Some of the most economical options are some of the tastiest, because they offer the authentic food of the people. They are also a great option if you are on the go and don’t have time for leisurely dining, or if you are simply ravenous and don’t want to wait to eat! The taco stands (“taquerías”) of the area offer many flavors of Mexico, with fresh, hot tacos, quesadillas and more, and many different fillings, toppings and sauces to choose from.
The luncheries (“loncherías”) offer tasty tortas and sandwiches, and sometimes breakfast as well, with eggs prepared to your liking (“al gusto”). They usually also have a few dishes of the day (“comida del día) to choose from, which generally is a meat (like breaded, milanesa”, chicken or beef with rice, beans, salad and tortillas and even a refreshing drink for a very reasonable price. These places will usually make fresh juices (“jugos”) and smoothies (“liquados”) too.
Similar to the lonchería is the “cenaduría”, which typically is a family-run diner that opens only in the evenings. The offerings here are plentiful too, with many traditional Mexican dishes to sample. Very popular amongst them is “pozole”, a hearty soup with main ingredients of meat and corn (hominy), and usually eaten with fresh tortillas or “totopos”. Also commonly served are enchiladas, flautas, gorditas, sopas, burritos, tacos, tostadas and more.
There are also several tortillerías in the area. These places are usually small but make up to thousands of fresh corn (“maíz”) and flour (“harina”) tortillas every day. Tortillas are a staple of the Mexican diet, just like you might have bread or rolls on the table with dinner. You can pick some up to enjoy with any meal; they are very versatile! If you have the chance when passing by any place that hand makes tortillas, it’s interesting to watch the process, how they take the little ball of dough and flatten it in the tortilla press to make each tortilla. Tortillas are made from so few ingredients but are so delicious.
If you’re not hungry but are craving a satisfying and delicious refreshment, there are many juice stands (“juguerias”) and coconut stands around. Either of these is a real treat! At the juice stands, usually the vendor has carrots, oranges and grapefruits and they will make a fresh glass of juice for you to order. At the coconut stands, order a coconut water (“agua de coco”) and (from a safe distance, ha-ha!) behold the man expertly and fearlessly hack off the top of a coconut with a machete to get to the water waiting inside. You can drink it straight from the coconut – it is refreshing and not too sweet, very healthy for you, and even aids in digestion. Other beverages you might see around at the various Mexican food places are “agua de arroz” (rice), “horchata” (rice-based with other things like almond and sometimes other grains), “cebada” (barley), and various “agua frescas” made from water, sugar, and fruits such as pineapple (“piña”) and guava (“guayaba”), or from hibiscus flowers (“jamaica”).
There are also many options for casual to fine dining in the area, with a tasty array of Mexican and international fares, tropical beverages like margaritas, mojitos and piña coladas, and of course, “cerveza” (beer). Some of these places are pubs, others are lounges, and yet others are restaurants. Many of these places offer live music too, from Latin, to Jazz, to Rock and more. Old Town even has lots of excellent cafes to choose from, and bakeries too!