Real Tacos

Once you’ve had a real taco, it’s hard to go back. The tacos in Mexico just taste better.

Perhaps that’s because Mexicans have been making them a lot longer than anyone else. Although I’ve spent most of my life eating American-style tacos that left me very content, my journey through Mexico (with its many tacos) have probably ruined me for life.

I encountered my favorite tacos in Yucatán, where they are stuffed with the delectable cochínita pibil: slow-roasted pork marinated in sour orange and topped with onion and habanero salsas. The tradition of cochínita typically involves roasting an entire suckling pig with hot coals in an underground pit, a process that softens the meat so wonderfully, you think you’re eating cake.

Typically, cochínita is served on a banana leaf along with a pile of hot tortillas and a bowl of salsa for dressing, but at this roadside taquería in Tulum, the meat was sold as tacos (for about seventy-five cents apiece). Even though I ate them off a paper plate next to the highway to Cancún, they were the very best tacos I’ve had in Mexico–in the world!

Always curious, I ventured back in the  taquería’s open-air kitchen where I met laughing Lucy and the smiling Angelica, who showed me all the foundations of a good cochínita taco.

. . . . and should you want to try and make this yourself at home, I found this recipe for Mayan Cochínita on




  1. Kristina Beckett
    February 28, 2012, 12:23 pm

    Your blog is awesome. Can we switch jobs?

  2. Àngeles P. F.
    Monterrey, México
    February 28, 2012, 9:43 pm

    I’m glad that you have tried “real tacos”. Delicious, right? Thank you for sharing your visit to Yucatán 🙂

  3. Laura Osorio
    March 1, 2012, 2:44 am

    I’m going to the Yucatan in a month. Where, oh where is this taqueria?? Please share.

  4. Monica
    March 3, 2012, 4:14 pm

    Mmmm…. That looks delicious! I love your little “behind the scenes” videos. Once again, thanks for the lovely journey Andrew. Traveling mercies.

  5. Richard
    March 5, 2012, 10:43 am

    i wish that i was outside

  6. […] the stuff, but when you’ve been petting dogs all day and then get ready to sit down for some pork tacos, it’s a good idea. (0) More […]

  7. erdeisia rhena elizbeth carter
    las angelos californiA
    March 7, 2012, 12:44 pm

    i luv tacos!!

  8. Ivet G. C.
    Mérida Yucatán ,México
    September 22, 2012, 3:59 pm

    Hi I´m from Mérida Yucatán and I’m studying tourism managment, I read your experience and I can tell you that i’m so happy that you had the opportunity to taste a real taco, makes me be more proud of my country and its gastronomy. Thanks for sharing your experience and with your video, I hope lots of people don’t have the wrong idea of a taco anymore.
    And every Sunday when I eat a taco of cochinita pibil (Sunday is very common eat cochinita pibil for local people) I´ll eat to your health hehe :). Bye

  9. […] in China, eaten onion-heavy African stews and Indian curries, and spooned pickled onions over tacos in Mexico. Just when I decided that onions, in fact, make the food world go round, my biggest bestest […]

  10. Mikey
    S Florida
    February 3, 2015, 7:13 am

    We found a great place on the main highway in Playa Del Carmen, great pork and shrimp tacos! Could be the same place?