Mexican Food: 16 Must-Try Dishes in the Yucatan!

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

Wander down any road in Mexico and the exquisite aromas will draw you to one of the many restaurants or street stalls. The tantalizing smell of spices and herbs being cooked is palpable. The mouth-watering ingredients used in Mexico are some of the best we’ve come across in all of our travels!

We’ve been eating our way through the Yucatan Peninsula and haven’t found a dish that we don’t like. There are endless things to do in Mexico, with eating being a huge highlight. Here’s a preview of some of the many scrumptious foods you can find on offer in this spicy region.

Mexican Breakfast Foods:

1. Chilaquiles


This isn’t exactly a wholesome, healthy breakfast like we’re used to in North America! Tortilla chips are smothered in green or red salsa and topped with pulled chicken pieces or eggs, some onions, cream and sometimes cheese. Typically beans are served on the side.

2. Molletes


If you thought the chilaquiles were a bit heavy for a breakfast food, you definitely wouldn’t be able to handle molletes! These are delicious. Bolillos (Mexican styled baguette) are cut in half and smothered with refried black beans and a white cheese called chihuahua, which is similar to a Monterey Jack or White Cheddar.

The final step is to grill face up in the oven until the cheese is perfectly melted. Needless to say, these are one of our favourite Mexican breakfasts and eating these was one of our favourite things to do in Playa del Carmen.

3. Huevo Rancheros

huevos rancheros mexican food

This dish means “rancher’s eggs” and is one of the lighter menu options for breakfast. Two eggs are served sunny-side up on whole wheat tortillas and topped with pureed tomato & chili sauce and a few bits of cheese. Usually it’s accompanied by refried beans and a couple of tortilla chips.

4. Huevos al Gusto

huevos el gusto mexico

If you order “huevos al gusto” here in Mexico, the waiter will be looking at you strangely, while waiting for your response. This menu item literally means “eggs to your pleasure”, or, eggs of your choice, so you’ll have to specify how you want them.

One of the specialties in the Yucatán State is eggs with longaniza (a type of sausage similar to chorizo) and we were lucky enough to have scrambled eggs with this specialty sausage and cactus while staying at Posada San Juan in Valladolid! They were fantastic.

Mexican Snack & Lunch Foods:

1. Tacos

fish tacos mexican food

This is a food we’re familiar with back in North America…except we make them complete different in Canada! Here in Mexico, tacos are small, soft, corn tortilla shells that are laid flat and topped with meats of your choice. Popular options include fish, chorizo, beef, chicken and vegetarian.

Usually some lettuce, avocado, onion and wedges of lime will come with the tacos as well. Fish tacos are so light, refreshing and fabulous. They’re definitely our favourites.

2. Quesedillas

quesedillas mexican food

These are basically soft tacos filled with cheese and sometimes meat, folded to form a half-moon shape and fried in a pan on both sides. They make for a great snack food or lunch.

3. Empanadas

empanadas in mexico

Empanadas are made with wheat or corn flour dough and served in different varieties all over the world. Sometimes they’re sweet, other times they’re savoury. The ones we’ve had here in Mexico have been stuffed with cheese and meats of our choice. The dough is then deep-fried and served with salty cheese and salsa on top.

4. Huaraches

hurraches mexican food

These oblong shaped snacks originated in Mexico City in the 1930’s and have been popular ever since. The dough is thicker than tacos or quesedillas and is topped with meat, red or green salsa, onions, cilantro and cheese on top. They’re Nick’s favourite Mexican snack food.

5. Churros

mexican snack churros

This is more of a fairground or street-side stall type of a food. The smell of these “Mexican doughnuts” being cooked is irresistible! Nick has definitely had his share of these deep-fried, sugar-coated pastries since being here.

6. Sopa de Lima

sopa de lima yucatan soup

This is one of my favourite foods! It’s a healthy, flavourful soup found in the Yucatán State. Made with shredded turkey or chicken, tomatoes, onion, crushed up tortilla chips and the perfect balance of lime and spice.

Mexican Dinner Foods:

1. Burritos

mexican food burritos

Burritos are actually a Mexican-American (Tex-Mex) food and are really only found and eaten in the northern part of Mexico. Burrito actually means “little donkey”! Either way, this wrapped delight is starting to pop up in other parts of the country as well and we’re happy about that! Fl

our wraps are stuffed with meat and refried beans and rolled up. Here in Mexico, they put the toppings (salsa, lettuce, cheese, onions) on the outside, whereas in North America, we put everything inside.

2. Pollo Pibil

yucatan styled chicken

Another healthy option for a meal here in Mexico! This is a Yucatán-styled chicken, which is marinated in citrus juices and achiote paste, roasted and topped with grilled onions. The flavours are bright, light and absolutely scrumptious.

3. Queso Relleno

queso relleno

This isn’t at the top of my favourite foods list, but it’s a traditional food in the Yucatán State. Queso Relleno is complex and full of rich flavours. Because of this, I can only handle having a few bites of it.

It’s a dish consisting of a hollowed out ball of Dutch Edam cheese, stuffed with ground pork and seasonings, which is baked until the cheese is soft. The sauce includes raisins, chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, olives, capers and peppers. Quite the mix of flavours.

4. Pescado

grilled fish mexican style

One of the perks of travelling near the coast is being able to have fresh fish (pescado)! We were able to cook up the catch of the day ourselves when we spent 8 days on the Island of Holbox, and since then, we’ve been ordering fish at restaurants every chance we get.

5. Chile Relleno

chille relleno pepper mexico

These cheese-stuffed poblano peppers are amazing! The peppers are coated in an egg batter and fried until golden brown. Typically they are topped with a red salsa and served with rice.

6. Tamales

yucatan tamales

When we spent 2 weeks in Valladolid, we were lucky enough to make Tamales in the traditional Maya underground oven, called a pib. Although it was interesting and fun to make Tamales the authentic way, it’s much easier to order them in a restaurant.

Made with a starchy, thick, corn-based dough, these pockets of deliciousness can be stuffed with anything from meat to cheese, to fruits and vegetables. Once filled, they’re wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked in the pib, or steamed in a pot. Once unwrapped from the banana leaf, they’re typically topped with a salsa and enjoyed piping hot.

Hungry yet?!

These are just some of the numerous foods we’ve been enjoying during our travels through the southern region of Mexico. With such a variety of spices, ingredients and traditions, we could spend years here and still have hundreds of dishes to try.

Every day is a culinary adventure and one that we’re more than happy to be a part of!

Do you like Mexican Food? Have any favourites? Share with us below!

Like it? Pin it! 🙂

Mexican Food- 16 Must-Try Dishes in the Yucatan!

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

Written by

Dariece Swift

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and an expert in saving money, finance management, building an online business and of course... travel. She loves meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and learning about the unique cultures of our world. She has over 12 years of experience helping others to realize their travel dreams and has worked in numerous jobs all over the world to help pay for travel.

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28 thoughts on “Mexican Food: 16 Must-Try Dishes in the Yucatan!”

  1. Yummy! I would die for some tacos! I never made it to Mexico, but I always crave some Mexican food. When I was in Amsterdam, me and my friend ate the best tacos and tortillas in the world! I was so stuffed I couldn’t walk!! Great food porn!

  2. My Korean food diet is craving all of this! Booking the next flight from Korea to Mexico. 🙂

  3. One of the hardest things about traveling abroad is sacrificing Mexican food. But seeing some of the tasty authentics you got to try left my jaw hanging loose! Even when I’m visiting home in the Southwestern US it’s surprisingly hard to find authentic Mexi. Good work, keep making me jealous with mouth-watering pix!

  4. Great article! I only tried mexican food in various restaurants in different countries in Europe, but I hope I’ll have the real taste, in Mexico, one day!

  5. We didn’t even get around to trying all of that! Great comprehensive list! I loved the Maya soup – it sounds really similar to the Lima soup but I’m not sure if it’s the same thing or not? Also, Mexican breakfasts are phenomenal. 🙂

  6. I’m not sure if Maya Soup is the same as Lima Soup, but probably. Like you guys, we loved everything we tried! The food is fabulous, we’re going to miss it, that’s for sure 🙂

  7. One of my absolutely favorite cuisines. We’ve spent at least 6 months total time in the Yucatan and the food is one big highlight. We’re heading back there in June, and I can’t wait to get a hold of so many of these foods.

  8. Wow, if I stayed here for 6 months, I’d turn into a tortilla! That’s great that you were able to really immerse yourself in the culture and the cuisine here in the Yucatan 🙂

    Enjoy your next trip!

  9. Thank you for your thoughts and great description of my homecountry’s food, Nick and Dariece!. I’m glad you have liked it. However, be aware that one of Mexican food assets is that it is very regional, and even the same dish can vary greatly from one region to another. For example, I was born in the State of Coahuila (North of Mexico) and tamales are cooked in a very different way than in the Yucatan (I miss a lot my grandmother’s).

    Yucatecan food is considered one of the greatest cuisine in the country. However, if your plans include to know other regions in Mexico and food is one of your main reasons to choose a place over another, I would recommend you to go to Oaxaca and Puebla, both places are very rich in traditions, culture and food. For example, Oaxaca is the birthplace of more than seven different types of “moles” and Puebla has very distinctive plates such as “chiles en nogada” (a big non-spicy chili pepper in walnut sauce) y “mole poblano”.

    To Lori: I don’t know in which European countries you’ve tried Mexican food, but in my experience (I’ve been living in Spain for almost seven years now and I’ve tried food in several countries here in Europe) only a small share of those restaurants cook what I can say is “real Mexican food”. Most of them are only a pale version of “Tex-Mex”.


  10. We also LOVE mexican food. Especially from the state of Sonora (Northern Mexico) where you get the BEST tacos de carne asada. If you are not fond of the corn tortillas you can just ask for tortillas de harina (wheat tortillas).

    If you havn’t tried it yet you should definately try ceviche – a round fried tortilla or nachos with lime marinated raw seafood and some salad. Yummy!

    I really like your post about all the different and delicious dishes but Number 2 under Mexican snack and lunch food does not look like quesadillas to me. It’s gorditas – a warm or fried tortilla with chicken or ground beef, salad, fresh cheese and a white creme.
    Quesadillas usually only consists of tortillas and cheese.

    Thanks for a great mouth watering post! 🙂
    Anne Marie

  11. Looks so tempting! I’m glad I didn’t read this when hungry as I love Mexican food! The Churros look amazing – I recently had my fair share of them from the street food carts of Rio but would love to try authentic Mexican street food!

  12. Thanks for the awesome comment. I’m sure the food varies considerably depending on which state you’re in. That’s what’s so great about Mexico – the diversity 🙂 We definitely plan to go to Oaxaca and Puebla one day and we’ll check out the food you recommended.


  13. Hey Anne-Marie!
    We also LOVE ceviche..and for sure corn tortillas rather than wheat 🙂

    I thought number 2 wasn’t a quesadilla! We ordered quesadillas from a side of the road stand when we first got to Mexico and this is what we got. We figured “well, this must be what authentic quesadillas look like!” The quesadillas we make at home are how you’ve described them as well -I’ll have to change this picture.


  14. Mexican breakfast, lunch and dinner foods look to be the sea of taste and health. Out of all these, I love Mexican huevos rancheros the most as my breakfast meal. Sometimes I use to have sausage and eggs as well in my breakfast. I also like Mexican taco and burrito.

  15. Quesadillas vary based on the region. Along central and south of Mexico, particularly Mexico city, quesadillas sometimes just mean a tortilla that is folded in half and has some kind of stuffing regardless of it having cheese or not, along the north it is a tortilla or tostada with cheese and can have other ingridents (meat, zucchini flower, huitlacoche) but cheese is the main focus.

  16. Thank you for such a great article on the foods. The pictures are beautiful. I will be moving to Merida within 6 months and all information like this is greatly appreciated.

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