Best Tacos and Gluten-Free Food in Mexico City
When I landed in Mexico City for the first time, I could not wait to try tacos, enchiladas and all the other local flavors. Lucky for me, there was more than the standard “taco and burrito” fare that you get faced with when you travel places other than Mexico. In exploring Mexican cuisine, there’s so much to learn that is not demonstrated at home (well, outside of Mexico) by Mexican restaurants that make the staples we’re used to.
Mexico City is by far one of our favorite cities in Latin America for eating, drinking and trying new coffees in some of the city’s best cafes, and that’s because Mexican food is one of our favorite cuisines. In the list below, you’ll see how much Mexican food we eat while in Mexico - we can’t get enough of it!
Have you heard of a tlayuda? Have you ever eaten chilaquiles? We’ll tell you where to get these awesome foods. Mexican cuisine is incredible, and it takes exploring Mexico’s largest metropolis to find these specialties.
Which Mexican foods are gluten-free in Mexico City?
Because of the corn component in Mexican food, eating gluten free for the 45 days I lived in Mexico City was not difficult. Well, it’s not difficult if you love tacos as much as I do!
Here are some foods you can eat on a gluten free diet in Mexico City:
A corn tortilla, filled with a filling like meat, vegetables, fish or seafood. To avoid fried items and to avoid cross-contamination, stay away from fried fish or fried seafood, and opt for simple grilled meat or chicken. My favorite: al pastor, or pollo asado.
You’ve probably seen enchiladas on menus in the US or other non-Mexico countries. Enchiladas are rolled corn tortillas, baked into a bath of salsa. Usually they’re stuffed with chicken or beef, with cheese on top. Heaven.
Tamales are a staple for street vendors, and they’re often easy to come by, and cheap. Tamales are corn flour with a center of cheese, chicken or both, and are steamed into a corn husk or banana leaf, depending which part of the country you’re in. Some are spicy, so it’s good to ask if they are ‘picante’ or not.
OMG, I LOVE chilaquiles! I had never heard of this dish before. Chilaquiles are corn tortilla strips simmered in salsa and can come with meat or cheese. If you love salsa like I do, order this as soon as you can.
This is a street food that consists of a flattened oval of corn dough, loaded with cheese, greens and beans. Depending on who’s cooking them, they may also have different vegetables added, or meat.
It’s your chance to eat Mexican pizza, and WHY on Earth haven’t these become popular north of the border?! This is a dish that comes from Oaxaca and is made from a large round corn tortilla covered with cheese, meat, lettuce, avocado and salsa.
This is a street food, or ‘antojito’ (little craving) made from corn dough. A tlacoyo looks like a pinched oval, and will be topped with anything ranging from and including salsa, cooked cactus, other greens, onion, cilantro, meat and/or cheese. If you’re vegetarian, ask for ‘sin carne,’ and if you’re lactose intolerant like me, ask for ‘sin queso y sin crema.’
I’m not a fan of pulque, but it certainly does not have gluten. Pulque is a sour drink made from the fermented sap of the maguey (agave) plant. Maybe you’ll like it in a fruity flavor, if you can find it. This is for the adventurous. No gluten here!
Also a gluten-free drink, and many people confuse mezcal with tequila. They are different! Both don’t have gluten, by default. Try a mezcal margarita.
Best for local farmers markets in Mexico City
Tianguis de los Martes, Condesa
“Tianguis” was a new word to us. It’s Mexican Spanish for “open-air market” or “bazaar,” and in Condesa, there’s a Tuesday market called Tianguis de los Martes. This market is a favorite in the neighborhood.
First, you’ll see all the fruit and vegetable sellers. You can pick up your fresh fruits here – way better than going to a modern supermarket! Next, head toward the food vendors, who are all cooking up their specialties. You can get tacos with various fillings and can watch the vendors do the whole process. Try an agua fresca for dessert!
Best for dessert and ice cream in Mexico City
Neveria Roxy is like a time warp and blast to the past to a proper Mexico City ice cream parlor. Neveria Roxy is cash-only, and a fun place to try ‘helado’ (ice cream) in a variety of flavors, ranging even to sorbets made from Mexican fruits. Where else can you try an iced treat in the flavor of Guanábana or Mamey?
Dan loves Frëims because it’s a great place to eat lunch, work, drink coffee and have brunch. You can spend a lot of time here because Freims has it all, including an excellent location on Avenida Amsterdam and between the parks. The cuisine is not necessarily Mexican, so you can get your fix on chicken and waffles, or the array of waffle dessert choices.
Best for vegan & gluten free dining in Mexico City
La Pitahaya is a cozy restaurant in Roma Norte and serves up vegan delicacies based off of true Mexican meals. EVERYTHING on the menu is vegan, creative and delicious. We had the curry potato tacos… twice. La Pitahaya is a neighborhood and traveler favorite.
Origenes is a health dream – restaurant and cafe, with outdoor seating and a fresh market inside where you can buy specialty products in the vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and organic range. Come for coffee or brunch, stay for snacks. They have several locations in very nice areas of CDMX, and you can find the list here.
Ecos del Mundo
Located on a street with a lot to eat and drink (I’m talkin’ about coffee, here) in Coyoacan, Ecos del Mundo is a health cuisine restaurant where you can get an array of fresh smoothies and juices, and vegetarian delights. They also have a ton of fresh breads, and some items for take-out.
Best for regional Mexican food in Mexico City
Restaurante Doña Vero
This Oaxacan restaurant came recommended by my Spanish teacher, and the food did not disappoint. Restaurante Doña Vero has a fridge of craft beers, Day of the Dead decor and Oaxacan cuisine you can try to your stomach’s delight.
Think Smorgasburg-meets-Mexico and what you get is Mercado Roma in Roma Norte. Here, you can get craft tacos (is that a thing?), pizza, regional cuisine and Western foods, all under one roof, and alongside vendors who will serve you mini shots of mezcal until you decide on the bottle you want to take home and savor.
My favorite vendor of all, though, is La Otilia, which is certified as “the first 100% gluten-free premises in Mexico.” This is where I had a tasty gluten-free beer, from a brand that I previously had never tried before! La Otilia also has desserts and snacks.
Best for tacos in Mexico City
Bring on the tacos – this is why I came!
I had heard about Taqueria Orinoco via some referrals, and it was great. I took Dan here as a surprise, and we ate our fill of tacos al pastor, along with a giant hibiscus drink. Taquería Orinoco is popular with expats and travelers, but it doesn’t take away from its authenticity as a proper taqueria. They take credit!
La Cueva del León
I learned from a friend that you can get lettuce tacos at La Cueva del León. This spot is located on the main thoroughfare of Avenida Nuevo Leon, across from Parque España. This is also where Dan tried a ‘sope,’ thinking it was ‘sopa’ (soup). Sopes are corn tortillas topped with meat, beans or cheese. It was definitely not soup. The tacos al pastor here are a treat!
Taquería Tlaquepaque s a mouthful, but fun to say. It became our favorite downtown Centro spot for tacos, tortas, vegetarian choices and fresh smoothies. To note: lots of choices of everything. Popular all the time. Cash only. Delicious tacos. Vegetarian tortas, for Dan. The smoothies are HUGE (try the guava, or “guayaba” in Spanish).
Tacos de Canasta Las Rejas
A local secret, tacos de canasta (still gluten-free!) are a special little treat and you can rarely buy only one. Tacos de canasta are tiny pre-made tacos that sit in a ‘canasta,’ or basket, from when they’re made at dawn until they sell out.
A single canasta will have thousands of these little tacos, which are usually served cold-ish and with a bucket (yes, a bucket) of salsa that you can self-serve yourself. Usually, there’s not much variety aside from chorizo, papa (potato) and frijol (bean). They’re sometimes easy to miss, but you can get them at Tacos de Canasta Las Rejas in Roma Norte. To note: they are very cheap.
Popular with expats and locals alike, El Parnita always seems to be packed on weekends and around lunchtime. What you’ll get at El Parnita is high-quality Mexican food with creative ingredients. Prices are higher than what you’d pay for a taco from a street vendor, but that’s the price you pay to sit in a welcoming, bustling atmosphere with waiter service, a wine and beer menu and good music. The salsas that come in a trio before the meal are delightful and HOT, and oh – they make carajillos (traditional cocktail of espresso with Licor 43).
Taqueria La Reina
This is where Remote Year now holds taco-eating competitions for groups, and I never would have found out about it otherwise. Also no-frills whatsoever, this taqueria has several taco counters, where you can get al pastor, ‘cabeza’ (head meat, of a cow) and carnitas (pork). Prices are cheap (one taco for 10 pesitos) and they sell two or three types of drinks.
El Buen Taco
Literally, “The Good Taco,” (and I don’t have a problem with that), this sizable taqueria has a large list of tacos, along with smoothies, tortas and the whole bit. Located in Centro right near Barrio Chino (Chinatown), I was pleasantly surprised with how authentic and affordable it was for being so close to all the tourist attractions. As usual, I tried three tacos, wound up eating five or six, and had a massive licuado de guayaba (guava smoothie - sin leche!).
La Torta Brava, Zocalo
This taqueria is nearly too close to Zocalo (the massive downtown square) for comfort, but when you’re starving, it’s a great no-frills eatery for some al pastor tacos (there’s a discount if you order five) and other quick bites. They have tortas, quesadillas and tacos.
Lucio is trendy and delicious, and located in the neighborhood of Juarez (walkable from Roma, and on the way to downtown). The menu is modern Mexican, and there’s mezcal cocktails.
This is one of Dan’s favorites, and they claim to be the creator of the al pastor taco. I don’t know who to believe, but that’s exactly what I ordered at El Tizoncito, after the free round of totopos de maiz (corn nachos) with a great choice of salsas.
There are two locations that are two blocks away from each other in Condesa. Dan would go to El Tizoncito several times a week when he spent a month in CDMX in 2016.
Best for Cuban in Mexico City
La Bodeguita del Medio
I accidentally discovered La Bodeguita del Medio when a friend was visiting and it was the only place to eat that was open past 10 pm in the area. Lucky for us, because La Bodeguita is the kind of place where you sit down and the waitress asks how many mojitos you’ll be having, not if or if not you’ll be ordering them. Perfect.
La Bodeguita channels Cuban vibes into your dining experience with their live band that walks around to play music for every room (and there are lots of rooms for dining). I had the ropa vieja, and it tasted just like Miami (which is the closest I’ve gotten to actual Cuba). Gluten-free!
Best Argentine parilla (steakhouse) in Mexico City
If you’re craving an actual steak, not pieces of meat put into a taco or enchilada, you can go to an authentic Argentine steakhouse, and it’s Quebracho Condesa. You can order your cut exactly how you like it, and there’s an array of desserts, wines and cava.