So you’ve decided to visit a Botanero, you’ve ordered drinks…Now you may be wondering what this food you’re being served is. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the Yucatecan Botanas


The Botanas

Codzitos. Fried corn tortilla tacos that are usually filled with…nothing. They’re just the crunchy taco shell, covered with tomato sauce and sprinkled with crumbled Sopero cheese (similar to Cotija). 


Pickled potato salad. This tangy dish may sometimes be made with sliced sausages, but you’ll find that the most abundant ingredients are potatoes, onions, and sometimes cilantro; be wary when trying it, since some places throw in slices of Habanero peppers. It’s a good idea to ask in advance. 


Kibis. Kibis are a tropicalization of Lebanese Kibbeh; you’ll find them in a variety of places and presentations. At Botaneros and Cantinas, they’re usually served as small patties, a couple of inches in diameter; as street food, served out of what looks like a fish tank, they’re shaped like Kibbeh (like an American football) but are completely empty inside. Your vendor will fill them with pickled onion and cabbage, unless you ask them not to. 


Chayitas. Presentations vary, but Chayitas are usually fried masa with chopped Chaya (a local, tasty leafy green), sometimes served with tomato sauce, but sometimes with Xnipek (Pico de Gallo). 



Polcanes. Although similar to what you might know as “Gorditas”, Polcanes are distinguished by their particular shape, similar to a snake’s head (Pool K’aan, in Maya). Fillings may vary, but the traditional one is Tooksel, which is a vegan-friendly dish made with white beans (Ibes) and ground Pepita (pumpkin seed). 


Sikil P’aak. A traditional dip made with toasted pumpkin seed, cilantro, and roasted tomato. It’s a great (vegan) snack that’s also highly nutritious and is usually served with tortilla chips.


Xe’ek’. This is a fresh salad made with jicama (Mexican turnip) and citrus fruit, usually oranges and mandarin oranges. Some people make it with ground Maax or Habanero pepper, and some people add in cilantro. Any way you try it, it’s a very traditional fall snack (as that’s when both jicama and citrus are in season), and also the word we use to describe a messy situation. “Your room is a Xe’ek’!” 


Beer cocktails

Are you looking to give your beer a local twist? There are three very popular ways to have a beer in Yucatán, and you’ll find them not only at Botaneros and Cantinas, but most restaurants where alcohol is served.  You’ll be brought whichever beer you ordered, along with the mix (about an ounce or two) in a beer mug with ice, for you to pour and enjoy. 


Chelada. The “mix” is just lime juice, served in a glass or beer mug rimmed with salt. 


Michelada. In addition to the lime juice, your glass will include a house mix of sauces including Worcestershire and Maggi; some places offer flavorings such as mango, tamarind, or strawberry, among others. Your glass might be rimmed with salt, but a (mildly) spicy Chamoy mix is the norm, as is a “stirrer” that’s actually a spicy candy stick. 


Ojo Rojo. Also built on top of its predecessor, but somewhat less widespread, Ojo Rojo includes about a double pour of Clamato juice, for a very umami kick to your beer


Now that you know, are you ready to get the first round? 



By Alicia Navarrete
Communicologist born circumstantially in México City, but who says “uay” since 1985. Life has allowed me to see the world, which in turn has allowed me to discover how much I love the place where I live. 


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