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Food Memories

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Edible flowers in Assam

Assam India

Bitter flowers are [eaten] in Asia. In Assam, northeast India, these flowers are used as food. It's simply made and tasty ; village people like these flowers. They are unique vegetables -- called... Read more

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EYW Blog

Day of the Dead in Oaxaca: Skeletons, Tamales & Familia Laura Siciliano-Rosen October 23, 2019

If you've seen the movie Coco, you might guess that El Día de los Muertos is a wonderful, life-affirming time to visit Mexico, expecially if you can find a local family to take you under their wing.

I wrote this piece, about spontaneously spending the Day of the Dead with a local named Rafael and his family in Oaxaca, several years ago. It is based on an experience from 2004, when we spent six weeks backpacking around Mexico. Six years later, we returned to Oaxaca to study its cuisine and found Rafael, having saved his business card (see at bottom). Lots of hugs and mezcal were shared all around.


What to expect at the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca


From my seat on a wooden bench outside the corner store, I took in the busy...

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Tags: Mexico


On the Hunt for Oaxaca’s Best Tlayudas Catherine Tansey April 3, 2019

A charred tlayuda folded into two triangles with radish on the side, from a Oaxaca restaurant.
A tlayuda from Doña Favia in Oaxaca, Mexico. All photos courtesy of Catherine Tansey.

Few foods are more Oaxaqueño than the crisp, chewy tlayuda. Affectionately called “Mexican pizza,” tlayudas are large crispy tortillas, warmed on a comal and brushed with smoky asiento (pork lard). Toppings vary but usually include a smear of velvety black beans, shredded lettuce, and some type of salty meat like tasajo or cecina; the best are loaded with the famed chewy, stringy quesillo of the region.

But in my first few weeks in Oaxaca, I quickly saw that not all tlayudas are created equal. Several disappointed me, being either too crisp, too chewy, or too bland. I knew there had to be...

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Tags: Mexico


Q&A: Javier Ornelas, a Mexican Chef in Globalized Tulum Kerra Bolton March 2, 2018

Mexican chef Javier Ornelas prepares soup for a wedding in Tulum.
All photos courtesy of Javier Ornelas, except where indicated.

“Bubbles eventually pop, and we, as a community, have to figure out how to sustain a middle class while maintaining Tulum as a vibrant tourist destination.”—Javier Ornelas, of Hotel Ginger in Tulum

Mexico’s food culture is increasingly global.

As the influx of immigrants from all over the world continues to swell, notions about what is “authentic” Mexican food evolve beyond the “tacos and tequila” stereotype.

This is especially true of Tulum, an idyllic, tropical paradise bordered by lush jungle and the Caribbean Sea. Here, you are just as likely to find a German bakery, Italian and Thai restaurants, and Japanese...

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Tags: food producer Q&A Mexico


Monterrey’s Weekend Ritual: Cabrito Lydia Carey June 28, 2017

Our writer learns how to make cabrito, or roasted baby goat, from a Monterrey master.

Cabrito, or roasted goat, being sliced for tacos in Monterrey, Mexico
All photos by Lydia Carey

It’s mid-morning in Monterrey, Mexico, when Humberto Villareal—“Beto”—picks me up, but it’s already blazing hot. The air-conditioning running, his car is laced with the smell of cigarettes, and his gravelly northern accent takes me a minute to get accustomed to. Beto is a friend of a friend and a local chef in Monterrey. Today, in the early spring heat, he’s going to teach me how to make cabrito, Monterrey’s most iconic dish of baby goat.

Cabrito has a long history in the cuisine of Nuevo León, the state of which Monterrey is the capital. The region’s earliest...

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Tags: Mexico


A Tiny Piece of Wine Country, on a Mexico City Rooftop Lydia Carey October 20, 2016

Our contributor takes us to Vinicola Urbana, a wine-producing rooftop vineyard (and breath of fresh air) smack-dab in overcrowded Mexico City.

Glass of wine at Vinicola Urbana, a rooftop winery in Mexico City
All photos by Lydia Carey

A pseudo-camouflaged sign sits at the entrance of No. 29 on Mexico City’s posh Avenida Presidente Masaryk. Inside, the security guards will probably ignore you, but all the way to the left-hand side of the lobby sits a woman who will direct you to the elevators, up four floors, and into an empty elevator-bank hallway. You’ll hesitate, confused; walking out what looks like an emergency exit, you turn right and are unexpectedly met by a wave of shamrock-shaped leaves, tiny bundles of grapes hanging daintily beneath...

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Tags: Mexico wine drinks


Making Barbacoa in Mexico City: A Four-Day Adventure Lydia Carey August 30, 2016

Our lucky contributor goes behind-the-scenes of barbacoa making in Mexico City.

Barbacoa with consome, sopes, and salsas in Mexico City
All photos by Lydia Carey except where indicated.

In every region of Mexico, you will find barbacoa steaming on streetside stands, taking center stage at family gatherings, and being sold by the kilo to hungry market goers. Barbacoa is Mexico’s Sunday brunch, its method is as old as time immemorial, and its recipes continue to evolve at the hands of each barbacoa master, who adds his or her special touch to one of the country’s most quintessential dishes

The origin of the word barbacoa is most likely from the West Indies, where it describes a type of grill for cooking meat. In Mexico it refers...

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Tags: Mexico food origins


Exploring La Merced Market, in Mexico City Lydia Carey December 11, 2015

Our friends at Eat Mexico tell us why the Merced Market is a Mexico City must-see.

Food vendor at La Merced market in Mexico City
Photos by Christie Pham

Forget what you may have heard about the Merced Market, in Mexico City. In my opinion there is only one real danger: You will, inevitably, time and time again, come home with bags full to overflowing with unnecessary items that you found impossible to resist. Personally, I have at various times and with varying degrees of regret purchased 3 kilos of sliced nopal cactus, a frog tamal, a bag of violet-colored beans from Puebla, a dozen mini tlacoyos that fit in the palm of my hand, and a set of white porcelain espresso cups—and I don’t even own an espresso maker. Each...

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Tags: Mexico markets


East Coast Mexico’s Dutch Influence Laura Siciliano-Rosen April 9, 2014

Round of Edam cheese
Edam cheese. Photo: Yvwv

Yucatecan food—even that found along the so-called Riviera Maya, the coastal corridor between Cancún and Tulum—is markedly different from “Mexican food” as most of us know it, as we learned while traveling the region last week. One reason is, of course, the pronounced Mayan influence, but many more groups have left their mark on the cuisine here as well, from the British and Spanish to the Lebanese and even the Dutch. The latter’s influence can be witnessed in one enduring main ingredient—Edam cheese, called queso de bola here—and is particularly unexpected for someone who’s traveled across much of Mexico before. No one knows for sure how the cheese got...

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Tags: Mexico food origins


Wake Up & Smell the Tacos: 3 Reasons to Wake Up Early While Traveling Laura Siciliano-Rosen April 3, 2014

Trio of tacos from Tulum, Mexico
Tacos for breakfast in Tulum

Traditionally, Scott and I are stay-up-late, wake-up-late kind of people. This all changed a year ago, of course, when our son was born and the definition of “waking up late” became 8am. Most days we’re in bed by 11pm and up by 7am, though baby boy has pushed the 6am envelope more times than I would prefer. On Mexico’s Yucatán coast last week, however, where the time difference was a small but still meaningful-in-a-baby’s-world two hours, all bets were off.

We’d heard the horrors of time-change travel with babies, one reason why we rather timidly selected east-coast Mexico for this trip (it’s also a nicely manageable four-hour flight from New York)....

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Tags: baby travel Mexico kids


7 Favorite Tacos in Mexico Laura Siciliano-Rosen March 20, 2014

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more perfect snack food than the taco. It's cheap, it's portable, it can comprise a wide range of ingredients—meats, veggies, cheese, salsas—and textures (if you've never had crunchy chicharrón atop your taco, drop everything and go find some). We love tacos all across the U.S.—carne asado in L.A., egg-potato-bean in Austin, our favorite lengua tacos in Queens—but nothing beats the motherland. As we gear up for some travel through the Yucatán Peninsula, where cochinita pibil tacos for breakfast await, here's a look at a few favorite tacos we've met in Mexico.

Taco al pastor from Mexico City, Mexico

Taco al pastor
The mighty taco al pastor, local to Mexico City and Puebla: Thin...

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Tags: Mexico


Oaxaca Food & Travel Guide: Now on Kindle! Laura Siciliano-Rosen February 20, 2014

Lucky number 7! We’re pleased to announce our seventh destination guide on Kindle: the Oaxaca Food & Travel Guide, now available on Oaxaca is celebrated for its cuisine, but knowing what to look for—and where to find it, particularly when it comes to navigating the labyrinthine markets and choosing street vendors—is essential. Enter our latest guide, which directs you to 40 delicious dishes and drinks in Oaxaca, from the best tamales and empanadas to the harder-to-find, veggie-fresh sopa de guias. And mole, of course! Aside from our usual How to Burn It Off and Where to Stay info, this guide also includes some bonus recipes from renowned Oaxacan chef, Pilar Cabrera.


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Tags: Kindle Mexico


Morelia, Mexico: What to Eat Naomi Bishop October 2, 2013

A spread of local food in Morelia, Mexico
Traditional dishes from Zirita, a culinary workshop, in Morelia.

Morelia, capital of the state of Michoacán, Mexico, is quietly beautiful, the kind of pretty where the dowdy female lead takes off her glasses, shakes out her ponytail, and wows the guy at the end of a rom-com. The food, though, is exactly the opposite: It’s the mean girl with the tiny waist who knows how to wield a fierce high heel—or, in Morelia’s case, a fierce tamale. A recent eating whirlwind through the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site sprinkled with pale pink stones, revealed a ferocious food culture: hot with chile negro, strong with the bold flavors of local fruits and vegetables, and woven...

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Tags: Mexico destinations


In Mexico, on a Quest for Tortas Felisa Rogers June 26, 2013

Felisa Rogers drove from Oregon to Oaxaca (and back) this winter in search of the perfect down-and-dirty, no-nonsense torta. Here are a few of her favorites.

Torta from Mexico City street cart
A torta in Mexico City

The delights of driving the length of Mexico are manifold, but in my world, the taco and the torta reign supreme. On a recent 6,500-mile odyssey to Mexico and back, an unspoken mission developed: I’d find the best tortas, from the best hole-in-the-wall torterias.

Many classy restaurants in Mexico serve tortas, or sandwiches, but I see no reason to order a torta at a nice restaurant. The primary point is the price—typically, any establishment in Mexico that calls itself a restaurant is going to...

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Tags: travel Mexico road trip food quest


The Miracle of Maguey Naomi Bishop January 10, 2013

The maguey plant can get you drunk three different ways and it’s not your college boyfriend — moreover, maguey (or agave) is used to actually treat syphilis, not cause it. A look at the humble maguey’s role in Aztec and Mexican life, past and present.

The spikey American agave plant
Photo: Naamsvermelding vereist/Wikipedia

The maguey cactus, native to Mexico, is best known for its place in alcohol, specifically tequila, but it’s also eaten in a variety of ways, used to make fabric and clothes, and taken for medicinal purposes. Not a looker, this giant, spike-covered plant somehow made its way from desert cactus to unexpected star of ancient Aztec (and later Mexican) civilization, permeating food, drink,...

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Tags: food origins Mexico


Dish Spotlight: Churros y Chocolate in Mexico City Laura Siciliano-Rosen January 8, 2013

Churros dipped in hot chocolate.

I have a weak spot for hot chocolate in the winter—and now that my selection of quaffable vices is limited by pregnancy, man, do I have a weak spot for hot chocolate. Many afternoons I’ll go out hunting for one around 3pm, or I’ll make some at home. If I’m feeling naughty, I’ll accept a dollop of whipped cream or throw some marshmallows into my steaming, milky cup.

But how could I have forgotten about churros?

In the Spanish world, churros—those thin, fluted, deep-fried pastries—and hot chocolate go together like milk and cookies in the United States. Opinion is divided over who, exactly, invented churros (Spanish shepherds? Portuguese sailors via the Chinese?), but it’s safe to...

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Tags: dishes Mexico


Q&A: Pilar Cabrera, Chef & Cooking Instructor, Oaxaca, Mexico Laura Siciliano-Rosen March 2, 2012

Chef Pilar Cabrera, of La Olla Restaurant in Oaxaca, Mexico“I try to portray the colors of the Oaxacan landscape in the food I prepare: color, color, color! Oaxaca is such a vibrant place, and having this reflected in the food you eat here makes Oaxacan cuisine even more enjoyable.”—Chef Pilar Cabrera,
La Olla 

Tell us about your job.
Currently I manage the kitchen of my restaurant La Olla, in Oaxaca, Mexico, and I am also the cooking instructor at Casa de los Sabores Cooking School.

What led you to become a chef?
I started cooking at an early age. My love for the smell, taste, color, and texture of food motivated me to go to university and get a degree in Food Engineering and Nutrition. After graduating I worked for Herdez-McCormick in...

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Tags: food producer Q&A Mexico



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