Perry van Munster / Stockimo / Alamy
Laura Winfree
September 26, 2014

If you’re seeking hard-shell tacos with ground beef, skip the flight to Mexico and head to your local Taco Bell. Here in Cancun, we like our tacos with soft, corn tortillas, slow-roasted meat, and fresh-mixed salsas or pico de gallo. If you’ve never tried real Mexican tacos, you’re in for quite a treat. The city of Cancun has a variety of Mexican restaurants where you can feast on authentic tacos, whether you’re hanging out in charming Downtown Cancun or the exciting Hotel Zone. In my experience, look for small, intimate restaurants. The best tacos in Cancun can be found in these family-owned, off-the-beaten-path haunts. Try one of my favorite picks, or simply follow locals to the kitchens and street-side carts turning out spicy tacos al pastor, or crispy fish tacos with salsa verde. When you’re in Cancun, I recommend looking for colorful and informal Mexican restaurants with an outdoor or open-air atmosphere: no pomp or fanfare, no fussy white tablecloths or deconstructed micro-cuisine. Just traditional, messy, eat-with-your hands tacos. 

Taco Factory

Whether you’re looking for a midday feast or late-night tacos after leaving the club, Taco Factory has you covered. This open-air taco joint has an unbeatable location in Punta Cancun’s nightclub district, and is known for do-it-yourself presentation. Try the hearty sirloin steak taco or cheesy, quesedilla-style gringa. Various salsas (salsa rojo; pico de gallo) come with your simple tacos for added heat. 

La Parrilla

La Parrilla has earned fame as one of Cancun’s most iconic restaurants, located in the downtown area on Avenida Yaxchilan. Here, you’ll find a colorful and cheerful atmosphere with live mariachi music and mouthwatering Mexican food, including the famous tacos al pastor (made with flavorful pork that’s been roasted on a vertical spit known as a trompo). 

Los de Pescado

This casual fish taco place has several Cancun locations in downtown and the Hotel Zone. Los de Pescado has become a popular choice for locals and tourists alike thanks to its cheap prices and delicious shrimp or fish tacos, ceviches, and burritos with a wide variety of salsas to choose from. If you’re like me and crave heat, order the spicy fish burrito. 

Tacun

This small and laid-back taco joint has indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a convenient location in the center of the Hotel Zone.  After a day of shopping or sightseeing, post up at one of the yellow gingham tables with the fried chicken tacos and an order of sweet, custardy flan. 

The Surfin’ Burrito

While this tiny outdoor spot gained its fame from its large, overstuffed California-style burritos, the tacos are always a smart choice, too. Here, diners personalize their own tacos by selecting everything from their type of tortilla, to the meat, toppings, and salsas inside. Shake up your morning routine by trying The Surfin’ Burrito for breakfast, with beans and Mexican sausage. 

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