The Taco Guide

Tacos de cecina with a blue corn tortilla in Tepoztlan, Morelos /
Photos: The Playa Times
Tacos de cecina with a blue corn tortilla in Tepoztlan, Morelos / Photos: The Playa Times

Instead of ordering the same thing as the person in front of you in line, learn the difference between the types of tacos commonly on offer in the Mexican Caribbean.


  • Tacos de Cochinita Pibil

The traditional taco of the Yucatan peninsula. It consists of stewed pork in achiote topped with pickled onions and dangerously hot salsa. Originally, the stew was cooked on hot rocks covered with maguey leaves.

  • Tacos de Cecina
Tacos de cecina from el Buen Taco on Constituyentes -delicious!

Tacos de cecina from el Buen Taco on Constituyentes -delicious!

Thin-pressed, lightly salt-cured beef. It is grilled, sliced and served with cooked onions and nopal cactus strips and potato fries. Yecapixtla in the state of Morelos is famous for their cecina. It´s not typical of the Yucatan.

  • Tacos de Longaniza

One of the classics of Mexican cuisine, very popular in the center of Mexico. The sausage meat consists of spicy, ground pork. Fattier than most tacos, but completely worth it.

  • Taco de Barbacoa

Barbecued lamb covered with cream or queso fresco, served on a soft tortilla. It is often accompanied by lamb stew which contains rice and chickpeas, and is dressed with borracha sauce made using pulque and chile.

  • Taco de bistec

Bistec is a Spanish mashup of the English term “beef steak”. The beef is tender, lean and nothing is greasy and served with a generous sprinkle of lemon juice.

  • Tacos de suadero

Basically the same as de bistec just not as juicy. Goes really well with onions and hot sauce, and a drink.

  • Tacos al Pastor or Tacos de Trompo

This is the equivalent of doner kebabs, with the meat slowly rotating around a flame, known as the trompo. The slices of pork are cut off into the tortilla and commonly pineapple is added to give a tangy and juicy kick, along with parsley and hot sauce.

  • Tacos de Cabeza

The fatty beef’s head (cabeza) is a rich, earthy treat. Every part of the head is eaten: cheek (cachete), eyes (ojo), tongue (lengua), brain (seso)… everything.

  • Salbutes

Another Yucatan classic, these are prepared with corn tortillas, like sopes but thinner. When the tortilla is fried, and the ingredients are added without letting the tortilla cool down. The main ingredient is relleno negro (a traditional Maya recipe consisting of condiments and chiles added to fried turkey). Other varieties exist such as using cochinita pibil, red onion and habanero chile, bitter orange and salt.


Thanks for reading,

Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

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