Monday, July 28, 2008

Tacos Al Pastor Crawl in Mexico City

El Tizoncito
Tacos al pastor were said to originate in Puebla, Mexico back in the 19th century after Lebanese families immigrated to Mexico. Derived from shawarma cooking techniques and kebab spices, pork is marinated for several days, layered and finally cooked on a vertical spit called a trompo.

As the al pastor cooks slowly aside layered charcoal, the tacquero quickly slices slivers of al pastor from the trompo and with the flick of his wrist he tops it off with a warm piece of pineapple.

Right after Dylan and I got engaged, we headed down the street for a late night snack. El Tizoncito (pictured above) is a popular chain claiming to have invented the al pastor. I highly doubt it, but their pastors are pretty darn consistent nevertheless.

El Kaliman
Dylan and I were pretty impressed the first time eating at El Tizoncito. Well, that was until we found El Kaliman just a block down. El Kaliman, a long mid-century'esque diner throws out some mean pastors. Perfectly most and seasoned, El Kaliman is my favorite late night al pastor joint in Condesa. Don't be confused with their super extensive sushi-like menu. Tacos al pastors are 7 pesos (~70 cents) each!

El Farolito
About a ten minute walk southeast you'll find two heavy hitters for tacos al pastor. El Farolito wasn't one of our favorites but they do a great job grilling up young onions.

El Kalifa
Across the street is the more popular and busy El Califa. This was definitely Dylan's spot to relax over beers and tacos. Although pricier than it's competitors, El Califa makes it up in service, homemade tortillas and better quality meat.

El Kalifa
While I munched away on tacos al pastor, Dylan fell in love with tacos de costilla, rib meat lightly marinated with salt and pepper. It's a great cut of meat, full of flavor, tenderness and juice. Simply delicious.

If you ever have a couple hours to spare on a stopover in Mexico City, I highly recommend sneaking out for an al pastor crawl in Condesa, just 15-20 minutes away from the Benito Juárez International Airport.

El Tizoncito
corner of Tamaulipas & Campeche
Condesa DF

El Kaliman
Calle Campeche 374 (corner of Campeche & Ensenada)
Condesa DF

El Farolito
19 Altata
Condesa DF

El Califa
22 Altata
Condesa DF


Matthew K. said...

wow, looks amazing. great photos and writeup. tacos al pastor are the love of my life.

teenage glutster said...

wow, what a coincidence, again!

I'm heading off to D.F in a couple of

weeks as well and almost can't sleep

night thinking about all the street


I really need to take you guys to

my local spot--outdoor trompo

pineapple inferno and all--let me

know when you guys are available.

boody said...

OH GEEZ, I think you've triggered my mexican food binge again!!! I just got out of it last week, but now this! This post is making me hungry!!!! haha. Have you ever had tinga??? It's soooo good.

This is random, but you guys should have your engagement photos at a taco place. That would be really, really cool. haha. btw, thanks for your sweet comment, Jeni! I'm still undecided. EEK!

Bill said...

I had really bad Mexican food today and reading your post has eased it. Thanks! ;-)

Food Marathon said...

A true taco marathon in Mexico. You're my heroes.


Hi - Congratulations on your blog. You may be interested in my book, Good Food in Mexico City: A Guide to Food Stalls, Fondas and Fine Dining. It is available online.
Best regards, Nicholas Gilman

Food, she thought. said...

I am so happy you shared with me the history lesson on the Lebanese origins of the al pastor taco! I am loving the Mexico City posts. I have only been once, and I went alone. I didn't feel super safe to explore alone. Your beautiful blog is making me want to go with my wonderful husband!

Tom Aarons said...

What a lovely photo set. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...


Mike S said...

Ack! You're making me jealous!

Here I am, a lonely gringo up in upstate NY, and all I want right now are some tasty tacos al pastor.

Luckily, I am the younger brother of one of the members of La Orquesta Sinfonica de Sinaloa. I try to take a week off from work once a year to go down and visit him in Culiacan and Mazatlan.

I loves me some real al pastor.

I guess I'll just have to put up with pizza tonight.

Jeni said...

matthew k...omg...can I tell you how much I love al pastors??? LOVE THEM. You have to try pastors in Mexico...they are sliced to perfection!

Teenage Glutster...when are you going? I'm soo jealous. You are going to have so much fun. I totally want to eat with you again. D and I have been SWAMPED with weddings and shower to attend (you'll go through this when you're 30)...but we'll be free in Sept and October!!! We miss you lil brother!

Boody...what is tinga? MMM...sounds good. Make me a tinga cupcake before you leave! haha. to bad Mexican food. Hope you felt better.

food marathon...awww... thanks!

jim johnston...we'll check it out. thanks.

food, she thought...oh are going to have to bring your love along to df. it's such a cool city to play and eat. we stay in condesa when we go and it's just super cute with tons of cafes and restaurants.

tom aarons...thanks for reading!

anonyMOM...aww...I love mommy.

mike...sounds like you are living a tough life right now. I was dying for mexican food when I was living in was I know your pain. Hope you get to make it out to Mexico soon. Al pastors there are like nothing else. I just want to gnaw on al pastor while it's on the spit. Gnaw gnaw gnaw! Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Had my first DF taco al pastor at El Califa based on your reco and it was pretty damn good. Al pastor is definitely different (much better) than the over-sauced, oily puerco that we get in LA . One of the drivers at the hotel I'm staying at said he's gonna take me to a local place that serves other stuff like lengua, tripas and, my fav, suadero. We'll see if it's better than Taco Zone...

Anonymous said...

Nice to see pastor tacos get the recognition they justly deserve, especially since it is impossible to get a decent taco al pastor anywhere in the US. It's odd that in Mexico City, these are THE tacos everyone gets when they go out to a taqueria, yet they remain largely anonymous across the world.

That said, how could you recommend El Farolito?? I'm a Mexico City native, lived there for 25 years and El Farolito is wretched...the truth is, even in Mexico City, taquerias are very hit-and-miss (e.g., Don Taco is also rubbish). Take the advice of a Mexico City guy who knows the town inside out and go to La Onda, which is near Polanco, near Prado Norte street and Palmas (fairly centric)...usually pretty full and has the best tacos al pastor in town. Can't wait to fly back to Mx just to have them again!

Anonymous said...

I lived in D.F. for three years as a youth and I agree that La Onda is THE place for Tacos al Pastor. I went back to Mexico on my honeymoon and had Tacos al Pastor in Cancun, didn't even compare. Try La Onda, you'll never go back!

Valeria Vera said...

I've now read all your posts about DF and Oaxaca. I loved the fact that you got back here for your engagement (although you didn't know at first you were coming for that). Anyways I enjoyed SO much your posts!, they made me love my city a thousand times more. Thank you for coming, and keep doing it!, there are so many places to discover ( apart from Condesa! ). :)


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