Eating on the street is the cheapest and most convenient way to eat in Mexico. Street vendors are practically everywhere selling meat, tamales, tacos, bread, sweets, fresh water of various flavors and other delicious snacks, depending where you are.
So how can you tell where is safe to eat and which stalls to avoid? Here are some tips on how to eat well on the street:
- Popularity: If the stall is full of hungry locals, it’s probably safe. This may seem like common sense, but at some point, you’ll be tempted to skip the line and eat at the barren stall next door to save time. Don’t do it! Locals know best.
- Family style: If there are women and children eating at a food stall, it’s probably safe. No one is going to (knowingly) feed their child something that is harmful to digest. If a family is eating out, the food is probably delicious and well prepared.
- Money Handling: You want to eat somewhere that is clean, and that includes the handling of money. Coins and bills carry a lot of germs. The person handling the money should be different from the person preparing the food; or if there is only one person at the stall, they should put a plastic bag over their hand before accepting payment. Watch for a money exchange before ordering.
- Local Favorites: Try and stick to local dishes: mole and tlayudas in Oaxaca; fish, shrimp and ceviche along the coast; pre-hispanic cuisine in the Yucatan. Local favorites are not necessarily cheaper, but definitely more readily available and much more satisfying than say, a hotdog.
- Accept recommendations: They’ve never steered us wrong. Don’t be shy – go ahead and ask “donde debo comer?” (Where should I eat?) Like we said, locals know best.
- Cerveza guey: Glass beer bottles are recycled in Mexico, and are not thoroughly sanitized before they’re refilled. Before taking a long sip from your Pacifico, Indio, Modelo or Dos Equis (just to name a few), wipe off the moth-piece with a napkin and then run a lime along the rim. The citrus will kill the germs.
What are some of your favorite street stands to eat at abroad?