Luck was on our side. Weeks before the ongoing global pandemic caused a major disruption to the travel industry, Mike and I were fortunate enough to spend a few days in Mexico City. The vibrant capital city features a range of historical attractions, including the Frida Kahlo Museum, Alameda Central and the ever-famous Zócalo.
Apart from these tourist sites, we enjoyed the cuisine that Mexico has to offer to travelers. On our second day (similar to what we did when we were in Turkey), we had an amazing and delicious desayuno, also known as a Mexican breakfast.
What is a Traditional Mexican Breakfast?
A full Mexican breakfast consists of a few different courses. The dishes served during this time will vary depending on where you’re staying in the country. Corn and egg-based dishes, however, are present and prominent on Mexican breakfast menus.
Breakfast, as the time-old adage goes, is the most important meal of the day. This is especially important to Mexicans, as the next meal won’t start until around three or four o’clock in the afternoon.
Don’t worry, though. Most establishments don’t serve customers until eight in the morning. Some places even serve breakfast until one in the afternoon. If you’re a late riser, you’ll still have the chance to try out authentic Mexican breakfast dishes.
If you have plans on visiting Mexico City along with the other spectacular areas of this North American country, you’ll want to begin your day with a complete Mexican breakfast that will give you the energy you need for a full day of exploring and sightseeing.
What Mexican Breakfast Dishes Should You Try?
You’ll fall in love with the variety of dishes available in a traditional Mexican breakfast. If you’re not sure about the dishes you should sample, here are some options you could consider:
A Mexican breakfast usually starts with sweet bread, locally known as pan dulce. When you order this at a Mexican restaurant, this dish may come with fresh fruit. Mexico has fresh tropical fruits that you should savor when they’re at their ripest. Some popular options are watermelon, pineapple, banana, papaya and cantaloupe. You could also try seasonal fruits, such as guava and mango, when they’re available.
You then wash down that delicious pan dulce with freshly squeezed fruit juice or with a hot drink. Although hot chocolate and coffee are standard, consider trying atole, a beverage thickened with oats, rice or corn masa. If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, order champurrado, a mixture consisting of atole and chocolate.
This highly popular Mexican food is a heaping plate of fried corn tortillas drenched in green or red sauce, sprinkled with cheese, topped with a dollop of cream and finished off with some parsley and sliced onion. You can eat this meal alongside refried beans, meat and eggs. This dish is available in restaurants, breakfast spots and family homes.
Tacos are perfect for any time of the day. When you eat this Mexican breakfast dish, you can fill the taco shells with fillings that go beyond meat. Choose from a selection of guisados, a term referring to prepared stews and dishes that often come with potatoes, eggs, chorizo and other veggies and proteins. Then, add your guisado selection in the shell and finish off the taco with guacamole, salsa and cheese.
Just like in other parts of the world, the omelets in Mexico come with a range of ingredients for breakfast. These ingredients, however, are spicier. If you want to turn up the heat, you could ask the waiter or server in the restaurant to smother your Mexican omelet with a spicy sauce used in enchiladas.
Huevos a la Mexicana
This Mexican breakfast dish is a scrambled egg cooked with chili peppers, onion and tomato. The colors of these ingredients match those on the flag of Mexico.
Sometimes, restaurants spice up their huevos a la Mexicana with serrano chiles or jalapeños. If you don’t like your breakfast to be too spicy, say con poco chile when you order this dish.
This egg-based dish is commonly present in restaurants that serve breakfast. Ordering this meal will get you two sunny side up fried eggs. One egg comes with red salsa and the other with green salsa, giving this dish the “divorced” name. Both variations come with a corn tortilla, slices of fresh avocado and beans.
This Mexican breakfast meal consists of fried eggs smothered in tomato sauce, topped with beans, cheese and fresh veggies and served along with a lightly fried tortilla. This simple but hearty breakfast will help you begin the day with a decent amount of protein.
A quesadilla typically includes a doubled tortilla served with delicious cheese along with any extra veggie or protein you request. If you want a Mexican breakfast dish that will fill your tummy, look for a restaurant that serves quesadillas fritas. This meal consists of a double tortilla topped with delicious cream and salsa.
This open-faced sandwich resembles a kind of Mexican breakfast pizza. This dish consists of a bread roll, which locals call bolillo. Chefs then slice it into two lengthways before toasting. They then top the bread off with a healthy serving of cheese, beans and extras you want. A few options you can add to this include eggs and ham.
If you want your breakfast to be filling but short, consider grabbing this hearty, authentic and on-the-go dish. Guajalota is essentially a tamale (corn masa dough steamed in a banana leaf or corn husk) filled with meat, cheese and veggies and stuffed inside with a bread roll. This dish packs plenty of carbs, which gives you the energy you need when you explore Mexico.
Mexican Street Food
Although getting your meal on the street may not sound like an appetizing way to start your day, know that street food is a major component of Mexico’s culinary culture.
The food you’ll get will vary depending on where you are and what the street vendor is serving. A couple of options you can try out (when they’re available) are tlacoyos (oval-shaped tortilla pockets) and gorditas (tortilla stuffed with meat and cheese).
Top Breakfast Joints in Mexico City
You won’t have a hard time finding restaurants that serve delicious and filling Mexican breakfast in the capital. If you want to dine in at one of the best joints in the capital, consider checking out these breakfast spots:
Although this breakfast spot is in a secluded corner in Mexico City, it’s insanely popular with both tourists and locals. You’ll see a long wait for the table when you arrive after the opening time.
The wait, however, is worth it. Make sure you order concha (a sweet Mexican pasty) and huevos rancheros from the café’s Mexican breakfast menu.
This casual breakfast joint gives off a homey vibe to diners. You’ll come across long communal tables, which will help you meet new people along the way. The restaurant also features spectacular artwork made by David Rop, a Belgian artist. A couple of must-try Mexican breakfast options here are the French bread and the chilaquiles served with asparagus, poached egg and hollandaise sauce.
On a budget? Get your hearty breakfast at this affordable breakfast joint. They offer several daily breakfast specials. Order dishes with stews, soups, eggs and, of course, warm tortillas. If you want to try their specialty, try the restaurant’s eggs in Pasilla sauce.
A Year-end Word from the Author
Before we end this article, Mike and I would just want to remind everybody to stay at home. We understand that Mexico is open for tourism, but we don’t encourage non-essential travel at this time.
Mexico isn’t going anywhere, so you may as well wait for the pandemic to settle down.
We do, however, hope that our article on Mexican breakfast would inspire you to add Mexico to your “countries to visit” list or even try cooking the dishes we mentioned in your kitchen.