Mexican cuisine is rightfully considered one of the most diverse, rich, and colorful in the world. It’s taken time, but today it has gained a spot amongst the best. Today, three Mexican inspired restaurants hold places in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in the World list, but it’s not all fine dining. The best Mexican food can be found in the streets and homes around the country. It is a must see part of Latin America.
This is an extensive review of what Mexican food looks in the morning. There’s not one quintessential Mexican breakfast, but many.
Mexico is a modern country, well adapted to current international trends.. It’s true that many people will rush through their corner coffee shop to get a Latte and a croissant on their way to work, but traditional Mexican breakfasts are alive and well.
Let’s start our journey with something delightfully sweet.
Pan dulce literally means sweet bread and has been part of the country’s culture since it was brought by European immigrants five hundred years ago. Sweet bread comes with imaginative names and might resemble hair braids, seashells, bow ties or ears. There are hundreds of styles, and everyone has its favorite. Not all sweet bread is made every day, as some are seasonal or made for specific dates.
Even international supermarkets like Walmart have a dedicated section to these sweet treats, but the best are freshly made early in the morning in decades-old, local bakeries. Enjoy pan dulce with a mug of hot chocolate.
Mexican street food is a thing of legend, and food stalls are ready for business as soon as the sun comes up. From tacos to quesadillas, morning stalls usually run out of food before noon.
Tacos de Canasta
Tacos de canasta are particularly well suited for early hours. The name means basket tacos; basically uncomplicated, pre-made tacos fitted tightly in a weaved basket, vendors carry them around on the back of a bicycle; you’ll recognize them when you see them. Traditional taco fillings include mashed beans or potatoes, pressed pork skin, or a ricotta-like cheese called requesón.
The moisture and heat inside the basket make these tacos unique; they are compact and tightly pressed. The two-bite sized treats need only a spoonful of chunky, homemade green salsa to achieve perfection.
Corn is the base of Mexican food. Grounded to make a dough (masa), corn is used to make tortillas, but also tamales.
Corn dough, a spread of salsa and a small piece of chicken or pulled pork meat are squeezed in a banana leaf, then steamed for an hour.
Tamales are quite filling and come in distinct variations depending on the sauce: green, red or the incredibility complex brown mole sauce end up as a different tamale.
People enjoy tamales with a warm, disposable cup of atole, a sweet, thick drink made with, you guessed it, corn. It comes in flavors too.
Tacos for breakfast? Of course! Tacos are not a thing but a presentation. You can top a tortilla with anything and you’ve got yourself a taco.
Popular breakfast tacos revolve around complicated, time-consuming preparations, usually cooked through the night. Pitted barbecue goat, called barbacoa, or whole roasted pig, turned into carnitas are classic examples.
Food stands specializing in tacos de guisado will cook beforehand up to a dozen different taco fillings, from roasted zucchini flower to steak, from sautéed potatoes to cactus leaves.
These places are crowded because people have options, locals will often order three or four contrasting tacos, all with a different flavor profile.
Of course, not everyone has breakfast on the streets every day. Many Mexican families enjoy a typical breakfast at home, especially on weekends.
An easy, popular breakfast is quesadillas. Pulled cheese inside a folded tortilla and toasted until golden brown on a flat iron skillet. Even a store-bought salsa will make these simple morning delights a perfect way to start the day.
Another accessible breakfast item is the mollete. You cut in half a wheat bun, like a baguette. A spread of mashed beans and a layer of cheese gratin finish this open sandwich.
Some home-cooked breakfasts are a bit more complicated. Chilaquiles have always been a way to use dried, leftover tortillas that unavoidably pile up every day in Mexican kitchens.
Cut in quarters, these tortilla chips serve as the base for a filling plate of Chilaquiles. A variety of salsas can be used to soften the chips, and a generous fistful of grated cheese, diced onion and a drizzle of heavy cream become more than the sum of its parts.
Chilaquiles can be spicy, and they are certainly filling. For many, this is the perfect hangover cure, for others, just one good-old hearty meal to get energized.
Enchiladas might just be the most beloved Mexican breakfast in the country. To make them, you fill folded, soft tortillas with pulled chicken meat. You gently place them in a deep dish and cover them with sauce. Red salsa will make red enchiladas, and green salsa makes green enchiladas, you get the picture.
Topped with cheese, onion, coriander and heavy cream, enchiladas are as delightful as they sound. Take note, these are not tacos, but more of a casserole that you enjoy with a fork and knife.
Of course, there’s no breakfast without eggs — the one universal morning item, typical around the world. There are infinite of ways to make eggs, and Mexicans have more than a few of their own.
Huevos rancheros, or cowboy style eggs, are sunny side ups over fried tortillas, covered with spicy, tomato-based salsa and served with a side of mashed beans. They have the flavor of the countryside, and the warmth of home.
Huevos a la Mexicana
Huevos a la Mexicana or Mexican style eggs are a bit less fancy. Scrambled eggs mixed with sautéed tomatoes, onions and finely chopped green peppers, that’s it. They make fantastic tacos and go great with mashed beans.
As you see, in Mexico you can have something different for breakfast every day for a year, and you’d be just getting started. Mexican cuisine is as rich as their culture, and its food as warm as its people.
Whether you’re up for making tacos or plan to enjoy a few quesadillas with friends, remember Mexican food is nothing without salsa. A good salsa recipe in your repertoire will prove handy. Luckily, simple is sometimes better, and our Pico de Gallo salsa is not only easy to make but tasty and colorful.
Pico de Gallo Salsa
Two large tomatoes
A medium white onion
One jalapeño pepper
A sprig of fresh coriander
Fresh lime juice (one lime)
- Cut the tomato and onion into half-inch cubes
- Finely chop the jalapeño and coriander leaves
- Mix everything in a bowl and add lime juice
- Season with salt to taste
Pro tip: Skip the chili for a kid-friendly Pico de Gallo sauce or switch to serrano peppers for a spicier version.