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We are one with Street Food Vendors of Querétaro

We felt obligated to take advantage of both of us having New Year’s Day 2009 off from work, and so parlayed it into a 2-night stay in Querétaro, a town of ~1.6 million people located two hours northwest of Mexico City. Our recent string of luck continued, as we happened upon yet another holiday festival– the town squares were bustling with folks celebrating the New Year with their families & street vendors doing a “land office business”, as we like to say back in the Midwest.

One of the most prevalent offerings appeared to be these sandwiches made with buns that were liberally fried in oil (in the center of that grill they are sitting on). I was initially tempted, until I saw one up close & realized that the red-ish coloring was the oil that permeated through almost the entire bun... Sounded like a recipe for a displeased tummy... :)

One of the most prevalent offerings appeared to be these sandwiches made with buns that were liberally fried in oil (in the center of that grill they are sitting on). I was initially tempted, until I saw one up close & realized that the red-ish coloring was the oil that permeated through almost the entire bun... Sounded like a surefire recipe for a displeased tummy... :)

I will admit, I have been a bit shy about partaking from street vendors during my stay in México thus far. The food always (well, almost always) looks amazing, but my stomach is not über-resiliant to new bacteria friends in general, and YMMV when it comes to hygiene practices at any given food cart. However, the delights being proffered in the aisles of vendors along the north & south sides of Jardin Zenea were attractive enough to inspire me to gamble.

To cut to the punchline, I ate at SIX fantastic street vendors in Queretaro and did not get remotely sick!! I was very excited about this accomplishment, which I interpreted both to mean that my stomach is becoming as strong as a team of Clydesdale horses, and that Queretan food stalls excel in cleanliness.

The only trick about dining at street vendors is that the bathroom options are fairly limited, so one must be careful to resist the siren call of these tasty drinks with Squirt & fresh-squeezed OJ too early in the evening. I held strong, despite the fact that you GET TO KEEP THE GLASS the drink is served in, and free glassware (or earthenware?) is my Achilles heel...

The only trick about dining at street vendors is that the bathroom options are fairly limited, so one must be careful to resist the siren call of these tasty drinks with Squirt & fresh-squeezed OJ too early in the evening. I held strong, despite the fact that you GET TO KEEP THE GLASS the drink is served in, and free glassware (or earthenware?) is my Achilles heel...

To highlight our fine dining selections between John & me:

  1. a tamale verde (tamale stuffed with green salsa & pork), probably the most flavorful tamale I’ve ever had. (Confession: as my first course of the evening, this is an admittedly wussy choice– tamales are known for being one of the “safest” options from street vendors, because they are made in advance, wrapped in their protective corn-husk jacket and steamed, thereby being the epitome of safe food handling practices. But hey, I was easing into things, ok?)
  2. elote (corn), cut off the cob, piled into a styrofoam cup, and covered in lime juice, mayo, chili powder, salt & shredded cheese
  3. pseudo-flan (aka, something that looked like flan & we thought was just plain-old flan but apparently we misunderstood when we asked the lady who was selling it, because though it had the consistency of flan, it had a nutty flavor. Still good though!)
  4. tacos al pastor , these are cooked on a spit similar to another favorite of mine, gyros. The pork is marinated with various spices & chili peppers, cooked vertically, then served with onions, cilantro, and whatever other toppings you desire!  I always get excited about adding guacamole salsa to them, which is sooo good but also sooo spicy (be forewarned)

    Our Tacos al Pastor vendor hard at work

    Our Tacos al Pastor vendor hard at work

  5. churros rellenos, basically Mexican donuts (with a straight line instead of circular shape) filled with whatever goo your heart desires– we opted for fresa (strawberry) and cajeta (carmel-y syrup)

    John excitedly waits for his fresh churro action

    John excitedly waits for his fresh churro action

  6. and finally, un esquimo, a milkshake-like drink made by blending ice, mystery liquid (likely evaporated milk/water), and flavoring (we recommend Rompope, an intriguing eggnog-flavored liquor).

    This esquimo stand was a 4-blender operation.

    This esquimo stand was a 4-blender operation.

The best part of the esquimo is that while we were standing in line to place our order, we observed that you could select either a cup or plastic bag as your serving vessel. John was undecided for a while, but after the two locals in line ahead of us BOTH opted for the plastic bag + straw, he determined that must be the auténtico way to go. This was another first for me (drinking from a baggie), and I think it totally helped us to blend in with the locals & offset my height…

In summary, our New Year’s Day dinner cost a total of about 80 pesos for two people (aka $5.78 USD), and each course was fantastic! My street vendor bravery continues to increase.  And don’t worry– when my luck runs out, I will try to spare you the details of any gastrointestinal repercussions.

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14 Comments on “We are one with Street Food Vendors of Querétaro”

  1. #1 American Mommy in Mexico
    on Jan 10th, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Wow – you did go for it! Kudos!!

    We have eaten at the taco stands over a good bit of Mexico and so far so good. We may be too accepting – we stop whenever we are hungry and enjoy the offerings of the moment.

  2. #2 Adán Jorge
    on Jan 15th, 2009 at 11:36 am

    quiúbole camaras!
    hello, am from México, you have a idea of our country

    the pictures are so cool! thanks i have a lot to find it

    (mi inglés es medio chafa)

    well.. see you soon in this beautiful country

  3. #3 Julie
    on Jan 18th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Yes, I think I am over my initial skepticism of the street food stands. :) Everytime we stop & grab a snack somewhere on an impulse, we are always impressed with the quality!! And I can’t get enough of that guacamole salsa… Avocados are full of the “good fats”, right?? ;)

  4. #4 Usha
    on Apr 26th, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Sir,I went through the website. Street vendors need space livelihood security, training, development of their enterpreniurship, marketing help. They save lots of energy, resources, and surplus to many of us. They dont need acres of land, tons of power, and water. They serve us with minimum energy consumption, and some times zero consumption. They are serving us, our nation. Thousands of women and Men sell vegetables, fruits, and eatables, which do not use consume, for cheaper prices, and help poor in the process. They should be encouraged, because they are a check to monopoly in the market. They have lots of human face values. They dont do business, surplus, exploitation, but they are earning their livelihood by without asking crores of loans, from govt, as big malls do. your ministry needs to concentrateon sustainability, training on health and hygene to these vendors. We have no gurantee that the big hotels, and inside kitchens are providing food with safe methods. its not transparent. Many times we see people inside these kitchens look very ugly, and full of sweat, those kitchens have no ventilation, no light etc., The packed food also carry lots of gems, and lose lots of freshness, and scientifically its not proved that these are better foods. Healthy way of eating food, means many other things. If we ask them to wear gloves, then the gloves have to be cleaned, and disposed, means, again accumulating plastic. This perspective needs much more study, and readings.

  5. #5 Heather
    on May 31st, 2009 at 12:44 am

    “sandwiches made with buns that were liberally fried in oil”…guajolotes…….oooh how I miss these from my time living in Querétaro…..my favorite part is the fried potatos and carrots (filling) yummmy ..and the drinks in the clay vasos, and churros con fresa…..la nostalgia! good luck with your adventure! saludos desde Sonora!

  6. #6 Sylvie
    on Jun 10th, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    If you happen to go during the Day of the Dead celebrations, you can enjoy your own chocolate Catrina (kinda like the chocolate easter bunnies except it’s in the shape of a squeleton head decorated with flowers) and don’t miss the Pan de Muertos!

    I love that time of the year. Streets in historic downtown are lively and just filled with goodies to try out.

    Julie, congrats on the stomach strength. I’m canadian and have lived in Puerto Vallarta since 1995, traveling throughout Mexico as often as I can. I worked my way up to the street vendors as well and today am an eager ’street foodie’ whenever I can.

    Enjoyed your blog!

    Sylvie Laitre

  7. #7 Sylvie Laitre
    on Jun 24th, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Me again! Just wanted to let you know that we posted this article (and referred back to your site) on our new blog:

    http://mexicoboutiquehotels.wordpress.com/

    Thank you for the fun reporting!

  8. #8 rick
    on Aug 31st, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Street vendors are among the safest source of food in Mexico.

    The success of their business is totally dependent on both the quality of their food and the safety.

    Selling bad food once is enough for them to loose their customer base. None can afford that.

    The danger to tourists is when the vendor has some marginal food and can pass it on to an unsuspecting customer.

    This can most easily happen in a resturant, or at a street fair where the customers are not ‘regulars’.

    Eat on the streets and eat where locals eat and you will be very safe.

  9. #9 Kei
    on Nov 12th, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Hey, enjoying your blog so far, you have a funny perspective. Though, I have to say that the sandwich type food of delicious goodness which you missed out on is called a Pambazo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pambazo

    It’s not oil, it’s a guajillo sauce, which has the following according to a recipe I found for it: tomatoes, guajillo chiles, cumin, cloves, white onion, garlic, salt, and corn oil (1 ½ tbs, no more than the average salsa). When done right, they are simply amazing, and by far one of my favorite street foods (I’m from Arizona/California, and have been here for 2 years, though I still speak kindergarten level Spanish).

    The best idea is to look for a stand that has the reddest and most crispy looking bread, or to observe for how long they toast the bread before serving one up. The longer the better, the crunchiness is a brilliant and tasty contrast to the chorizo, potatoe, lettuce, crumbly cheese and crema filling which can be quite messy without a solid bun to hold it up.

    Please give it a shot, and enjoy.

  10. #10 CT
    on Jan 9th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    its cool to see you trying out the local street food cause usually thats my favorite.

    im a native of mexico but i now reside in CT.

    make you you try street or family-owned restaurant quesadillas, they’re sick

  11. #11 Razcolnicov
    on Mar 26th, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Tomorrow a friends from Monterrey are going with me to Querétaro. It is very refreshing to read what a gringo thinks about our awesome street food :D If you are living in DF, you should go and try the tortas from Gante Street at the very hearth of Mexico City, just a few blocks away from Palacio de Bellas Artes. We use to go there and I definetively gonna take my friends there, although they are mexicans, they need to taste some great stuff from time to time XD

    Beautiful blog, please keep the good work and excuse my rusty english :D

  12. #12 Julie
    on Mar 29th, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Thanks Razcolnicov! Will definitely go suss out the torta place you mention! :) Hope the QRO trip was fun & so glad you’re enjoying the blog!!

  13. #13 google
    on Aug 1st, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    At this moment I am ready to do my breakfast,
    when having my breakfast coming over again to read more news.

    Feel free to surf to my webpage: google

  14. #14 visit us
    on Aug 12th, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    The Millennia Tree, a variety of local pine called Sabino (Taxodium mucronatum), can live to an astounding
    age and as shown by this monster, an incredible size.
    The liberator was General Ignacio Allende, a home-town lad
    for whom de Allende was tagged on to the town’s name. Trudging
    through the dark woods, scuffles and the odd running animal in the distance lets us
    know that the darkness hides more than the local flora.

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