Move over guacamole: Let’s talk about tacos in the Yucatán

Chuletas. (PHOTO: Miranda Allfrey)

There is a true art form to a delicious taco, and how you eat it. Traveling in the Yucatán taught me a thing or two about tacos, including how to pinch the tortilla together properly to eat them! When I was a kid, I used to cry if my taco did not look as though it was from Taco Bell.  Well, I’ve grown up and now I compare all tacos to what I can find in Mérida. If you love tacos, you will want to explore the culinary flavor explosion of those in the Yucatán!

Tacos de lechon. (PHOTO: Miranda Allfrey.)
Tacos de lechon. (PHOTO: Miranda Allfrey.)

Tacos de Lechon – This is a Sunday Yucatecan family tradition at local roadside taco stands. Tacos de Lechon consists of roasted pig served on fresh homemade bread. It’s a cultural dining experience, and may leave you feeling as though you are channeling your inner Anthony Bourdain. On Sunday mornings it is not hard to spot the families taking a seat in a plastic lawn chair adorned with a beer logo, and eating Tacos de Lechon. There are several small roadside food dining establishments serving up this mouth-watering flavor.


Cochinita Pibil – The secret to cochinta is the secret Mayan recipe of this slow roasted pork. Wrapped in banana leaves, flavored with natural acidic juices and colored orange with the annatto seed, cochinita pibil is served with fresh corn tortillas. Cochinita means baby pig, and pibil means buried. The pork is cooked for hours underground. It is the most popular dish at Yucatecan family gatherings, and can be found just about anywhere. Find panuchos on a menu, and you’ve found your cochinita pibil. A traditional place to try is La Chaya Maya or Hacienda Teya.


Carbón – Asada – Let’s talk about beef for a moment. Tacos de carbón is also known as tacos de carne asada. This taco filling is grilled steak which has been rubbed with spices or salt, and typically cooked over mesquite coals. Carne asada tacos can be garnished with radishes, cucumber, guacamole, lime wedges, and red or green salsa. It’s pretty much the only beef style taco you will find on the streets. Scallions or green onions are also grilled and paired with the meat.


Pastor– Pork marinated in dried chiles, spices and pineapple and then cooked with a gas flame on a vertical rotisserie called a trompo, delights the senses. It is similar to a Greek gyro or Turkish doner, and means “shepherd’s-style tacos”.  Pastor is a Mexican adaptation of Middle-Eastern spit-grilled meat, brought by immigrants from Lebanon. Pastor is served with the cilantro, onions, and often a slice of pineapple atop a corn tortilla. Squeeze some lime juice on top, and enjoy.

Chuletas. (PHOTO: Miranda Allfrey)
Chuletas. (PHOTO: Miranda Allfrey)

Chuleta – A lean white piece of pork which is typically cut perpendicularly to the spine of the pig. The meat is chopped and served with avocado and salsa in a corn tortilla and known to locals as a Maciza taco. It is a simple taco, yet the lean meat offers a different flavor compared to the pibil or asada. I tried Maciza tacos in Hunucma at a small, local restaurant. The tip to eating at local taco stands or restaurants – if the locals are eating there, it is approved!

What are my favorites? If I am going to indulge in tacos and a Mexican Coca-Cola, I love tacos de lechon. Pibil and Chuleta are close seconds! When visiting the Yucatán, pork or turkey are the local favorites when it comes to the filling! Oh, and don’t forget, there is a proper way to eat a taco. Pinch, bring up to face level, and then take a bite. If you don’t believe me, ask a local! I once received a compliment in Cancun for knowing the proper way to eat a taco and partake of  local cervezas!


So what do you say? Are you ready to get your taco on in the Yucatán?

By Miranda Allfrey for TYT

mandy_berger-99x150Miranda Allfrey is a freelance travel & lifestyle writer, marketing mastermind and cancer survivor. Her captivating story-telling adds magic to descriptions of destinations, cuisine, experiences, and products. And her passion for writing is as contagious as her passion for life and cloud surfing (aka flying). To learn how she can help your company surf to the top,click here: Work with Miranda.