We are not going to tell you where to get street food, or even attempt to tell you which food cart is better than another. In our experience of Riviera Maya street food, we have never had a bad experience, evah! Every single cart, every single stand has their own twist on a taco, an empanada, elote, or cochinita pibil.
What we will do is let you know what to look for!! There are some incredible delicacies that you may not have heard of or even knew that it was iconic Mexican street food. So here is the list. When you see it on the street, try it. Then start making your own list of great food carts and street food that revolutionized your Mexico experience.
Tamales – These steamed pork and masa (corn flour) little pieces of heaven are roasted in a pibil pit. The salsa that comes with the tamale will differ from cook to cook. Most tamales are purchased on a street corner out of a large pot. They are not sold at food carts nor on food trucks.
Empanadas – This is a food cart item found in the mornings from 6 am to noon. Each empanada maker has their own salsas from their own recipes. Check out the pickled red onions if they have them, and their roasted tomato salsas. Some food carts make them in the moment, some have them stored in a cooler to keep to warm. Empanada options can range from cheese, potatoes and chorizo, chicken, or sometimes refried beans. Cheese and chicken are the most popular.
Cochinta Pibil – This is the king of food truck items in the Riviera Maya. Again, this is morning item and the food cart will close as soon as they are sold out so closing times are optional. If you find a good one, get there early as the locals will beat you to it. This slow roasted pork marinated in a chili paste can be served in tortillas or on a bun.
Elote Esquites – This Mexican street corn is yummy good. The corn is either steamed or roasted and smothered with toppings of your choice. Try chili lime with cheese, or mayo with chili and lime, or just chili, salt and lime. If you really are an elote fan you will have it slathered in cream, cheese and chili! Wowza!
Kibi– Pronounced kee-bee in spanich, this cone shaped falafel type snack is hard to find. It is an authentic Yucatecan recipe that only old school street vendors sell. The kibi really does look like a oblong cone shaped falafel but it is way more that than. The outer core is spiced masa and the interior is either pork, beef or beans. Throw on some pickled onions, salsa and a bit of cream and you are eating like a Yucateco. These can easily be purchased in the Valladolid Municipal Market or on the streets and beaches of Puerto Morelos. Note – The local kibi vendor in Puerto Morelos hangs for a while at the Oxxo just off the town square.
Churros – Yup, these long donuts are a Spanish breakfast item that has now become a Mexican dessert. In Spain, churros are eaten for breakfast, like North Americans eat donuts. In Mexico they are saved for the evening in the zocalo or at city and state fairs.
Artisan Ice Cream – Corn Ice cream, Tamarind, Coconut, Pitahaya…there are just few of the artisan Mexican ice cream flavors. Don’t look for these in any old ice cream store. True Mexican ice cream can only be purchased from an ice cream cart, either found on the street, or in the zocalo.
So that’s the list. Our rule is this. If you don’t know a food, you buy a piece and try it. If you see a single person with a basket, a saucepan, a little grill in the middle of nowhere, try it! Mexican street food is glorious and worth the 5 to 10 pesos taste it will cost you.
Want to try your hand at some iconic Mexican Caribbean treats. Download our Travel ebook created especially for foodies.