Mexico Food and Drink
Mexican cuisine is a gloriously rich mix, reflecting the many cultural influences the country has absorbed throughout its history. Nevertheless, the main ingredient in Mexican meals is the humble but versatile corn, prepared in every conceivable way.
A basket of hot tortillas – savoury cornmeal pancakes – is always on the table. Tacos, available everywhere, consist of crispy tortillas topped with beef, pork or fish. And there's a huge range of corn-based antojitos (snacks), including those listed below, which are staples at street stalls across the country.
Fresh fish and shellfish are the main attraction along both coasts. For vegetarians, nopales, the succulent leaves of the prickly pear cactus are a good option, as are squash blossoms and all kinds of wild mushrooms. Also look out for exotic fruits like zapote (sapodilla) and tuna (cactus fruit).
Mole: A range of complex sauces based around chillies and a number of other herbs and spices.
Guacamole: Avocado mashed with red peppers, onions and tomatoes.
Exotic fruits: Local markets offer a dazzling variety, including zapote (brown fruit resembling an avocado), and tuna (juicy prickly pear, fruit of the cactus).
Cabritoasado: Roasted kid goat, a northern specialty. Served on a bed of sizzling onions with cowboy beans and plenty of tortillas.
Cochinitapibil: Yucatán's signature dish: suckling pig marinated in citrus juice and the reddish dye of annatto seeds, wrapped in banana leaves, then slow-roasted in an underground pit.
Tamales: Banana leaf or corn-husk packages of cornmeal stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetables, and laced with various spicy sauces.
Quesadillas: Fried tortillas filled with cheese and/or vegetables.
Flautas: Chicken-filled tortillas rolled like cigars and deep fried.
Huevos rancheros: Fried eggs on top of tortillas and covered in spicy tomato sauce; one of many egg dishes popular for breakfast.
Salsas: Zesty sauces, often spicy, based on chilli and tomatoes, a standard fixture on most restaurant tables.
Tequilla: A double or triple-distilled spirit made from the blue variety of the agave plant. Young blanco tequilas can have a rough 'cowboy' edge to them. Older añejo varieties are woody and smooth.
Mezcal: A similar spirit 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.
Kahlúa: Mexico's world-famous liqueur, made with coffee and rum.
Lager: Sol, Corona and Modelo, all of which are light lagers, are the most popular beers.
NegraModelo: One of Mexico’s few dark beers.
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.