Tacos al pastor were recently named one of the world’s best foods, according to a group of internationally-renowned gastronomic experts and chefs.
Conducted by Taste Atlas, considered the “Google Maps of food,” the survey rated 100 foods on a scale of 1 to 5, with five being the best. Experts gave Tacos Al Pastor a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, making it one of the world’s best foods. Chile relleno and enchiladas, also Mexican staple dishes, made the list of top contenders.
Tacos al Pastor is popular, Mexican street food, similar to shawarma, the Turkish doner kebab, and the Greek gyros. Preparation begins by marinating pork in a mixture of dried chilies, spices, and pineapple. Some recipes call for achiote. Rotating on a vertical rotisserie, pork is slowly cooked over a gas flame with fresh onion and pineapple on the “spinning top.”
When ready, the meat is thinly sliced off the spit with a large knife and served on small tortillas. Finely chopped onions, cilantro, and sometimes a small slice of pineapple complete the dish. Lemon or lime juice and hot salsa can also top the taco.
Middle Eastern in origin, tacos al pastor, were developed in central Mexico by Lebanese immigrants during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The original dish called for lamb cooked on a spinning spit and served on a pita. Mexicans replaced lamb with pork, a more common meat, in the country. During the 1960s, the children and grandchildren of the immigrants opened restaurants featuring dishes that combined their Lebanese and Mexican heritages, including tacos al pastor.
El Fagon, with several locations in Playa del Carmen, is the best place to get tacos al pastor. People wait in lines that sometimes snake around the corner. We prefer the location on Calle 6 and Avenida 30 near Wal-Mart because it has fewer people and is a terrific place for people watching.
Pork-based tacos may not be your thing. No worries. There are plenty of other places in the Riviera Maya to find your perfect taco, including:
El Arbolito in Puerto Aventuras on the highway. Tacos here are a little different as this is a cazuelas-style restaurant, meaning the taco fillings are Mexican stews and casseroles served from steaming pots. Don’t be shy, lift the lids and ask. By the way, these tortillas are hand-made and some of the best we have ever had in Mexico! They are only open for breakfast and lunch, and even then only while supplies last.
Urge Taquito on the highway in Tulum on the southbound side. Seafood tacos are their specialty and the shrimp tacos rule at this little, unassuming road-side palapa.
Tacos Rigo is a taco chain located on the highway in Playa del Carmen on the northbound side. Yes, it’s a chain, but this place delivers the goods. There is a reason the locals have made this place so successful. Order their signature dish, the Alambre Rigoleto. It is a mixture of delicious, meaty goodness served on a plate with a stack of corn tortillas. Don’t forget the fresh cilantro and onion!
Turtle Bay Bakery in Akumal is the home of Mexican and American comfort food, including tacos. We keep coming back for the Thai chicken tacos. Here, the chicken is marinated in peanut sauce and served on a homemade corn tortilla with aioli and sesame coleslaw.
Barba Negra on Holbox Island specializes in vegetarian and seafood tacos. Items include Baja-style fish tacos, ajillo fish or octopus tacos, crunchy octopus tacos, mushroom tacos, and cauliflower tacos. The tacos here are a little more expensive than other Holbox taco joints. But they’re also more substantial than your typical street taco and come piled high with toppings.
Take a food tour of the best taco places in the Riviera Maya during your stay in the Riviera Maya. Contact our reservations team to help plan your perfect foodie vacation, including a place to stay when you’re not eating tacos.