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Historic Center Food Tour (Self Guided), Mexico City

A combination of history and tradition in Mexico City permeates all aspects of life, and the food scene is no exception. For centuries, food and drink have been an inseparable part of the city's culture manifested in notable markets and eateries, and some truly amazing recipes making up what we call the Mexican cuisine. This self-guided tour allows you to explore some of the top food-related landmarks in the historic downtown of Mexico City.
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Historic Center Food Tour Map

Guide Name: Historic Center Food Tour
Guide Location: Mexico » Mexico City (See other walking tours in Mexico City)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 4
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • San Juan Market
  • Pulqueria Las Duelistas
  • El Huequito
  • Dulceria de Celaya
1
San Juan Market

1) San Juan Market

Built in 1955 as part of the city authorities' efforts to regulate sales by small vendors, the indoor San Juan market is one of the oldest in Mexico City. Located in the heart of the historic center, it takes the name from the adjacent San Juan Plaza. The actual selling of fine foods at Ernesto Pugibet Street dates back to the early 20th century, and initially took place on the site of the former warehouses of the Buen Tono cigar company, officially named after the former owner of the land, Ernesto Pugibet, who ceded it to the city.

While similar to other community markets in terms of appearance and internal arrangement, the San Juan market is distinguished for its specialization and clientele. Initially it specialized in basic foodstuffs, however, starting the 1970s, it has been catering mostly to chefs, gastronomy students, restaurateurs and foodies, many of whom are foreigners with long-standing relationships with particular vendors who offer gourmet and exotic foods. Many of the products sold here can be found in just a few or no other places in the city. Because of the vast majority of the clientele being male, the San Juan is jokingly referred to as the “men’s market.”

Here, you can come "up close and personal" with practically every meat or fish you can imagine, from indigenous delicacies to rare foreign imports. Among these are iguana, skunk, deer, rabbit, suckling pig, goat, lowland paca, wild boar, venison or crocodile, as well as the rarely found in the Mexican cuisine ostrich, buffalo or even lion or tiger! The exotic meats are sourced both, in Mexico and internationally.

Among the poultry sold here are fresh quails, Cornish hens, ducks, pigeons, geese, turkeys, doves, as well as eggs from various types of birds. The market also has some of the finest seafood selections in the city, both Mexican and imported, including caviar. Alongside this, there is a galore of insect staples of the pre-Hispanic diet like taratulas, scorpions, cockroaches, grasshoppers, maguey worms, and escamoles (ant larvae, also known as "Mexican caviar"). The insects are most commonly eaten like chips, served in tacos, or used as an adornment for other dishes.

Other produce includes fruits, vegetables, edible flowers and herbs, many of which are from foreign sources for international cooking. Also, there are seasonal Mexican specialties, such as wild mushrooms, that fill the stalls in July and August.

Tip:
If you're queasy about blood or raw meat, this is not your place.

Operation Hours: 9:00 - 17:00 Daily
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Pulqueria Las Duelistas

2) Pulqueria Las Duelistas

Sitting just a few blocks south of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Pulqueria Las Duelistas is a great place to sample pulque. This freshly fermented sap of giant agave, with a slightly viscous texture and many well-documented nutritional qualities, has about the same potency as beer. The regular crowd of young locals and youngsters at heart creates a bit of a chaotic vibe here, even in the earlier hours, and, as the day progresses, it gets younger with those packing this small bar to the full so as to enjoy a dizzying variety of pulque.

Graffiti-like painted walls and ceilings, metal stools without cushions, ceiling fans and no A/C... this is what makes a pulqueria and is definitely not for the shy! You have to know what you’re getting into before coming here. To an outsider, it may take a bit of courage to enter the saloon style doors, but if you do get in, you'll be happy you did, albeit not without some feeling of an oddity sitting next to a pile of empty plastic bins. With luck you may find yourself a spot at a communal table to squish in between the locals who will be surprised to see extranjeros ordering some ‘pulques de canela.’

Why you should visit:
To trace the roots of Mexico City drinking culture. Back in the 1880s, they say, there was a pulqueria on every block in the city. Now there are just a handful of places remaining that exclusively serve fresh pulque. Perfect for a quick break in a day of touring, when you’re not really hungry.

Tip:
While there's a variety of fruit-flavored versions, the original unadulterated Aztec concoction, called Pulque Blanco, which is tart and funky, really does stand out from the crowd. It’s very mild but with its own tang.
Otherwise, order one of the 40+ revolving “curados,” naturally-flavored pulques of which there are always several available. Try the guava, peanut, celery or cinnamon pulque in particular (dusted with fresh cinnamon on top). Very delicious!
There’s a lot of pride around pulque, and a certain communal aspect to it, so don’t be surprised if someone pours you a taste from his or her plastic pitcher.

Operation Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
3
El Huequito

3) El Huequito

They say, you shouldn’t leave Mexico City without eating at least three Tacos Al Pastor, which is a Mexican take on Middle Eastern shawarma – only with pork instead of lamb, tortilla instead of pita, and a spicy adobo rub. They also say that they the best tacos you may possibly have ever are the ones by El Huequito. In business since 1959, this place claims to be the first to serve this dish in Mexico City, started off as a walk-up stand on the street in the historic center near Mercado San Juan. Although today El Huequito has several sit-down locations dotted around the city, the original “hole in the wall” with a skinny high-topped table out front is still considered to be their best.

Famous among "Tacos Al Pastor" aficionados, this small, closet-sized stall, with no sitting area, has a lot of character and is always surrounded with tons of locals. Prepare to stand by the sidewalk to eat your tacos, which is, in fact, the proper way to have a taco in the first place. Whilst adhering to the adage “do one thing, and do it well,” at El Huequito, alongside traditional Tacos Al Pastor, you can get fresh tortillas, gringas, salads, and guacamole salsas to die for. Paired with their on-point service, this ensures the dining experience by far more more than just casual.

Why you should visit:
To try the no-frills grande dame of Tacos Al Pastor the proper way, i.e. shaved off a rotating spit and eaten while standing on the sidewalk.

Tip:
Make sure to add a dollop of herby-spicy green salsa on top of your Tacos Al Pastor, and grab plenty of napkins.
4
Dulceria de Celaya

4) Dulceria de Celaya

Established in 1874 in the city center of Mexico City, this sweet boutique is dedicated to the promotion of traditional Mexican confections with a decidedly antique feel. The patina acquired by the shop over the years attests to its long history. La Dulcería de Celaya was founded by the Guizar family with the idea of selling candy from all over Mexico under one roof. Over time, they started producing their own candy in the store basement.

Today, every single candy, cookie or cake displayed in the shop is made at the company’s own factory. The production has long outgrown the basement workshop, but the sweets are still made in the same artisanal way, following the recipes used for more than a century. The production range includes traditional Mexican biscuits and sweets, among which are coconut stuffed limes (limones cocadas), pig-shaped cookies, Tortitas de Puebla (pie crust type exterior with caramel filling), colorful lagrimas (flavored liquid filled candies) and many other items. The sweets are organized neatly in trays, like precious jewels of every imaginable color, so it's fun to merely browse.

With a green and gold Art Nouveau sign, complex tile work and ornate walls, this shop projects the image of a Parisian patisserie, but the meringues, candied fruit, and coconut-flavored sweets bring you back to Mexico City. Anyone with a sweet tooth will certainly find something to their liking here. These sweets are also great gifts to take home.

Tip:
If money is no object, stock up on traditional Mexican sweets. Here are some suggestions: aleluyas – small, round candies made from either pecans, dates, pine nuts, almonds or milk; mazapanes – made with peanut paste; alegrías – bars made from amaranth seeds held together with honey; cocadas – made with coconut flakes; bollitos – rolls of candied fruit such as guava or strawberry; camotes – traditional sweet potato candy from the state of Puebla; cajeta – candies made with caramelized goat’s milk from Celaya in the state of Guanajuato; tamarind candy – available in two versions, sweet and spicy; enjambres – balls of chocolate and pecans, covering marshmallows and in tarts, cakes and cookies; and tres leches cakes.
And if you're on a strict budget, consider a piece of crystallized fruit like lime or pineapple, or a shatteringly crisp meringue.

Operation Hours: seven days a week, from 10:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Walking Tours in Mexico City, Mexico

Create Your Own Walk in Mexico City

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Creating your own self-guided walk in Mexico City is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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Chapultepec Park Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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Famous Religious Edifices

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles

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