I think it's one of the best parts about traveling. During our 'first rodeo' (driving from the States to Costa Rica in 2007),

we were afraid to eat anywhere but McDonalds, KFC and Taco Bell.  We love eating street food.

Eating street food is a tasty way to immerse yourself in the cul"But won't you get sick?" you may be asking (as I once did).

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street food

At least at first. But that's okay. Then you're body will build up an immunity, and you can indulge in all the street food you want.

My dad spent some time in Chile as a youth. When he very first arrived, he drank water out of a pitcher sitting on the table... it was the wrong water, aka NOT drinking water.

He was sooooo sick. Miserably, want-to-die sick.

But after it was over, he could drink any water, anywhere. He was immune.

I've never gotten as sick as my dad did. But I have been sick... at first. Now it's very rare.

Unlike our 'first rodeo', when we crossed into Mexico (for the second time along our Epic Expedition) in 2011, we ate street food. (This is our first meal, below.)

mexico street food

It was at a pretty sketchy roadside stand. Whatever was nearby smelled of sewage. I remember getting sick from that little meal... it lasted several days.

Lake Chapala

This was at a tianguis (market) in Ajijic/Lake Chapala. Yum.

Lake Chapala

Fresh Mexican corn tortillas were one of our favorites in that part of Mexico. Here we are buying them hot off the press from the tortilla man at his store/home.

tortilla man


Buying buckets full of fresh raspberries was AMAZING!

Jocotepec - 08

This big pot of raspberries cost us the same as the little box would at a grocery store in the States.

Jocotepec - 09


Here we're eating at a market in Paracho, Mexico. That part of Mexico uses a lot of those big, clay pots for cooking. I bought one, but it broke in Guatemala.



The famous 'growing volcano' that enveloped a town, before hiking up to the ruins (and climbing on top of the cathedral), we were fed this INCREDIBLE meal... ohhhh, so good. The tortillas were made from a black corn, ground by hand, and cooked over a fire.


Tzintzuntzan (Seen-soon-san)

That big meaty thing... lamb. Yummy!

Tzintzuntzan Dia de los Muertos - 03

Waiting for our tacos while celebrating the night before Dia de los Muertos in Tzintzuntzan.

Tzintzuntzan Dia de los Muertos - 18


I really like this city. We were here in Patzcuaro for Dia de los Muertos. That soup was delish! Called something like pozole. Anyone know for sure?

patzcuaro mexico


I LOVED this town. I could have spent more time... very European feel (as if I would know, I haven't been to Europe... yet.)

This stuff was good, unique to this town... chopped green mangos, jicama, pineapple and other fruit, topped with cheese and chili sauce.

Morelia - 06354

Our dinner that night. Don't know what it's called, but it was tasty.

Morelia - 38

Mexico City

What a great place. I could go back there in a second to explore more (loved the Museo and riding the subway.) Yes, those people are selling food out of a shopping cart, and would run when they saw the police coming.

mexico city street food

Oaxaca (Wuh-hock-uh)

A fantastic city, these tlyudas that we ate at the local market in town were some of our all-time favorite Mexican food (unique mostly to Oaxaca.) The ruins of Monte Alban are nearby, and also one of our favorites.

oaxaca tlyuda


The state of Chiapas in Mexico is so dazzlingly beautiful... and it has a unique culture similar to Guatemala, with their cultural dress. On Thanksgiving Day we ate in a market in the highlands of Chiapas. This state is home to a few more of our favorite places, like Palenque and Agua Azul.


El Tule

As we headed southeast, after checking out one of the oldest trees in the world, we stopped for a taste test of fresh agave nectar... before it was made into liquor.


Tule - 09

Laguna Bacalar

We spent about seven weeks at the 'Lake of Seven Colors' -- it was heavenly. Every Saturday we'd buy chicken and tortillas from this little shop/house.

bacalar mexico


A very unique country with an interesting mix of food, people and culture. Their little meat pies were good (that's what the guy with the 'bike' is selling.) Belize is where we first tried El Salvadorian pupusas.

belize city

Hopkins, Belize

This isn't street food, we had to gather our own at this nature preserve in Hopkins.

Serendipity & Hopkins - 10

Serendipity & Hopkins - 14

Peten, Guatemala

After we first crossed the border into Guatemala (after visiting Tikal), we got to eat a new favorite, pupusas. The grilled meat prepared roadside was really good too.

guatemala street food

Panajachel, Guatemala

Shopping at the market. We lived here for over a year, on the shores of Lake Atitlan.

panajachel market guatemala

Making tamales with a local family.


Ferria came to town. That really happy guy is selling peanuts. Fried chicken and french fries is (surprisingly?) a very popular Guatemalan street food.


Lake Atitlan

Sometimes we get a special treat... a nice dinner at a nice restaurant, like when we went to Casa del Mundo for our anniversary.

casa del mundo

Casa del Mundo 12th Anniv - 30

These ladies made a delicious salad with beets, onions, apples and all kinds of good stuff, in San Lucas Tolimán... a town on Lake Atitlan.

SAD Diet Effects - 17

SAD Diet Effects - 24


Patanatic, Guatemala

We spent a lot of time with this wonderful family, as we worked on the Self-Reliance Project (the precursor to Mayan Eco Homestead.) They made us many wonderful meals during those several weeks.

guatemalan food culture

2 Presidentes

Sipicate, Guatemala

We had some surfing mis-adventures in Sipicate... and some good pupusas.

sipicate guatemala

Surfing Adventures Sipicate - 05

San Sebastian, Guatemala

Guatemalans love to put mayonnaise and ketchup on their corn... don't knock it 'til you try it.

That interesting looking bowl of yellow stuff... that's iguana stew. (Greg ate an 'iguana-male' in Mexico once.)

guatemalan food

Mexico/Guatemala Border

While living in Guatemala, we had to do border runs every 90 days to renew our visas. It was lucky that they had good food in the border town.

mexico guatemala border

Mexico:Guat Border - 08

El Salvador

We finally had pupusas in their native land... mmmmm.

el salvador pupusas


León, Nicaragua

My first meal in Nicaragua... well, I thought I was in heaven. Served on a banana leaf, that's kinda cool.

nicaraguan food

Nicaragua has some good food... although they really like to fry it. The tostones are tasty, with fried cheese (top right). And you can't beat the $2 plate. Cacao smoothies from the market are our favorite treat! And I love me some fried plantains.

nicaraguan food

Costa Rica

Here we are full circle, back where we first began our nomadic wanderings 7 years ago. Ironically, we haven't eaten any gallo pinto yet. Only fruit from the market (or a roadside stand at the beach.)

costa rica fruit stand

And we were invited for lunch at an old friend's house. But she's Nicaraguan 😉

Lunch with Alba - 10

Lunch with Alba - 11

Of course, there is always fruit...

Every country we've visited has delicious, exotic, wonderful fruit... that's one of the best parts.


And markets...

Always a great place to get a cheap meal... if you can put up with the flies and the stray dogs.


Do you love street food? What is your favorite?



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34 Responses

  1. Jason & Simone

    We are so jealous! Mexican/Spanish food is the one thing from home that we miss on a daily basis. You’re pretty brave to eat from some of the food carts in Mexico, and yes, it’s called Pozole.

    • Rachel Denning

      Mmmm…. I know. We love Mexican food especially. Thanks for confirming the name of that dish… it sure was good. 🙂

  2. Starla J

    My heart melts as look through your pics. We have family in Guanajuato Mexico and love visiting. The food, sites and people we have fallen in love with! Thank you for sharing! Here is a blog post I wrote and shared a couple of pictures if Mexico.

  3. vagabondians

    How in the world is it possible that you haven’t had any gallo pinto yet? We couldn’t find any meals *without* it! LOL

    This post is just so full of memories. Also a few places we need to check out! Thanks for all the wonderful pics…

    • Rachel Denning

      Ha ha! I know, the gallo pinto is everywhere… we haven’t been out much yet, new baby and all. That’s why I guess. 😉

  4. EscapingAbroad

    Lovely food photos.. I’m salivating over the thought of Mexican street tacos and tamales, I practically lived off them for several months 🙂 .. the meats in Central America are cooked with flavors and spices that I just love and it’s always falling off the bone tender.. i don’t know why it tastes so much better down there but it does!

    • Rachel Denning

      I agree, it always tastes so much better ‘in country’… maybe it’s infused some of the land, air and culture.

  5. Margherita @The Crowded Planet

    LOVE street food! Same as you, on my first overseas trip I was afraid to eat anywhere but air-con restaurants, but I have since changed my mind and now I have street food everywhere I go. I have bookmarked this page and I’ll be using it as a gourmet guide for my next trip to Central America!

    • Rachel Denning

      That’s exactly the transformation we’ve made 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

  6. Erick Redcloud

    I find it odd that everyone assumes that you will get sick if you eat street food. When I travel street food is how I live. It is the cheapest and easiest way to eat at times. Most of the time it is the best food I eat. I love the story about your father 🙂

    • Rachel Denning

      I agree, I love it, and it is super cheap. I have gotten sick once or twice, but most of the time I don’t, so it’s worth it! 🙂

  7. Globalmouse

    I’m so impressed by all of your street food eating. I used to a little more than I do now but I got REALLY sick from a sandwich in Guatemala and just decided I didn’t want to feel that miserable when travelling (since we only travel for the most 3 weeks at a time). I would love to eat like this though, it’s really inspirational – I love the tortilla guy with all those fresh tortillas – brilliant! It makes me long to be back in Mexico….one day!!

    • Rachel Denning

      Yeah, that can be really tough to be sick when you’re traveling. We’re out full time, so even if I’m sick for a week or two (which hasn’t happened for a loooong time), it’s not a huge chunk out of our ‘trip’. Mexican tortillas are the best! Guatemalan tortillas… not so much.

  8. Hannah

    I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with street food…but most of the time it’s totally worth the risk! Can’t believe that GIANT bucket of raspberries! So good!

  9. Tim

    Travel and eating go hand in hand and therefore so does street food. Mexico as you know has some great street vendors and so cheap. That picture of the meal in Oaxaca looks awesome.

  10. Samantha @mytanfeet

    I was never a huge fan of Mexican or C. American food before I moved to Costa Rica but I’ve grown to like it. After I tried authentic Mexican food, I can’t eat anything less. The Pastor tacos are my favorite and you can’t beat the tropical fruit here! But your picture of raspberries have my mouth watering, I used to eat them all the time back in home state where we grew them but I can’t find ANY here! I miss them dearly

    • Rachel Denning

      Ohhh, I miss them too! And peaches. We used to get strawberries year round in Guatemala… I miss those.

  11. Sarah Ebner

    Wow. Incredible pictures and incredible sounding food – is it definitely worth getting sick for though? And do you definitely build up immunity…?

    • Rachel Denning

      At the moment of being sick it doesn’t seem worth it, but yes, you definitely build up an immunity. My kids never/rarely get sick, and they eat all sorts of things 🙂

  12. Jessica

    Wow! This all looks amazing, but after just suffering a stomach bug, I am wondering how long it takes to build up an immunity? That sounds difficult! The pictures are delightful though and now I am craving tacos.

    • Rachel Denning

      It usually only takes once or twice, unless you then visit a totally different part of the world (i.e. my ‘Latin America’ immunity may not cover me in Southeast Asia.) Every part of the world has it’s own bugs 🙂

  13. Sharon @ Where's Sharon?

    You are reminding me how much I love Mexico and Central America – and have made me very hungry! We love street food. I often think street food is safer than in restaurants – at least you can see what they are doing and make a better judgement call compared to a hidden kitchen. I also love eating out in the middle of things rather than hidden away.


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