This guide is specifically for anyone who visits Cancun and wants to try a REAL Mexican taco.
Mexico is simply bursting with flavor.
Not only is the cuisine delicious it’s also VERY cheap.
So trust me, when you get here you need to know what to keep your eyes peeled for.
That’s where we come in.
We only want you to experience the creme de la creme when it comes to tasty tacos.
In case you’re wondering…
Want to know how what a fake taco looks like?
Pretty much anything pumping out of a Taco Bell is as Mexican as claiming Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day. (hint, it’s not!)
And guess what? There are some Mexican restaurants that understand you don’t know what the real thing is. So, they create something to match your Taco-Bell inspired expectations of what a taco is. For them, it’s easier than trying to convince you what the real thing is.
Is having an authentic Mexican experience important to you? Do you want to eat real, true Mexican tacos—the same ones the locals in Cancun eat?
Great! Then read on to learn more.
Real Mexican Tacos to try in Cancun:
Every taco in Mexico has a few underlying elements:
- The tortilla (base)
- The contents (the filling)
- The salsa (the toppings)
These 3 combine for the ultimate taco taste sensation.
1. Freshly made corn tortilla
These tortillas can be made—from scratch—from just FOUR ingredients:
- Special ground corn flour (corn meal or regular corn flour cannot be substituted)
- Lime (which is added to the ground corn flour to make “Masa Harina”
- Hot Water
If you have those ingredients and a tortilla press (or possess dexterous skills with an empty wine bottle), you can make’em right in your house.
2. The contents
This is the meat of the taco. Literally and figuratively. It’s the star of the show.
It can be made from different cuts of beef, pork, shrimp or anything you would include as a Mexican dish (more on that later).
3. The toppings
After you have a delicious and fresh tortilla filled with something tasty, its ready to top it off with any or all of the following:
- Salsas (jalapeno, habanero, tree pepper, green tomato, pico de gallo),
- Chopped onions either fresh or sautéed
Never assume a salsa isn’t super spicy. Try just a few drops before and wait about 30 seconds. Even if it looks just like guacamole, it could have chopped habaneros inside.
You can always as the waiter if the salsa is ‘salsa Picante?’, if they say ‘si’ (yes), then it means, yes it’s spicy!
However, just be aware that most Mexicans probably have a higher spice threshold than you.
Meaning they can probably handle the heat a lot better than you. 😉
4. The time of day
Did you know that not every taco is an “all-day” taco?
Some are only available for breakfast, others only at night.
Some are classified as breakfast tacos and others are classified as lunch or dinner tacos.
There are even some tacos that only really make an appearance on special occasions such as christenings.
Who knew, right?
The more you brush up on your taco homework, the more rewarding your taste experience will be.
You can thank me in the comments section later.
Mouth-Watering Mexican Tacos to Try When Visiting Cancun
1. Tacos de Carnitas
Sold only at night.
This is a very simple, yet delicious taco. First, you pick a cut of beef like:
- Suadero (cut of beef)
- Al Pastor (pork)
The Al Pastor tacos are cooked on a vertical rotisserie called a ‘trompo’. Slices of pork are stacked on top of each other, and spun until cooked and charred, then sliced off right into a tortilla.
This process ensures uniformity so that every taco gets deliciously roasted pork.
The sirloin, suadero, and tongue are also very popular.
2. Tacos de Cochinita
Generally in the morning, but can be consumed throughout the day. They tend to open with the sunrise (if not sooner) and are sold out by around 10-11am.
Once you take your first bite you’ll understand why they sell like hotcakes.
This is a critical taco to have while you’re here because it is a local recipe to the Yucatan. Each state in Mexico has it’s own signature dishes.
Here on the Yucatan Peninsula Cochinita Pibil is the regions most celebrated taco.
It is a citrus marinated pork mixed with an achiote tree seed salsa to give it a distinct reddish-orange hue.
It’s a juicy filling marinated for a lengthy period of time to give it it’s rich and mouthwatering flavor.
Topped off with chopped red onion marinated in lime sauce, a dash of habanero salsa, and you’re set to go!
Pibil refers to the cooking method. The word “pib” meaning buried, in which foods and various meats are wrapped (often in banana leaves) and cooked in a pit oven.
Trust me, if you only try one taco while you’re here, make sure it’s this one!
3. Tacos de Guisado
Only in the morning. By around 11 am they’re usually sold out.
These are tacos filled with anything from a Mexican stew.
According to Banquetes Costanza here in Cancun, they can include any of the following:
- Tinga de res o pollo (chicken or beef in a sweet, tangy sauce)
- Chicharron en salsa verde (Grilled Pork fat in green tomato sauce)
- Picadillo (seasoned ground beef mixed with vegetables)
- Pollo con mole (chicken with mole sauce)
- Papas con chorizo (potatoes with chorizo sausage)
- Rajas con crema (corn casserole with cream)
‘Tacos de guisado’ are the perfect way to start your day. They are the breakfast of champions!
Try them to see what all the fuss is about for yourself.
4. Tacos de Camaron
In the morning and lunch. Generally, they aren’t sold at night.
It’s true what they say, less is often more. These tacos are pretty straightforward but so incredibly good.
You have seasoned, breaded shrimp topped off with pico de gallo, lime and maybe another salsa on top. Top tip, they taste even better while you’re sat by the beach hearing the waves of the Caribbean ocean come rolling in.
Definitely one for seafood lovers, shrimp doesn’t get much fresher and tastier than this.
Pairs PERFECTLY with a Corona. 😉
Be warned this taco is extremely addictive, once you have one you will definitely be back for more.
5. Tacos de Chicharrón
Generally consumed for breakfast, although they are often eaten throughout the day too. You’ll see them for sale on weekends along the highways in areas of Mexico where there are a lot of pigs.
Chicharrones are usually eaten as a crispy snack, but they also make a tasty taco filling when heated in a sauce until softened and chewy.
The filling is made from pork belly which has been cooked for a long time with the skin on and contains a little meat.
They are almost always made to order. 🙂
The perfect hangover treat!
6. Tacos de Bistec
Best enjoyed at nighttime!
Tacos de Bistec!! Or Mexican Steak Tacos.
When you come to Mexico you will often see different food stalls or stands by the side of the road. Don’t be put off by their often shabby exterior this is where you will find the BEST tacos.
It’s the ultimate street food experience.
Good taco stands usually have a light hanging from the roof, and a good telltale sign is the number of people hanging around it like bees to a honeypot.
You can also detect the smell from several yards away.
If you’re a steak or meat lover just listen out for the grilling and sizzling and follow the sound.
Eat these on the way home after a night out and we guarantee your hangover won’t be half as bad!
7. Tacos de Chorizo
Tacos de Chorizo is enjoyed at all times of day but particularly at night! Fridays and Saturday’s are the busiest days for tacos, since it means the end of the work week and oftentimes, payday!
This is a simple taco made using only a few ingredients.
However, there’s a reason the saying ‘less is more’ has stood the test of time, the lack of ingredients in this tasty taco definitely does not compromise the flavor.
When the meat is being cooked the chorizo is seasoned with a large number of spices.
Toppings such as pineapple pieces are usually on offer at the taco stand. This is optional but definitely recommended as the flavors complement each other beautifully.
Trust me, don’t knock it till you try it.
Who would have thought they could be such a great combination!
8. Tacos de Barbacoa
Typically, this taco is eaten on special occasions. Events and such as birthdays, christenings, weddings, and sporting events.
Taco de Barbacoa is a delicious blend of soft juicy meat, dried chilies, and spices.
They are usually eaten with sliced cilantro and a squeeze of lime!
Be warned these tacos are very moreish.
9. Tacos de Pescado
Tacos de Pescado can be enjoyed all times of day but best served around lunchtime by the beach.
Tacos filled with fish!
Seafood lovers, rejoice.
Due to the vibrant marine life that inhabits our lush waters surrounding the Yucatan Peninsula we are privileged to have some of the best seafood in the world!
Legend has it that in the 60’s in a famous market on the East Coast of Mexico close to Baja California known as “Mercado Negro” due to the illegal sale of species such as lobster, shrimp, and abalone, the famous and acclaimed Taco de Pescado was made for the first time.
We hope by now that we have your taste buds tingling. Mexico is simply bursting with flavor and the sooner you get here the sooner you can experience the flavors for yourself.
Enjoy this type of taco by the beach at your favorite beach club. Wash it all down with the famous Mexican Chelada con Amber.
You can thank us later. 😉
Foodies will never want to leave.
If you liked this post be sure to share it with fellow taco lovers, or if you have any questions be sure to let us know, we would be happy to answer them for you.