Choose a state in Mexico:
About this authentic Mexican tacos guide
The taco is a symbol of straight up genius when it comes to simple food preparation. The essence of the taco is the very essence of this site.
The taco was the household staple in Mexico for who knows how many thousand of years until the Spanish came and messed things up in the 1400s. Now the taco has conquered the rest of the world the same way the Spanish did them. Starting first with the USA.
Only because the Mexican taco took such a stronghold on American cuisine, is part of the reason many people still thinks it’s an all-American staple dish. But no matter how ignorant the collective mind can get, there’s no denying that its very pedigree remains truly Mexican.
In need of a demonstration, perhaps? Funny you should say that, because I just put together the definitive guide to Mexican tacos! This overview demonstrates the rich diversity of each region in the country. It will get your tastebuds flowing in no time.
DISCLAIMER: Basically, Mexico’s taco gastronomy is so vast, varied and ever-changing that it is physically impossible to fully cover everything. My rule is: Only the most delicious tacos makes it, and only if they are typical of a certain region or state. So get ready for the ultimate authentic Mexican tacos guide! Enjoy 🙂
Aguascalientes – Tacos Mineros
Even though this state is pretty petite it has many foods to offer, and of course it’s their taco that I’m gonna highlight. The Tacos Mineros are stuffed with grounded beans, pork and potatoes and includes heavy flavors like bacon, epazote and laurel.
Baja California – Tacos De Langosta Con Frijoles (Lobster Tacos With Beans)
Puerto Nuevo is a town located 55 kilometers from Ensenada, Baja California. The lobster is cultivated on the coasts of this area, it is one of the most succulent, red, with 55% meat in the tail and 45% in the head. More than five decades ago, it was just a small fishing community, loaded with live lobsters. So yeah, of course they started to make lobster tacos, what else would you expect?
Baja California Sur – Tacos De Marlin Ahumado (Smoked Marlin Tacos)
The cuisine of the southern part of Baja California is distinguished by the use of natural, rich produce that comes from the sea. Their fish and seafood catches the most discerning palate of anybody visiting.
Los Cabos is recognized as the world capital of marlin, so you can not leave this place without tasting the famous Smoked Marlin Tacos with cheese, which are prepared throughout the state.
Campeche – Papadzules (Egg Enchiladas)
The most known taco from Campeche is the campechano, which is a taco with mixed chorizo and chopped beaf steaks. But Papadzules is a traditional dish in the region, mostly known as hailing from the Yucatán Peninsula, and the taco variant is very popular in Campeche. In its simplest form it consists of corn tortillas dipped in a sauce of pumpkin seeds (known as Pepita) filled with hard-boiled eggs, and garnished with a cooked tomato-chile sauce.
Chiapas – Tacos De Hormiga Chicatana (Flying Ant Tacos)
The chicatanas flying ants leave their nests when the June rains starts. In the southern states of Mexico, they are collected by people of all ages to prepare the typical and famous “salsa chicatana”. I dare you to try.
Chihuahua – Tacos De Cecina (Salted And Dried Beef Tacos)
One of the main ingredients of the Chihuahuan kitchen is the cecina (salted and dried beef). With that ingredient various dishes are prepared, including the Machaca con huevos (with eggs), which is ideal to eat in a wheat flour tortilla taco. But when you’re in Chihuahua you’ll find a lot of variants with beans, bean and cheese, chili with cheese, cheese with pasilla chili and … just cheese.
Coahuila – Tacos De Machaca (Dried Meat Tacos)
Image credit: stu_spivack (Creative Commons) | BACK TO TOP ↑
In the state of Coahuila, wheat flour tortillas rule the world. The most popular tacos in this region are the burritas de machaca, prepared with dried meat from Muzquiz. You can also find beef tacos made on coal, which is insanely delish since the best meat in the country are produced in the north.
Colima – Tacos De Sesos (Brain Tacos)
These brain tacos are eaten during the Charro-Taurinas de Villa de Álvarez festival in the state of Colima. The marrow is also consumed in quesadillas and other dishes typical of the region.
Distrito Federal – Tacos De Suadero (tacos made with a cut of beef similar to hanger steak)
Within the insane variety that exist among the tacos you can find in Mexico City, there’s one particular taco that stands out. That is the tacos de suadero. The meat that is used here is from the cow, and the cut is between the cow’s behind and back of the leg. It’s a firm but greasy cut of meat, but marinated so well that when put in a tortilla with some hot sauce you’ll be in heaven fast. Available in any D.F. taquería, any time of the year.
Durango – Tacos De Caldillo Durangueno (tacos with beef stewed in chile sauce)
Image credit: Kraft | BACK TO TOP ↑
The state of Durango is pretty rich on meat. And it has an awesome name. Therefore, its tacos are equally awesome. Succulent carne asada is what you need to get here. Also popular are the brains of the cow, which they cook and crumble and drizzle over the taco. The Menonita cheese are great with the Durango-style quesadillas, but the taco with flambeed cheese is a must as well.
Guanajuato – Tacos De Barbacoa (tacos with meat wrapped in maguey leaves and cooked underground)
Image credit: Photobucket/0Frazier01 | BACK TO TOP ↑
In Guanajuato you’ll find the best tacos of the bajío region. The majority of tacos eaten here are the barbecue lamb, goat and pork. The brain tacos are very popular here as well. Cream tacos (chicken with tomato sauce and fresh cream) are delicious, ideal for those who wanna skip the spicy stuff, although you can season it with pickled peppers if you prefer. And to accompany the fried chicken, nothing beats tacos rancheros topped with chili sauce, oregano, garlic and onion.
Guerrero – Tacos De Camarones a la Mexicana (shrimp tacos)
In the state of Guerrero, especially on the coast, you will find endless varieties in cuisine, both Mexican and international. However, the typical food item of the state are the pozole and a variety of fish and seafood dishes, all delicious. As in most of the states of the coast, you will find the guerrerense version of the delicious fish tacos and shrimp, in addition to the highly revered Pellizcadas, which are tortillas stuffed with fish and tomato, olives and spices, which are eaten almost always during the night.
Hidalgo – Tacos de Gusanos De Maguey (Maguey worm tacos)
Image credit: GastroAwakening | BACK TO TOP ↑
In the state of Hidalgo you can enjoy fried maguey worms tacos, accompanied by a typical Chinicuil sauce and a glass of pulque. The Escamoles is a very special dish of the region that can be found only at certain times of the year. Basically, they are ant eggs. Now, before you run away in pure fear; according to connoisseurs, this is at a level that can compete with the best caviar in the world. Escamoles tacos with guacamole are worthy of the most demanding gourmet palette.
Jalisco – Tacos De Charales (tacos with deep-fried tiny lake fish)
Image credit: Twitter | BACK TO TOP ↑
A lot of the states in Mexico tend to adopt some flavors, but Birria (barbecued goat meat) is native to Jalisco. And the most popular tacos in this region comes with chopped onions and lemon. Birria is already spicy but if you prefer it, you can add more salsa to your tacos. Another typical meat of Jalisco, ideal for a tasty tacos, is the pastor sheep. Also, in the region of Lake Chapala, you can enjoy delicious tacos charales (small freshwater fish). And to accompany, how about a traditional Tejuino (refreshing drink of fermented corn) or a rich tepache?
México – Tacos De Guisado (tacos with stewed meat and vegetables)
The State of Mexico has an impressive variety of tacos. Being the closest to the capital, you can find all the tacos from any state in the country, but traditional to this particular state are barbecue lamb, carnitas, pork, different kinds of stews, maguey worms, escamoles (ant eggs), nopales, quelites (wild herbs), pumpkin, mushroom… well, as you can see the options are endless. Don’t forget the typical Toluca sausage, seasoned with almonds or peanuts and chile poblano, which gives it its characteristic green color.
Michoacán – Tacos De Aporreadillo (dried beef tacos)
Although found throughout the country, Michoacán is the cradle of carnitas. Meat, giblets, pork fried in its own fat in large pots of copper or clay. Add some oranges, a little sugar and tequesquite, adn you’ll get its characteristic red color. Carnitas are Mexican tacos are seasoned with chopped onion, cilantro, lemon and hot red or green sauce. So delightful! On the coast of Michoacán you can also enjoy fish and shrimp tacos, fried or cooked in tamale sauce and a few drops of lemon.
Morelos – Tacos Acorazados (“battleship” tacos)
Like the state of México, due to its proximity to the capital, Morelos has a huge variety of taco styles from all over the country. Morelos is one of the states where it’s believed that flautas were invented, but there are too many versions floating around. What is totally true through, is that the battleship taco comes from this state. Usually topped with a bed of rice and meat stew, it is the double tortilla which makes it original (and what I believe might be the reason for its battleship moniker).
Nayarit – Tacos De Pescado Zarandeado (marinated, grilled fish tacos)
Nayarit is located on the Pacific coast, so fish and seafood is naturally a staple ingredient in the region’s cuisine. The most traditional tacos are the chimichangas oyster, where the tortilla dough is prepared with water or the juice of the oysters. Toppings include scallops, tomato, pepper and onion slices; before closing the taco up and frying the whole thing in oil. How awesome doesn’t that sound? Be on the lookout for Chafaina, which are pork giblets prepared in a very special way that can be eaten in tacos or tostadas.
Nuevo León – Tacos De Machaca Con Huevo (shredded dried beef and egg tacos)
In Nuevo Leon, being a state in the northern part of Mexico, they eat tacos made by both corn tortillas and wheat flour. There’s no strong preference for either, they eat them all alike! Among the favorites eaten in the region are the succulent roasted goat tacos, accompanied with fried beans (seasoned with a little beer) and a rich spicy sauce. You can also get your hands on the tacos de fritada de borrego, the very norteño machaca tacos and, of course, the Gringa, which are typical of Nuevo Leon and are prepared with meat and cheese.
Oaxaca – Tacos De Cecina (dried beef tacos)
Did you know that there are seven kinds of mole in Oaxaca? There’s black, almond, coloradito, the chichilo, green, yellow and manchamantel, each with countless varieties and all delicious. Needless to say, eating mole tacos in Oaxaca is an unforgettable experience. Apart from that, you’ll find that beef jerky and pork enchilada tacos are popular as well. Or you can venture out and try the most exotic tacos, like iguana meat tacos, tacos with grasshoppers, and even ants.
Puebla – Tacos De Guisado (Stew Tacos)
The state of Puebla has seen the naissance of a lot of Mexico’s favorite dishes, such as the famous Mole, the Pipián, and the Tinga to name a few. That is why stew tacos are the most recommended in this particular state. (click on the links if the names don’t tell you anything) You can also enjoy Chalupas in green or red sauce, with chicken and grated cheese, and the popular Arab tacos with flour tortilla or pita bread. The traditional molotes are the poblana version of quesadillas, and come filled with brains, pumpkin flower, or potato.
Querétaro –Barbacoa De Carnero (barbecued mutton tacos)
Image credit: Maquinas Tortilladoras | BACK TO TOP ↑
In Queretaro, the most popular tacos are the barbecue mutton, and carnitas (pork fried in its own fat) from which you can find up to 40 varieties. The carnitas from San Juan del Rio are especially delicious, and come sprinkled with sesame seeds, which goes by the name of ajonjolí.
Quintana Roo – Tacos De Pescado Tikinxik (Fish In Achiote Tacos)
Quintana Roo and Yucatan share many of the typical ingredients of the region in their traditional food. Tacos are of course not an exception. Chicken and roasted pig are two of the favorite casseroles to makes tacos from. Fish tacos prepared with Achiote or chirmole is the taco that really defines the region, though. Also, in tourist places like Cancun and Cozumel, you can find tacos all kinds as a result of the domestic immigration from many regions of Mexico.
San Luis Potosí – Tacos Potosinos (tacos in the style of Potosí)
In San Luis Potosi you’ll find many places where they serve barbecue tacos and carnitas, but the typical Mexican tacos potosinos are made with a tortilla made by a chile sauce and then fried in hot butter. They then take the soft taco and make ranchero cheese tacos with potato cubes and cooked carrots, lettuce, grated cheese and chilies in vinegar as toppings.
Sinaloa – Tacos Machaca (Dried Beef Or Venison Tacos)
Image credit: Smokefree | BACK TO TOP ↑
In Sinaloa you’ll find the traditional Machaca taco (dried beef or venison) cooked with onions, tomatoes and spices everywhere. Interestingly enough, on the Pacific coast you’ll find amazing giant burritas of fish and shrimp that keeps the state otherwise known for pretty grim stuff with high regards on the culinary map.
Sonora – Chimichangas (deep-fried burrito)
Image credit: Flickr | BACK TO TOP ↑
In Sonora, a variety of traditional tacos are the Chimichangas which are filled with stewed meat or refried beans with chilli. They are folded with the upper and lower end first and then the sides, tightly closed, before being fried in hot oil and served garnished with lettuce or cabbage and slices of avocado and tomato.
Tabasco – Tacos Dorados De Pejelagarto
Image credit: Pulpogenes | BACK TO TOP ↑
Tabasco cuisine is original and different, with ingredients that aren’t found in other parts of the country. You can eat delicious tacos with grilled freshwater gar with amashito chile sauce and lemon, or chirmol (a sauce made with corn, pumpkin seeds and epazote). You can find a variety of fish and seafood tacos around the numerous lakes of the state with herbs and species typical of Tabasco, like chaya and chipilín.
Tamaulipas – Tacos Pirata (Pirate Tacos)
In Tamaulipas, the predominant cuisine is very norteño-style. You’ll find everything from machacado burritos with egg or cooked with tomato, onion, chili and spices, to flautas with shredded beef browned in oil. The flautas in Tamaulipas are longer than in other states, though.
The carne asada tacos barbecued over charcoal or mesquite wood are delicious, especially the popular taco pirata that has cheese and avocado and gets put on the grill until the cheese melts. On the coast of Tamaulipas you’ll find tacos with red snapper, shrimp and delicious crab spatter or chilpachole. If you go during the hunting season, you can also enjoy succulent venison and quail tacos in red chile.
Tlaxcala – Tacos De Barbacoa (BBQ Tacos)
The rich variety of tacos that you’ll can find in Tlaxcala include barbecue lamb baked in achiote with delicious salsa borracha (read: drunk sauce – made from fermented sap of the maguey plant). Other variants are beef tacos in pulque and stewed nopalitos in a lot of varieties. To be honest, the list of tacos from this particular state are insanely vast. Be grateful for this shortlist.
Veracruz – Tacos De Carne De Mono (Monkey Meat Tacos)
The soul food of Veracruz are the fruits of the sea, therefore it is not uncommon for the most tasty tacos to be made from red snapper, sea bass, shrimp or crab. If you’re not that into the fishy side of things, you can also try the monkey meat tacos (it’s actually marinated pork in sour orange juice that gets smoked). There are places in Veracruz where the tacos are especially delicious because the tortillas are made of mashed bananas, which gives them a slightly sweet and delicious taste, kind of like the Puerto Rican Jibarito sandwich.
Yucatán – Tacos de Cochinita Pibil (slow-roasted pork tacos)
The star of Yucatecan cuisine is the Cochinita Pibil (pork seasoned with achiote marinated in sour orange juice, which is baked wrapped in banana leaves in a pit barbecue). The Tikin-Xic is also from the Yucatán area, which is grouper fish prepared in a similar manner to the Cochinita Pibil which you can eat in taquitos accompanied with Xni-pec salsa. Chicken-style Pibil is traditionally eaten in tacos or panuchos (small tacos with refried black beans and lettuce). Papadzules are popular in the region as well. These are boiled egg tacos that are covered with a sauce of pumpkin seed and epazote herbs and served with a tomato, onion and habanero sauce.
Zacatecas – Tacos Envenenados (poisoned tacos)
This particular Mexican taco can only be found is the capital city of the state of Zacatecas. It is believed to have been invented in the 1950’s by a traveling salesman. The traditional way of preparing this taco is using poisoned beans with potatoes, but it’s common to add steak or cheese on them. OR BOTH! To taste, a combination of cumin, onion, green pepper and garlic are often used, but there are places that secretly prefer to let other seasonings rule because every taquería pride themselves with having their own secret formula. And that is precisely why the name “poisoned” has been used, because they have so much seasoning that it can get a little too heavy for some palettes.
Featured image courtesy of Lionel Gustave