We arrived weary eyed in Mexico City after an exhausting 24 hour journey from London, yet despite this, we couldn't wait to get out and explore this magical city! Even though we'd done some research and found a few places we wanted to visit, we departed for Mexico with apprehension. We'd been told back in the UK it would be difficult as a vegan to find authentic food. However, this is simply not the case. We’ve come to find that Mexico City and its inhabitants are vibrant, varied and welcoming, and this stretches towards a vegan diet too. Even with our extremely limited Spanish, we managed to feast on the best food this city has to offer, and in this post we're going to share with you our experiences to help you do the same.
EATING OUT VEGAN
There are so many vegetarian and vegan restaurants and cafes in Mexico City, and sadly we couldn’t possibly make our way around them all, no matter how hard we tried! We could only fit in so many in one week, so listed here are some of our favourites.
Roma, Guanajuato 54 , CDMX
Great for brunch
Located in the neighborhood of Roma, Forever Vegano cooks up a delicious mix of authentic Mexican food combined with American inspired dishes. They had a large menu of food and drinks to choose from, and luckily for us they had it translated into English. We had a choice of indoor or outdoor seating and we decided to sit outside at a vivid blue table and watch the world go by for a couple of hours. For drinks we ordered a golden milk and a black americano. The golden milk was sweet and delicious and the black americano was smooth and nutty. For brunch we ordered a plate of sweet potato pancakes with tempeh bacon, maple syrup and strawberries and a portion of chilaquiles with cauliflower chorizo. The sweet potato pancakes were soft and fluffy and a little bit more savory than a regular pancake. This really helped balance the flavours against the super savoury tempeh bacon and the sweetness from the maple syrup and strawberries.
After this we had the Chilaquiles, a dish similar to what we think of as nachos only slightly less crispy. It’s a salsa base covered with lightly fried tortilla chips topped with salsa, cashew cream and avocado. This is a must try dish if you head to Forever Vegano! The super smooth avocado and cashew cream added a delicate cooling touch to the salsa. It was not as spicy as you might think, the salsa had more of an acidic heat that didn't linger. Eating here was a great introduction to the bold flavours of Mexican cuisine. On the way out we picked up a hefty chocolate cookie to keep us going as we explored the varied markets full of incredible fresh produce and Mexican crafts from around the country. With the drinks, mains and cookie, the whole meal came to a small sum of $370 Pesos, around £15.50!
Por Siempre Vegana
Corner Manzanillo & Chiapas, Mexico City 06700, Mexico
Authentic vegan Mexican street food
This was by far the best food we ate in Mexico City. It's a traditional Mexican street food vendor, one of thousands that can be found on every street corner in the city. This means that they serve it up to you on a plate and you eat your meal standing right there on the street. What sets Por Siempre apart is the fact that it's 100% vegan, using seitan and soya to replace the meat you'd find at other vendors. Couple this with spicy salsas and all the traditional toppings such as avocado, coriander, pickled red onion and fresh squeezed lime, wrap it up in a tortilla and you have the most incredible taco ever! In Mexico it's traditional to have two tortillas per taco, one on top of the other, with your filling on top. Since they are full to the brim, this really helps to ensure they don't fall apart! We started off by sharing 3 different tacos, the green spicy sausage which is exactly how it sounds, the big baby which had vegan cheese and pineapple with soya meat, and mushrooms and green pepper; a delicious all grilled veggie taco. The first round was so incredible we went back for more, which says it all! It's the kind of place you'll want to keep going back to every day.
Malintzin 199, Del Carmen, 04100 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Great for brunch and fresh juices
We traveled to the neighborhood of Coyoacán in the south of the city, as we planned to visit the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. We hadn't had breakfast yet so we checked online to see if there was anywhere nearby to have a bite to eat. We came across Aura Vegana which was only just round the corner so sounded like the perfect spot. We decided to try out two traditional Mexican breakfasts, however there were other options on the menu such as açaí bowls and pancakes. We ordered the enveganadas which is their vegan take on enchiladas and some tlacoyos with prickly pear and tofu. We really enjoyed the enveganadas and they were super filling with a great flavour. The tlacoyos weren't as tasty but both dishes were very good value for money and it was great to be able to eat somewhere 100% vegan with so many choices. They also had a huge selection of fresh juices which all sounded amazing, so it's a great place if you're looking for a healthier start to your day.
Calle Querétaro 90, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Beautiful food with interesting flavours
This place had been recommended to us by quite a few people, and after seeing their gorgeous pink tacos on their Instagram page, we knew we had to go! This little restaurant is in the Roma Norte district, which is where most of the vegan and vegetarian restaurants can be found. The interior was beautiful with pink walls and hanging plants everywhere. They serve traditional Mexican dishes with a pink twist. We shared 3 tacos, 1 machaca tofu (scrambled tofu 'a la mexicana', guacamole, kala namak salt), 1 coliflor con requeson (cauliflower, coconut cottage cheese, pineapple cream) and 1 pastor de setas (oyster mushrooms 'al pastor', grilled pineapple). They were all incredible and really did taste as good as they look! Also none of these tacos were too spicy so it's a great option if you can't stand too much heat.
We also ordered the enfrjoladas which was 3 pink tortillas filled with sweet plantain and coconut cheese, bathed in a black bean cream sauce with chickpea chorizo on top. This dish had so much flavour, it was unbelievably tasty. It was both sweet, salty, creamy and acidic, with a little heat thrown in too - all the key Mexican flavours! We highly recommend you visit this place for lunch or dinner as you won't be disappointed!
Tonalá 91, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Cakes and breakfast
Although we recommend Pan Comido for breakfast, we ended up visiting for dinner. We heard from other vegans we met that the breakfasts are amazing, and and it seems breakfast and lunch are more important than dinner. Never the less, we had some really tasty food! It was a mix of American dishes such as burgers, hotdogs and meatballs but all with a Mexican twist. We ordered the Big Juan burger which was a tofu veggie burger with gherkins, vegan cheese, lettuce and mustard and a small salad on the side. It was a pretty tasty burger but nothing to shout about, and it would've been nice if it was served with chips as well as it was one of the more expensive meals we had. However it was nice to have a little break from all the Mexican dishes so it's great if you're looking for something more familiar. We also ordered some tempeh meatballs which came in a tomato sauce and some frijoles on the side. This also tasted nice but didn't completely blow us away, and it would've been better if it were served with some veggies on the side. Despite the main courses being a little average, we had the most delicious carrot cake for dessert. It was so perfectly moist and filled with nuts and sultanas. You should definitely go there just for this cake!
There are many other cafes, restaurants and street food vendors that serve up great vegan food, some that we had time to visit, and some that we didn't. Here's a list of the more notable ones:
- Ojo de Agua
- Pan d'monium
- Los Loosers
- Vegan Inc
- Elk Vegan Bistro
- Narciso Vegan
If you're still looking for more vegan friendly options then the Happy Cow website or app is a great place to look. There's an extensive list with descriptions of what each place serves, this website is a complete blessing to us when travelling to other countries!
VEGAN FOOD TOUR
As well as seeking out all of the restaurants and cafes ourselves, one of the best things we did the entire trip was go on a vegan food tour. We found out about the tour about half way through the trip after being advised to look on AirBnB experiences. As soon as we read the description and all the lovely reviews we knew we had to go for it. Around lunch time we met with David and the rest of the group at a monument near the center of the city. As we had been instructed we came with an empty stomach, we had nothing to eat all that morning. After a brief introduction and explanation of how the whole thing would go, we set off for our first stop. We walked through a thriving street market up to a corner about 5 minutes away from where we first met. David showed us a lady who had been making blue corn tlacoyos on the same street corner for 20 years! We had never heard of tlacoyos before but they tasted amazing, second only to the food we ate at Por Siempre. They were stuffed with faves beans and topped with squash blossoms and cactus.
After we'd all had our share, we moved onward to a taco bar a little further up the road, and already by this point we were getting pretty full! We then continued to walk the streets of Mexico City, in total doing 14km of walking. Along the way we stopped to eat and drink all manner of vegan goodies including Pulque, an alcoholic drink made from cactus and flavoured with things such as banana, raspberry or tamarind. We also drank Horchata, a plant milk drink that tasted like Christmas! And to eat we were spoilt for choice with all kind of vegan tacos, tortas, gringas, mole and burritos. During the gentle meandering walks, as our food settled in out stomachs, David was more than happy to answer any questions about himself and his vibrant metropolis. I learned about everything from why there are so many Starbucks to what types of dogs are popular and how some of the greatest monuments came exist; he was a wealth of local knowledge! By the end of the tour, after a well earned beer, I felt so satisfied, but more importantly, much more confident with the culture of the city and the vast wealth of the culture of it's food. We were never asked us to plug his business, we just had such an amazing time we had to recommend it to you all! If you are interested in taking one of the tours run by David and Mena (who we didn't get to meet but I am sure is just as lovely), check out their website http://travellingherbivore.com.mx/#
Whilst in Mexico City we found that our very minimal understanding of the language got us by. With a quick translation on our phone we got through most situations. That being said, there are a few simple phrases that we found useful. We found by mixing and matching some of these phrases with certain words we managed to get the message across, although the idea of veganism isn't recognised by everyone. Sometimes saying “Soy vegano” returned a puzzled look, so that's when the specifics became useful. Here are the ones we used most often:
Soy vegano - I am vegan
No como carne, pollo, cerdo, pescado, leche, queso, miel, huevos, nada de un
animal - I don't eat meat, chicken, pig, fish, milk, cheese, honey, eggs, nothing from an animal.
Sin lactose - without dairy
Sin queso - without cheese
Sin huevos - without eggs
Qué contiene? - what does it contain?
On a couple of occasions we had to ask "Que contiene?” Which means what does it contain?" and then listen out for their list to understand if we could eat it or not. But on the whole, most places we ate at there was a member of staff with at least basic English to help us order, and even recommend their favourites!
COOKING AT HOME
Since we thought it would be difficult to eat out, we make sure to book an AirBnB with a kitchen. Although we didn't end up using it as much as we thought, we did make a couple of delicious meals at home. To do this we went to the amazing local markets with their fresh produce piled high. Our market of choice was Mercado de San Juan, as soon as you step in you are engulfed by the sounds, smells and colours of the place. We bought the most amazing vibrant red pasta made with tomato, and tonnes of fresh veg to throw together a tomato pasta with asparagus on top.
Although if you do go to the same market, stay clear of the north east corner since it is where the meats are sold. We could tell we were close simply by the smell, and some of the sights made us turn our tails. However, we managed to get nearly everything we needed and I am sure if we kept looking we could have gotten it all easily! We ducked out and picked up the rest from a local supermarket. It wasn't easy to find a good supermarket, everywhere seems to be a little corner store like a 7/11 or a Circle K, although they are good for picking up some well priced beer or wine. Make sure to look online whether the beer is vegan though, good choices are Corona, India, Bohemia or Tecate, yet one of the common brews, Modelo, is not. The larger supermarket we did go to, Superama Pachuca in Codessa, was definitely more expensive than the market however it was all clearly labeled and convenient. It was a little break and a nice change being able to cook something without Mexican flavours, although our food definitely benefited from the amazing fresh Mexican produce.
We've honestly found it hard to put into words how impressed we were with the amount of amazing authentic vegan food Mexico City has to offer. It really is a must go destination for anyone, vegan or not! The tacos, coffee, chocolate, margaritas, mezcal, music, street art, people, salsa dancing, colours, architecture, parks, fountains, lucha libre wrestling, festivals, markets...and the £2 uber rides, are all part of what makes this place so special. We fell in love with this city and can't wait to come back!
If you’ve found our tips helpful, or you’ve ever been to Mexico City, we’d love to know! Leave us a comment below, or find us on social media.