On my recent visit to Mexico City, I teamed up with Tasty Bites food tours to better understand the city’s love for tacos. This is my time touring La Condesa taquerias on Tasty Bites Taste of Condesa food tour. For full details on how to book your own tour see below!
What Is Mexico City’s Taco Culture?
Mexico City loves them some tacos. You’d be hard-pressed not to stumble into a taqueria in any given neighbourhood. They are seemingly on every corner and range from questionable streetside taco stand to high-end restaurant.
I mean, I love tacos too. They’re delicious, cheap, and fast. This makes them the ultimate street food. But Mexico City takes it to the next level. Turns out, the answer is in its name.
Tacos are known as “the most democratic of Mexican foods.” They know no social or economic borders and are loved throughout the country. They are served up differently depending on the region, and in the country’s capital, they come together. You can enjoy each regions taco speciality in Mexico City and, as I found out, the diverse La Condesa taquerias are a great way to experience this.
Why Should You Tour La Condesa Taquerias?
As we made our way to the tour meeting point I noticed something odd. Gone were the honking cars and traffic found throughout Mexico City. Instead, green walkways and the occasional jogger or dog walker. Despite being minutes from Central, La Condesa feels worlds away.
Ninelth, our incredible Tasty Bites tour guide, filled us in on why Condesa feels so different. The neighbourhood was once the land of two countesses (Condesa in Spanish) from the colonial period and as such, much of it remained undeveloped and green. After the Civil War, the land split into three areas, Colonia Hipódromo, Colonia Condesa, and Colonia Hipódromo Condesa. Interestingly, the unique green circular walkway was originally a race track however after community uproar, it became a park.
Today, Condesa is Mexico City’s hippest neighbourhood and is popular with both young creatives and visitors. As such, there is no shortage of diverse cafes, bars, and restaurants. This, combined with its quiet greenery, makes La Condesa a great place for a taco crawl, and I couldn’t wait to get started.
Are Tacos Mexican Comfort Food?
Our first stop on the Tasty Bites food tour of Condesa taquerias was at a small hole in the wall shop. It’s the type of place you wouldn’t give two thoughts to unless you noticed the lineup of locals outside.
Ninelth explained that the draw is the homey style of tacos they serve up. Tacos de Cazuela are filled with stewed meat and vegetables that are cooked in earthenware pots (cazuelas). A typical Tacos de Cazuela shop serves a variety of dishes local to the region. Being Mexico City, the options are plentiful and remind many, Ninelth included, of home.
Turns out, tacos are also a comfort food in Mexico City. Tucking into a Rajas Con Crema, a sliced poblano pepper taco that is now one of Erin’s favourites, it’s easy to see (and taste) why this Condesa taqueria is the kicking off point for the day.
This kind of hand-picked stop is constant throughout the tour. This is because Tasty Bites support local businesses with an emphasis on fresh and local.
Is La Condesa Home of the Al Pastor?
Not all stops on this tour are mom and pop shops. Although El Tizoncito started off as a small Condesa taqueria, today it’s found throughout the city. It can credit its 20+ locations to its claim as the inventor of the Al Pastor, the taco of choice in Mexico City. This claim is well debated as the true origins date back to the 1930s when Lebanese immigrants shared their method of roasting lamb shwarma.
Still, there are no complaints here. El Tizoncito serves up the best Al Pastor I have ever had. So much so that it had me coming back for more while I was in town – morning, noon, and night.
Why so good? The marinated pork is roasted on a coal-fired spit, giving it that extra flavour other shops miss. On top of that (and the tacos), the sliced pineapple is skillfully trimmed and caught by talented chefs. This show somehow makes the tacos that much better.
I could have easily eaten a dozen more Al Pastor tacos to go with my remaining horchata but had to control myself. Ninelth kindly reminded us that there was so much more to sample on our Tasty Bites food tour. There is no shortage of awesome eats on this Condesa Taquaria tour and Tasty Bites dose an excellent job keeping you fed. My biggest tip and takeaway is to split portions. This might just get you to the end of the tour but note, this is easier said than done!
Surf and Turf
Our next stop was another unique one – a butcher shop/Condesa Taqueria. Makes sense right?
Tacos vary by the day at this somewhat hidden shop and we were lucky to land on Carnitas day. This style comes from the state of Michoacán and literally translates to “little meats.” What little meats exactly? Rich cuts of pork that are then braised in lard for hours and severed on soft tortillas with onions, cilantro, and guacamole.
Turns out Mexico City has a few spots like this. Shops that cook for their staff that decide to capitalize and do it for the public. The best example of this is El Vilsito, a mechanic shop by day and an incredibly popular taqueria by night. Just another reason to love this city!
From there we made our way to El Pescadito, another chain found throughout the city. They serve up delicious shrimp and fish tacos Baha style. Although I was sceptical being so far from the ocean, this place was jammed and I quickly found out why. On top of being some of the best tacos I had while on the Condesa taqueria tour, the real draw is the seemingly endless toppings bar. You are free to pile it on high. Looking around, this was the norm. When in Mexico City?
What Is La Condesa Street Food Like?
After walking off the first few meals through the expansive Parque España, it was on to some street vendors for some treats. Barbacoa is a roasted lamb taco that is prepared with love. The lamb is wrapped in agave leaves and cooked overnight in a pit. It is a task, to say the least, and as such is only available on the weekends. Our tour happened to land on a Saturday so we were lucky to try this delicacy. It’s rich, fatty, and flavorful. I can see why it’s said to cure hangovers!
One of the most loved streets eats in the city has to be Huitlacoche in a blue corn quesadilla. In case the blue corn wasn’t unique enough, Huitlacoche is an edible fungus that grows on corn. It dates back to the Aztecs as a staple in their diet. Interestingly, it provides more protein than the corn itself.
The Huitlacoche is an acquired taste. It reminds me of when I tried Durian for the first time in Singapore. It by no means tastes the same (or smells like farts), just that it is so different that I can certainly appreciate the appeal.
Mezcal and Chocolate
The Tasty Bites tour of Condesa taquerias is not just about the areas tacos. The tour concludes with a couple of fitting stops for Mezcal and chocolate.
La Condesa can take credit for resurrecting Mezcal. What was almost extinct thanks to the tequila industry, the hipsters of Condesa kept Mezcal alive and brought it to the mainstream. As such, there are plenty of Mezcalerias in the area.
Ninelth gave us a great explanation of why Mezcal is superior to the better known Tequila. What tastes like smoke and fire to me, sets it apart. This is thanks to it being made from a variety of different types of Agave plants whereas Tequilla is only made from one – Blue Agave. As such, Mezcal is complex and it can taste very different depending on how it’s made. It’s another thing that is an acquired taste but one that is well appreciated, especially in La Condesa and Mexico City.
Chocolate is another Mexican treat that is a highlight in the area. There are deep roots with the Aztecs using cacao as offerings to their Gods and as a ceremonial drink. The Spanish took chocolate back to Europe and got around the bitterness with the use of vanilla, sugar, and milk. Today the combination of these cultures can be experienced best at Tout Chocolat. This small chocolaterie in Condesa is very popular and is home to Latin America’s best pastry chef in 2019. I recommend the Mezcal chocolate!
Why Should You Tour Condesa With Tasty Bites?
Despite having no room for it, we enjoyed one last stop at Clemont Helados for some handcrafted ice cream. It proved to be a great place to reflect on the afternoon and all the great stops along the way.
La Condesa is the perfect neighbourhood to enjoy the many types of tacos Mexico City has to offer and Tasty Bites does a great job sharing the history behind it all. I highly recommend Tasty Bites tours for anyone looking for some amazing hidden gems with a side of knowledge. Ninelth’s love of her country shines through the food she shares and makes for a fun afternoon in one of Mexico City’s trendiest neighbourhoods.
For those interested in taking this tour, check out the link below!
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Although I was provided with a complimentary La Condesa Taquerias Food Tour,
the opinions, insight, and belly full of barbacoa are my own.