The taco craze has taken over worldwide. Awesome taco joints in Cozumel are definitely part of the action. Like you, I’m always looking out for where the locals go to get the best tacos in Cozumel.
There are about 100 or more answers to “where to get the best taco in Cozumel?” – and they are all right!
I think the better questions to guide your taco quest are:
- What’s the best local taco to order in Cozumel?
- What’s Cozumel’s most popular taco?
- Which of Cozumel’s best tacos are most traditional to the region?
- What’s the most unusual taco you can find in Cozumel?
- Where can I get a good vegetarian taco option?
Then the answers start to get a little more interesting and a lot more mouth-watering.
Cozumel is known for delicious food, and that definitely includes great local tacos. A handful of popular favorite taco joints top a very long list of “must try” places. In order to separate good Cozumel tacos from great ones, it helps to know where to go, but moreso which type of local tacos to order so you get the full authentic Mexican taco experience.
There aren’t really any bad tacos, so if you’re walking around downtown Cozumel a place looks (and smells!) good to you? Go for it. Give them a chance – you’ll probably find your new favorite taco spot.
If you want to try some of Cozumel’s best taco joints, and especially to know what kind of taco to order once you get there – read on.
Cozumel’s Reigning “Best Taco” Champs (as of 2023)
Even in the best of times, restaurants can ebb and flow, and our favorite lineup can change over time. Unfortunately, some things probably will change in the next many months.
We’ve been out of the COVID-19 lockdown for a good while now, and so far, many of Cozumel’s favorite local taco stands have survived it. So…fingers crossed.
But many of Cozumel best taco giants that have been on the top of the list year after year. Some are able to work a bit through these troubles, and some are likely not. But we hope and pray all of these places, and good places all across the island, reopen soon and strong.
So when you come to visit, be sure to seek out some on this list, and congratulate them with a nice big order.
11 Most Popular Cozumel Taco Joints – Loved by the Locals
- Diego’s (65 Av, right across from the airport)
- El Pique (Corner of 30 Ave and the Transversal Road)
- Mr. Taco (Transversal just west of 65 Ave)
- El Chino Molinaro (Calle 1 at 20 Ave)
- Los Nopales (30 Av at Calle 19 S)
- Taquería Chilangos (30 Av near Calle 3)
- Los Sera’s (30 Av and Calle 5)
- Colores y Sabores (Calle 5, just off Melgar)
- El Foco (Av 5 near Calle 7)
- Taquería El Mexicano (Av. 20 and Juarez)
And really – so many, many more.
New and Noteworthy for Best Tacos in Cozumel
I’ve definitely got my eye on some newcomers like the cheekily named “The Juan and Only” taquería in Cozumel (on Av. 15 and Calle 1), and am still a devoted fan of La Clasica (Av. 5 N between 4th and 6th Streets).
La Clasica has great tacos, Oaxacan-style tlayudas, and great prices.
And if you’ve watched the excellent Taco Chronicles show on Netflix, you’ll be happy to hear that La Clasica is one of the few places here with the super popular Quesabirria tacos and the mouthwatering consommé broth that goes with them.
La Clasica is another small, modern joint run by the same team as island favorites like restaurant Kondesa.
Modeled on an old-school classic Mexican cantina, La Clasica offers a great menu of elevated botanas (Mexican snacks) like tostadas, burritos, and esquites. But their beef barbacoa tacos are sinfully good.
La Clasica’s best tacos cost a tad more than true street tacos, but they are also stuffed to the brim and drool-worthy. Not to mention being served up in a cool little bar with cool music and a great atmosphere – the extra couple of bucks are well worth it.
Order Cozumel’s Best Tacos Like a Local Cozumeleño
Look, we all have our favorites, and they’re all well-deserving.
Maybe we can just agree that there are TONS of good taco joints on this island, and they get better every day.
No matter which taqueria you go to, the real question is:
What’s your order?
Knowing what to order is key, and if you want to experience the best tacos in a “local” place, you should try ordering the local or regional favorites. Or something special to that restaurant. Or something kinda…out there, that you could never get back home.
Tacos al Pastor – Mexican Classic Tacos in Cozumel
This combination of spicy roasted pork, with fresh cilantro, minced onions, and sweet juicy pineapple is a Mexican classic and a divine combination. It’s a must to try it here, especially if you haven’t had it back home.
Tacos al Pastor has an interesting evolution, stemming from large waves of immigration from Lebanon and other Arab countries. This influx to Mexico started in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Over time, the Lebanese style of cooking shwarma on a vertical spit was morphed into the Mexicans’ penchant for pork (instead of lamb) on a vertical spit – now known in Mexico as the trompo.
Over time, Tacos al Pastor has become a staple and a favorite throughout Mexico.
Coincidentally, since we’ve been in Covid lockdown here, I’m catching up on my chef shows, and just saw much of this history referenced in a cool ‘Tacos’ episode of David Chang’s Ugly Delicious (season 1, ep. 2). Check out that show on Netflix, and read more here at the Eater blog.
Cochinita Pibil – The Classic Cozumel Taco Sunday Special
A specialty from the Yucatan region, cochinita pibil, is a Sunday tradition in Cozumel.
Made by slow roasting suckling pig with sour orange, achiote, and other spices, cochinita is typically served family-style and used to make tacos or tortas (sandwiches), with the pulled juicy meat and several typical garnishes, like pickled onion, radish, and different salsas.
Just load up a big tray of cochinita, and put out a stack of tortillas and fixings, and watch everyone go to town. Delicious.
Driving around town on Sunday mornings, you’ll see long lines forming at the best places in town. Stop the car and go there!
Finding Tacos Suadero in Cozumel
The excellent show The Taco Chronicles on Netflix opened my eyes to even more special taco styles in various regions of Mexico.
One Mexican taco variety that really captured my attention was the taco suadero featured in an early episode and described as a favorite in Mexico City and a taco you might order when you really, really want to treat yourself.
Well, say no more! I started scouring reviews and local social media for the best place to try this big little taco, and while I’m sure I haven’t found them all (yet), I think I found the best and most popular at the cool hole-in-the-wall Taqueria El Mexicano (Salas between 15 and 20).
El Mexicano has two small locations nearly side by side, but if you’re aiming for suadero, look for the traditional pan that “must” be used to cook it (according to the documentary series): el sombrero pan.
The El Mexicano locale with the busy sombrero pan got my attention, and soon I was trying my first bonafide suadero taco, and it was certainly worth its $20 pesos (1 buck) price tag.
Quesabirria Tacos in Cozumel: Just as Popular South of the Border
The trendy quesabirria taco craze in the U.S. mirrors the love for these delicious meaty tacos in Cozumel. It’s not that easy to find them, though!
La Clasica, as I’ve mentioned, does a nice dish of 3 quesabirria with an excellent consommé (broth) that you dunk the meaty, cheezy grilled tacos into, and it. is. delicious.
But after doing more local research, I realized all my local buddies and cooks at other restaurants were telling me their own favorite spot for quesabirria tacos in Cozumel.
Quesabirrias el Caribe in Cozumel is THE spot!
Located way off the beaten path in a newer residential development area, Quesabirria el Caribe is worth the trip (just tell your Cozumel taxi driver the name, and that it’s back behind “los barcos on 65” and beyond the motor vehicle department).
But really? The name alone should be enough, as this little homey place has made a name for itself, serving up amazing quesabirria tacos in Cozumel each Saturday and Sunday from about 9am until they run out. It’s amazing.
Cozumel Tacos de la Cabeza, la Lengua y la Tripa
Another local custom is to prepare and eat tacos de la cabeza (cow’s head, and all that implies), de lengua (beef tongue) and tripa de res (beef tripe, or stomach).
Nearly any non-touristy taquería here in Cozumel will have these on the menu – check them out.
While distasteful to some, these orders have a lot of nutritional value, and people who like these orders really like them as succulent delicacies – so give them a shot!
For one thing, respecting and using these parts of our animals is less wasteful, and shows logic, respect for the animal, and the appreciation of resources.
Tacos Guisados in Cozumel are Great for Whole Family
Another type of taco experience I learned about on the Taco Chronicles show is that of tacos guisados.
Guisados refers to a good selection of taco fillings presented in traditional brown clay casserole dishes, known in Mexico as cazuelas.
Directly translated as stews or casseroles, the term guisados can really just refer to the buffet- or pot-luck- style of the service.
Guisados tacos can be anything from slow roasted pork with red sauce (my favorite), cochinita pibil (see above), various mole dishes, chicken tinga, nopales, scrambled eggs with rajas del poblano, or even hard boiled eggs.
One local Cozumel taco restaurant aptly named Los Guisados features this style of eating – and trust me, the various guisados at Los Guisados are delicious, indeed.
As you walk in, you’ll see the daily selections and make your orders, then go find a seat. Soon, your tacos served on their signature house blue-corn tortillas will be served at just $30MXN a pop (that’s about a buck and a half, each).
Try this place, you wont be sorry. (located on calle Benito Juarez between Avs. 10 and 15)
Cozumel’s Nopal Tacos
One of the first vegetarian tacos I’ve had here is also one of the most traditional.
Nopal, or the large pads of the prickly-pear Opuntia cactus, is a staple in Mexican cuisine, often used as a vegetable side, or as a thickener in sauces and stews. The nopal pads are scraped of their spines, and then usually sliced or diced for various dishes – often combined with scrambled eggs, meats, and sometimes as the main star of a taco.
A fresh, bright but mild-flavored green with some tooth to it – the texture is kind of like green beans or peppers. Nopal and ‘nopales’ (the plural form) are good sources of fiber, vitamin C, and various minerals, and often said to help regulate cholesterol and blood sugar.
Naturally, “Nopales” Grill on 30 Av. features these great nopal tacos, but you’ll also see them on other restaurants’ menus, for sure.
Inexpensive, whole-food, plant-based goodness. And obviously a Mexican and local specialty.
Click here next for more local Cozumel vegan and vegetarian restaurant options.
Cozumel Foodie Must: Huitlacoche Tacos in Cozumel
This is a fascinating Mexican ingredient I never knew about, even after years on the island. Huitlacoche in Spanish translates loosely to corn smut or a fungal growth on corn.
According to the wonderful foodie website, The Spruce Eats:
Huitlacoche dates back to the Aztecs who enjoyed the naturally-occurring corn fungus as part of their diet. They would use the corn and the attached fungus in tamales and stews. Many Native American tribes also consumed the fungus and viewed it as a delicacy. Interestingly, huitlacoche has one of the highest protein contents of all the mushroom family and more protein than corn itself. In addition, the fungus is very high in the amino acid lysine, which is almost nonexistent in corn.
So…that might sound gross. But just keep thinking “mushrooms”, and try it! As The Spruce notes, huitlacoche is sometimes referred to lovingly as “Mexican truffle.” Sounds better already!
It’s a neat flavor, quite mild, and often just blends right in with the other elements of a dish.
I’ve had it in several tacos (especially at the lovely La Bendicion cafe on Av. 10) which are really good (UPDATE: La Bendición is currently closed due to hard times of Covid; we’re holding out hope they reemerge somewhere – stay tuned).
And speaking of mushroom-related tacos, check out this next favorite contender, below.
5-Hour tour time. Book online and securely pay via Viator!
Best Cozumel Baja Fish Tacos – the Best I’ve Ever Had
While not a very common offering on this coast of Mexico, Baja California style fish tacos are definitely at home in a coastal, beachy locale like Cozumel.
And the very best of the very best? You’ll find them at one of my personal go-to spots for homemade Mexican food, the adorable Colores y Sabores cafe in downtown Cozumel (on Calle 5, right down the block from the International Hospital).
I ordered these on a whim, and ended up with the best cripsy fish tacos I’ve ever had in my LIFE.
The order is also huge, so perhaps plan to split it with a friend, and share some other great things on the Colores y Sabores (colors and flavors) menu – I also highly recommend their delicious chiles relleños.
Inventive Cozumel Tacos from a Modern Spot
Finally, another great vegetarian taco at one of my personal favorites, Kondesa restaurant.
Kondesa is not the most “old school” place on the island, but often that’s jealousy talking. These Mexican chefs make Mexican food steeped in tradition, but with modern culinary knowledge.
Just like at their other joint, La Clasica (see above), that means a the tacos they include on their dinner menu are filled with inspired combinations and draped with fresh homemade salsas.
Find the taco sampler on the appetizer menu, and order up the cauliflower tacos with molé sauce. OMG, yum.
(And if you’re not familiar with the Mexican culinary masterpiece that is molé sauce, start with this related post, here, and hunt some down while you’re here!).
I try to eat less meat these days, and honestly, this unique cauliflower taco opened up a whole new world of ideas for my home kitchen, and also lead me to the wonderful Guerrilla Tacos cookbook (Amazon link) for even more inspiration and out-of-the-box taco ideas.
So when you get home from your vacation, maybe start adding some cauliflower, nopal, or mushroom tacos to the mix.
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