Local expert Don Oscar is a professional in the technique of finding and eating the city’s best tacos–for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He advises: when visiting a “taquería,” approach the glass where the “taquero” (taco-maker) prepares the tacos, and check out the “guisos” (best translated as “what goes inside the taco”). Look for what makes your mouth water, order that, and refer to the taquero by name. If you don’t know his name, you can call him “Primo” (cousin). Tell him you want him to make your tacos “como si fuera para ti” (like you’re making them for yourself). If the guisos look juicy, order your taco “con copia” or double tortilla. Add sauce (careful with the habanero), and “Provechito!”

El Taco Árabe Guilos
The barber Don Guilos developed his Arabic taco recipe more than fifty years ago in order to impress at family parties. He recognized that an excellent taco is comprised of three elements: tortilla, meat, and sauce. With his Turkish friends, he developed an in-between of pita bread and flour tortilla. This special tortilla, along with the meat, is grilled over charcoal. Don Guilos was one of the first to create the garlic cream sauce “crema de ajo,” and concocted his red sauce with fresh, raw tomatoes. Today his tradition continues in the always-packed family restaurant in Brisas. Enjoy a cold beer and literally unforgettable homemade Arabic tortilla chips in my favorite taquería in the city.

Every day, 7 pm – 2 am
Calle 35 #400 x 41 y 20, Brisas
Facebook: El Taco Arabe Guilos
Adventure level: Low

Taquería Charly
If you’ve never tried cow head tacos, you’ll need to go see Charly. Almost six years ago, Charly moved to Mérida from Guanajuato, and he can be found composing tacos six nights a week in his clean, modest restaurant. Marinated in secret spices and citrus juices, Charly cuts the sizzling meat in tiny pieces with swift movements, tucking the tender meat into a bed of double corn tortillas and topping it off with chopped onion and cilantro. “The finest meat of all,” cow head, cheek, eye and tongue tacos are juicy and fat-free. If you are a true adventurer, let Charly bring out the Anthony Bourdain in you.

Monday – Saturday, 6 pm – 12 am
Calle 21 x 56, Col. Cámara de Construcción
Cel. 9991 38 20 88
Adventure level: High

Taquería D’ Jorge
Located in the south of Mérida next to the bridge of Xmatkuil, Don Octavio’s taquería is older than the bridge itself. Served in “órdenes” of grilled pork, tomato sauce, and black beans on a single plate, locals make their own tacos. “Our only publicity ‘es de boca en boca’ (word of mouth),” says Don Gustavo, “and the only secret is doing things right, day in and day out,” which is exactly what he has done for over 20 years – maybe even 25.

Monday – Saturday, 5 am – 12 pm
Avenida 50 Sur x Periférico, under the bridge
Adventure level: High

Tacos de Canasta Coyoacán
A tradition coming from the center of México, these soft, moist tacos melt in your mouth. Offering nine “guisos,” in five makeshift locations, the tacos are composed early in the morning by Tía Teresa and placed in kitchen towels inside of a huge wicker basket while still hot. Regular customers frequent with daily dedication and eat from four to 12 tacos, topping them off with fresh salsa verde and pickled jalapeños. I recommend the customer favorite “chicharrón,” green and red “mole,” and “papa con chorizo.”

Every day, 8 am – 1 pm
The orange VW van, Calle 50 x 43, Francisco de Montejo
Adventure level: Medium

Taquería La Virgen de Tetiz
Seafood tacos in the morning constitutes a very Yucatecan weekend tradition. This taquería has everything from classic fried shrimp to octopus in its ink. Guisos full of juice, it’s important to order your tacos “con copia” or double tortilla, so they don’t fall apart in your hands. Order the house special “El Tetiz,” a taco loaded with garlic shrimp, sliced chile pepper, and yellow rice.

Every day, 7 am – 1 pm
Calle 55-B x 42, on the corner, Francisco de Montejo
Cel. 9999 47 08 32
Adventure level: Medium


By Amanda Strickland

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