Part of the fun of traveling is trying new foods, especially street food. Mexico offers so many delicious types of cuisine: from pricey, world-class gourmet restaurants to economical treats served from carts and stands on street corners. In Cancun, one of the best places to try street food is Parque las Palapas, the main downtown park, located between Tulum Avenue and Yaxchilan Avenue. The food at Parque las Palapas is very economical — Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse
In the park, you'll find many free-standing food carts and a section of food stalls as well. In the very last stall (on the end where the church is located), you can try delicious empanadas: fried pastries stuffed with your choice of filling. Make sure you top them with a spicy salsa, crumbled queso fresco (a cheese) and cebollas curtidas ("pink pickled onions").
Tacos in Mexico are served on soft tortillas; hard shells are a Tex-Mex creation. Look for the spit (brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants), where marinated pork is grilled for tacos al pastor. Forget the cheese and try them with cilantro, onions, pineapple, lime juice and salsa.
If you've never had one, try a torta - a Mexican sandwich served on a toasted bolillo ("bread roll"). Tortas can be stuffed with many different ingredients, such as breaded chicken or beef, chorizo, pulled pork, avocado, refried beans, cheese and jalapeño.
Many Yucatecan specialties can also be found for sale in the food stalls. Panuchos are deep-fried tortillas that are filled with a layer of beans and then topped with shredded meat and sour cream, cheese and lettuce. Try one topped with cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish. Try a cochinita pibil torta — Photo courtesy of Gary Soup
Sopa de lima ("lime soup"), made with chicken broth, lime juice and shredded chicken, is simple yet delicious. Top your soup off with tortilla strips and cheese. Salbutes are puffed, deep-fried tortillas topped with chopped cabbage, shredded chicken or turkey, cebollas curtidas, avocado and jalapeño.
Esquites - boiled kernels of corn that are topped with mayonnaise, hot sauce and chili powder - are also sold in Parque las Palapas. Just look for the huge metal pots.
For dessert, order a marquesita from one of the food carts. Dough is spread on a hot, round metal griddle, and the filling of your choice (Nutella, cheese or caramel) is placed on top. When the dough is ready, it is then rolled up and ready to eat. Many of the food carts also serve churros (a fried pastry) and fried bananas (platanos fritos). Marquesitas are a local street food dessert — Photo courtesy of Ann-Dabney
Directions: To get to Parque las Palapas, take the R1 bus from the Hotel Zone, get off at the Palacio Municipal and cross Tulum Avenue. Then walk a few steps to the right, turn left down pedestrian street Tulipanes (There's a Burger King on the corner.), walk a block and you'll run right into the park.