THE WHOLE ENCHILADA
One of Mexico’s most emblematic “antojitos,” the quesadilla is a beloved favorite in and outside of the country. It has become one of the most ubiquitous street foods, although they are usually only found earlier in the day. It’s name meaning “little cheese dish” in Spanish, it usually refers to a folded tortilla filled with melted cheese and other ingredients. However, the Mexico City quesadilla differs from those found throughout the rest of Mexico. In the capital city, quesadillas do not come with cheese unless specifically asked for. In the north of Mexico quesadillas are made with flour tortillas, while in the center and south of the country it is more common to find them made from corn tortillas. The tortilla of a quesadilla is always folded, because when two tortillas are used in a sandwich-like manner, the result is a sincronizada or a gringa (not quesadillas!). Quesadillas may be filled with a variety of fillings including: potato, huitlacoche (corn smut), flor de calabaza (squash blossom), chicharrón, mushrooms, chorizo and many other types of meat. In northern states closer to the Western coast, quesadillas are often filled with battered fish and shrimp, accompanied by lettuce, red onion and guacamole. The quesadilla is usually grilled on a griddle but can also be deep-fried, producing an “antojito” resembling an Argentinian empanada, because the edges of the tortilla become fused together.
Los Machetes $$$$$
Calle Héroes 192, Cuauhtémoc
Guillermo: 🌮🌮🌮🌮 Los Machetes is located in the Guerrero neighborhood. The place is named “Machetes” because the gigantic quesadillas resemble the size and shape of the knives which bear the same name. Measuring almost half a meter, one of these “antojitos” can feed two people. So, of course, we ordered two. We had one huitlacoche, chicharrón and cheese quesadilla and another with meat, ricotta-style cheese and potatoes. Being the typical Mexico City quesadillas, we had to specify wether we wanted them served with cheese or not. Finishing one of these monsters by myself was a Herculean task, but they were very delicious and less greasy than I expected.
Nicole: 🌮🌮🌮 Los Machetes offers a very unique quesadilla experience. Not only do they serve the biggest quesadillas I have ever seen, (mine was brought out on three plates) but they also prepare them in an interesting manner. Instead of mixing all the ingredients together, as most restaurants do, Los Machetes organizes each quesadilla in parts. So, if you order two different toppings, one half of the quesadilla will be one topping, and the other half another. I tried a huitlacoche quesadilla, which was something new for me. Guillermo told me that huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on corn crops and although in other countries it is considered a blight, in Mexico it is widely consumed. I also ordered chicharrón, which was much more meaty than I had expected of the typical fatty dish. One possible downside to the restaurant is that they did not have water. So if you want something to drink, be prepared to spend a little bit extra. But overall, I left very full and satisfied and only threw up a little bit.
Las Quekas Factory $
Corner of Cumbres de Maltrata and Calle Mitla 393, Narvarte
Guillermo: 🌮🌮🌮 Las Quekas Factory, located in the middle-class Narvarte neighborhood, offers a slightly more standardized quesadilla experience as it is part of a chain with various restaurants throughout the city. I was surprised to see that all their quesadillas come with cheese (as it should be). We had three quesadillas, one with flor de calabaza, one with mushrooms and one with chorizo and potatoes. All were very decent, but not delicious. They did their job. The waiter was really fast and friendly.
Nicole: 🌮🌮 One great thing about this chain restaurant is that, unlike many other places in Mexico City, all of the quesadillas have cheese! The size is not as impressive as some other famous quesadillas joints, but they are sold at a very good price and have a lot of different fillings to choose from. We ordered a quesadilla with flor de calabaza (with cheese), which is literally pumpkin flower, or squash blossom. Flor de calabaza is a popular quesadilla filling in Mexico and has a unique flavor.
Mercado de Antojitos Coyoacán $$$
Higuera 10, La Concepción
Guillermo: 🌮🌮 The Coyoacán Antojitos market is located near the Jardín Hidalgo Plaza, behind the San Juan Bautista church in Coyoacán’s very center. The market offers an astonishing variety of Mexican “antojitos,” such as pozole, sopes, huaraches and, of course, quesadillas. The stand we ordered our quesadillas at serves deep fried quesadillas, which makes them more crunchy (and unhealthy). We had beef tripe with cheese and chicharrón with cheese quesadillas. They were very good, especially when accompanied with the green salsa they prepare to go with them.
Nicole: 🌮🌮 The Coyoacán market has many different food stands where you can enjoy traditional Mexican street cuisine. Each stand has chairs and counter space for customers to sit around. The quesadillas at the market were different in that they were deep fried. They were very affordable, but a bit on the heavy and greasy side for me.
Las Jirafas $$$$
Manuel Carpio 93, Sta. María la Ribera
Guillermo: 🌮🌮🌮 Las Jirafas can be found in Santa María la Ribera, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city which is currently undergoing a revival, offering a view of the beautiful Kiosco Morisco while you eat. The place serves enormous quesadillas, measuring almost 30 centimeters long. They are served in tortillas that resemble pita bread. One of Las Jirafas best features is that you can customize your quesadilla with an astonishing variety of toppings like onions with habanero, chili rajas and various salsas. We had chorizo, potatoes and cheese, and chicharrón and cheese quesadillas. Another thing worth mentioning is that the place offers “gomichelas,” another of Mexico City’s strange inventions. A “gomichela” is a beer mixed with any flavor of chamoy sauce and served with gummy candies.
Nicole: 🌮🌮🌮🌮 Las Jirafas is located in the picturesque Santa María la Ribera neighborhood kitty-corner of the gazebo. I liked this spot because you can get huge quesadillas (although not as big as Los Machetes) that are not super greasy and deep fried. The quesadillas are served on a delicious thick and fluffy tortilla, which was almost more like a pancake or crepe. But the best part of the experience is the topping bar equipped with nopales, salsas, guacamole, onions, radishes, rajas, lettuce and more!
Quesadillas de María Isabel $$$
Emilio Castelar 14, Polanco
Guillermo: 🌮🌮 This restaurant is located in the affluent Polanco neighborhood but features some of that old-neighborhood charm. The quesadillas they serve are a little different from those made elsewhere. They are deep fried, but the edges of the tortillas used to make them are melded. We had four quesadillas: huitlacoche and cheese, chorizo and potatoes, mushrooms and cheese and flor de calabaza and cheese. They were a little expensive considering their not-impressive size, but they were good enough. They were at their best when accompanied with the green salsa and cream they provide you with.
Nicole: 🌮 Although quesadilla is in the name of the restaurant, don’t be fooled! What they serve here are NOT the quesadillas you are familiar with. They more closely resemble a tiny empanada. Even though they were not what I expected, they were still tasty, although a bit overpriced and super small. They were served with cream, which I had never seen before, and salsa verde. The staff was not very friendly and scoffed at me when I asked for a glass of water.
Quesadillas Gigantes $$
Calle Tomás Alva Edison 112, Tabacalera
Guillermo: 🌮🌮 Located very near the Monumento a la Revolución, Quesadillas Gigantes offers very cheap and big quesadillas. The tortillas they use are of the fluffy and soft variety. We had a tinga de pollo (shredded chicken in a tomato and chipotle sauce) and cheese quesadilla and a picadillo (ground beef and vegetables) and cheese one.
Nicole: 🌮🌮 The quesadillas here were very similar to those at Las Jirafas. They are about the same large size and use thick tortillas with the same texture and consistency. Unfortunately, they did not have a salsa bar like Las Jirafas, but it was one of the cheapest place we went to. The restaurant is kind of feíto and small, which I love.
$- Less than 20 pesos
$$- 20-30 pesos
$$$- 30-40 pesos
$$$$- 40-50 pesos
$$$$$- Over 50 pesos
Guillermo and Nicole came up the idea of sampling Mexico City’s food joints because they wanted to offer readers a different perspective on Mexican food. Guillermo is a Mexico City transplant from Veracruz, and gives a Mexican point of view on food. Nicole is a Seattle native, recently arrived to one of the biggest metropolis in the world, and is happy to enjoy the many different dishes that the country has to offer, giving her unique point of view. Both enjoy stuffing themselves until the point of passing out, trying new things and experiencing local food and culture.
Stay tuned for our next adventure: Pulque.