsina come foremost to mind.
Mexican gastronomy is always interesting but you don’t need to go to a fine dining restaurant to get great food in Oaxaca. More often than not, the tastiest dishes are prepared by abuelas (grandmothers) at market fondas (family-owned eateries) for a fraction of the price.
If you want traditional food and classic Mexican dishes like mole negro, tlayudas, enmoladas, and memelas, then look no further than your humble Oaxacan mercado. Not only are they convenient hubs for cheap eats and street food in Oaxaca, but they’re also home to some of the city’s best and most authentic regional dishes.
CENTRAL DE ABASTOS
Central de Abastos or Mercado de Abastos is by far the largest market in Oaxaca. Most of the ingredients used for all the delicious food in this city probably come from this market.
Central de Abastos is a chaotic labyrinth of fruits, vegetables, meat, baked goods, household items, clothing, accessories, souvenirs, and furniture. If you can’t find something at Mercado de Abastos, then you probably can’t get it in Oaxaca.
I almost didn’t go to this market because every local I met advised us to avoid it altogether. Central de Abastos has a reputation for being unsafe and a haven for pickpockets. However, it’s also where you’ll find Doña Vale and her now world-famous memelas. If her name rings a bell, it’s because she was the main storyline in the Oaxaca episode of Street Food Latin America.
I had to go.
16. Memelas Doña Vale
Like every installment in that Netflix series, I loved Doña Vale’s story. Every episode features a story of triumph and hers was no less inspiring than the others. It was great to see her stall thriving.
Open from 7AM till noon, people say that it’s best to go to her stall before 9AM to avoid the crowd. I arrived shortly after 8AM and there was one spot left on her bench that could seat a maximum of about eight people. All she serves are memelas topped with the best-tasting sauces you’ll find in Oaxaca.
Here’s a trio of Doña Vale’s memelas topped with fried eggs. I believe she offers 2-3 different types of sauces but I asked for her classic signature sauce.
Unlike the other memelas in town which top theirs with refried beans and asiento, Doña Vale makes hers with her own blend of sauces. I don’t know exactly what’s in it but her classic sauce looks and tastes different from the other memela stalls. They’re more like actual sauces rather than just a simple bean paste.
I loved the fried eggs on mine but Doña Vale’s memelas are delicious on their own and don’t really need anything else. I wolfed mine down with a pot of Oaxacan coffee.
The kind gentleman sitting next to me was topping his memelas with some type of local green bean. I can’t remember the name but he told me that they’re native to Oaxaca.
He kept referring to me as paisano (countryman) and offered me as many pods as I could eat. Chewy and delicious, they reminded me of stink beans but smaller and without the smell. ¡Muchisimas gracias señor!
This is what Doña Vale’s stall looked like a little after 9AM. They’re mostly cropped off but you can sort of see the people on the left waiting for a spot on the bench.
People were right. You do need to be here before 9AM if you want to be seated right away. I suggest arriving even earlier, before 8AM if you can.
There are two general parts to Central de Abastos – a tented area with outdoor stalls and the covered market itself. Doña Vale’s stall is located inside the covered market. The pin on Google Maps gets you in the general area so just keep your eyes peeled for signs (like the one below) that point you to its exact location.
After my Doña Vale experience, I can say that it’s definitely worth the experience. Yes, Central de Abastos is chaotic, much more chaotic than any other market in Oaxaca. But it’s no different from any of the large wet markets in Southeast Asia. If you’ve been to any of those, then this is nothing new.
I felt completely safe when I was there. Just dress modestly and keep your valuables secure (like your phone) and you should be ok. Doña Vale’s stall is located at the south end of the market so it’s best to enter from there. These memelas are too good to pass up out of fear.
Memelas Doña Vale
Address: Cosijoeza, Central de Abasto, 68090 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 7AM-12NN, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Memelas
MERCADO 20 DE NOVIEMBRE
Not too far from Central de Abastos is Mercado 20 de Noviembre, perhaps the most famous market in Oaxaca. It’s home to many fondas, bakeries, and pasillo de humo – a popular alley lined on either side with stalls roasting different types of meat or carnes asadas.
17. Pasillo de Carnes Asadas (Pasillo de Humo)
Pasillo de humo or pasillo de carnes asadas is a meat lover’s dream come true in Oaxaca. It consists of a long alleyway with dozens of roasted meat vendors on either side. If you’re a true-blooded carnivore, then you need to enjoy a meal here.
If you arrive at peak times, like around noon, then you’ll be hounded by touts trying to attract you to their stall. Just ignore them and keep walking down the hallway. Every stall pretty much sells the same things so feel free to pick the stall that offers the best deal, though the price difference between stalls shouldn’t be that significant.
Every stall at pasillo de humo will have tasajo, cecina, chorizo, and tripa. Some stalls may offer other types of meat as well, but most if not all will have those four basic meats. They’re priced by weight so feel free to choose the right amount for the number of people in your group.
Many stalls will offer packages which is probably what you’ll want. For reference, a package of 1/4 kg (0.55 lbs) each of tasajo, cecina, and chorizo (3/4 kg or 1.65 lbs of meat total) was a good enough amount for two people. We enjoyed it with tortillas, a few side dishes, and salsa.
Here’s the grill master roasting up our meats. The alley is constantly filled with smoke from the grilling meats hence the name pasillo de humo or “hall of smoke”.
This is what 3/4 kg of perfectly grilled meat looks like. At the top is tasajo and at the bottom is cecina enchilada or cecina for short. Now this is real Mexican food!
We ate at pasillo de humo twice. On our second trip, we asked that the tasajo be replaced with tripa. The tripa is incredibly tasty but it’s also gummy and hard to chew so it may not be for everyone.
Our roasted meat feast with tortillas, roasted green onions, lime juice, and salsa rojo. ¡Buen provecho! Oaxaca cuisine is the best.
Mix the meats up on your tortilla with the salsa and sides and voila! Your very own DIY taco campechano. I just love the smokiness of all the meats. ¡Que rico!
Pasillo de Carnes Asadas (Pasillo de Humo)
Address: 68000, Miguel Cabrera 116, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 10AM-5PM, daily What to Order: Carnes asadas
18. Comedor Chabelita
Comedor Chabelita is a typical Oaxacan fonda located inside Mercado 20 de Noviembre. They serve many traditional Oaxacan and Mexican dishes like enmoladas, mole negro, mole coloradito, and chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers). We heard they make a mean tlayuda so that’s exactly what we came for.
Of all the tlayudas we tried in Oaxaca, Comedor Chabelita’s version had the most unique texture. As you can see below, it wasn’t folded in half like the others. It was served open-faced because the tortilla was thinner and crispier than the others, like a large tostada.
They offer different combinations for their tlayuda but we got the especial which was topped with Oaxacan cheese, tasajo, cecina, and chorizo. It was delicious and the most unique texturally from all the tlayudas we tried in Oaxaca.
I don’t recall what this dish was called but it’s basically a sampler of Oaxaca food favorites like mole, cecina, Oaxacan cheese, and more. Get this if you want a little bit of everything.
Comedor Chabelita is one of the busiest stalls at Mercado 20 de Noviembre. Like hawker centers in Singapore, always look for the fondas with the most locals.
Address: Mercado 20 de Noviembre, 20 de Noviembre S/N Locales 97,98 y 99, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 7AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Breakfast dishes, tlayuda, mole, tamales
MERCADO DE BENITEZ JUAREZ
Mercado de Benito Juarez is located across the street from Mercado 20 de Noviembre. It was perhaps the cleanest and most organized market we visited in Oaxaca.
19. Agua Casildas Regionales
We didn’t go to any fondas at Mercado de Benito Juarez but we did get a drink at this famous aguas frescas stall called Agua Casildas Regionales. They’ve been serving different types of aguas frescas at the market since 1926.
Agua Casildas Regionales serves many different flavors of aguas frescas like guanabana (soursop), tamarindo (tamarind), jamaica (hibiscus flower), and pepino con limón (cucumber with lemon).
I asked the server for recommendations and she suggested I get the agua de horchata con tuna. It’s the house specialty and one of the most traditional in Oaxaca.
No, agua de horchata con tuna isn’t made with tuna fish. Tuna refers to the sweet fruit of the prickly pear cactus (atún is the word for tuna in Spanish).
A serving of the housemade horchata – made from rice, almonds, cinnamon, and water – is poured into a glass followed by red prickly pear syrup, a few chunks of cantaloupe, and crushed pecans. Like agua de chilacayota, it’s refreshing and delicious.
Agua Casildas Regionales
Address: Flores Magón s/n, Local 30-31, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 10:30AM-6:30PM, Mon-Sat / 10:30AM-4PM, Sun What to Order: Aguas frescas
MERCADO DE LA MERCED
Mercado de La Merced was in our hood so we spent the most time at this small but interesting market. It’s located just south of Barrio de Jalatlaco.
20. Fonda Florecita
Fonda Florecita was our favorite fonda in Oaxaca. It’s a popular breakfast spot that serves typical fonda fare like mole, enmoladas, entomatadas, and chilaquiles.
If we didn’t need to cover as many places as we could for this blog, then we would have been happy eating at Fonda Florecita everyday. Like the best fondas in Oaxaca, the food is simple but exceedingly delicious.
Mole coloradito is one of the seven famous Oaxacan moles. Mole negro may be the most famous but mole coloradito may have been my favorite.
Like any mole, mole coloradito is made with a plethora of ingredients like ancho and guajillo chili peppers, chocolate, tomatoes, garlic, sesame seeds, raisins, almonds, herbs, and spices. It tastes similar to mole negro but a little less rich and sweet.
Mole coloradito is typically served with a piece of chicken, rice, and corn tortillas. I could seriously eat this every day.
Pictured below is a popular breakfast dish known as enmoladas. Enmoladas are basically enchiladas drenched in mole negro. This one was topped with fried eggs and queso fresco.
You can find enmoladas at nearly every fonda in Oaxaca. Moles in general are time-consuming to make but mole negro is the most complex of the seven famous Oaxacan moles. It’s an incredibly rich-tasting mole that can be made with over thirty different ingredients.
Fonda Florecita makes delicious memelas too. The one in the foreground was topped with huitlacoche and Oaxacan cheese. Huitlacoche is the Mexican term for corn smut, a mushroom-like fungus that grows on corn. It’s an interesting ingredient that’s often used in Mexican cuisine.
This memela was topped with Oaxacan cheese and squash blossoms.
Address: Calle Morelos Mercado La Merced Int 37 Zona del Pan, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, Wed-Mon (closed Tuesdays) What to Order: Mole, enmoladas, entomatadas, chilaquiles
21. Fonda Rosita
Fonda Rosita and Fonda Florecita are the two most popular fondas at Mercado de La Merced. And with good reason because they’re the best. We tried a couple of other fondas at the market and they weren’t as good as these two.
Fonda Rosita has a slightly wider menu than Fonda Florecita. They serve antojitos like tacos, memelas, tostadas, and tlayudas, but what they’re best known for are their desayunos or breakfast dishes.
What you’re looking at here is a hearty plate of entomatadas topped with queso fresco and served with a side of chorizo. Entomatadas are similar to enmoladas, except they’re topped with tomato sauce.
Another common breakfast dish you’ll typically find at Oaxacan fondas is enfrijoladas. They’re basically enchiladas topped with black bean sauce.
Like enmoladas, entomatadas, and enfrijoladas, chilaquiles is another exceedingly popular Mexican breakfast dish. It isn’t unique to Oaxaca and is something you’ll probably find at any Mexican fonda or restaurant that serves breakfast.
Chilaquiles refers to a traditional Mexican breakfast dish made lightly fried corn tortillas mixed with red or green salsa and other ingredients like queso fresco, crema (cream), onions, and avocados. This particular version was doused in salsa rojo and served with a side of chorizo.
Many fondas and breakfast spots in Oaxaca will serve hot bowls of chocolate Oaxaqueño. Chocolate has been an important ingredient and commodity in the region for thousands of years. It’s consumed daily and plays an important part in many rituals and celebrations like births, weddings, and funerals.
Hot chocolate in Oaxaca can be served with water (de agua) or milk (de leche). Drinking it with water is more traditional but personally, I prefer it with milk. It’s richer and creamier in flavor.
PRO TIP: Try asking for your hot chocolate served with a touch of chili. It adds just a hint of spice to your drink so you feel a slight burn in your throat each time you take a sip. It’s delicious.
If you order chocolate Oaxaqueño over breakfast, then chances are they’ll serve it with a roll of pan de yema or Oaxacan brioche bread. This slightly sweet bread is perfect for dipping in the hot chocolate.
Address: Av. José María Morelos 1522A, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Ejido del Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, daily What to Order: Entomatadas, chilaquiles, enfrijoladas, antojitos
Tamales are a pre-Hispanic dish that’s popular throughout Latin America. In Oaxaca, you can find several variations of tamales but the most well-known is enriched with mole negro and wrapped in banana leaves instead of the usual corn husk.
You can find tamales Oaxaqueños everywhere in the city. At Mercado de La Merced, one of the best places to try it is at the Lety tamales stall. They offer different types of tamales – both savory and sweet – but if it’s your first time in Oaxaca, then you should start with the version made with mole negro.
Tamales Oaxaqueños are traditionally made with masa, shredded chicken, and mole negro. I’m not the biggest fan of tamales but this may have been the best I’ve ever tasted. It tasted richer, sweeter, and with more depth of flavor.
Tamales Oaxaqueños are also moister than regular tamales, perhaps due to being wrapped in banana leaves rather than the usual corn husk.
Address: Mercado de la Merced, Av. Morelos 1522 Col. Centro 68000 Oaxaca Mexico What to Order: Tamales Oaxaqueños
MERCADO SANCHEZ PASCUAS
Perhaps due to its location in the northern part of downtown Oaxaca, Mercado Sanchez Pascuas isn’t as well-known as the other markets on this list, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That usually means fewer tourists and a more authentic local experience.
23. Comedor Doña Deme (Fonda Oaxaqueña)
Mercado Sanchez Pascuas was actually the first market we visited in Oaxaca so Comedor Doña Deme was our first fonda experience. We visited in early March but as you can see from their decor, it’s still February 14 at this fonda. Ha!
Comedor Doña Deme serves the usual fonda offerings like mole negro, mole coloradito, chiles rellenos, and tlayudas.
I wanted my first taste of mole in Oaxaca to be mole negro so that’s exactly what I ordered. Like mole coloradito, it’s served with a piece of chicken, rice, and a basket of corn tortillas.
The mole negro was incredibly rich and complex but this may have been the single best piece of chicken I’ve eaten in my life. It was so unbelievably tender.
Mole negro is delicious and one of those dishes that makes you wide-eyed when you first taste it, but like mole poblano, I find it a little too rich to eat regularly. I think Oaxaqueños may feel the same way as every other local at the fonda was eating mole coloradito.
We also tried their chile relleno. Originally from Puebla, it consists of roasted poblano peppers stuffed with minced meat – usually chicken or pork – and Oaxacan cheese. The stuffed pepper is coated in egg before being deep-fried.
At Comedor Doña Deme, they serve their chile relleno with salsa and a side of black beans and rice. It’s a simple but comforting dish that reminded us of tortang talong, a similar Filipino dish made with pan-fried stuffed eggplant.
We haven’t tried it but some Oaxaca restaurants serve tacos de chile relleno as well. It sounds delicious so we’ll definitely look for it on our next trip back to Oaxaca.
Comedor Doña Deme (Fonda Oaxaqueña)
Address: Mercado Sanchez Pascuas, Calle Porfirio Díaz, Calle de Tinoco y Palacios 719, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico What to Order: Mole, chile relleno
MERCADO ORGANICO LA COSECHA OAXACA
Mercado Organizo La Cosecha Oaxaca, or “La Cosecha” for short, isn’t a true Mexican market. Located in the northern part of central Oaxaca, not too far from Mercado Sanchez Pascuas, it’s more of an open-air food hall with a few stalls selling traditional Oaxacan dishes like memelas, tlayudas, tamales, and empanadas.
La Cosecha is frequented mostly by tourists so we weren’t sure how authentic their food would be. We didn’t eat here but we did come for a traditional drink that we knew we couldn’t find anywhere else in Oaxaca – pozontle.
La Cosecha is comprised of about ten or so stalls selling traditional Mexican food. It’s a pleasant al fresco space with wooden picnic tables and benches sheltered from the heat by tents.
24. La Pozontleria / Tejateria
These are actually two separate stalls right next to each other. One specializes in pozontle while the other serves tejate. Both are traditional pre-Hispanic drinks made with corn and cacao.
As described, we were here to try the pozontle. La Pozontleria is one of the few, if not the only place in central Oaxaca to try pozontle, a ceremonial drink from the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca. It’s made with cacao, corn, panela, cocolmecatl (soured vine), and water prepared in a jícara (gourd bowl) and made frothy using a molinillo.
We had dinner with a local Oaxaqueño at Restaurante Catedral one night and he was surprised to learn that we had tried pozontle. According to him, it’s a very uncommon drink and something that you can typically find only in mountain communities. That made us feel even more privileged to try it!
If you like experiencing rare traditional dishes and drinks, then you need to try a bowl of pozontle at La Pozontleria.
I didn’t catch the stall’s name but right next to La Pozontleria is another stall selling tejate. Tejate is a traditional Mexican drink similar to pozontle except it’s much more common and can be found pretty much anywhere in Oaxaca.
Tejate is made with a finely ground paste consisting of toasted corn, fermented cacao beans, toasted mamey pits (pixtle), and flor de cacao. The paste is mixed with water and served with or without sugar syrup in brightly painted jícara bowls.
The white foamy substance you see floating on top is the flor de cacao. After the paste is mixed with water, it rises to the top to form a thick pasty foam.
La Pozontleria / Tejateria at La Cosecha
Address: Mercado Organico a La Cosecha, C. Macedonio Alcalá 806, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico Operating Hours: 9AM-4:45PM, Wed-Sun (closed Mon-Tue) What to Order: Pozontle, tejate
BASILICA DE NUESTRA SEÑORA DE LA SOLEDAD
This isn’t a market but right next to Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad is a cluster of neverias and Mexican dessert shops. At one of these ice cream shops, we tried what could very well be the oddest ice cream flavor we’ve ever had in our lives.
25. Nieves Pepe
Nieves refers to a type of water-based Mexican ice cream made mostly with fruits like fresa (strawberry), guanabana (soursop), tamarindo, and mango. Those are the basics but some shops will sell more interesting local flavors like mezcal, tuna (prickly pear fruit), and elote (corn).
I don’t think you’ll find a flavor more interesting than the one we had at Nieves Pepe. Keep scrolling to find out what it is.
We walked to this cluster of neverias to look for a very specific flavor of nieves. At the time, only Nieves Pepe had it. When you walk up to the courtyard from Av. de la Independencia, Nieves Pepe is the shop on the far left corner, right by the steps to Plaza de la Danza.
I posted this picture on our Instagram Stories and asked people to guess the flavor. Some said tamarindo, others said brown sugar. No one guessed it correctly.
What you’re looking at is a large parfait glass of nieves de chapulin, or nieves ice cream flavored with grasshoppers. Before it was served to us, I was expecting to find nieves topped with whole grasshoppers but that wasn’t the case. The chapulines are ground and fully blended into the ice cream!
You can’t see the grasshoppers but you can definitely taste them. This exotic and very Oaxacan flavor of ice cream is a strange combination of sweet, savory, sour, and spicy. It’s odd but it works!
For people looking for less daring but equally interesting flavors, we suggest trying beso de Oaxaqueño. It’s a creamy concoction made with strawberry, cherry, and white chocolate. Beso de Oaxaqueño is a popular flavor combination that’s often made into mezcal liqueur as well.
Address: Frente ala Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Independencia, La Soledad, Oaxaca, Mexico What to Order: Nieves de chapulin
To help you navigate to these street food stalls in Oaxaca, I’ve pinned them all on the map below. Click on the link for a live version of the map.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST STREET FOOD IN OAXACA CITY
We’ve eaten our way through many cities in Mexico and Oaxaca is definitely one of the best food cities in the country. From fine dining Mexican restaurants to market fondas, cafes, and street food stalls, the food in Oaxaca will make even the most jaded of Traveleaters take notice.
As described, there are many fine dining restaurants in Oaxaca City but you really don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good meal. This guide to the best street food in Oaxaca is proof of that.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this Oaxaca food guide as much as I enjoyed writing (and doing field research for) it. At the very least, I hope it leads you to many amazing street food meals in what could very well be the most delicious city in Mexico.
Some of the links in this article on the best Oaxaca street foods are affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking at no extra cost to you. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. ¡Muchisimas gracias!
On our first trip to Oaxaca City, we did as many mezcal tastings as our livers would permit to find the top mezcalerias in Oaxaca. Like anyone who enjoys a good stiff drink, we enjoyed hopping from one mezcal bar to the next, but it wasn’t enough.
Mezcal has become my favorite spirit so I wanted to learn more. I wanted to visit a mezcal distillery and the best way to do that in Oaxaca was to join a mezcal tour.
Many mezcal tours are actually sightseeing tours that make a stop at just one mezcal distillery. Thankfully, I found this one that took us to three mezcal distilleries and nowhere else.
If you enjoy Oaxacan mezcal as much as I do and would like to learn more about the mezcal making process, then you’ll probably want to book this tour.
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WHAT IS MEZCAL?
I cover this in our mezcaleria guide so I won’t get into it in too much detail here, but mezcal is a distilled beverage produced from the maguey (agave) plant.
Known for its smoky flavor, the state of Oaxaca accounts for over 70% of the total mezcal production in Mexico. To say that this agave spirit is an important part of Oaxacan culture and its economy would be an understatement.
If you’d like to learn more about mezcal – how it differs from tequila, its different types, where to go for mezcal tasting in Oaxaca City, etc – then be sure to check out our guide to the top mezcalerias in Oaxaca.
WHY SHOULD YOU JOIN A MEZCAL TOUR?
We learned a lot by doing mezcal tastings in Oaxaca. The bartenders in Oaxaca City are knowledgeable and many speak fluent English so understanding them was easy. They’ll give you a crash course on the different types of agave and mezcal and how to properly enjoy it, but that’s about all they can show you.
If you really want to learn about the mezcal making process and see it for yourself, then it’s best to go on mezcal educational tours. Personally, I wanted to visit as many mezcal distilleries as I could so I could see the process of making mezcal from up close.
I’ll give you an account of the tour we went on (which was awesome), but you can refer to the list below for some of the best mezcal tours in Oaxaca.
MEZCAL TOURS IN OAXACA
Listed below are the top Oaxaca mezcal tours I could find on Get Your Guide. As previously described, the majority of tours are sightseeing tours that stop at one or two mezcal distilleries. If that’s what you want, then you’ll have several to choose from.
I wanted a mezcal distillery tour that was focused only on the agave spirit and nothing else so I booked the Mezcal Adventure tour. As you can see from the prices below, it’s the most expensive tour on this list but in my opinion, it’s absolutely worth it. You can click on the links for more information about each tour.
Name of Tour
1. Mezcal Adventure
2. Mezcal Tasting Session With an Expert
3. Mixology Workshop With Organic Mezcal
4. El Tule, Mitla, and Hierve el Agua Tour With Mezcal
5. Hierve el Agua Waterfalls and Mezcal Tasting
6. Oaxaca, Mitla, and Mezcal Factory Tour
7. El Tule, Teotitlan Village, and Mezcal Tour
8. Full-Day Tour Hierve el Agua Falls and Mezcal Tasting
OAXACA: MEZCAL ADVENTURE
Before we get into it, let’s answer a few general questions some of you may have about this Mezcal Adventure tour.
Is There Mezcal Tasting on This Tour?
Yes, absolutely! They didn’t give us just a few sips either. They gave us enough to make us happy, especially at the first distillery, which is part of the reason why I think this is the best Oaxaca mezcal tour you can book on Get Your Guide.
How Many Mezcal Distilleries Will I Visit on This Tour?
Three. You’ll visit three distilleries of varying sizes.
How Long is This Mezcal Tour and How Much Does it Cost?
At the time of this writing, the Mezcal Adventure tour costs USD 90.23 per person. Our tour lasted a little over 7 hours.
FIRST STOP: Fábrica de Mezcal Mal de Amor
After being picked up from our Airbnb, our tour guide told us we’d be visiting three distilleries of varying sizes. The first would be a large factory, followed by a medium-sized distillery, and then a small family-run operation known for their artisanal mezcal. We enjoyed them all but this first distillery in Santiago Matatlán – Fabrica de Mezcal Mal de Amor – was our hands-down favorite.
In the picture below, you can see the word “palenque” in front of the distillery’s name. Palenque is the name for a Oaxaca mezcal distillery. Other parts of Mexico have different names for mezcal distilleries like taberna, vinata, or fabrica.
Here you can see the freshly harvested hearts (piña) of the agave plant. I don’t know if you can tell how large these are but a single agave piña can weigh up to 40 kg (88 lbs).
We didn’t spend much time here but pictured below is the palenque’s mezcal tasting room. Quite festive-looking isn’t it?
Those colorful paper banners are called papel picado (“perforated paper”). You’ll find them everywhere in Mexico.
We visited Mezcalillera in downtown Oaxaca and I remember being smitten by this bottle. All of their mezcals with this label are joven, meaning they haven’t spent any time aging in oak barrels.
There are over 30 agave species used to make mezcal but by far the most common is maguey espadín (Agave angustifolia). This species of agave accounts for about 90% of all mezcal production in Mexico.
Palenque Mal de Amor is owned and operated by the Hernandez family. It’s led by Armando Hernandez, a 3rd generation mezcal master who learned the art of mezcal making from his father and grandfather.
We couldn’t agree more!
Here’s a picture of the agave plant hearts with a better sense of scale. Some of these piñas are quite massive. The mezcal process essentially starts here.
The best part of this mezcal distillery tour was coming up, but our tour guide showed us around and taught us about the various stages of mezcal production.
After harvesting, the piñas are roasted over hot rocks in these large pit ovens for about three days. This roasting process is what gives mezcal its distinctive smoky flavor (which I love).
This oven was covered and in use but you’ll see an open pit oven later in this article. The size of these ovens is impressive.
After roasting, the agave plant hearts are then crushed and mashed using a heavy stone wheel pulled by a horse. I forgot to ask our tour guide if more modern methods are used these days but according to him, many horses are used in rotation to keep them from being overworked.
The mashed agave is then mixed with water and left to ferment in large vats or barrels. I find the smell of fermenting agave mash to be quite wonderful – musky, sweet, even fruity.
This was the best part of this Oaxaca mezcal tour. If the tour ended after a ride on this barrel truck, then I still would have been a happy man.
Joining us on the mezcal barrel ride were two of Palenque’s Mal de Amor tour guides.
We were lucky to be the only two people on today’s tour but you can tell that the tour guies are used to entertaining buses full of tourists. Party music was blaring as they tried to get the energy up.
On this ride, you’ll realize just how big of an operation Palenque Mal De Amor really is. You’ll ride through agave fields with row after row of maguey espadín plants.
Word of caution, it’s an extremely bumpy ride so keep that in mind if you’re prone to motion sickness.
As described, maguey espadín plants account for over 90% of the total mezcal production in Mexico. This is because of their high sugar concentration which can yield larger volumes of agave spirit.
It takes about 9 kg (20 lbs) of espadín to make a liter of mezcal, unlike some wild agaves that need more than triple that amount.
If you’re wondering what the main difference is between mezcal and tequila, then the answer is in the species of agave plant used. Tequila is always made from blue agave while mezcal can be made from any type of agave plant.
After driving into the heart of the agave fields, we got off the bus to do two things.
The first was to carve our names into the agave leaves using a spine from the plant. Those things are super sharp!
The second was to get a taste of mezcal like we had never experienced before.
Our tour guide cut an agave leaf off with his machete (which I got to try myself as well) and used it as a vessel for us to drink mezcal. He’d pour mezcal onto the leaf and into our gaping mouths.
Mezcal is enjoyable enough on its own but drinking it in this fashion was an entirely new and unexpected experience. The mezcal tasted colder and fresher, like we were drinking it straight from the heart of the agave.
Our tour guide didn’t pour us just enough for a little sip either. He gave us as many mouthfuls as we could take. It was awesome.
Drinking mezcal from an agave leaf in the middle of a maguey plantation in Oaxaca isn’t an experience we’ll be forgetting anytime soon.
The barrel ride would continue with our tour guides offering a toast while we downed shot glass after shot glass of mezcal. Can you imagine how much fun this mezcal tour would be with a bus full of friends?
In Oaxacan mezcal culture, there’s a saying that goes: “Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien, también; y si no hay remedio litro y medio”.
That translates to something like “For all bad, mezcal, and for all good, [mezcal] as well; and if there is no remedy, [then take a] liter and a half.”
We thought the barrel ride would end there but no, we would later be taken to a small pulqueria within the plantation’s grounds to try other agave derivatives. In the clay pots below are tepache, pulque, and aguamiel.
Here’s the pulquero pouring us cups of fresh pulque. Like mezcal, pulque is a drink you’ll probably enjoy often in Mexico. Thick and viscous, it refers to an alcoholic beverage produced from the fermented sap of the maguey plant.
Pictured below is a cup of tepache, a fermented beverage made from pineapple rinds. Tepache is traditionally made from corn though contemporary recipes are more commonly made with pineapples.
Unlike mezcal and pulque, tepache contains very little alcohol. It’s sweetened with piloncillo (unrefined whole cane sugar) and typically served cold.
The last tasting on this Mal de Amor mezcal distillery tour was this cup of aguamiel. Also known as honeywater, aguamiel refers to the unfermented sap of the maguey plant.
We enjoyed mezcal and pulque many times in Mexico but this was the one and only time we got to try aguamiel. It’s delicious and refreshing and helps you understand how the high concentration of sugars in agave plants makes it suitable for making spirits like mezcal.
SECOND STOP: Mezcal Don Agave
The next stop on our Oaxaca mezcal tour was this medium-sized distillery called Mezcal Don Agave. If I remember our guide correctly, he said that this mezcal distillery is equally famous for its restaurant so this was where we stopped to have lunch.
Pictured below is a delicious platter of enmoladas with tasajo (dried beef).
You can’t visit Oaxaca without trying tlayuda. Resembling a pizza, it’s a Oaxacan dish made with a large toasted tortilla topped with refried beans, unrefined pork lard, Oaxaca cheese, and other ingredients. ¡Que rico!
After lunch, our tour guide took us to the distillery’s agave farm to look at wild agaves. If you compare these to the espadín plants from Palenque Mal de Amor, you’ll notice how different they look.
There are around 270 recognized species of agave plants, of which around 30+ are used to make mezcal.
I don’t know what agave species this plant is but can you imagine how many you’d need to make a liter of mezcal? It’s no wonder espadín is so popular.
Because wild agave plants have a lower yield, mezcal made from these plants fetch a higher price.
Here’s a picture of an open pit oven. These things are massive.
If I remember correctly, this is where the liquid from the fermented mash is distilled to modify its flavor before being bottled and sold.
Every stop on this mezcal distillery tour is followed by mezcal tasting. I love it!
We got to sample three different types of mezcal, this time with wedges of lime.
We didn’t get a taste but these beautifully designed bottles contained pricier artisanal mezcal made from different species of wild agave. If you’re looking to bring home a souvenir from this Oaxaca mezcal tour, then these bottles would make an eye-catching addition to your bar cabinet.
THIRD STOP: Mezcal Espina Dorada
The last Oaxaca mezcal distillery we visited on this tour was Mezcal Espina Dorada, one of the best family-owned distilleries in Oaxaca. They make mostly small-batch artisanal mezcal and do interesting things with the agave fibers so nothing goes to waste.
Mezcal Espina Dorada feels quite different from the larger commercial distilleries. It’s considerably smaller so it gives you a sense that more care is given to each batch of mezcal.
The distillery’s tour guide showed us around the palenque’s facilities and made special mention of the agave fibers used in the mezcal process.
At Mezcal Espina Dorada, nothing goes to waste. Instead of being discarded, the agave fibers are dried and used to make other products like these planters. Awesome!
As expected, this mezcal distillery tour would end with mezcal tasting, starting with this bottle of espadín.
This amber-colored mezcal was the most interesting spirit that we tasted on this mezcal tour. If you look at the bottle’s label, you’ll see that it says “avocado con pechuga de maguey”. Pechuga means “breast” in Spanish and refers to a type of mezcal made with raw chicken breast.
Mezcal de pechuga is a type of spirit that’s made by redistilling finished mezcal with fruits, nuts, and grains. What makes it interesting is that a raw chicken (or turkey) breast is hung over the still during the redistillation process. This cooks the chicken breast in the vapors and is said to influence the mezcal’s final flavor.
From its label, this bottle appears to have been redistilled with avocados as well.
If you’d like to bring home something truly special from this Oaxaca mezcal tour, then a bottle of this pechuga de maguey would make a great souvenir. I didn’t ask how much this particular bottle costs but based on what I’ve read, mezcal de pechuga can fetch over USD 200 a bottle.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS OAXACA MEZCAL TOUR
With mezcal being an important part of Oaxacan culture, I expected to find more Oaxaca mezcal tours but that wasn’t the case. As described, there are plenty of sightseeing tours that make a quick stop at one or two mezcal distilleries, but mezcal educational excursions don’t seem all that common.
While doing research for this article on the best mezcal tours, I read about another interesting distillery called Gracias a Dios. Located in Santiago Matatlán, they’re known for making an interesting spirit called agave gin.
I love mezcal but my better half is more into gin so a bottle of their agave gin would make a fantastic addition to our bar cabinet. The bottle and label design are terrific as well. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn about Gracias a Dios until now so a visit to this palenque will have to wait until our next trip to Oaxaca.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this article on the Mezcal Adventure tour, which in my opinion, is one of the best mezcal tours you can join in Oaxaca. You can click on the link for more information and to book this mezcal tour on Get Your Guide.
Thanks for reading and salud!
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Traveleater Elise Ofilada shares with us 20 of her favorite South Korean desserts. Be sure to try as many as you can on your next visit to Seoul!
With the country’s current cultural grip on music, beauty, and entertainment, South Korea hardly needs any introduction. These days, it’s like there’s no person on Earth that hasn’t heard at least one BTS song. The unending fanfare over K-Pop and K-Drama artists is more than proof that the Hallyu wave, even after all these years, is just as strong and vibrant as ever.
Seoul, in particular, as the nation’s capital, has become a go-to destination for the average traveler. When I visited the city in 2017, I was already among the millions of tourists who excitedly explored its streets. From the scenic Cheonggyecheon River to the impressive Deoksugung Palace, I remember thinking that Seoul was one of my favorite places of all time!
But, aside from getting to visit many markets and historic sites, the best part about my trip to South Korea was all the Korean dishes and street food I was able to try. It’s definitely hard to go wrong with meals like cheesy street food lobster and spicy octopus with rice!
That said, there’s no beating the sweeter side of the Korean culinary experience. With ingredients ranging from shaved ice to sweet red bean paste, traditional Korean desserts are as delectable as they are versatile.
KOREAN DESSERTS QUICK LINKS
If you’re traveling to South Korea and want to really dive into Korean cuisine, then you may be interested in taking a cooking class.
Cooking Classes: Cooking Classes in South Korea
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MUST-TRY TRADITIONAL KOREAN DESSERTS
This Korean rice cake (or tteok, as they’re traditionally called) is known for its decorative patterns that are made using either wooden, ceramic, or bronze rice cake stamps. Though the plain version of jeolpyeon is prepared by steaming and pounding non-glutinous rice flour, it can be infused with other ingredients – like mugwort powder – to add various flavors and colors.
Before being served, jeolpyeon is also brushed with sesame oil to prevent the sticky rice from clinging to each other, giving the dessert a subtle nutty taste. With a smooth, but stretchy consistency, these rice cakes make for a real sweet treat during special occasions, like weddings and tea ceremonies.
Photo by sungsu han
Songpyeon is another kind of rice cake that is traditionally served during the Chuseok festival. This comes as a way for Korean families to give thanks to their ancestors for blessing them with an abundant harvest. The rice cakes are typically shaped like half-moons as a symbol of oncoming luck, which is also why many Koreans make wishes while eating them.
The chewy texture of this sweet rice cake comes from the dough (made from non-glutinous rice flour) being steamed over pine needles (song meaning “pine tree” in Korean, hence the name). Fillings like sesame seeds and sweet red beans are often used but sometimes vary per region.
If you’re in South Korea during Autumn, don’t hesitate to enjoy this Korean dessert!
Photo by E Dewi Ambarwati
Just like jeolpyeon and songpyeon, jeungpyeon is a traditional Korean rice cake. It’s commonly prepared during Korea’s Dano festival or eaten during the summer. However, this dessert has a special ingredient that really sets it apart— its dough is mixed with makgeolli or Korean rice wine!
This alcoholic addition gives the rice cakes a soft, bubbly texture when it’s finally steamed and served. It can also be topped with various garnishes, like jujubes, chestnuts, and chrysanthemum petals.
Photo by becky’s
Known as the Korean mochi to older generations (as it’s probably derived from the famous Japanese dessert), chapssaletteok is a rice cake stuffed with sweet red bean filling. Its texture is both soft and chewy when you bite into it, thanks to the dessert’s outer portion being made of glutinous rice.
Chapssaletteok comes in a variety of colors, such as white, pink, and green. Ingredients like red food coloring and green tea powder are used to achieve this.
These Korean rice cakes are usually served during the winter season and are also given to university students taking their entrance exams as a way of wishing them good luck.
Photo by Image Republic
As a very popular dessert, injeolmi is possibly the most well-known of all the Korean rice cakes. While it’s another sweet snack made from glutinous rice, it can be distinguished by its dusting of soybean powder. That said, toppings like black sesame seeds, chopped pine nuts, and mashed red beans are also welcome, as they add complexity to the rice cake’s texture.
Additionally, injeolmi is known for its sticky texture. Because of its stickiness, it’s commonly gifted to newlyweds in the hopes that they will always “stick together”. Now, if you’re ever at a loss as to what to give your friends when they say their vows, why not order a batch of this delicious treat for their special day?
Photo by sungsu han
Though bukkumi originates from the Gangwondo province, these pan-fried rice cakes are also much-loved in Seoul. The dessert boasts both a gooey filling made of either sweet red beans or mung bean paste, and a crispy exterior that’s generously doused with honey syrup.
Made with (you guessed it!) glutinous rice flour, these rice cake dumplings are the kind of delicious dessert that instantly makes your mouth water. With its perfect balance of flavors and contrasting textures, I promise that you won’t regret grabbing one on your next trip to Korea.
Photo by miru.namu
With a name that stands for “medicinal confection” (due to honey being a prominent ingredient in ancient Korean medicine), yakgwa or Korean honey cookies might not sound all that appetizing. Don’t let its name put you off, though! This flower-shaped pastry is tastier than you might think, especially when it’s prepared on special occasions and paired with tea.
Traditionally, yakgwa’s dough is made with ingredients like wheat flour, ginger juice, and sugar syrup. It’s cut into different sizes (i.e., small, medium, and large), deep fried, soaked in honey, and dipped in cinnamon powder.
If you’re ever craving for a piece, but don’t want to wait in line at a teahouse, yakgwa can also easily be found in an average Korean grocery store.
Photo by Ika Rahma H
Speaking of tea, dasik are bite-sized, gluten-free Korean tea cookies that were introduced by China to the Korean dynasty. They have a light, earthy, and sweet taste, owing to the fact that their finely ground, all-natural ingredients are mixed with honey.
A wooden or porcelain press (called daskipan) is used to embellish the cookie with a design or pattern that symbolizes wishes for good luck, health, happiness, etc. Typically, a plate of these cookies will come in an assortment of colors (namely green, yellow, pink, black, and white), each representing a different flavor.
Photo by Image Republic
9. Goguma Mattang
Crunchy on the outside, but tender on the inside, this sweet and savory dessert is best enjoyed during fall or winter.
Goguma mattang, also known as candied sweet potatoes, features deep-fried Korean sweet potatoes coated in caramelized sugar. The dish is said to have originated from China, but evolved in technique once it came to Korea.
It’s also similar to a Japanese dessert called daigaku imo and pairs well with a warm cup of tea.
Photo by PK289
Involving only two ingredients, gotgamssam is prepared through what is probably one of the easiest Korean dessert recipes out there.
The simple snack is essentially made up of walnuts that are tightly wrapped in dried persimmons. The combination makes for a lovely snack to share with house guests, especially for those who avoid eating gluten or too much sugar.
Don’t forget to ask for some if you’re visiting a Korean friend at home!
Photo by nickichen
Though originally created in 1934 by a couple who lived in the city of Cheonan, this tasty dessert was only popularized in Seoul during the 1970s.
Essentially, hodu-gwaja is a pastry that’s been filled with chunks of walnuts and red bean paste. Nutty on the inside and out, its dough is prepared with pounded walnuts mixed with wheat flour.
You can often find this treat at Korean train stations or rest stops.
Photo by CHALLA_81
12. Yeot Gangjeong
One of the many Korean desserts eaten during the holidays, yeot gangjeong can be described as a candy bar that’s primarily made of chopped, unsalted nuts (though other ingredients, such as toasted seeds and beans, can also be included). The bar is held together by mullyeot (Korean rice syrup), which makes the treat sticky, but not too sweet.
Traveleaters looking for a light, but tasty snack are sure to love munching on yeot gangjeon.
Photo by RJ Art
You might have already heard of this Korean dessert thanks to the hit Netflix series – Squid Games.
Often sold by street vendors to children, it’s a sort of honeycomb toffee that’s made by mixing, heating, and allowing sugar and baking soda to harden. The resulting candy is a flat, brittle disk with a sweet and smoky caramel taste that’s perfect for snacking on.
Additionally, while dalgona can be eaten as is, it’s usually embossed with a shape (like an umbrella, heart, or star) that you’d have to eat around without breaking. Many of the young and young-at-heart love to partake in this fun little challenge, sometimes with the help of toothpicks or pins.
Photo by Nina Firsova
Bungeo-ppang is a Korean fish-shaped pastry that’s largely enjoyed during the winter.
If you’re feeling skeptical, no need to worry! Despite its appearance, it harbors no actual seafood flavors. In fact, its commonly loaded with sweet red bean filling inside (though some street vendors offer a variety of fillings).
Cooked in a special fish-shaped waffle iron and served hot, this delicious treat is sure to hit the spot during a cold adventure around the streets of Seoul.
Photo by Izlan Somai
15. Honey Bread
One of the more modern Korean desserts that have become widely available, honey bread is a strong contender for the title of ultimate comfort food. The dish consists of a thick square piece of buttered bread that’s been pan-fried and finished off with toppings like whipped cream, ice cream, cinnamon, and (of course) a generous drizzle of honey.
Served frequently in cafes all across the country, honey bread is bound to satisfy any sweet tooth’s cravings. While you could surely share a plate of the sweet treat with a number of your travel buddies, I’d recommend devouring a whole serving all by yourself!
Photo by Sonim
Your experience of Korean desserts wouldn’t be complete without a taste of kkwabaegi. Fortunately, a fresh batch of these twisted doughnuts can be easily found in the average neighborhood bakery or at a street vendor’s stall.
With a fluffy and spongy texture that’s best enjoyed while warm, it’s a snack that will have you hooked on your first bite. Kkwabaegi is often dusted with powdered sugar and also pairs great with a tall glass of milk.
Photo by Yeongsik Im
Bingsu, a traditional Korean shaved ice dessert, is one of the best dishes to eat during the hotter parts of the year. Traditionally topped with sweetened condensed milk, a variety of fruits, red beans, and the like, bingsu can be customized to suit even the pickiest Traveleater’s taste.
From injeolmi to persimmons, melons to mangoes, the possible flavor profiles of the dessert are endless. More modern restaurants and franchise chains sometimes add less traditional ingredients, like yogurt, coffee, and matcha powder.
Personally, my favorite type of bingsu is loaded with chocolate!
A traditional Korean drink that’s typically prepared during the hot seasons, hwachae is a kind of punch that’s made with fresh fruits or edible flower petals. It’s traditionally made by soaking the fruits in either honeyed water or magnolia berry juice, though modern versions use carbonated drinks instead.
This refreshing drink should be served in a glass bowl and ladled with a spoon for maximum summer vibes. Remember to take a sip before you go out and explore Seoul’s many attractions.
Photo by sri widyowati
One of the first modern Korean desserts I ever tried was Melona, a staple in convenience stores even outside of South Korea. Because of its delicious creamy flavor, I quickly learned that there’s no need for mountains of shaved ice, or even an overly fancy ice cream machine, when you’ve got this pastel-colored rectangular popsicle waiting for you in the freezer.
The famous ice cream is most known for its melon flavor, though it comes in other fruit flavors as well (e.g., strawberry, banana, mango, etc.). A product of the Binggrae company, it’s a sweet treat that can be enjoyed by Traveleaters of all ages.
Just a warning, though: Once you try a stick, it can get pretty addicting. So, when you find yourself at your local Korean market, always remember to grab two or more!
“Melona Ice Cream” by John Ong, used under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped, Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Capping off our list of delicious desserts is sujeonggwa, a Korean cinnamon punch. This dessert drink is known for its cinnamon-and-ginger-y fragrance, achieved by boiling the ingredients with a mixture of brown sugar and water.
Garnishes, such as pine nuts and dried persimmons, are likewise added to the liquid to give the punch the right hint of fruitiness. Additionally, the punch is known for its health benefits, like helping with better digestion and fighting off common colds.
Whether it’s served hot or cold (depending on your preference), you can definitely expect a special drink like sujeonggwa to always do more than just quench your thirst.
Photo by Ika Rahma H
FINAL THOUGHTS ON KOREAN DESSERTS
Food is an aspect of Korean culture that is widely celebrated all over the globe. Online, there are millions of blogs, videos, and social media accounts that are dedicated to showcasing the country’s amazing cuisine.
With desserts, specifically, there’s no overstating just how much people love what South Korea has to offer. Be it shaved ice, rice cakes, or doughnuts, you will be bombarded with unending vouches for their delicious flavors.
So, when you’re out for a night of soju and K-BBQ, don’t forget to save some space – you never know what sweet treat could be waiting for you in the cafe across the street!
In the end, a visit to Seoul would be incomplete without a taste of its delightful desserts.
This article on Korean desserts contains affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking at no added cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as this helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. Thank you!
Cover photo by Nina Firsova. Stock images via Shutterstock.
Unlike Oaxaca, Puebla, or Yucatan, Queretaro doesn’t have a reputation for being a top foodie destination in Mexico. Tourists flock to Queretaro for its wine and cheese but it isn’t characterized by emblematic dishes like mole poblano, Yucatecan cochinita pibil, or Oaxacan moles.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find great food in Queretaro.
The Mexican food in Santiago de Querétaro is delicious. You’ll find the usual touristy restaurants around its zocalo (main square) but stray away from Plaza de Armas and you’ll find a wealth of terrific restaurants, fondas (family-owned eateries), markets, taquerias, and street food stalls offering a tasty array of Mexican dishes and antojitos (snacks).
Eating local food is what excites us most about trips. If eating like a local is important to you, then here are twenty great places for you to eat in Santiago de Querétaro.
QUERETARO RESTAURANTS QUICK LINKS
To help you plan your Queretaro trip, we’ve compiled links to top-rated hotels, tours, and other travel-related services here.
Recommended hotels in Centro, one of the most convenient areas to stay for first-time visitors to Queretaro.
Luxury: La Casa de la Marquesa
Midrange: City Suites Queretaro
Budget: El Mexa Hostel
Sightseeing Tour: City Tour in a Classic Ford T Vehicle
Wine Tour: Haciendas, Wineries, and Magical Towns
Cooking Classes: Queretaro Cooking Classes
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
Mexico SIM Card
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WHAT TRADITIONAL FOOD IS QUERETARO KNOWN FOR?
Aside from wine and cheese, Queretaro state isn’t really known for its regional cuisine, at least not in the same way as Puebla, Oaxaca, Yucatan, Michoacan, or Jalisco. When I told one Queretaro restaurant owner that we were continuing on to Morelia, he said: “Oh! The (regional) food there is better.”
When doing research before our trip to Queretaro, we struggled to compile a list of must-try dishes. One local tourism website listed several “typical dishes from Queretaro”, but most of them – like tacos dorados, cecina, sopes, and huaraches – are common in other parts of Mexico as well.
There don’t seem to be too many dishes whose origins can be traced back to Queretaro, but there are a few dishes that are more commonly eaten than others.
If you were to try just one dish in Santiago de Querétaro, then it should probably be enchiladas queretanas. It’s a type of enchilada filled with chicken and coated in some type of red sauce, probably guajillo sauce. The enchiladas are then served with stewed potatoes and carrots, fresh salad, and cotija cheese.
Enchiladas queretanas are absolutely delicious. They reminded us of enchiladas mineras, a similar type of enchilada from Guanjauato. In Santiago de Querétaro, we suggest going to Los Compadres or Huaraches y Gorditas Conchita for delicious enchiladas queretanas.
Gorditas de Migajas
Gorditas are common throughout Mexico but one type of gordita seems especially popular in Queretaro – gorditas de migajas. It refers to a type of gordita made with pork rind crumbs mixed into the corn masa. Migajas in Spanish means “crumbs”.
Like regular gorditas, gorditas de migajas can be filled with a variety of different ingredients like chicharron, queso, huitlacoche (corn smut), and chicken tinga (shredded stewed chicken). The pork crumbs impart a taste and texture that you can’t get in ordinary gorditas.
You can find gorditas de migajas everywhere in Santiago de Querétaro. Our favorites were from Gorditas del Andador, Huaraches y Gorditas Conchita, and Gorditas El Guero y Lupita.
Guajolotes refer to a type of Mexican sandwich made with pambazo bread filled with meat (usually pork or chicken), lettuce, crema (Mexican sour cream), and cotija cheese. The bread has a characteristic red color from being drenched in guajillo sauce.
Known as “pambazo mexicano”, this type of sandwich is available in many parts of Mexico. According to one local Queretaro website, guajolotes queretanas are an adaptation of pambazos from Mexico City. They were originally made with the addition of enchiladas. However, enchiladas are no longer added to the sandwich so it’s essentially the same thing as a pambazo mexicano.
Guajolotes are widely available in Santiago de Querétaro. We had it just once, at Huaraches y Gorditas Conchita.
Pozole refers to a pre-Hispanic soup or stew made with hominy corn as its key ingredient. The hominy is mixed with meat (usually pork or chicken) and other ingredients like shredded lettuce, radish, onion, garlic, chili, avocado, and lime.
Depending on what it’s made with, Mexican pozole can be made in three main types – rojo (red), verde (green), and blanco (white). Though all three types are available in Santiago de Querètaro, pozole rojo seems to be the most popular.
We didn’t have pozole rojo in Santiago de Querétaro but we did have pozole blanco, at Los Picapiedra.
THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN SANTIAGO DE QUERÉTARO
I’ve organized this Queretaro food guide by type of establishment to make it easier to go through. You can click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
Traditional Mexican Restaurants
Dessert Shops / Other Restaurants
Mercados / Food Halls / Street Food Stalls
TRADITIONAL MEXICAN RESTAURANTS
1. Los Compadres
Los Compadres is a great local restaurant just a block north of Plaza de Armas. They serve many traditional Mexican dishes and antojitos like enchiladas, gorditas, pozole, tortas, and chilaquiles.
You can barely see them but pictured below is a plate of their tasty enchiladas queretanas. Served with a side of refried beans and a fresh salad, they give you three enchiladas smothered in stewed carrots, potatoes, and cheese.
We had enchiladas queretanas at three different restaurants in Queretaro and the version at Los Compadres was our favorite. It’s so good.
We ordered a gordita de migaja and a gordita de queso as well. Pictured below is the gordita de migaja.
The gorditas at Los Compadres are quite large but unlike other gorditas be migajas, the pork rind crumbs were used as a filling and didn’t seem to be mixed into the corn masa. You can find better gorditas elsewhere so I suggest skipping these.
Los Compadres is located on the corner of Calle 16 de Septiembre and Calle Pasteur Norte, just a 2-minute walk north of Plaza de Armas. It’s a great place to go for inexpensive traditional Mexican food in the Historic Center.
Los Compadres is a colorful restaurant with fun murals and decorations adorning its walls. It seems popular with the locals so expect a crowd when you eat there.
Address: Calle 16 de Septiembre 46, Centro, 76000 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 9AM-10:30PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) What to Order: Enchiladas queretanas, agua de jamaica
2. Gorditas del Andador
Gorditas del Andador is a tiny hole-in-the-wall that serves some of the best gorditas de migajas in Santiago de Querétaro. You can get them filled with whatever guisados (stews) they have available that day.
We asked our server for an assortment and she came back with a tasty quintet filled with chicharron, chicken tinga, beans, cheese, and other fillings. Their gorditas aren’t that big but they’re absolutely delicious.
Aside from their stellar reviews, what drew us to Gorditas del Andador was the crowd of locals waiting to get their gorditas to go. We had to wait around 15-20 minutes to get our orders, which is never a bad thing when you want the best food.
Gorditas del Andador is a tiny fonda or family-owned Mexican eatery. One woman kneads and flattens the corn masa, another fries them up, while a third fills them with the various stews. It’s the type of family-run establishment that you often see in Mexico.
There’s just one table, a bench, and a few plastic chairs inside Gorditas del Andador so most people get their orders to go. It’s rustic and perhaps not a place for people who want tablecloths and silverware, but it doesn’t get more local or authentic than this.
Gorditas del Andador
Address: And. Libertad 22, Centro, 76000 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 11AM-4:30PM, daily What to Order: Gorditas de migajas
3. Gorditas los Pinos
Gorditas los Pinos makes tasty gorditas that are different from the offerings at Gorditas del Andador. The latter specializes in deep-fried gorditas de migajas (mixed with pork rind crumbs) while Gorditas los Pinos makes regular gorditas cooked on a comal. The results are noticeably different with the non-fried gorditas being much softer and smoother in texture.
Personally, I prefer gorditas de migajas but the offerings at Gorditas los Pinos are delicious as well. Like any savory gordita, you can get them filled with a variety of different ingredients like chicharron, huitlacoche, higado (liver), huevos (eggs), and stewed vegetables.
Here’s a closer look at the gordita filled with huitlacoche. Huitlacoche is the Mexican term for corn smut, a mushroom-like fungus that grows on corn. It’s an interesting and often used ingredient in Mexican cuisine.
Gorditas los Pinos is a humble eatery located about a 6-7 minute walk west of Plaza de Armas.
Gorditas los Pinos
Address: 76000, Calle José María Pino Suárez 15, Centro, Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, Mon-Sat / 9AM-6PM, Sun What to Order: Gorditas
4. Los Picapiedra
Los Picapiedra is a great local restaurant that offers just three dishes on their menu – pozole, tostadas, and tacos. Rojo seems to be the color of choice for pozole in Santiago de Querétaro but Los Picapiedra makes a darn delicious pozole blanco. It’s hearty and tasty and loaded with strips of shredded chicken and hominy corn.
Pictured below is the medium size pozole. Los Picapiedra serves it in small and large sizes as well.
Pozole in Mexico is always served with a plethora of sides like shredded lettuce, chopped onions, radish slices, lime, and one or more salsas. You top your pozole with the condiments and then mix it all up to eat.
Los Picapiedra makes tasty tacos and tostadas topped with different types of meat as well. If I remember correctly, these were made with suadero which is the meat cut from the area between the pig or cow’s belly and leg.
When a restaurant focuses on just one or two dishes, chances are, it’s going to be good. Los Picapiedra is an example of that. The restaurant is located at the corner of Manuel Gutierrez Najera and Calle Independencia, near Iglesia de la Santa Cruz.
Address: Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera 35, La Santa Cruz, La Cruz, 76020 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 2-11:30PM, Mon-Sat (closed on Sundays) What to Order: Pozole blanco
5. Rico Menudo Doña Pueblito
If you’re in the mood for tripe in Queretaro, then Doña Pueblito is one of the best places for you to visit. Like Los Picapiedra, it’s a highly focused restaurant that offers just one dish on their menu – menudo.
Also known as pancita or mole de panza, menudo refers to a traditional Mexican soup made with beef tripe served in a broth flavored with red chili peppers.
I absolutely love tripe so this was easily one of my favorite meals in Queretaro. Menudo is typically garnished with chopped onions, dried oregano, salsa, and lime juice.
Doña Pueblito is located along busy Calle Ignacio Zaragoza. It’s outside the Centro Historico area but definitely worth a visit.
Rico Menudo Doña Pueblito
Address: La Santa Cruz, La Cruz, 76020 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 7:30AM-1:15PM, Fri-Wed (closed on Thursdays) What to Order: Menudo
6. La Biznaga Arte y Cafe
La Biznaga Arte y Cafe is easily one of the best and most popular restaurants in Queretaro City. We stayed for two weeks at an Airbnb close to this restaurant and there was always a line of locals waiting to be seated. Eat here just once and you’ll understand why.
La Biznaga serves amazing food in a fun, unpretentious space with lots of trinkets and interesting decorations to look at (more on that later). They’re open for breakfast and lunch from 9AM till 2PM and for dinner from 5 till 10PM.
We ate at La Biznaga twice, once for breakfast and another time for dinner. They offer seriously delicious breakfasts like huevos al gusto, chilaqauiles, enmoladas, and enchiladas. You can get any of their breakfast dishes in a set meal with a basket of sweet bread, coffee or tea, and juice with one free refill. They offer hot chocolate as well.
Pictured below is the huevos al gusto served with a side of refried beans. These were easily the best refried beans we’ve had anywhere in Mexico.
Just as good was this omelette with mushrooms and/or ham and a side of those delicious refried beans.
Every single dish, drink, salsa, and condiment we had at La Biznaga was delicious, but in my opinion, what really sets them apart is their bread. I don’t know if they bake them all in-house but their bread is AMAZING.
These sweet pastry breads were fantastic. We ate here for an early dinner one day and their sandwich bread and pizza crust were incredibly delicious too.
La Biznaga makes their own style of pizzas with a wide variety of ingredients. This one was topped with vegetarian chorizo, avocados, beans, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and pimento peppers.
As described, the crust on this pizza is amazing. It’s crunchy on the outside but soft and airy on the inside. It’s so good.
La Biznaga makes delicious burgers and sandwiches as well. This one was made with herbs, hummus, mushrooms, olives, cheese, and spinach served on the most amazing paprika-dusted garlic bread.
Here’s a closer look at the sandwich. I’m not a vegetarian (yet) but I’d have no problem giving up meat with sandwiches as good as this. This was seriously delicious.
For dessert, we enjoyed this equally delicious pay de guayaba (guava pie). I’m not exaggerating when I say that everything we had at La Biznaga Arte y Cafe was a winner.
From the mural on its facade to its fun interior, La Biznaga Arte y Cafe certainly lives up to its name. It’s an artsy cafe and restaurant that offers great service and some of the most delicious food in Santiago de Querétaro.
La Biznaga opens for breakfast at 9AM. Not a morning passed when we walked by this restaurant and didn’t find people already lined up outside before opening time. After a couple of meals here, it isn’t hard to see why it’s so popular.
Here are a few pictures from inside the restaurant. It’s an eclectic space filled with interesting bric-a-brac. This dining area is partly open so it gets a lot of good light.
This is one of the darker indoor dining spaces. The room through that doorway has a loft-like second floor that you can reach via a ladder. Pretty cool right?
La Biznaga Arte y Cafe
Address: Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera 17, La Santa Cruz, La Cruz, 76020 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 9AM-2PM, 5-10PM, Mon-Sat (closed on Sundays) What to Order: Breakfast, sandwiches, burgers, pizza
7. El Tocino
Across the street from La Biznaga Arte y Cafe is El Tocino, another good place to have a classic Mexican breakfast in Santiago de Querétaro. They offer traditional breakfast dishes like huevos divorciados (pictured below), huevos motuleños, chilaquiles, and molletes.
Huevos divorciados literally means “divorced eggs” and refers to a classic Mexican breakfast dish served with eggs and two types of salsas.
Pictured below is huevos motuleños, a tasty Mexican breakfast dish that’s originally from the town of Motul in Yucatan. It consists of corn tortillas topped with black beans, fried eggs, cheese, and tomato sauce.
We really lucked out with our choice of Airbnb because Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera is filled with many restaurants serving good food.
El Tocino isn’t nearly as popular as La Biznaga but it’s definitely worth checking out as well. We ate here just for breakfast but they serve lunch and dinner as well.
Like La Biznaga, El Tocino has a cute and artsy interior. It’s a fun place to enjoy a simple but delicious Mexican breakfast in Queretaro City.
Address: Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera # 12, La Santa Cruz, La Cruz, 76000 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, daily What to Order: Breakfast
8. Mr. Jaibo
If you’re in the mood for shrimp or fish tacos, then Mr. Jaibo is one of the best places for you to visit in Santiago de Querétaro. It’s a small taqueria that serves tacos, tostadas, ceviches, and other seafood dishes made with the freshest fish and shrimp.
I was talking to the restaurant’s owner and he was proud to tell me that they source their seafood fresh from the market every morning. I believe him because these fish and shrimp tacos were some of the best I’ve had anywhere in Mexico, and I’ve spent time in coastal cities like Puerto Vallarta and Playa del Carmen. They were so good.
Three tacos were enough to fill me up but I needed to try their shrimp tostadas as well. I’m glad I did because these were every bit as delicious as the tacos.
I didn’t try them but you may want to go for their fish and chips as well. Another guest staying at the same Airbnb complex as us raved about them.
Mr. Jaibo is located on the north side of Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera, on the way to Mercado “La Cruz”. If you like seafood, then you need to visit this restaurant.
Address: Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera 9_7, La Santa Cruz, La Cruz, 76020 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 1-7PM, Wed-Sun (closed Mon-Tue) What to Order: Seafood dishes
9. Santa Cecina, Taqueria del Barrio
Like Mr. Jaibo, Santa Cecina serves amazing tacos in Santiago de Querétaro, but instead of seafood, they make theirs with cecina and chorizo. Cecina refers to thinly sliced meat – typically beef or pork – that’s been salted, marinated, and sun-dried.
The cecina itself is delicious but another thing I really liked about these tacos is that they’re made with french fries. We’ve eaten tacos all throughout Mexico and this was the first time we’ve had them with fries. We enjoyed them A LOT.
I suggest getting tacos with both cecina and chorizo. Be sure to get them with cheese as well for more richness and flavor.
Salsas are a quintessential part of Mexican cuisine and the sauces at Santa Cecina are on point.
Santa Cecina is located on the corner of Av Reforma Ote and Av Luis Pasteur Sur, in a less touristy part of Queretaro City’s Historic Center.
Santa Cecina is a small taqueria with just four or five tables. It’s got colorful murals, fantastic food, and a great vibe.
Santa Cecina, Taqueria del Barrio
Address: Calle Pasteur, Esq, Av Reforma Ote 70, Centro, 76000 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 11:30AM-9:30PM, Sun-Wed / 11:30AM-10:30PM, Thurs-Sat What to Order: Tacos
10. Haga Su Taco
Tacos de guisado are tacos filled with different types of stew. We’ve enjoyed these tacos many times in Mexico City but this was the first time we’ve had DIY tacos de guisado.
Haga su Taco literally means “Make your Taco”. At this taqueria, you’re welcome to fill tortillas with whatever stews they have that day. How fun!
The stews weren’t labeled so I’m not sure what type of stews I got. One was made with some type of stewed meat while the other was a rich mole, similar in taste to mole poblano. ¡Que rico!
If you’ve never had tacos de guisado, then you should try them at Haga Su Taco. It’s a fun concept that you don’t see too often in Mexico.
One Mexican couple who was eating there for the first time seemed pleasantly surprised by the concept.
Haga Su Taco
Address: 76020, C. Felipe Luna Sur 46, La Cruz, Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 10AM-5PM, daily What to Order: Tacos de guisado
11. Taqueria El No Que No
If you want good old-fashioned tacos al pastor, then Taqueria El No Que No is a great place to visit in Santiago de Querètaro. They serve the usual taqueria fare like tacos filled with al pastor meat, suadero, chorizo, and bistec.
Pictured below are two tacos de suadero and one taco al pastor. Both were delicious.
Like a proper taqueria, El No Que No opens only at night, from 5:30 till 11:30PM. It’s located along busy Calle Ignacio Zaragoza, about a block away from Rico Menudo Doña Pueblito.
Haga Su Taco
Address: Calle Ignacio Zaragoza 125, La Santa Cruz, La Cruz, 76000 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 5:30-11:30PM, daily What to Order: Tacos
DESSERT SHOPS / OTHER RESTAURANTS
12. Neveria Galy
I read about Neveria Galy on a local blog post about must-try dishes and drinks in Santiago de Querétaro. It’s an ice cream shop that makes nieves – a type of water-based Mexican ice cream flavored with natural fruits.
There’s never a bad time for nieves ice cream but what you should try at Neveria Galy is the nieves de limon con vino tinto or lemon ice cream with red wine. It’s like a slushie made with lemon sorbet and wine.
As described, Queretaro is famous for its wine production so anything made with wine is always a good idea.
Neveria Galy is conveniently located in the heart of the Historic Center, just a block away from Plaza de Armas. Locals complain that their prices are a bit high but that’s probably because of the shop’s prime location.
Address: C. 5 de Mayo 8, Centro, 76000 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 11AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Nieve de limon con vino tinto
I love helados or Mexican milk-based ice cream. I usually get mamey (sapodilla) or fresas con crema (strawberries with cream). When we walked into Fresario, I thought I was getting the latter but as it turns out, they’re not an heladeria at all but a shop that offers whole strawberries topped with cream and cinnamon. Cool!
Mexican strawberries and cream ice cream is divine but actual Mexican strawberries topped with cream is just as delicious. And perhaps healthier too.
Fresario is a brand new shop so it isn’t showing up on Google Maps yet. It’s located along Calle Venustiano Carranza, a couple doors away from Libreria Sancho Panza.
Address: Calle Venustiano Carranza 57A, La Santa Cruz, La Cruz, 76020 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. What to Order: Strawberries with cream
14. La Piccola Italia (Italian Food)
We usually stick to local food when we travel but we couldn’t ignore the popularity of this Italian restaurant along Calle 5 de Mayo. Like La Biznaga Arte y Cafe, there was always a line of locals waiting to get into this restaurant.
We had lunch here just before leaving Queretaro. La Piccola Italia offers a good selection of pizza and pasta dishes. Pictured below is their spaghetti all’ amatriciana. No matter where you are in the world, there’s never a bad time for pizza and pasta.
The pasta dish was decent but this thin crust salsiccia fresca pizza with Italian chorizo and salami was pretty good. La Piccola Italia doesn’t serve out-of-this-world Italian food but it’s good enough to scratch the itch.
La Piccola Italia is located along busy Calle 5 de Mayo so it isn’t hard to spot.
La Piccola Italia is a casual but lovely restaurant with a beautiful interior.
La Piccola Italia
Address: C. 5 de Mayo 100, La Santa Cruz, La Cruz, 76020 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 1-10PM, Mon-Wed / 1-11PM, Thurs-Sat / 1-9PM, Sun What to Order: Pizza, pasta
MERCADOS / FOOD HALLS / STREET FOOD STALLS
We love going to mercados or Mexican traditional markets. You’ll find at least one in every city. Aside from dozens of vendors selling fresh produce, there’s always a prepared food section with fondas or family-owned restaurants selling excellent food for very reasonable prices.
In Santiago de Querétaro, the main market is Mercado Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez “La Cruz”, or Mercado “La Cruz” for short.
MERCADO “LA CRUZ”
As far as we could tell, there are just three eateries inside Mercado “La Cruz”. Naturally, we went to all three of them.
15. Huaraches y Gorditas Conchita
All the prepared food stalls inside Mercado “La Cruz” are excellent but Huaraches y Gorditas Conchita may be our favorite. It’s a buzzing spot that serves typical Mexican snacks like huaraches, sopes, gorditas, and tacos.
Pictured below is a trio of antojitos – huarache, gordita, and sope. They’re very similar dishes made with fried corn masa dough. They differ in shape but they can be topped or filled with a variety of ingredients like stews, roasted meats, beans, sour cream, cheese, and salsa.
Pictured below is a tasty quesadilla stuffed with chicharron.
The antojitos at Conchita are tasty but if you visit on a weekend, then we suggest going for a plate of their enchiladas queretanas. They’re delicious and available only on Saturdays and Sundays.
Other dishes available only on weekends are guajolotes (pictured below), pozole, tacos dorados, and hot cakes.
Every prepared food stall at Mercado “La Cruz” is always this busy. They all serve delicious food at very reasonable prices so it isn’t hard to understand why.
For a truly local dining experience in Santiago de Queréterao (or anywhere in Mexico for that matter), we highly recommend going to these fondas. It’s a great place to rub elbows with locals whilst digging into cheap but tasty Mexican antojitos.
Huaraches y Gorditas Conchita
Address: Garibaldi 71, Centro 76020 Mercado Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, La Cruz, 76020 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 7AM-2:30PM, Tue-Sun (closed on Mondays) What to Order: Gorditas, huaraches, sopes, enchiladas queretanas, guajolotes
16. Gorditas El Guero y Lupita
Gorditas El Gureo y Lupita is a similar stall with a highly focused food menu. They serve just gorditas – either with migajas or queso, or a mixture of the two. These may have been even better than the gorditas at Conchita.
Like Huaraches y Gorditas Conchita, Gorditas El Guero y Lupita is always buzzing with locals. They have a limited seating area so be prepared to eat on your feet.
Gorditas El Guero y Lupita
Address: Garibaldi 4-A, Centro, 76000 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 8:30AM-3:30PM, daily What to Order: Gorditas
17. Don Chamorro
How beautiful does this plate of pork look? If you’re a massive meat eater, then you need to enjoy a meal at Don Chamorro.
Chamorro refers to the cut of pork sliced from the upper part of the shank. At Don Chamorro, you can enjoy it in tacos or in a plated portion for two (pictured below) with a side of corn tortillas and salsa.
For just MXN 105, you can enjoy the most tender chamorro meat wrapped in DIY tacos. It was such a big plate of food we wound up bringing home the leftovers and eating them with beer later that night.
Like the previous two stalls, Don Chamorro is hugely popular so get ready to rub elbows with locals as you dig into the most succulent pork shank meat.
Address: Garibaldi 73, Centro, 76000 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 7AM-2:30PM, daily What to Order: Chamorro
EL PUEBLITO DE LA CRUZ
If you don’t like the grittiness of a Mexican mercado, then perhaps El Pueblito de la Cruz is more up your alley. It’s a trendy open-air food hall located along Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera.
El Pueblito de la Cruz is a lovely food hall with around eight or nine establishments. Most offer food and beverages but there’s also a small theater and a cute shop that sells Japanese specialty items like chopsticks and ceramics.
Set in a planted courtyard, none of the restaurants and cafes have indoor seating. All the tables are in the courtyard and for communal use so you’re free to sit anywhere and order from any establishment.
Isn’t the space beautiful? We just loved the vibe of this place.
When you’re traveling in a large group, going to these food halls is always an excellent choice because there’s usually something for everyone.
A colorful nook tucked away in the farthest corner of El Pueblito de la Cruz.
18. Norteño Style
If you’re in the mood for Sonora-style food in Santiago de Querétaro, then look no further than Norteño Style. This terrific restaurant specializes in the most delicious grilled meats, burgers, and burritos.
Behold the Norteño Style burger – 180 grams of grilled beef served with lettuce, tomato, onions, goat cheese, and a dressing made with pickles and sun-dried tomatoes. This, my friends, was SERIOUSLY delicious.
I’ve become wary when ordering burgers or steaks in Mexico because many places overcook the meat. Not here. As you can see below, the burger patty was nice and juicy – medium rare just like I asked. ¡Muchisimas gracias!
This beautiful burrito de rib was just as perfectly cooked and delicious. We love how they serve their dishes with a side of grilled spring onions. To eat, you grab the stalk and bite into the bulb cowboy-style. They’re so juicy and sweet!
Here’s an inside look at our supremely delicious burrito. It’s made with premium rib meat, Chihuahua cheese, and caramelized onions wrapped in a large wheat tortilla.
Address: Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera 22, La Santa Cruz, La Cruz, 76000 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro. Operating Hours: 2-10PM, Wed-Sat / 2-8PM, Sun (closed Mon-Tue) What to Order: Burgers, burritos, grilled meats
19. Rey del Kebab
If you love Lebanese food like we do, then you’ll definitely want to enjoy a meal at Rey del Kebab. It’s a Mexican-Lebanese-owned restaurant that serves delicious Middle Eastern favorites like shawarma, hummus, baba ghanoush, and falafel.
Behold the shawarma, the Lebanese classic street food dish that served as the inspiration for Mexico’s taco al pastor. Rey del Kebab serves theirs with a side of hummus and the most delicious french fries.
If you think that Lebanese food is an entirely foreign concept in Mexico, think again. As described, it served as the inspiration for the iconic taco al pastor.
Mexico welcomed a large wave of Lebanese immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Shawarma evolved into tacos arabes to suit local tastes before evolving further into tacos al pastor.
The only thing missing from this platter of the most tender chicken brochetas were a couple of tortillas, so I could make my own DIY shish tawook. Did I already mention how good these fries were?
Rey del Kebab
Address: La Santa Cruz, La Cruz, 76020 Santiago de Querétaro, Querétaro Operating Hours: 11AM-10PM, Tue-Sun / 2-10PM, Mon What to Order: Lebanese food
IGLESIA DE LA SANTA CRUZ STREET FOOD STALLS
Like fondas, street food stalls are among the best sources for cheap but authentic food in Mexico. In Santiago de Querétaro, you’ll find a cluster of street food stalls in front of Iglesia de la Santa Cruz.
The plaza is home to around ten stalls offering Mexican dishes and drinks like tamales, atole, elotes, esquites, and buñuelos.
Walk around any Mexican city early in the morning and you’ll undoubtedly find vendors selling tamales and atole. They pre-date the Hispanic period and are among the most common breakfast items you can enjoy in Mexico.
A tamal is a dish of masa corn dough steamed in corn husks or banana leaves while atole is a hot corn and masa beverage sweetened with piloncillo, vanilla, and cinnamon. They’re usually sold and eaten together.
Elotes and esquites are among our favorite Mexican street food snacks. They consist of Mexican white or yellow corn flavored with butter, garlic, mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime juice.
We’ve had elotes and esquites everywhere in Mexico but this was the first time we’ve had esquites like this. Keep scrolling to see what I mean.
Can you recognize what that chunk of goodness is? What you’re looking at is esquites con tuetano, or esquites with bone marrow. This is definitely the most sinfully delicious variation of esquites we’ve seen so far in Mexico.
Located on the left side of the church, Elotes y Esquites La Cruz is the stall responsible for that devilishly delicious version of esquites. They also make esquites mixed with other ingredients like shrimp and chicken feet.
I don’t know how common these types of esquites are but it’s the first and only time we’ve seen it in Mexico. Don’t miss it!
To help you navigate to these restaurants in Queretaro, I’ve pinned them all on the map below. It includes many other restaurants we had on our list but couldn’t get to. Click on the link for a live version of the map.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE FOOD IN QUERETARO
Queretaro may not have as many regional specialties as other states in Mexico but as you’ve seen in this food guide, there’s certainly no shortage of excellent Mexican food in Santiago de Querétaro.
As described, Queretaro is known for its wine and cheese production. I’ll write about it in a separate guide but you’ll definitely want to visit one of the many wineries within an hour’s bus ride from Santiago de Querétaro. Tequisquiapan and Bernal are beautiful pueblos magicos and make for great bases to go wine and cheese tasting in Queretaro.
Until then, I hope you enjoyed reading this Queretaro restaurant guide. If you have any questions or suggestions, then please let us know in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading and have a delicious time eating your way through Santiago de Querétaro!
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I’ll be honest. We’re lucky to receive many product review offers thanks to this blog but we rarely accept them. Reviewing products isn’t really my thing but I was happy to make an exception in this case, for the simple reason that LEVEL8 makes beautiful hard shell luggage.
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LEVEL8 LUGGAGE REVIEW
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*Use the discount code willflyforfood10 upon checkout to get 10% off on your purchase.
GLITTER CARRY-ON SUITCASE 20″
I love my Pro Carry-on luggage but Ren wasn’t really feeling its more masculine color and design. Thankfully, there are plenty of other carry-ons for her to choose from so she went with this recently released Glitter Carry-on luggage.
Made with the same German Makrolon® polycarbonate hard shell material, it features a glossy finish that comes in pink or white or a matte finish in black. If you want a more stylish, head-turning suitcase, then this Glitter Carry-on is an excellent choice.
Unlike my Pro Carry-on, this Glitter suitcase features two zippered compartments, one with two zippered pockets. It weighs almost two lbs lighter than the Pro Carry-on (7.6 vs 9.3 lbs) but it has a larger capacity at 38 liters (vs 35 liters).
If you enjoy packing light, then this Glitter Carry-on makes for an excellent weekend bag. It’s light and small enough to bring as a carry-on but roomy enough to be your only suitcase for short trips.
The Glitter Carry-on also comes with a stylish luggage tag and this suitcase cover for added protection.
Glitter Carry-On Suitcase 20″
Made with super durable, water-resistant German Makrolon® polycarbonate hard shell material.
Glossy finish in pink or white. Matte finish in black.
Smooth telescoping handle.
Ultra-quiet, durable, and easily maneuverable 360° spinner wheels.
Mesh pocket interior dividers with dry/wet separation.
Suitable for most aircraft overhead compartments.
Comes with a luggage tag and a protective sleeve.
Capacity: 38 liters Weight: 7.6 lbs Dimensions: 14.57” (L) x 8.66” (W) x 21.46” (H)
Shop on LEVEL8
*Use the discount code willflyforfood10 upon checkout to get 10% off on your purchase.
VINTAGE MATTE CHECK-IN LUGGAGE 24″
We love anything vintage so this stylish suitcase immediately grabbed our attention. It’s a 24″ matte finish check-in luggage that comes in light blue or violet-pink.
On the LEVEL8 website, this matte check-in luggage is labeled as “women’s luggage” – perhaps due to the available colors – but I’d happily travel with this light blue suitcase even without Ren. It’s simple but gorgeous in its color and design.
TSA-Approved Combination Lock
Like the previous two carry-ons, this hard shell suitcase is secured with a TSA-approved combination lock.
Ultra-Quiet 360º Spinner Wheels
Here’s a closer look at those beautiful spinner wheels with the company’s infinity symbol. Thanks to its telescopic handle and smooth wheels, you can easily wheel and maneuver these suitcases through the busiest airports.
Like the Glitter Carry-on, this Matte Check-in luggage features two zippered compartments, one with two smaller pockets.
I absolutely love these packing cubes. Packing cubes make everything so much more organized and our LEVEL8 luggage included four cubes of different sizes. They also came with these cute velcro labels to help identify each cube’s contents.
Aren’t these velcro labels cute? Aside from their beautiful designs and sturdy build, it’s little touches like this that make LEVEL8 luggage stand out.
Matte Check-In 24″
Made with a durable, lightweight, and water-resistant German Makrolon® polycarbonate exterior.
Special anti-scratch hive texture.
Telescopic handle made from aluminum alloy.
Ultra-quiet, durable, and easily maneuverable 360° spinner wheels.
Comes with a set of packing cubes.
Capacity: 68 liters Weight: 9.63 lbs Dimensions: 17.5” (L) x 10.4” (W) x 26” (H)
Shop on LEVEL8
*Use the discount code willflyforfood10 upon checkout to get 10% off on your purchase.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON LEVEL8 LUGGAGE
All three pieces of our LEVEL8 luggage came in a white cloth dust bag and a sturdy box. Not only did the dust bag protect the suitcase, but it was a nice touch that made them feel even more premium.
LEVEL8 makes quality luggage. From the design to the build to little touches like the velcro labels and branded spinner wheels, I absolutely love everything about these suitcases. If you’re looking for a hard-shell suitcase that’s well-built but still affordable, then LEVEL8 is a great brand to consider.
Visit the LEVEL8 website to see all available styles and designs. Aside from hard-shell suitcases, they make a range of backpacks and travel accessories as well.
If you’re looking to buy more than one suitcase, then be sure to check out the “luggage sets” section of their website. You’ll save on the overall cost if you buy multiple pieces as a luggage set.
LEVEL8 was kind enough to gift us with all three suitcases featured in this article in exchange for an honest review. As always, all thoughts, words, and opinions expressed in this LEVEL8 luggage review are mine and mine alone.
Some of the links in this LEVEL8 luggage review are affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. Thank you so much!
Playa del Carmen is beautiful. It’s one of the most sought-after beach destinations in the Riviera Maya. It’s developed commercially, but not to the extent of Cancun or Tulum. At the moment, it’s closer in feel to Puerto Vallarta which is a very good thing.
Like any tourist hotspot in the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen can be expensive. Take a stroll along its main walking street – La Quinta Avenida – and you’ll find dozens of designer boutiques and high-concept restaurants.
I looked at one fine dining restaurant’s menu and was shocked to find the humble taco priced at MXN 225! At a taqueria in Mexico City, they usually go for about MXN 15-20 apiece. That MXN 225 taco wasn’t filled with lobster, gold leaf, or caviar either. It was made with Yucatecan-style longganiza, which I enjoyed whole plates of for as little as MXN 85 at nice restaurants in Valladolid.
Playa del Carmen is home to many amazing restaurants but you don’t have to sell a kidney to eat delicious food there. I’m not a beach bum so I spent most of my time in Playa del Carmen looking for the best food without breaking the bank.
All the Playa del Carmen restaurants and food stalls in this guide – serving Mexican and International food – offer filling meals for under MXN 200 with drinks (as of April 2022).
PLAYA DEL CARMEN RESTAURANTS QUICK LINKS
To help you plan your trip to Playa del Carmen, we’ve compiled links to top-rated hotels, tours, and other travel services here.
All-inclusive resorts are a favorite in Playa del Carmen, but if you’d like to stay close to the city center, then you may want to consider one of these hotels.
Luxury: La Leyenda Boutique Hotel by Bunik
Midrange: Hotel Cache
Budget: Wabi Hostel
Sightseeing Tour: Private Walking Tour with a Guide
Food Tour: 3-Hour Local Food Walking Tour
Day Trip: Early Chichen Itza and Ik Kil Cenote
Cooking Classes: Playa del Carmen Cooking Classes
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
Cancun Airport Transfer
Mexico SIM Card
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THE BEST AFFORDABLE RESTAURANTS IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN
I’ve organized this list of Playa del Carmen restaurants by category to make it easier to digest. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
1. El Sabrosito del Fogon
If you were to go on popularity alone, then El Sabrosito del Fogon (or El Fogon for short) has to be one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen. It’s a hugely popular Mexican restaurant that serves delicious tacos and other local food favorites like quesadillas, tortas (sandwiches), alambres, and quesos fundidos.
Pictured below is a pair of Mexican cuisine’s most iconic tacos – tacos al pastor. If you’ve never had it, it consists of a corn tortilla topped with marinated grilled pork shaved from a vertical spit. You can think of it as the Mexican version of Lebanese shawarma, Greek gyros, or Turkish doner kebab.
At El Fogon, you can get delicious pastor tacos for just MXN 22 apiece, MXN 23 if you want it with wheat tortillas you gringo.
What you’re looking at here is an orden of quesadillas con champiñones (mushroom). Orden literally means “order” and always pertains to more than one piece.
At El Fogon, an orden of quesadillas comes with three pieces and ranges in price from MXN 72-104, depending on what it’s made with.
An inside look at my tasty quesadilla filled with mushrooms and melted cheese. Quesadillas are quite filling so an orden of three may be enough to fill up some people.
I spent a total of MXN 184 for two pastor tacos, three quesadillas, and a drink at El Fogon. I went to the branch along Avenida Constituyentes but El Fogon has several locations – four in Playa del Carmen and one in Cancun.
Based on what I’ve read, El Fogon is so popular with both locals and tourists that you sometimes have to queue in line for a table. I suggest going at off-peak hours.
El Sabrosito del Fogon
Address: Av. Constituyentes, Quintas del Carmen, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 1-11:30PM, daily What to Order: Tacos, quesadillas, tortas, quesos fundidos What I Paid: MXN 184 with drinks (April 2022)
2. El Chuleton
El Chuleton is another great taqueria in Playa del Carmen. Like El Fogon, they’re known for their tacos and other Mexican food favorites like tortas, molcajetes, alambres, and quesos fundidos. They serve a few desayunos or breakfast dishes as well.
Barely contained on the plate below are six tacos – four tacos al pastor and two tacos de chorizo. Unlike El Fogon, El Chuleton serves their pastor tacos plain without grilled pineapple.
Tacos at El Chuleton go for anywhere between MXN 21-45 each, depending on what they’re made with.
El Chuleton gives you the salsas and garnishes on the side so you can add them to your tacos yourself. I do wish they make the pastor with pineapple though.
I paid a total of MXN 175 for six tacos and a drink at El Chuleton. They’re a Traveler’s Choice awardee with a perfect 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.
If you’re in the mood for great affordable tacos in Playa del Carmen, then El Chuleton is one of the best restaurants you can go to.
Address: Av. 20 entre Constituyentes y, C. 16 Nte. Bis, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 9AM-12MN, daily What to Order: Tacos, tortas, quesos fundidos What I Paid: MXN 175 with a drink (April 2022)
3. Taqueria El Ingrato
Taqueria El Ingrato is another great restaurant for tacos in Playa del Carmen. They serve tacos made with different types of meat like cecina, arrachera, chorizo, and pollo but what they’re really known for are their tacos al pastor. They have a perennial 2×1 deal where you get a free pastor taco for every two that you order.
Pictured below is an overflowing plate of four pastor tacos and two tacos campechanos. I forgot about their 2×1 deal so I made the mistake of ordering just three pastor tacos. Had I ordered four, then I would have gotten two more for free.
Here’s a closer look at the taco campechano. A taco campechano is basically a taco topped with a mixture of meats. The meats used can differ from restaurant to restaurant. El Ingrato appears to make theirs with arrachera (skirt steak) and chorizo.
I spent a total of MXN 140 for six tacos and a soda. Please be advised that there’s more than one “El Ingrato” on Google Maps. Click on the link for a map to the correct restaurant.
Taqueria El Ingrato
Address: Av. Constituyentes 280, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 3:15PM-12:45AM, Mon-Sat / 3:15-11:45PM, Sun What to Order: Tacos What I Paid: MXN 140 with a drink (April 2022)
4. Ay Taco!
Speaking of al pastor deals, Ay Taco! is another place to get a sweet deal on Mexico’s most beloved taco. Their pastor tacos are normally MXN 20 apiece but you can get six for just MXN 100.
As you can see below, they don’t scrimp on the fillings either. They load up each double tortilla with lots of pastor meat, onions, cilantro, and grilled pineapple. Not only was this a sweet deal, but these were some of the best tacos I had in Playa del Carmen.
Aside from pastor tacos, Ay Taco! serves other Mexican specialties as well like tortas, alambres, quesadillas, and volcanes. They serve hamburgers too.
I spent a total of MXN 120 for six tacos and a drink at Ay Taco! As you can see from the picture below, it isn’t a traditional restaurant but a taco truck with a small covered area of a few tables and chairs. Like El Chuleton, they’re a Traveler’s Choice awardee with a perfect 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.
Ay Taco! is one of the restaurants immediately surrounding Andador Solidaridad, a public park with some of the best affordable restaurants in Playa del Carmen.
Address: Calle 8 Nte, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 1-11PM, daily What to Order: Tacos, tortas, volcanes, alambres What I Paid: MXN 120 with a drink (April 2022)
5. Los Culiados Mariscos
Being a coastal city, Playa del Carmen is home to many great restaurants serving fresh seafood. The best seafood restaurants can be painfully expensive but thankfully, there are Mexican restaurants like Los Culiados Mariscos that serve excellent fish tacos and other seafood dishes at reasonable prices.
Located just a block away from Ay Taco!, Los Culiados serves different types of seafood tacos and tostadas, cocteles, ceviches, and aguachiles. Pictured below is a tasty trio of tacos made with fish (de pescado), shrimp (gobernador), and a mixture of fish, shrimp, and octopus (quesadilla de merma al carbon).
The seafood and fish tacos at Los Culiados go for anywhere between MXN 38-60. Tostadas are a little more expensive at about MXN 75 per piece while medium-sized portions of ceviche and aguachile hover around the MXN 150 range.
I spent a total of just MXN 148 for three seafood tacos and a Coke at Los Culiados Mariscos. It’s located right next to Andador Solidaridad, on the same side as Ay Taco! and a couple of other restaurants on this list.
Los Culiados Mariscos
Address: Calle 8 norte #166 Mz13 Lt13, entre Av.15 y, Av. 20, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 11AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Seafood tostadas, tacos, ceviches, aguachiles With a Drink: MXN 148 with a drink (April 2022)
6. Señor Taco
So far, all the taquerias on this Playa del Carmen restaurants guide serve either seafood or meat tacos. If you want to go to a restaurant that serves both, then head over to Señor Taco. It’s a humble Mexican restaurant that serves breakfast dishes and tacos made from different types of meat and seafood.
Aside from the usual pastor, chorizo, camaron, and pescado, they serve more daring offerings as well like tripa (small intestines), lengua (tongue), and one of our personal favorites – suadero (meat between the belly and leg).
On the plate below are tacos made with pescado, camaron, suadero, and tripa. To be honest, these weren’t the best tacos I had in Playa del Carmen but they’re pretty good, especially for the price. Their tacos range from just MXN 20-35.
I spent a total of just MXN 157 for four tacos and a soda at Señor Taco.
Personally, I preferred the other taquerias on this list but many people do love Señor Taco. They’re a Traveler’s Choice awardee with a near-perfect 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor.
Address: Calle 2 entre Av. 10 y 15, Centro, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 12NN-9PM, Mon-Fri / 12NN-5PM, Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Tacos What I Paid: MXN 157 with a drink (April 2022)
7. Restaurante Nativo
Restaurante Nativo is one of the most popular restaurants in Playa del Carmen. They offer an extensive menu of traditional Mexican fare like tacos, enchiladas, antojitos, seafood, and desayunos. They offer many delicious dishes, but what they’re best known for are their drinks. More on that below.
It’s hard to tell what this green and white mess of deliciousness is, but what you’re looking at is a plate of enchiladas suizas. It’s a type of enchilada made with chicken, manchego cheese, and salsa verde.
The enchiladas made for a terrific breakfast but what really blew me away was this yogurt smoothie. This particular concoction is called the mangazo, and it’s made with mango, yogurt, rompope (Mexican eggnog), and milk. My god was this insanely delicious.
Restaurante Nativo serves good food but what they’re really known for are their fresh fruit juices. They offer many different types of fresh juices and smoothies made with either milk or yogurt.
The restaurant was full when I was there but even more people were getting their fresh fruit juices to go. They’re amazingly delicious and as you can see below, quite large too. Those are standard-size salt and pepper shakers.
Restaurante Nativo offers a selection of fresh fruit plates as well. As good as their juices are, I bet those are delicious too.
Restaurante Nativo is designed to look like a beach hut. It’s a colorful restaurant with great atmosphere and tasty food.
I spent MXN 177 for a plate of enchiladas and a yogurt smoothie at Restaurante Nativo. You see those people outside? They’re all waiting for their juices and smoothies to go.
Restaurante Nativo is a Traveler’s Choice awardee with a stellar 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor. Judging by how refreshingly delicious that mangazo was, they have to be one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen for juices and smoothies. I walked by many juice bars in the city but none were as popular as this.
Address: Lt 2, 30 Avenida Nte. Mz 26, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 7:30AM-12MN, daily What to Order: Fresh juices, smoothies, traditional Mexican dishes What I Paid: MXN 177 with a drink (April 2022)
8. Loncheria Los Machacados
Speaking of refreshing drinks, you need to try machacados – a Quintana Roo frozen drink that’s enjoyed mostly as a dessert. Made with shaved ice, it’s similar to raspados except it’s topped with crushed fruit and condensed milk instead of the usual flavored syrups.
Machacados are originally from Chetumal in southern Quintana Roo. You can find it in Playa del Carmen though it isn’t nearly as common as raspados. The only restaurant I could find that was within walking distance of La Quinta Avenida was the aptly named Loncheria Los Machacados.
On a searing Playa del Carmen day, amazing desserts like machacados will feel like a dive into a cenote. Los Machacados offers several flavors but my server recommended I try the fresa con platano (strawberry with banana). It was incredibly refreshing and delicious.
It’s worth noting that machacado in northern Mexico means something completely different. It refers to a dish of shredded dry beef mixed with scrambled eggs.
Los Machacados specializes in the shaved ice dessert but they do offer other Yucatecan dishes as well like sopa de lima, salbutes, and panuchos. I had these two hand-sized empanadas to go with my machacado.
You can get Los Machacados’ empanadas filled with cheese, chicken, or pork, or a mixture of the three.
Here’s an inside look at my empanada mixta. You can clearly see all three fillings in this picture – cheese, pork, and shredded chicken.
These Yucatecan empanadas are a good size and can be quite filling, especially if you get them filled with cheese. Aside from the usual Mexican cheese, Los Machacados also makes them filled with queso de bola (edam cheese).
I spent a whopping MXN 95 on two empanadas and a machacado. I had already eaten dinner before walking to Los Machacados, but the most expensive thing on their menu is the sopa de lima which goes for just MXN 70. You could easily enjoy a full meal here and a machacado for less than MXN 200.
Los Machacados is located about a 15-minute walk from La Quinta Avenida. You can refer to the location map at the bottom of this post to see exactly where it is.
Loncheria Los Machacados
Address: 77710, Av. 45 Nte. 134, Centro, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 4:30-11:30PM, daily What to Order: Machacados What I Paid: MXN 95 for two empanadas and a machacado (April 2022)
9. Asadero El Pollo
Who doesn’t like roast chicken? Chicken barbecued on a grill exists in some form in most if not all countries, and Mexico is no exception.
Asadero El Pollo is a no-frills restaurant that offers just one thing on their menu – Mexican roast chicken. You can get half or a whole chicken for just MXN 90 or MXN 140 respectively. It comes with rice, salsa, onions, and tortillas.
I love tacos so I enjoy putting all the components together. If you’re hungry and on a strict budget, then this restaurant is tough to beat. I paid just MXN 110 for half a roast chicken and a drink.
Asadero El Pollo is a simple restaurant frequented by both locals and tourists.
Sitting at the table next to me was a foreigner who had clearly just come from a workout. He was devouring a whole chicken to himself like there was no tomorrow.
Asadero El Pollo looks plain but it’s hard to miss. Just look for the cloud of smoke billowing from the restaurant.
Asadero El Pollo
Address: 20 Avenida Nte. 652, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 10AM-6PM, daily What to Order: Roast chicken Expect to Spend: MXN 110 with a drink (April 2022)
There are plenty of inexpensive Mexican restaurants in Playa del Carmen, but there are a good number of affordable international restaurants as well. Here are a few you can go to.
10. Mi Kfe Sabor Venezolano (Venezuelan)
If you’re in the mood for arepas and Venezuelan food, then Mi Kfe is one of the best restaurants you can go to in Playa del Carmen.
I knew that I wanted arepas even before getting to the restaurant, but I was pleased to find tequeños on the menu as well. Tequeños are Venezuelan cheese sticks made with queso blanco wrapped in elastic puff pastry.
Gooey and creamy with a crisp, flaky coating, tequeños are absolutely delicious. If you like mozzarella sticks, then you need to order this.
Here’s a look inside a tequeño. I enjoy most types of cheese sticks but this has to be one of my favorites. The coating is uniquely delicious.
Mi Kfe has almost twenty different types of arepas fillings on their menu, including over a half-dozen vegetarian-friendly options. Most are MXN 83 with the most expensive option priced at just MXN 96.
I asked my server for recommendations and she suggested I get the reina pepeada. It’s filled with chicken breast and a creamy avocado-mayonnaise sauce.
Aside from arepas, Mi Kfe offers many other Venezuelan dishes as well like cachapas, patacones, and empanaditas. If you’re hungry, then you may want to try pabellon criollo, the Venezuelan national dish of shredded beef, black beans, and rice. It’s a starchy and filling meal that goes for just MXN 149.
I paid MXN 190 for an order of five tequeños, an arepa, and a drink.
Mi Kfe is located along Avenida 10 Norte, just one street away from La Quinta Avenida. Like La Quinta, Avenida 10 Norte has plenty of restaurants on either side and most are considerably cheaper. You’ll find plenty of great restaurant options here.
Mi Kfe Sabor Venezolano
Address: Avenida 10 Norte, entre calles 6 y 8, Centro, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 12NN-10PM, Mon-Sat / 11AM-9PM, Sun What to Order: Arepas, tequeños, patacones, cachapas Expect to Spend: MXN 190 with a drink (April 2022)
11. N’taconadas Restaurante (Colombian)
If you like Venezuelan food, then you probably enjoy Colombian food as well. Being neighbors in South America, their cuisines are quite similar and share different variations of the same dishes like arepas, empanadas, and patacones.
There are a few Colombian restaurants in Playa del Carmen but one of the best and most accessible is N’taconadas Restaurante. It’s a family-owned restaurant along 15 Avenida Norte, just two streets away from La Quinta Avenida.
N’taconadas doesn’t offer as wide a menu as Mi Kfe but they do serve tasty food. Pictured below is a trio of Colombian empanadas filled with either beef or chicken. Each one costs MXN 25 but you can get three for just MXN 60.
Here’s a look inside my chicken empanada. The pico de gallo they serve on the side goes so well with these empanadas.
For my main course, I had this delicious and filling patacon con chicharron. Patacones are a Colombian staple made with flattened and double-fried unripe plantains. They’re slightly sweet, almost neutral in taste, and have a unique texture that’s quite enjoyable to eat.
At N’taconadas, you can get patacones topped with different ingredients like shredded chicken, chicharron, chorizo, or hogao (Colombian tomato and onion salsa). The chicharron is delicious and highly recommended.
Colombian pride is strong at N’taconadas!
I spent just MXN 180 for a satisfying and filling meal at N’taconadas. Definitely check them out if you get a hankering for Colombian food in Playa del Carmen.
Address: 15 Avenida Nte 152, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 9AM-7PM, Mon-Wed / 9AM-11PM, Thurs-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Patacones, empanadas, arepas What I Paid: MXN 180 with a drink (April 2022)
12. Falafel Nessya (Middle Eastern)
I was in the mood for a healthy lunch one day so I dropped by this cute Middle Eastern restaurant that specializes in falafel. If you’ve never had it, falafel is a popular Lebanese or Middle Eastern dish of deep-fried balls made from ground chickpeas, herbs, and spices. It’s a great dish for people looking for vegetarian-friendly options.
Falafel Nessya has a focused menu with just a few items – falafel, sabich, hummus, and Israeli salad. This tasty and filling pita falafel set me back just MXN 80. With a drink, I spent a total of just MXN 100.
Falafel Nessya is a small restaurant with just three or four tables. It’s usually full so I suggest going at off-peak hours to get a table.
Address: Calle 6 Norte entre avenida 10 y 15, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 1-11PM, daily What to Order: Falafel, hummus What I Paid: MXN 100 with a drink (April 2022)
13. Eat Bar (Mediterranean)
Speaking of vegetarian-friendly options, another great Playa del Carmen restaurant you can visit for healthy food is Eat Bar. Similar to Falafel Nessya, they offer Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes like hummus, falafel, sabich, and shakshuka.
While Falafel Nessya is a strictly vegetarian restaurant, Eat Bar offers meat dishes as well like beef kebabs, burgers, roast chicken, and tuna salad pita sandwiches.
Pictured below is my tasty sabich pita sandwich. It’s an Israeli dish made with fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, hummus, and vegetable salad. If you like falafel, then you’ll probably enjoy this as well.
I spent a total of MXN 130 on my sabich pita sandwich and a drink. Eat Bar has two branches, one along Avenida 10 Norte (near Mi Kfe) and another at Andador Solidaridad, right next to Ay Taco!
The Avenida 10 Norte branch (pictured below) gets more crowded so you may want to try the Andador Solidarid shop if this is one is full.
Address: 10 Avenida Nte. LB, entre calle 6 y 8, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 11AM-11PM, daily What to Order: Sabich, hummus, shakshuka, kebabs What I Paid: MXN 130 with a drink (April 2022)
14. Tom Yam Gong (Thai)
After month of traveling in Mexico, do you know what I miss most about Southeast Asia? The taste of fish sauce. I had been craving dishes made with fish sauce for weeks when I chanced upon Tom Yam Gong, a terrific restaurant that serves affordable and authentic Thai meals.
Normally, I’d be apprehensive about going to a Thai restaurant in Mexico, but I read that the chef at Tom Yam Gong was a Thai national now living in Playa del Carmen. Yes folks, this restaurant is the real deal.
Tom Yam Gong offers many Thai dishes on their menu like som tam, satay, tom yum goong, and tom kha gai, but I went for this plate of good old-fashioned pad thai. It’s that delicious and ever-reliable stir-fried noodle dish made with chicken, shrimp, fried tofu, peanuts, egg, and bean sprouts. Fish sauce craving satisfied.
I spent a total of MXN 184 for pad thai and a soda at Tom Yam Gong. It’s near two other international restaurants that didn’t make it to this list but you may want to check out as well – Machu Picchu (Peruvian food) and La Cubana (Cuban food).
Tom Yam Gong
Address: Avenida 15 entre calle 4 y, Calle 2 Nte, Centro, 77724 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 12NN-10PM, daily What to Order: Pad Thai, som tam, tom yum goong, satay What I Paid: MXN 184 with a drink (April 2022)
15. Comet 984 (Vegan)
Comet 984 is probably one of the more interesting restaurants on this list. It’s interesting because it looks and sounds like an American 50s diner – the kind of place you’d go to for burgers, hot dogs, and milkshakes.
While you can find all those diner staples at Comet 984, none of them are made with animal products. Comet 984 is a vegan restaurant that serves hamburgers and hot dogs made exclusively with plant-based products.
What you’re looking at below is the Krusty Burger, a vegan burger made with a slice of breaded cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and salsa. The “cheese” is made with soya milk.
I ordered a side of french fries as well which were amazing.
I spent a total of MXN 175 for a vegan burger, french fries, and a soda at Comet 984. This vegan 50s diner is definitely a unique restaurant in Playa del Carmen.
Address: 77710 Calle 8 Norte LB Entre avenida 20 y 25, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: 1-9PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Vegan burgers, hot dogs, milkshakes Expect to Spend: MXN 175 with a drink (April 2022)
When you’re traveling on a budget and want good local food, then there’s no better choice than street food. It’s cheap and delicious and gives you an unfiltered look at how locals eat.
There are a few street food clusters you can visit in Playa del Carmen.
CALLE 14 NORTE BIS
Calle 14 Norte Bis is the street that divides the Super Aki and Mega supermarkets. On that street are three to four food trucks selling different types of Mexican antojitos, tacos, and tortas.
16. Tacos de Birria El Compa
The Tacos de Birria El Compa food truck is by far the most popular stall on this strip. They serve the usual tacos and tortas but as their name suggests, what they’re really known for is their birria.
A specialty of Gudalajara and Jalisco state, birria is a type of Mexican stew made from spicy goat meat adobo that’s slow-cooked in a pot till tender. It’s typically eaten in corn tortillas with onions, cilantro, lime, and salsa.
At El Compa, you can enjoy birria in tacos, tacos dorados (rolled up and crunchy), and tortas, but the best way to have it is in quesabirria tacos.
Quesabirria refers to a variation of birria tacos that first emerged in Tijuana. They’re basically birria tacos made with melted cheese. Quesabirria is absolutely delicious and something you don’t see as often so you should definitely try it here.
I paid just MXN 87 for three quesabirria tacos and a soda. Quesabirria tacos are filling because of the cheese so start of with two or three first before getting more.
Calle 14 Norte Bis Street Food Stalls
Address: Avenida Nte. 101, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: Around 7AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Quesabirria tacos What I Paid: MXN 87 with a drink (April 2022)
CALLE 2 NORTE
Calle 2 Norte is home to another cluster of street food stalls in Playa del Carmen. You’ll find around four to five food stalls between Asadero El Pollo and Señor Taco along Calle 2 Norte.
17. Taqueria El Jarocho
This taco food truck is one of the most popular stalls on this strip. It doesn’t show up on Google Maps but the sign on the truck says “Taqueria El Jarocho”.
I saw the word “jarocho” attached to many restaurant names in Playa del Carmen so I googled it. Apparently, jarocho refers to someone from the city of Veracruz.
El Jarocho serves the usual taqueria offerings like tacos, tortas, quesadillas, and burritos. You can get them filled with different types of meat and seafood like pastor, carne asada, camaron, and pescado.
What you’re looking at below are tacos filled with two of my favorite type of meat – suadero and tripa. These were delicious and among the best tacos I had in Playa del Carmen, all for just MXN 100 with a drink.
Calle 2 Norte Street Food Stalls
Address: Calle 2 Nte, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: Around 2-11:30PM, daily What to Order: Tacos What I Paid: MXN 100 with a drink (April 2022)
I already liked Andador Solidaridad park because of all the cheap and delicious restaurants around it, but this weekend night market made me love it even more. From Friday till Sunday, you’ll find a variety of crafts vendors and food stands setting up at the park. I don’t know exactly what time it starts and ends but I believe it goes from around 5PM till midnight.
You’ll find live musicians and bands performing at the park as well. The weekend night market has great atmosphere and lots of delicious street food.
18. Andador Solidaridad Weekend Night Market
There wasn’t any one stall that stood out at the market so I just went to the ones I found most interesting.
One stall called Las Jarochitas was selling tamales and atole de coco. The tamale is probably the most well-known pre-Hispanic dish in Latin America. It’s made with masa corn dough that’s filled with a variety of ingredients and then steamed in corn husk.
Tamales are often enjoyed with atole, a pre-Hispanic drink made with masa, water, piloncillo (unrefined whole cane sugar), cinnamon, and vanilla. In some versions like this one, chocolate can also be mixed in.
This is arguably the most popular snack in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. You’ll find food stalls, mostly at night, selling this dessert snack throughout the Yucatan.
What you’re looking at is a marquesita, a Yucatan food favorite made with a rolled-up crunchy crepe. It can be filled with a variety of ingredients like fruit, cajeta (dulce de leche), jam, and chocolate, but one of the most common versions is made with Nutella and shreds of edam cheese.
I paid MXN 100 for the marquesita, tamale, and atole de coco. I don’t know how often the food vendors change but there were stalls selling tacos, antojitos, pozole, arepas, pastries, cakes, raspados, and drinks.
Andador Solidaridad Weekend Night Market
Address: Unnamed Road, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Operating Hours: Around 5PM-12MN, Fri-Sun
To help you navigate to these food stalls and restaurants in Playa del Carmen, I’ve pinned them all on the map below. Click on the link for a live version of the map.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST CHEAP RESTAURANTS IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN
Eating out in Playa del Carmen can be expensive, but as this list shows you, it doesn’t have to be. You can have tasty and filling meals for less than MXN 200. You just have to get off toruisty La Quinta Avenida to find them.
If you’re visiting the Riviera Maya and traveling with limited funds, then I hope this article helps you stretch your budget and make the most of your time there.
Thanks for reading and have an amazing time in Playa del Carmen!
Some of the links in this article on Playa del Carmen restaurants are affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a purchase at no added cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as this helps us make more of these free travel guides. Muchas gracias!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This guide to the best rooftop restaurants in Downtown LA was written in partnership with airporttransfer.com.
Deluxe skyscrapers towering over the Los Angeles skyline are a sight to behold. They’re spectacular to look at, both from the street and from the rooftop bars and restaurants that grace their highest floors.
Thanks to its balmy weather and many high-rises, Downtown L.A. (DTLA) is a haven for outdoor dining spaces with lofty views. Many overlook some of LA’s most iconic neighborhoods like Santa Monica (and the Pacific Ocean) and West Hollywood. Climb up to the right rooftop restaurant and Beverly Hills will feel within reach.
Whether you’re looking for a Zen-like outdoor dining space or a rooftop bar buzzing with activity, LA has you covered. And so do we.
From rooftop restaurants with fire pits to elevated brunch spots offering globally-inspired cuisine, this list of sky-high restaurants will give you lots to look forward to on your next visit to LA.
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THE BEST ROOFTOP RESTAURANTS IN DOWNTOWN LA
1. Perch (Multi-Level Outdoor Dining)
For over ten years and counting, Perch has been one of the top rooftop restaurants in DTLA. Illuminated trees, an eclectic mish-mash of chairs, and patterned tile floors help make the rooftop experience at Perch even more magical.
Perch consists of two outdoor dining spaces decorated in the French style. The lower level is both a rooftop restaurant and bar while the top level is a terrace that functions solely as a bar. Great cocktails with sweeping views of the downtown skyline await you at Perch.
Location: 448 S Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 Style: French, American, Bar Price Range: $$-$$$
2. Broken Shaker (Most Fun Rooftop Bar!)
Freehand Hotel is home to one of DTLA’s coolest cocktail bars – Broken Shaker. Situated on the hotel’s rooftop next to its pool, this rooftop bar that arrived in L.A. via Miami sports a tropical but effortlessly chic aesthetic. With its lounge chairs and many potted plants, it’s quite literally an oasis in Downtown L.A.
Soak in the tropical vibes at Broken Shaker while sipping on classic cocktails like Litty City and Seaweed Papi. If you’re feeling a little hungry, then you can nibble on small bites like twice-fried chicken wings with spicy gochujang sauce or fried fish tacos with salsa roja. Globally-inspired comfort food is the norm here.
Unlike the other rooftop bars on this list, Broken Shaker has a casual vibe that’s hard to match in DTLA.
Location: 416 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014 Style: American, Latin, Bar Price Range: $$-$$$
Cocktails by the pool. Photo by bogdan.hoda via Depositphotos.
3. LA Cha Cha Chá (Chic Mexican Rooftop Restaurant)
If tacos and tequila are your thing, then head on down to LA Cha Cha Chá, a Mexican rooftop restaurant and bar in the Arts District. Or should we say head on up?
Located in one of Downtown L.A.’s hottest neighborhoods, this modern cantina is effortlessly stylish and just flat-out beautiful. Exuding a modern Acapulco meets Palm Springs vibe, it’s the sister restaurant of Mexico City‘s Terraza Cha Cha Chá, a similarly chic space helmed by Mexican L.A.-raised chef Alejandro Guzman.
If botanas and antojitos like tacos dorados, mollete, and rajas con crema strike your fancy, then you need to cha cha cha to LA Cha Cha Chá pronto.
Location: 812 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 Style: Mexican, Bar Price Range: $$
4. Takami Sushi & Robata
Takami Sushi & Robata isn’t a true rooftop restaurant in Los Angeles. It isn’t a dedicated outdoor dining space but they do offer open-air patio views 21 floors above DTLA’s financial district. Oh, and did we mention they serve high-quality…no, sky-high-quality sushi and Japanese cuisine?
Located on the penthouse floor of 811 Wilshire Boulevard, you can enjoy Tokyo-quality Japanese food with Takami’s extensive list of sake, wine, and handcrafted cocktails. It’s the perfect venue to dine on sushi and robatayaki while enjoying sunset views of Downtown L.A.
Location: 811 Wilshire Blvd #2100, Los Angeles, CA 90017 Style: Japanese, Sushi, Asian Price Range: $$$
Photo by Aaron Thomas via Unsplash
5. The Rooftop at The Wayfarer
If weekend brunch is your thing, then look no further than The Rooftop at The Wayfarer. Featuring a 10-Course Exectuive Chef Brunch Menu, it’s where everyone’s rooftop brunch dreams come true.
Available on Saturdays and Sundays from 10AM till 3PM, Executive Chef Collin Smelser will take you on a gastronomic journey of ten dishes and drinks, featuring brunch favorites like Belgian waffles, salmon benedict, beignets, and prime New York steak. It’s the perfect brunch experience for diners looking for something a little beyond the ordinary.
Located on the 12th floor of The Wayfarer, right in the heart of the Broadway corridor on Flower Street, you can think of The Rooftop as your hidden oasis in Downtown L.A.
Location: 813 Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90017 Style: American, Asian-inspired, Bar Price Range: $$$
Like Takami Sushi & Robata, 71Above isn’t your classic rooftop restaurant. It isn’t a true outdoor dining venue but what it is, is a visually stunning restaurant that’s about as impressive as any you’ll find in Downtown Los Angeles.
As its name suggests, 71Above is located on the 71st floor of the US Bank Tower. It features sweeping 360º views of the Los Angeles skyline, making it one of the most unique and striking restaurant venues in Downtown LA.
Helmed by Chef Vartan Abgaryan, standout dishes at 71Above include hamachi crudo, crispy octopus, grilled ribeye, and A5+ Japanese wagyu.
Location: 633 W 5th St 71st floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071 Style: American, Vegetarian-friendly, Vegan options Price Range: $$$$
7. Upstairs at the Ace Hotel
Like Broken Shaker, Upstairs is a rooftop pool bar perched above the Gothic-inspired Ace Hotel in Downtown LA. Like every rooftop restaurant on this list, it offers magnificent views of the downtown skyline and its surroundings.
Upstairs is comprised of two parts – a tented bar section and an open pool lounge area. The aesthetic is relaxed and earthy, featuring tree trunk tables, vintage Mexican Equipale chairs, and Moroccan-style printed cushions. They offer an extensive cocktail menu and small bites that pair well with their drinks like tacos, ceviche, and housemade chips and salsa.
During the day, Upstairs has a relaxed vibe but come sundown, the place gets a dose of adrenaline with its nightly events featuring DJs, live bands, pop-ups, and other creative collaborations. If you’re looking for the perfect LA rooftop pool party, then Upstairs is where you’ll want to be.
Location: 929 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015 Style: Mexican, American, Bar Price Range: $$
View of DTLA from Griffith Observatory. Photo by Joshua Case via Unsplash.
From LAX Airport to the Rooftop Restaurants in Downtown L.A.
After arriving at one of the busiest airports in the United States, many of you will undoubtedly be tired and a little hungry. Before your business meeting or city tour, how about taking a quick transfer from LAX Airport to any of the rooftop restaurants featured in this article?
airporttransfer.com is an online marketplace for some of the best private transfer providers in Downtown L.A. If you aren’t familiar with the city, then our experienced chauffeurs will be both your driver and guide. Different types of vehicles are available at airporttransfer.com – SUVs, sedans, executive cars, limousines, MPVs, minivans, and more.
Depending on your needs, you can benefit from additional services like child seats, elderly assistance, VIP meet and greet, roof racks, bicycle racks, and luggage assistance, all at a fixed price. Your security and peace of mind are our priority. We offer a 100% refund guarantee, free cancellation within 48 hours, and a fixed-price policy.
Before you know it, you could find yourself sipping on classic cocktails at a rooftop restaurant in DTLA, thanks in part to airporttransfer.com’s hassle-free transfer.
Photo by motortion via Depositphotos
This article on the best rooftop restaurants in Downtown L.A. was written in partnership with airporttransfer.com. We haven’t personally used their services yet but we will on an upcoming trip. I’ll be sure to tell you about our experience when we do.
When it comes to the most delicious food in Mexico, a shortlist of destinations instantly springs to mind – Oaxaca, Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Puebla. Each city has its own unique culinary character and a few dishes worth flying for, but in the opinion of many (including ours), the Mexican cuisine in Puebla and Oaxaca is among the richest and most interesting in Mexico.
Being so close to Mexico City (just two hours by bus), many travelers treat Puebla City as a quick day trip from Mexico’s capital. But if you fly for food like we do, then you’ll know that Puebla deserves much more than that.
Aside from its many delicious antojitos and moles, Puebla is home to over 300 candy delicacies. With so many sweets like camotes, borrachitos, and tortitas to try, the confections in Puebla alone are worth a few days’ stay!
Food is a big part of the Mexico experience so if you plan on visiting Puebla, then be sure to visit these restaurants to find some of the best examples of regional specialties like mole poblano, chiles en nogada, tacos árabes, and cemitas.
DINING IN PUEBLA QUICK LINKS
To help you plan your trip to Puebla, we’ve compiled links to popular hotels, tours, and other travel services here.
Top-rated hotels in Centro Historico, one of the best areas to stay for first-time visitors to Puebla City.
Luxury: Casona de los Sapos Hotel Boutique
Midrange: L Hotel Perla Boutique
Budget: Hotel Escala Puebla Centro
Sightseeing Tour: Puebla Sightseeing Tour by Double-Decker Tram
Food Tour: 5-Hour Culinary Tour with Tastings
Cooking Classes: Puebla Cooking Classes
Day Trip: Full-Day City Sightseeing Tour with Visit to Cholula
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
Mexico SIM Card
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WHAT FOOD IS PUEBLA KNOWN FOR?
Puebla is home to some of the most delicious food in Mexico so you’ll find quite a few regional specialties here. Aside from finding the best restaurants, it’s important to know what dishes to look for so be sure to read our guide on what to eat in Puebla.
It lists and gives a detailed description of the most important and delicious dishes to look for so you might want to read that article first before continuing with this one.
THE BEST PUEBLA RESTAURANTS
Finding great local food is important to us so we scoured the internet and asked the opinions of locals to come up with this list of must-visit restaurants in Puebla. If you already know what Pueblan dish(es) you want to try, then click on the links below to jump to any section of the guide.
Chalupas: Restaurante Casareyna | Anotjitos Las Güeras
Cemitas: Super Cemitas El As de Oros | Cemitas La Colonial | La Antigua China Poblana
Pelonas: Comal | Anotjitos Acapulco
Molotes: Molotes La Ventanita | Anotjitos Acapulco
Dulces Tipicos de Puebla: La Gran Fama
Pasita: La Pasita
1. Tacos Árabes Bagdad
If you love tacos as much as we do, then tacos árabes should be tops on your list. Puebla is the birthplace of this dish, the very dish that inspired what many believe to be Mexico’s undisputed king of tacos – tacos al pastor.
Bagdad is one of the best places to try tacos árabes in Puebla. It’s the restaurant that was featured on the taco episode of Ugly Delicious with Chef David Chang. They flew to Mexico to tell the story of tacos and Tacos Árabes Bagdad was the restaurant they visited to try this important crossover dish.
Bagdad offers tacos made with both árabe and al pastor meat. You can get them as ala carte tacos or tortas but we recommend availing of one of the restaurant’s promos. For just MXN 60, you can get a quarter kilo (0.55 lbs) of meat with a few pieces of pan árabe and corn tortilla and a small jug of agua de sabor (flavored water). This is enough for one big eater or two people with modest appetites.
For more flavor, we ordered a side of jocoque which is a fermented milk product similar to sour cream. We suggest doing the same if you want more zing in your tacos.
Put them all together and voila! You have your own DIY taco árabe. Pan árabe really works best for this type of meat. I’ll explain more below.
If trying tacos árabes is important to you, then Bagdad is a must-stop in Puebla. There’s a reason why the Ugly Delicious producers featured this restaurant on their show.
Tacos Árabes Bagdad
Address: Av 2 Pte 311, Centro, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 11AM-8PM, daily What to Order: Tacos árabes
2. Tacos Beyrut
Located a few blocks from Tacos Árabes Bagdad is Tacos Beyrut, a similar but smaller taqueria with a more focused menu. They basically have just two things on their menu – árabes and falafel. I suggest trying both.
In the picture below, you can see the difference between taco árabe and taco oriental. They’re both made with árabe meat but the former is served in pita bread while the latter is wrapped in a smaller corn tortilla. Corn tortillas are great with al pastor but in my opinion, the chewiness and fluffiness of pan árabe works so much better with árabe meat.
I recommend getting the falafel as well. If you’ve never had it, it refers to a popular Middle Eastern dish consisting of deep-fried patties of ground chickpeas wrapped in pita bread with salads, pickled vegetables, and tahini-based (sesame) sauces. Tacos Beyrut makes theirs with beets.
Beyrut’s falafel is delicious but be careful not to get any of that purplish beet juice on your clothes!
This has to be the most beautiful meat spit I’ve ever seen. Unlike most spits, Tacos Beyrut intersperses the layers of pork with onions and herbs.
I was watching them grill this and the cook was carefully shaving meat off the corners first. I didn’t stick around long enough but I assumed he did this until he wound up with a perfect cylinder. The shape of the spit is another difference you’ll notice between árabe and al pastor.
If you like restaurants with highly focused menus, then you need to enjoy a meal at Tacos Beyrut. It’s tough to pick but this may be my favorite tacos arabes place in Puebla so far.
Address: Av 5 Pte 718-A, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 5:30-10PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Tacos árabes
3. Tacos Tony
Tacos Tony is another great place to try tacos árabes in Puebla. They have a wider menu that also features cemitas, falafel, quesadillas, queso fundido, and alambre.
Pictured below are two tacos árabes and a taco oriental. I recommend trying both, just to taste the difference, but árabe meat really does work best with chewier pita bread. It’s the closest thing to shawarma you’ll find in Mexican cuisine.
You can better understand the difference between árabe and al pastor meat in this picture.
Al pastor spits (leftmost) are much more orange in color due to the annatto seeds used in the marinade. They’re also shaped like a top, which is why al pastor meat spits are referred to as trompo (spinning top) in Mexico. Árabe meat spits are typically cylindrical in shape.
Don’t mind the size difference between the meat spits in this picture because this is an atypically small al pastor trompo. They’re usually much bigger, about the same size as an árabe meat spit.
Tacos Tony is located just a block away from the zocalo (main public square) so it’s a convenient place to visit for people wanting to try tacos arabes.
Address: Av 3 Pte 149, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 10AM-8:30PM, Mon-Sat / 10AM-7PM, Sun What to Order: Tacos árabes
4. El Patio y Las Ranas
El Patio y Las Ranas is another highly-regarded taqueria in Puebla, arguably the most popular on this list. However, they don’t seem to offer tacos árabes. Instead, they specialize in árabe’s cousin and Mexico’s most iconic taco – the al pastor.
El Patio y Las Ranas gives you the option of enjoying their al pastor meat in pita bread, flour or corn tortillas, or in sandwiches. They offer other types of meat as well like chuleta (pork chop), bistec (beef steak), chorizo (sausage), and cochinita pibil (pit-roasted pork).
Al pastor meat works very well in pan árabe as well. Corn tortillas are great but if you like the chewiness of pita bread, then I suggest trying this.
We absolutely love quesillo (Mexican cheese). It’s creamy and gooey and has a taste and texture similar to mozzarella.
If you love cheese, then we highly recommend trying queso fundido. It literally means “melted cheese” and refers to a bowl of melted gooey cheese served with flour tortillas. It can be served with just cheese or with some type of meat like chorizo mixed in. It’s sooo delicious!
Check out that cheese pull! As described, quesillo is very similar to mozzarella.
To eat, you take a generous helping of queso fundido and stuff it into a flour tortilla. Top it with one or two salsas and a spritz of lime juice and you’re good to go! You can think of it as a DIY version of a quesadilla.
Trying tacos arabes and tacos al pastor in Puebla is interesting because you can see how it evolved from a Lebanese dish into the Mexican favorite that it is today. By many accounts, El Patio y Las Ranas is one of the best places to enjoy tacos al pastor in Puebla.
El Patio y Las Ranas
Address: Av 2 Pte 105, Centro, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 12NN-8PM, Mon-Sat / 2-8PM, Sun What to Order: Tacos al pastor in pan árabe
5. Don Pastor
We’re partial to small, family-owned restaurants or street stalls and rarely go to chains. However, Don Pastor was one chain that we couldn’t pass up. You’ll see why below.
Don Pastor is a chain of taquerias with about five branches in Puebla. They have an extensive menu featuring typical taqueria offerings like tacos al pastor, árabes, carne asada, alambres, and queso fundido.
On the plate below are two examples of their signature dish – tacos al pastor. We usually keep our expectations to a minimum when it comes to cookie-cutter chains but these tacos were surprisingly delicious.
These carne asada tacos were fantastic as well. Carne Asada is traditionally made with grilled skirt or flank steak. Don Pastor smothers theirs in guacamole.
At El Patio y Las Ranas, we enjoyed queso fundido with chorizo. At Don Pastor, you can get it mixed with a generous amount of their tasty al pastor meat.
Gotta love that cheese pull! My god was this good.
Queso fundido has quickly become one of our favorite Mexican dishes. It’s seriously delicious no matter what type of meat it’s made with.
Don Pastor’s branding game is strong. They have their own line of branded salsas as well, all of which are absolutely delicious!
Don Pastor wasn’t on our list but we were so taken by their branding and decor that we decided to give them a try on our last day in Puebla. This has to be the most well-branded restaurant we’ve seen thus far in Mexico. Thankfully, we enjoyed their food as much as their branding.
We walked by three Don Pastor branches in Puebla but the one right next to Catedral de Puebla, just off the zocalo, is the biggest and most fun. I recommend going to that one.
Pictures don’t do it justice but Don Pastor’s interiors are so much fun. They’re colorful and rife with detail. It has the same visual appeal as a luchador’s mask and costume.
Here’s another reason why you should eat at the Catedral branch. As far as we know, it’s the only outlet that has this seating area made to look like a subway car. Isn’t this cool?
We wanted to sit here but unfortunately, so did everyone else. Boo! Next time then.
Address: C. 16 de Septiembre 203, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 11AM-11:30PM, daily What to Order: Tacos al pastor, tacos árabes, carne asada
6. Antojitos Las Güeras
Compared to Mexico City or Guadalajara, true street vendors – the ones that specialize in just one or two dishes – don’t seem to be as common in Puebla, at least not in its historical center. For the best street food, you need to walk away from the zocalo.
About 8-10 blocks from Puebla’s zocalo is Las Güeras, a small easy-to-miss stall in a frenzied market area. It’s a great place to try chalupas, which are fried discs of masa topped with shredded meat and other ingredients. It’s one of the most popular snacks or antojitos in Puebla. Be sure to try it topped with both red and green salsa.
The masa dough in a chalupa is shallow-fried but it isn’t crunchy. It’s soft and mostly takes the flavor of the sauce it’s topped with. It’s tasty and makes for a great appetizer or mid-afternoon snack.
We almost missed Antojitos Las Güeras because the pin (and name) in Google Maps is a little off. Incorrectly listed as “Chalupas Las Güeras”, it’s on the right block but located on the other side of the street. I pinned a more correct approximation of its location on the map at the bottom of this post. Just look for the tiny shop with the orange awning below.
Las Güeras is best known for its chalupas but they serve other anotojos as well like pelonas and tostadas. They make their pelonas stuffed with, you guessed it, chalupas. It’s a great place for tasty cheap eats in Puebla.
Antojitos Las Güeras
Address: Calle 5 Nte. 1003, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 11AM-8PM, daily What to Order: Chalupas
7. Restaurante Casareyna
Casareyna is arguably the best restaurant on this list. It’s the upscale restaurant of the 4-star hotel of the same name.
Google “best restaurants in puebla” and the highly-regarded El Mural de Los Poblanos will top nearly every list. We make room for one fancy restaurant on every trip so we considered going to El Mural de Los Poblanos, but our AirBnB host recommended Casareyna instead. He called it one of his favorite restaurants in Puebla.
Casareyna offers an extensive menu of Pueblan, Mexican, and international dishes. We came here specifically for their mole degustation but we decided to try their chalupas as well. As you can see below, their chalupas are less oily and more refined in presentation than the more humble offerings at Las Güeras.
What you’re looking at is one order of chalupas (four pieces) split onto two plates. They’re topped with red and green salsa, chopped onions, and pulled pork.
We tried their chalupas de mole poblano as well. Rich and deeply chocolatey, the discs of fried masa are topped with mole, shredded chicken, and sesame seeds.
This is what we came here for. We wanted to have a mole degustation and Casareyna is known for being one of the best places to try it in Puebla. Casareyna’s tasting menu consists of four different moles – mole poblano, pipian verde, pipian rojo, and mole blanco. They’re each made with chicken or pork and served with corn tortillas, rice, and purple yam puree.
Mole poblano is the quintessential mole in Puebla. It’s an incredibly rich and chocolatey mole made with over twenty ingredients. Pipian refers to sauces made with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) as its main ingredient, the most common being pipian verde and pipian rojo. Tomatillos and green chili peppers give color to pipian verde while pipian rojo gets its reddish-orange hue from red chilis and tomatoes.
Mole blanco refers to a Oaxacan mole made with peanuts, almonds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, and white corn tortillas. They’re lightly roasted and ground before being mixed with other ingredients like bananas, apples, golden raisins, chilis, milk, white chocolate, and spices.
All four moles are delicious but mole poblano is the most memorable and unique-tasting of the bunch. A true Pueblan dish, it’s extremely rich and chocolatey and probably unlike any sauce you’ve ever tasted.
Like many dishes in Mexico, mole in Puebla is eaten with corn tortillas. You can either break pieces off the tortilla and dip them in the mole or eat all the components together like a taco.
The Casareyna Hotel is about a 10-15 minute walk east of the zocalo. It’s in a quieter part of town just south of Paseo de San Francisco and Barrio del Alto.
Casareyna may look a bit intimidating but you can walk in without reservations. We did.
Restaurante Casareyna is an upscale restaurant with excellent service and reasonable pricing. At the time of our visit, the mole degustation cost just MXN 245. With appetizers, it’s good enough for two people.
Address: Privada 2 Ote. 1007, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 8AM-10:30PM, daily What to Order: Plato de degustación de moles
8. Comal (Fantastic Mole Poblano!)
Comal may be the best restaurant we visited near the zocalo. It’s a local favorite that serves many Pueblan dishes like mole, cemitas, chalupas, pelonas, and chanclas. They serve great food in a casual setting with excellent views of the Puebla Cathedral.
We enjoyed three Pueblan specialties at Comal, starting with this beautiful mole poblano. Compared to other dishes like cemitas or chalupas, mole poblano can vary greatly from restaurant to restaurant.
For your first taste, I suggest trying it at a highly-regarded restaurant like Comal. Mole is such a complex dish that it’s best to try it at a place that really knows what it’s doing. We had it at some random restaurant on our first day in Puebla and it tasted a bit bitter and unbalanced. This one and the version at Casareyna are so much better.
Can you tell I love tacos? I enjoy wrapping everything up in a taco but it’s easier to just rip up the tortilla and dip it in the sauce. Mole poblano is rich, thick, and tasty and makes for the perfect dipping sauce.
What you’re looking at is Puebla’s answer to tortas ahogadas – the chancla. It refers to a type of Mexican sandwich made with chorizo and ground beef drenched in a spicy tomato-based sauce. I enjoyed my fair share of tortas ahogadas in Guadalajara but I think I like chanclas even more. The bread is so light and delicate that you almost forget you’re eating a sandwich.
We only had chanclas this one time so I’m curious to see what it’s like at other places. I’ll definitely look for more restaurants that serve it on my next trip to Puebla.
I love cemitas, but I think I may enjoy pelonas even more. The pelona is a type of Mexican sandwich made with shredded beef, refried beans, lettuce, and deep-fried bread.
The fillings are great but what really makes this sandwich is the fried bread. It’s crisp but extremely light and crumbles between your teeth when you take a bite. It’s so incredibly delicious.
Comal is one of the most popular restaurants in Puebla. It’s located right in front of Puebla Cathedral, just a few doors down from Don Pastor.
We were lucky enough to be seated at one of the balcony tables and enjoyed this view of the church over lunch. Baroque architecture and great Pueblan food. What more can you ask for?
Address: C. 16 de Septiembre 311-b, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 8AM-12MN, daily What to Order: Mole, cemitas, antojitos
9. Antojitos Acapulco
I enjoyed the pelona at Comal so much that I needed to have it again. This time, at Antojitos Acapulco, a humble street food stall with no dining tables. As I expected, it was just as good as Comal’s pelona which goes to show that you don’t need to go to the most expensive restaurants to find the best food in Puebla.
Seriously, if you see pelonas on a menu, just order it. Chances are, it’ll be delicious.
Acapulco specializes in molotes but they offer other antojitos as well like pelonas, gorditas, flautas, tostadas, and these tasty tacos de canasta (basket tacos).
Also known as tacos al vapor (steamed tacos) or tacos sudado (sweaty tacos), tacos de canasta are filled with different types of stew before being bathed in oil or melted butter. They’re typically sold from baskets to keep them warm which is how they got their name.
Tacos de canasta are delicious and one of our favorite types of tacos. They’re a popular breakfast item or snack and can be found throughout central Mexico.
Acapulco makes molotes filled with a variety of ingredients like mushrooms, chicharron, shrimp, Oaxacan cheese, and picadillo. It’s similar in shape to an empanada except it has a thicker, harder shell and is topped with cream and one or two salsas.
Can you guess the molote filling? We got ours filled with spicy pulpo (octopus).
Open since 1962, Antojitos Acapulco is a true street stall located just around the corner from the zocalo. It’s another great place to get cheap eats in Puebla.
Address: Av 5 Pte 114, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 9:10AM-11PM, daily What to Order: Molotes, pelonas, tacos de canasta
10. Molotes La Ventanita
Like Anotjitos Acapulco, La Ventanita is a tiny shop that specializes in molotes, an empanada-like snack made with masa and all-purpose flour. They make other antojitos like tostadas and pelonas but what they’re really known for are their molotes.
I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture but the molotes at La Ventanita are huge. You can get them stuffed with different fillings like mushroom, potatoes, spicy shredded chicken, and beans. We got ours filled with chicharron and huitlacoche, a mushroom-like fungus that grows on corn.
Here’s a look at the huitlacoche. Also known as corn smut, it’s an interesting ingredient often used in Mexican cuisine. It’s soft and earthy and tastes very similar to mushrooms.
The La Ventanita stalls are so small that they’re easy to miss. There are actually two shops just a few doors apart. Just look for the red awnings with the words “La Ventanita” on them.
Here’s a closer look at one of the shops. It doesn’t seem like it but there are a few tables inside.
Molotes La Ventanita
Address: Av 10 Pte 304, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 10AM-8PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Molotes
11. La Antigua China Poblana
Aside from mole poblano, chiles en nogada was the one Mexican dish we were most excited to try in Puebla. With a dish as beautiful as this, how can you not be?
As described in our Puebla food guide, chiles en nogada is a seasonal dish that’s traditionally eaten from around August till mid-September. We were in Puebla in late February so hardly any restaurants were offering it at the time. Thankfully, we found La Antigua China Poblana.
Chiles en nogada consists of a stuffed poblano pepper covered in a creamy walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds. Pomegranates are in season in August and September which is why this dish is so hard to find at any other time of the year.
Interestingly, the consumption of chiles en nogada coincides with Mexican Independence Day. It’s a patriotic dish whose ingredients are meant to represent the colors of the Mexican flag – green poblano pepper (and parsley), white sauce, and red pomegranate seeds.
Here’s an inside look at the poblano pepper. It’s stuffed with a delicious picadillo mixture that goes so well with the creamy walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds.
Even though we had it out of season, it was still incredibly delicious. However, I can imagine it being that much better when pomegranates are in season. As you can see below, the seeds were pale and almost absent of flavor.
Chiles en nogada is a signature dish of Puebla so we’re looking forward to having it again when it’s in season. I’ll be sure to update this guide when we do.
In Guadalajara, tortas ahogadas are among the most popular comfort foods. In Mexico City, it’s tacos of every kind. In Puebla, it’s cemitas.
Cemitas are Pueblan tortas or sandwiches. They can be made with different types of meat though the most popular are cemitas poblana de milanesa – sandwiches made with a flattened breaded piece of chicken, pork, or beef.
You can find cemitas pretty much anywhere in Puebla – from proper sit-down restaurants like La Antigua China Poblana to street food stalls to fondas (small family-owned eateries). We never met a cemita we didn’t love so compared to dishes like mole poblano or chiles en nogada, I think it matters less where you try it, especially if you’re a first-time visitor.
La Antigua China Poblana is one of the restaurants you’ll find immediately surrounding the zocalo. Many of these restaurants tend to be on the touristy side but this was the only place we could find at the time that served chiles en nogada. Thankfully, their food was delicious and reasonably priced.
From the outside, La Antigua China Poblana is just a door with a sign above it but walk inside and you’ll find this interesting and surprisingly airy dining space. Aside from the food, the architecture is what we love most about Puebla.
La Antigua China Poblano
Address: Av 2 Sur 110 – 4, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 8AM-12MN, daily What to Order: Mole poblano, chile en nogada, cemitas, antojitos
12. Super Cemitas El As de Oros
If cemitas are appealing to you, then you need to go to Mercado de Sabores. Located about a 20-minute walk from the zocalo, it’s a large food hall with around two dozen food vendors, most of whom specialize in cemitas.
Upon the recommendation of our AirBnB host, we had lunch here after visiting Amparo Museum, one of the best museums in Puebla.
I’m not familiar with its history but it seems that Mercado de Sabores was meant to showcase the best in Pueblan food. Today, many stalls have closed, with the only ones thriving being the vendors specializing in cemitas. It was a bit sad to see but it also shows just how popular cemitas are in Puebla.
There are many cemitas vendors at Mercado de Sabores. But like hawker centers in Singapore, you go to the stalls with the longest line of locals. At Mercado de Sabores, that was Super Cemitas El As de Oros. Keep reading to see why they call their cemitas “super cemitas”.
It’s hard to tell from this picture but this super cemita poblana de milanesa was absolutely massive. It’s an extremely filling (and delicious) behemoth of a sandwich with breaded steak that was big enough for both of us. You’ll get a better sense of its scale in the next picture.
Can you get a better sense of its size here? It’s like one of those gigantic large dishes you see on YouTube!
To be honest, I still don’t think this picture adequately captures just how large this sandwich was. It’s a beautiful beast of a cemita that any sandwich lover needs to conquer in Puebla.
Super Cemitas El As de Oros
Address: Mercado de Sabores, Av. 4 Pte. 1104, Historiadores, 72090 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 10AM-8PM, Sat-Sun / 10AM-7PM, Mon-Tue (closed Wed-Fri) What to Order: Super cemitas
13. Cemitas La Colonial
You’ll be spoilt for choice with the sheer number of cemitas stalls in Puebla. One of the most highly-rated is La Colonial, a small cemitas stand just a couple blocks south of Mercado de Sabores. They serve cemitas and tacos made with different cuts of pork like pierna (pork leg), lomo (pork loin), and carnitas (braised pork).
Pictured below is my delicious pierna cemita. It isn’t a super cemita but it’s just as big on flavor. Like I said, we never met a cemita we didn’t like in Puebla.
The La Colonial pin on Google Maps is a little off. It’s located on the corner, across the street from where Google Maps says it is. I pinned its exact location on the map at the bottom of this post.
Cemitas La Colonial
Address: Av 2 Pte, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72090 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 9AM-7PM, daily What to Order: Cemitas
14. La Gran Fama
As described at the top of this post, Puebla is home to over 300 types of dulces típicos or traditional sweets. During colonial times, they were offered as gifts to the convents’ benefactors but today, you can find them sold from the dozens of candy shops throughout the city. In fact, there are so many sweets shops along Avenida 6 Oriente that it’s often referred to as “El Calle de Los Dulces”.
One of the very best candy shops along this street is La Gran Fama. Walk into this shop and one of the first things you’ll notice is how much classier it looks compared to the other shops. In the words of one reviewer, it looks like a “Parisian macaron shop”.
La Gran Fama provides excellent service. We asked our server for recommendations and she filled our tray with all kinds of Pueblan goodies like camotes, borrachitos, tortitas de Santa Clara, and mostachones.
Camotes – cylindrical sweets made from sweet potatoes – are among the most popular so be sure to get a few pieces of that.
La Gran Fama may look like a Parisian macaron shop but you won’t be paying Parisian prices. This bog box of handpicked dulces típicos cost us just MXN 157.
There are dozens of sweets shops along Avenida 6 Oriente. Ignore them all and make a beeline for La Gran Fama.
La Gran Fama
Address: Av 6 Ote 208, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 9AM-8PM, daily What to Order: Dulces típicos de Puebla
15. Puebla La Churreria
Churros – that delicious pastry dessert from Spain – isn’t an example of Pueblan regional food, but you can find darn good ones just a stone’s throw from the zocalo. La Churreria is one of the best places in Puebla to have churros and other pastries like buñuelos, cubiletes de queso, conos de crema, and bolas de Berlín.
Pictured below are churros, cubiletes, and two cups of hot chocolate. The churros here are crisp but super light and airy. They’re delicious.
Cubiletes are fantastic as well. They’re essentially Mexican mini-cheesecakes that resemble muffins.
Puebla La Churreria is located next to Puebla Cathedral, on the opposite side of Comal and Don Pastor. Don’t miss it.
Puebla La Churreria
Address: Calle 2 sur, Av 5 Ote y, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 7AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Churros and other pastries
16. Panaderia El Hospicio
We were lucky enough to be staying at an AirBnB in the same building as this panaderia or bakery. They bake their bread and pastries inside the building so every day, at least twice a day, we’d get a whiff of that heavenly aroma wafting from their ovens. It was torturous and intoxicating all at once.
We stayed in Puebla for over a week and new goodies would grace their shelves everyday. We bought something new every single day and everything we had was delicious.
This was easily my favorite pastry from the bakery. It’s some sort of strawberry cream cake. It’s a popular item and sells quickly but were lucky to score maybe four or five slices during our stay. It’s absolutely delicious, especially with a cup of hot coffee.
El Hospicio opens bright and early at 7AM and would tempt us with their pastries until 9PM every night. These guys are pure evil.
Panaderia El Hospicio
Address: Av 2 Pte 501-B, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 7AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Breads and pastries
17. La Pasita
Dishes like mole poblano and chiles en nogada are native to Puebla. Pasita isn’t just native to Puebla, it’s native to one Pueblan cantina.
Pasita is the signature drink of La Pasita, a small bar located at one end of Callejón de Los Sapos. Poured into a slender shot glass, it’s a type of raisin liquor served with a toothpick-skewered raisin and a cube of goat cheese.
La Pasita has been serving this drink for over fifty years. Both the bar and the drink are Pueblan institutions. In a way, taking a shot of pasita has become a rite of passage for people visiting Puebla.
The owners of La Paista are super friendly and offer great service. We had fun sipping on these pasitas and chatting with them in our broken Spanish. ¿Una mas por favor?
Pasita is the most well-known but you can get many other drinks here as well, like these shots of licor de almendras (almonds) and rompope. Rompope is a delicious eggnog-like drink made with egg yolks, milk, sugar, and alcoholic spirits.
Like Pueblan sweets, rompope may have originated from the convents of Puebla so it’s something you’ll want to try here as well. La Pasita is an excellent place to try it.
You can’t really tell from this picture but La Pasita has to be one of the smallest bars we’ve ever visited. It’s a standing-room-only bar that can fit a maximum of maybe 8-10 people.
If you like them enough, then you can pick up bottles of their pasita and rompope. I’ll definitely do that on our next visit to Puebla.
La Pasita is located on the right side of one end of Callejón de Los Sapos. You can’t miss it.
Address: Av 5 Ote 602, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. Operating Hours: 1-6PM, Wed-Mon (closed Tuesdays) What to Order: Pasita and other shots of liqueur
To help you navigate to these restaurants in Puebla, I’ve pinned them all on the map below. It includes a few other restaurants as well that we had on our list but couldn’t get to. Click on the link for a live version of the map.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN PUEBLA, MEXICO
As described at the top of this post, many travelers treat Puebla as a quick day trip from Mexico City. I hope this guide helps convince you that Puebla is so much more than just a side trip.
Like Oaxaca, Puebla has one of the most colorful culinary traditions in Mexico. With so many delicious dishes to try, you’ll need several days to get a real taste of Puebla.
We fell in love with Puebla and its food so we’re already looking forward to our next trip. Aside from chile en nogada, we’re looking forward to trying other seasonal specialties like escamoles. Known as “Mexican caviar”, it’s a regional delicacy made with ant eggs or larvae. I’ll be sure to tell you guys about it after we try it.
Until then, thanks for reading and have an amazing time eating your way through Puebla!
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