They’re Mexico City’s original fast food and I, eater of all things, refused to go near them. Starchy little grease bombs, I thought. But it was David Lida, (www.davidlida.com) chronicler of Mexico City’s underbelly, who showed me the light – he loves them. “They’re NOT oily”, he insisted, “It’s just the juice that seeps out”. Well, I recently did some in-depth research into this most low-rent of el D.F.’s street snacks. Result? Greasy. But some less than others. And it’s good, red, chile-infused, soul-warming grease. Vale la pena. Tacos de canasta, named for the basket in which they are traditionally presented and out of which they are hawked, are sometimes called ‘tacos sudados’ or sweaty tacos. None of the vendors I interviewed seemed to know the origin of this simple and ubiquitous curbside taco phenomena, but most agreed that they are native to Mexico City and/or Hidalgo. They are simply tortillas filled with either frijoles refritos, adobo (a mole-like paste), potatoes, chicharrón (pork skin) or meat-less mole verde, folded over and quickly heated. They’re then packed sardine-like in a basket lined with cloth and brought to market on foot in a little cart, or sometimes by bicyle. Snuggled together, they keep warm, continuing to steam, sweat and ooze for hours. Eaten as they come out of the basket with salsa and escabeche (pickled chiles and vegetables) they’re sold cheap - often for 3 or 4 pesos – and are every chilango’s favorite street food.
While tacos de canasta are usually sold by ambulantes whose locations can’t be pinned down, there are a few recommendable and well-known fixed locations where these filling antojitos, can be found. They make good party food and can be ordered by the thousand for your next cocktail party, quinceañera, wedding or bembé.
-Río Lerma corner of Río Rhin, Col. Cuauhtemoc (2 blocks north of Reforma, across from the Pemex)
Tacos de Canasta Uruguay
On c/ Rep. de Uruguay, near the Pastelería La Ideal, between Isabel la Católica and 5 de Febrero, Centro
Tacos de Canasta
Av. Coyoacán 512, (1 ½ blocks south of Division del Norte), Col. Del Valle
Tacos de Canasta El Salvador
Rep. el Salvador 73
This micro-business, in operation for decades, spills out of a non-descript doorway, but even provides a couple of tables and chairs inside. Their tacos are justifiably famous.
Pepe’s del Zócalo
This busy stand sold out of a window at the northwest corner of the Zócalo, but its venue is under restoration and it has has been shooed onto the street around the corner, near the Museo del Templo Mayor.
Is on the newly pedestrianized Av. Madero, near the Zócalo
Maria Consuelo Yerena will deliver all the tacos you want for your next event. And you get to keep the basket!
Tel. 58 45 44 17
Cel. 044 55 15 01 17 35
Photos and Text © Nicholas Gilman 2010