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A Guide to Authentic Tacos in Cancun

by Kristin Carleen Busse (Kristin)

Is there anything more Mexican (or more delicious) than tacos?

Although there are many different types, the basic recipe for a taco is a tortilla filled with different types of meat and sometimes vegetables, like onions, and salsa. Real tacos don’t come in hard shells unless they have been rolled-up and deep fried (more about that later), and they are normally made with corn tortillas, not flour tortillas.

When on vacation in Cancun, don’t miss out on the authentic tacos that can be found in local restaurants and markets.

Here are some of the most popular (and tasty) types of tacos:

Al Pastor

Tacos al pastor

Tacos al Pastor are made from marinated pork cooked on a spit, which was brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants. They are eaten on a corn tortilla with pineapple, salsa (Red or green or both!), lime juice, onion and cilantro.

De Carnitas

Tacos de Carnitas

Tacos de Carnitas originated in the Mexican state of Michoacan. Pork is braised in lard or oil in an enormous copper pot until tender. Tacos de Carnitas are eaten on corn tortillas and chopped cilantro, lime juice, diced onionsalsa and guacamole are a must!

De Guisado

Tacos de guisado

Tacos de Guisados (which loosely translates to "stews") are normally served buffet style. Grab corn tortillas and choose a filling for each one. Common guisados include potato with chorizo, chile relleno (stuffed peppers), chicken with mole sauce and rajas con crema (sliced poblano peppers in a cream sauce). Toppings include rice, beans and salsa.

De Barbacoa

Tacos de barbacoa

Cancunenses (Cancun residents) love to eat Tacos de Barbacoa on Sunday mornings. Lamb is slow-cooked in garlic, onion and cinnamon, two kinds of Mexican chiles and other ingredients. Top the tacos off with salsa “borracha”, cilantro, onion and a little avocado.

De Canasta

Tacos de canasta

These street tacos originally from Mexico City are made by steaming small corn tortillas and their ingredients in oil or adobo. The most common fillings are potato, refried beans, chorizo, green mole and chicharron (fried pork belly). Tacos de Canasta are eaten with red or green salsa. “Canasta” means basket in Spanish, which is how you can spot vendors.


Tacos dorados

Tacos Dorados or Flautas are corn tortillas, generally filled with chicken or potato, that are fried in oil so they become crispy. Toppings and sides include shredded cabbage, crema (Mexican sour cream), guacamole, red or green salsa and crumbled queso fresco (Mexican cheese).

De Cochinita

Tacos de cochinita

Cochinita Pibil is a traditional Mayan dish. Pork (sometimes chicken) is marinated in acidic juices with achiote, wrapped in banana and slow roasted. Achiote is a traditional Mayan mixture of oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, garlic and salt. There is nothing better on Tacos de Cochinita than pink pickled onions and salsa habanero.

De Pescado or Camaron

Tacos de pescado

Tacos de Pescado (fish) or Camaron (shrimp) are especially popular in coastal areas. Try the scrumptious deep fried variety, topped with shredded cabbage, lime juice, chipotle dressing and spicy salsa.

Wash down these delicious tacos with a Mexican beer or a refreshing "agua fresca". You can find authentic tacos in downtown Cancun at El Poblano, Los de Pescado, Los Tarascos, Mercado 28 (Market 28) and Parque de las Palapas (Palapas Park).

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