Mexico Food and Dining

Food & Dining

Corn, beans and potatoes are the main staples of Mexican cuisine, with fish and chicken on most menus. US and Mexican fast food chains are easy to find. Imported spirits are expensive, and cheap local spirits can be an acquired taste, but rum and tequila are relatively safe bets. Corona and Sol are the most popular beers - light and refreshing, and often drunk with a wedge of lime.

National specialties:

Mole refers to several very different sauces, based around garlic and chili. Mole poblano is a chocolate sauce poured over turkey. Green mole verde is made from fresh herbs. Guacamole is an avocado mole with red peppers, onions and tomatoes. Tortillas are corn pancakes often used like bread. Enchiladas (soft tortillas) and tacos (crispy tortillas) are filled with pork, chicken, vegetables or cheese and chilli. Look out for exotic fruits like zapote (brown fruit resembling an avocado), and tuna (juicy prickly pear, fruit of the cactus).

National drinks:

Tequila is a double or triple-distilled spirit made from the blue variety of agave, which is not a cactus, but a plant related to the lily. Young blanco tequilas can have a rough “cowboy edge” to them. Mezcal is similar to tequila, but is distilled only once and can be made from different varieties of agave. It is not generally used in cocktails like tequila, but consumed in shots. Sip slowly to savor the taste. Mexico’s coffee liqueur, Kahlua, is world famous.

Legal drinking age: 18


Service charges are rarely added to hotel, restaurant or bar bills and many of the staff depend on tips for their livelihood. 15% is expected and 20% if the service has been very good.


Like any Latin American destination, things in Mexico do not really get going until late, with nightclubs often opening around midnight and closing at daylight. In family resorts, planned entertainment begins earlier; expect live mariachi music, Spanish flamenco dancers, gypsy violinists and Aztec re-enactments.

Mexico City attracts international rock and pop acts, Latin music stars, and the world’s best ballet and orchestra companies. Zona Rosa, in the center, has expensive bars and restaurants. West of there, hip new bars have been popping up in the wealthy residential district of Polanco. Further south is the arty district of Coyoacan (where Trotsky used to live). The bars here are relaxed and cheaper than the Zona Rosa.

Acapulco is known as the city that never sleeps with bars and discos lining the streets. Worth seeing is the impressive light show, with accompanying sound show, at the archaeological site of Teotihuacán. The history and mythology of this ancient civilization are recreated through a gorgeous display of colored lights, poetic dialog and music.

Cancun conjures up images of US spring-break college students going wild in carefree all-night beach parties. Every year top-name international DJs come to the city’s mega clubs - one of which has a capacity of 15,000.