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10 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Taco Tour in Cancun, Mexico

10 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Taco Tour in Cancun, Mexico

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Tacos are loved all over the world, and if you’re reading this, you’re probably already a fan. But while you’ll find them everywhere, the best place to eat tacos is in Mexico … where they’re from!  

When visiting Cancun, there are a ton of great places to eat tacos. However, the best way to really get to know Mexico’s most famous food item is to take a taco tour. You’ll sample lots of different regional varieties and visit authentic restaurants and street food joints. Local guides will help you discover Cancun’s best tacos because spoiler alert: they’re not inside the resorts!

We’ve done multiple taco tours in Cancun, and we think they’re a fantastic way to spend a day or evening. But before you choose one, there are some things to keep in mind. This is precisely why we’ve put together this guide! So before you book a tour, here’s everything you need to know (including our favorite tour options!).

Our Top Choice for a Taco Tour in Cancun

If you’re in Cancun already or want to get a taco tour on your itinerary right this second, we have you covered! We highly recommend this 5-stop Cancun Taco Tour that includes tacos, beer, churros, and live mariachi music – basically all the ingredients for a great time in Mexico! You’ll try five different tacos over the evening with skip-the-line entry at each place making it feel like a real VIP experience. Tours are $95 USD and include transportation, so book online here and get ready for a taco fiesta!

1. History of tacos in Mexico

Seafood taco restaurant prepares tacos
Seafood tacos!
Daniel with a plate of tacos in Cancun, Mexico
Tacos come in a huge range of styles and flavors!

You’ve probably tried tacos before, but do you know the history of this Mexican meal?

Although there are several origin theories, the most widely accepted comes from 18th-century Mexican mining towns. During this era, rolls of dynamite were actually called “tacos.” And if you can envision a rolled taco, it makes sense!

Miners worked long days and packed their lunches. They’d often bring meat rolled up in corn tortillas and jokingly referred to them as “tacos” as well. Eventually, this cute nickname caught on. Over time, taco rolls became more flat and folded like the tacos we know today. However, the name stuck around because, let’s face it, this Mexican dish is still dynamite!

This might be how tacos got their name, but taquerias were around long before 18th-century miners. They likely began in smaller towns. But as industrialization grew, people moved to cities to work and brought their beloved taquerias with them.

More and more taquerias opened across Mexico, predominantly in working-class neighborhoods. Taco culture began to spread with flavors, recipes, and customs from all over the country. Nowadays, you can find many different styles of tacos from various regions.

Each variety of taco has its own history – and on a tour, you’ll learn more about this! Many recipes have been handed down through generations. And as the next generation learns to cook the family recipes, they carry a little piece of history with them.

As you can see, food is an integral part of Mexican culture and history. And I love that every neighborhood has its own food stands and restaurants. It’s here where locals gather to break bread – or, should we say, grab tacos! 

Not only is it a great social activity, but trying local cuisine is one of my favorite things to do in Mexico! You can fill up on tasty tacos while learning all about the culture. And with a guided tour, you’ll find the best taco joints in town.

Related Read: If you’re also visiting Mexico City and you just can’t get enough tacos, we’ve got you covered! Here is our guide to the best taco tours in Mexico City.

2. What are the most popular tacos in Cancun?

Al Pastor tacos in Cancun, Mexico (2)
Al pastor is one of our personal favorites!

There are so many types of tacos – it’s hard to know where to begin! And if you’re trying to order in Spanish, it’s good to have a little background knowledge. Luckily, we’re here to help! Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the most popular tacos in Cancun.

Keep reading to get a feel for each one. You’re bound to find a few that whet your appetite, so remember their names. Because once you enter one of Cancun’s amazing restaurants, you’ll definitely want to order them!

Tacos al pastor

Tacos al pastor are pork tacos, but the way they are cooked makes all the difference. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to watch!

The process starts early in the morning. Chefs cook and layer marinated pork onto a skewer. By the end, this giant skewer is about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide (90 cm tall and 60 cm wide). Once completed, it rotates over an open flame for hours, cooking it thoroughly but maintaining all its flavor.

When you order a tacos al pastor, they’ll shave off just enough meat to fill those tacos. And you can expect a super flavorful, juicy meal!

These tacos hail from Mexico City and the smaller city of Puebla. However, they’re super popular in Cancun too. So while you’re visiting the Yucatan coast, you can get a little taste of central Mexico.

Tacos barbacoa

I love slow-roasted meat, which is why I can’t get enough tacos barbacoa! It’s made from larger, tougher cuts of meat. However, the slow roasting helps tenderize the meat and really brings out the flavor.

“Barbacoa” simply refers to a cooking style. Although it’s usually made with beef, you’ll also find goat or lamb meat on occasion. Top it off with cilantro, diced onions and tomatoes, and a squeeze of lime, and you have some delicious tacos!

Seafood tacos

Cancun is known for its beautiful beaches and where there’s an enormous coastline, you’re bound to find amazing seafood! Marinated shrimp and grilled fish tacos are some of the most popular. However, you’ll also find fish al pastor that’s cooked on a giant skewer. Or, perhaps you might enjoy the breaded fish tacos sold here.

Baja-style fish tacos typically come with breaded, deep-fried white fish, shredded cabbage, and a creamy white sauce. While they’re originally from the Baja Peninsula, you can definitely enjoy them in Cancun as well!

Close up of a seafood taco in Cancun, Mexico
Baja-style fish tacos

Tacos de guisado

When I first went taco tasting, I had no idea what tacos de guisado were. But they were absolutely everywhere, so I had to try one! Although I went in blind, I was very pleasantly surprised.

It turns out tacos de guisado refers to a type of stewed meat. I noticed multiple types of meat under the “guisado” category. So again, it’s more about the cooking style than it is about the meat itself.

These meats are cooked in a giant pot over an open flame – with many spices and ingredients tossed into the mix. As such, no two tacos de guisado will ever be the same. And when served, you’ll get a healthy portion of stewed meat along with the thick broth. It might be the messiest taco of the bunch, but it’s worth it!

Saudero tacos

Saudero tacos are made in what’s called a “Comal de Bola.” This is a giant pot with a griddle in the middle. The meat is cooked slowly in the pot so it retains all its flavor. Meanwhile, the tortillas are warmed on the griddle, absorbing the flavor of the meat.

This cooking style is pretty unique, and you won’t find saudero tacos everywhere. So if you do stumble upon them at one of Cancun’s Mexican restaurants, don’t hesitate to try one!

Vegan tacos

Vegan tacos are just as they sound – vegan! However, this can be harder to find in Mexico than you might think. Most traditional dishes include cheese, animal fats, or meat. But don’t worry; you can still find vegan tacos in Cancun!

What I love about vegan tacos in Mexico is that they stay true to their local roots. Typically, chefs will combine cactus and onion with traditional spices to create an incredible flavor. You might also find tacos with imitation meat or fruit instead. But one way or another, they always have an authentic twist, making them taste oh-so-delicious.

Vegan tacos are growing in popularity, especially in touristy areas. Tour guides will have a good idea of which establishments sell vegan tacos. Just make sure to let them know your dietary preferences when you book that taco tour!

Some vegan tacos made of cacti in Cancun, Mexico
Some vegan tacos made of cacti!
Vegan tacos in Cancun, Mexico
Vegan tacos!

Carne asada tacos

Last but not least is the carne asado taco. This is your classic beef taco and perhaps the most popular on this list. It’s made with thinly sliced, marinated beef strips. Then, it’s grilled and topped with goodies.

You may have already tried this taco in your home country. But I’d highly recommend trying it in Cancun. For some reason, it just tastes better here. It’s usually my go-to when I’m ordering tacos and suffering from some analysis paralysis!

Related Read: When in Cancun, I highly recommend visiting Isla Mujeres. To learn more, read about my favorite tours to Isla Mujeres from Cancun.

3. Is it safe to eat street tacos in Cancun?

Beef tacos in Mexico
I’ve never been sick from eating tacos. It’s usually the beer that does that!

Safety in Cancun is something most travelers are concerned about – and that extends to food as well! But rest assured; it’s completely safe to eat street tacos in Cancun!

Food standards are fairly high across the country, especially in touristy cities like Cancun. And since tacos are made fresh and sold quickly, there isn’t much of a chance for it to go bad.

However, I do recommend using a hand sanitizer. As you’re playing tourist in Cancun, you’re bound to pick up some germs en route. And since tacos are finger foods, it’s best to make sure your hands are clean for the occasion.

4. What did we think of our taco tours in Cancun?

Bailey sites behind a huge plate of al pastor tacos on a taco tour in Cancun, Mexico
Try authentic tacos!
A taco chef makes tacos in Cancun, Mexico
And meet the chefs themselves!

We loved them!

Doing a taco tour in Cancun is a great way to get out of the touristy area and sample authentic Mexican food. The tacos they serve in the resorts or even the Cancun Hotel Zone don’t hold a candle to the ones you’ll try on a taco tour. 

Plus, we think that doing a taco tour is a great way to safely explore because you’ll be with a local guide. They’ll show you all the best tacos and hidden joints you wouldn’t find otherwise. So if you are a bit nervous about going off the beaten path by yourself, this is an excellent way to do it. 

We’ve done two taco tours in Cancun, and we will definitely do more in the future! It was so much fun. Plus, it’s a great thing to do when you first arrive. It’ll give you insight into Mexican culture and cuisine and help you get your bearings in the city.  

5. What are the best taco tours in Cancun?

There are so many incredible tours in Cancun, many of which include tacos! However, if you’re looking for the best of the best, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for descriptions of our top five taco tours. By the end, you’ll be hungry and ready to book!

5-Stop Cancun Taco Tour (Our Top Choice)

A man cooks torillas in Cancun, Mexico
The best taco tours take you to the freshest taquerias

We absolutely loved this 5-stop Cancun Taco Tour and highly recommend it! It’s the perfect sampling of Cancun, with tacos, beer, churros, and live mariachi music. They can also accommodate vegetarians – just let them in advance!

You get to try 5 different tacos throughout the evening, so make sure that you don’t overdo it at lunchtime! We loved the fact that you get to try so many different types of tacos, from Mexico City style to delicious flank steak. And with skip-the-line entry, you won’t have to wait at any of the establishments!

You can wash your tacos down with 4 different local beers, making the experience even more fun! And you’ll finish it off with a crispy churro for dessert. You’ll also enjoy live mariachi music and Mexican games throughout the evening.

One of my favorite things about this taco tour is how friendly and enthusiastic our guides were. Everyone had such an amazing time and left with a full belly. Plus, you visit some really authentic local spots that you’d probably never discover on your own. It’s a great way to explore Cancun’s culinary scene outside of the resorts and chain restaurants. 

The maximum group size is 15, so it’s easy to mingle with the other travelers. Plus, you’re picked up and driven around in a van. As such, there’s no need to worry about your night being ruined by bad weather. We love walking tours, but they’re not much fun in the pouring rain! 

The tour costs $95 USD per adult or $69 USD for kids (ages 5-11). This experience is suitable for families, but no one under 18 will be served alcohol. Tours begin at 5 pm every day and last 4.5 hours. They include roundtrip transportation from the Cancun Hotel Zone or downtown.

If you want an authentic sampling, don’t hesitate to book this taco tour online here!

3-in-1 Street Food Tour with Transportation

Most taco tours only happen in the evening. However, this 3.5-hour tour is a lunchtime excursion, so it’s ideal for those who want to taste tacos mid-day. You’ll get to try tacos along with Yucatan foods like salbute and tamales, so it’s a fantastic introduction to Mexican cuisine. Plus, you’ll visit a local market and check out some beautiful murals.

Your day begins at 10 am with hotel pick-up. You’ll visit some awesome local street food spots as well as a food market, where you can try different dishes and enjoy the bustling atmosphere. We find that visiting local markets in Mexico is usually much better than visiting touristy ones. 

I also had some of the best carnitas tacos on this tour. Carnitas is made by braising pork in lard until it’s super tender (and delicious). So if that taco variety is your jam, you’ll want to book this tour.

Soft drinks are included along the way, and you’ll also end your tour with a fresh fruit popsicle (which is always a treat on a hot Cancun day!). On the way back to your hotel, you’ll go past some great street art murals and learn about them from your guide. 

Booze isn’t covered on this tour, so it’s great for families. It costs $85 USD per person, including all of your food, transport, and soft drinks. However, there is some walking involved, so dress comfortably.

This tour has it all: markets, food, and murals. So check availability and secure your spot online here!

Taco Tour in Cancun with City Tour

This small group tour is a fantastic way to see a whole new side of Cancun! You’ll sample some novelty tacos and explore a cool market. Here, you can shop for handmade crafts or try some local liquors.

It begins in the late afternoon, so come hungry! You’ll need to make your own way to the meeting point (the iconic CANCUN sign). From this point forward, you’ll be enjoying lots of different, authentic tacos and quesadillas.

On this tour, you can even try beef tongue tacos if you dare! Trust me, you definitely won’t find anything like that in your resort. But of course, you don’t have to eat anything you’re not comfortable with. 

Don’t worry … you’ll also have more traditional food items. One of my favorites was the shrimp and fish quesadillas created in the local Cancun style.

We really like that this tour also includes shopping at a craft market. And after you’ve finished browsing, you can do a tequila and mezcal tasting! The combination of activities makes this tour perfect for groups of friends.

The tour ends at Parque de las Palapas, where families gather to enjoy treats. Keep your eyes peeled for the famous “marquesita,” a rolled wafer filled with your choice of goodies.

There’s a maximum group size of 10, so it’s a great opportunity to make new friends. Also, it’s not too intimidating to join the tour as a solo traveler – so please don’t let that hold you back!

This tour costs $75 USD per person, including all food and drinks and your friendly guides. Just be prepared to walk since the tour lasts between 2-4 hours (albeit with many eating breaks!).

For a taste of local food and shopping, book this tour online here!

Lucha Libre, Tacos, Margaritas, Tequila Tasting, and Night Market (Best for First Timers)

Lucha libre Mexico show
Lucha Libre show
Seafood taco in Cancun, Mexico that we tried on a taco tour
Yum!

This evening tour would be amazing for bachelor or bachelorette parties – or basically anyone looking for a really fun and lively experience! From tacos and margaritas to Lucha Libre and night markets, you’ll be smiling and fully entertained throughout.

First off, this tour is awesome because you get to see Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling). It’s all about the entertainment value with Lucha Libre, so you’ll see lots of masks, colorful costumes, and gravity-defying acrobatic feats. It’s the ultimate spectator sport, and with this tour, you get ringside seats. 

Plus, you also get to learn about the history of Lucha Libre and discover the truth behind some of its most famous legends. So although this is a boozy tour, you do still get to learn something along the way! 

You’ll also visit two different taco spots where you can try a bunch of different flavors. The tacos de chorizo were super flavorful! It was also loads of fun making and eating our own tortillas.

You’ll wash it all down with beer or a 22 oz margarita – that’s over 600 ml of margarita! On this tour, we recommend that you eat as many tacos as possible (you’ll need them to line your stomach!). But you’ll also be treated to local snacks like esquites (fresh corn with cheese) and chicharrones.

And if that weren’t enough, you also get to walk through the oldest park in town (which is now a night market). You can listen to a live mariachi band and enjoy a tequila tasting. 

This fun-filled tour costs $119 USD per person. It includes everything we’ve listed above, plus hotel pickup and dropoff and a souvenir luchador mask. Tours begin around 5:30 pm and last for 4.5 hous.

It’s a ton of food, activities, and excitement packed into one night. However, this tour is only available on Thursdays. So you should definitely secure your spot online well in advance!

Cancun Authentic Taco Tour (Best if you want to try Something New!)

If you want a very food-focused taco tour, this authentic Cancun experience is for you!

This taco tour is all about getting to know Cancun through its food. You’ll explore the downtown area as you hop from one taco spot to the next. You get to try something new and different at every single place, so it’s a great opportunity to discover new flavors!

If you’ve been itching to try tacos al pastor, this is your chance. Since they take so long to make, they’re typically only available at night. And on this Cancun tour, you can see how this taco is made before trying it!

You also get to watch tortillas being made fresh. Who knows … you might even get to try your hand at making a few yourself! And, of course, you’ll finish the evening with artisanal churros.

Overall, this is definitely one of the best taco tours in terms of variety and authenticity. Your guide will be a local chef, so you can trust that they really know their stuff when it comes to tacos. Plus, the group size is capped at 10. I love smaller groups because you’ll have plenty of opportunities to chat with your guide. 

This tour is also a bit shorter, at 2.5 hours. Since it doesn’t cover transportation, you’ll need to be at the Jardín Del Arte for a 6 pm start. The tour costs $59 USD per person, including your guide, 5 dishes, and 2 drinks (1 alcoholic and 1 non-alcoholic).

To try only the best of Cancun’s taco scene, check availability and book this tour here!

Related Read: After filling up on tacos, head to Puerto Vallarta for a tequila tour! This iconic drink is a must-try on one of these tours so you know you’re getting the real thing!

6. What should you bring on a taco tour in Cancun?

Al Pastor tacos in Cancun, Mexico
More Al Pastor!
plate of seafood tacos in Cancun, Mexico
Baja fish is another favorite of mine!

The only thing you really need to bring on a taco tour in Cancun is your appetite! Come as hungry as possible so you can sample lots of yummy food. I also recommend bringing hand sanitizer and wearing comfy shoes since you’ll be exploring the city. And of course, bring a camera to capture all the fun!

Related Read: Cancun is just one of the many gorgeous places to visit in this area. Read about all the other awesome things to do in the Riviera Maya.

7. Is it safe to do a taco tour in Cancun?

Our tour group sit at a table ready to try tacos in Cancun, Mexico
With an expert guide, you’ll be in safe hands!

Yes. Safety in Mexico is a top concern for all travelers. Luckily, you can rest assured that these guides only take you to the safest parts of downtown Cancun. They know exactly where to go and won’t take you anywhere that’s dangerous. 

All in all, we think that a taco tour is a great introduction to the downtown area. Once you get a feel for the neighborhood, you can come back on your own for more delicious tacos! 

8. Are taco tours suitable for those who don’t like spicy food?

Tacos Barbacoa stand in Cancun, Mexico at night
Most of the spice is added afterward!
A man chops meat for tacos in Cancun, Mexico
Tacos barbacoa is not spicy at all!

Yes! Despite its reputation, not all Mexican food is spicy. Tacos often get their spice from salsas, but people can add these on their own. You can choose to put as much as you’d like or none at all.

When it comes to tacos, most of the flavor is from the marinades and fresh ingredients. But if you’re very concerned, just ask your guide ahead of time! Bailey is not a spicy food fan, and our tour guides did a great job of telling her what to avoid.

But if you can handle the burn, go for it! The tour guides are happy to show you the spiciest salsas of the bunch (and watch as you try them!).

9. Are there meat-free options for vegans or vegetarians?

A man serves people tacos in Cancun, Mexico on a taco tour
Most tacos contain meat, but there are other options available

Yes, the tours do cater to vegans and vegetarians. However, it’s always a good idea to inform your tour operator. Let them know your exact dietary preferences at the time of booking so that they can make arrangements for you. 

We will say, though, that the tours here definitely aren’t centered around veganism or vegetarianism. In most other cities in Mexico, you can find vegan taco tours. But unfortunately, Cancun just doesn’t have a tour designed specifically for vegans or vegetarians yet. Your best bet is this 5-Stop Tour which provides a vegetarian menu upon request.

10. Is a taco tour in Cancun worth it?

Bailey with a beef taco on a taco tour in Cancun, Mexico
Yes!

Yes! We had such a blast doing taco tours in Cancun and got to eat so much yummy food. 

A taco tour is a fantastic way to get to know Cancun. You get to safely enjoy a more authentic Mexican experience outside of the touristy hotel zone and see a totally different side of the city. Plus, the tacos themselves are always so good!

Other Activities to do While You’re in Cancun

Bailey and Daniel look at a Sting Ray at the MUSA dive site in Cancun
A stingray at MUSA!
Bailey looks out the window of the Cancun Scenic Tower in Cancun, Mexico
The view is amazing!

Now that you’ve added a taco tour to your Cancun itinerary, it’s time to find more fun activities! I’ve been coming here since I was a kid, and I never get tired of visiting. There are so many things to do in Cancun that will make for an amazing vacay. So if you’re looking for even more ideas, check out some of my favorites below!

  • Cancun Scenic Tower – As if Cancun wasn’t scenic enough, there’s another way to enjoy the views! The Cancun Scenic Tower gives you amazing views of the Caribbean and the sprawling Cancun area below! The entire viewing deck lifts up, so you won’t even need to climb any stairs.
  • Go ziplining – If you love an adrenaline rush like us, Cancun has awesome ziplining opportunities. Trust me, there’s nothing quite like flying high above the Mayan jungle! So check out this ziplining tour which includes a 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) long ride!

Where to Stay in Cancun

the outdoor pools at the Grand Fiesta Americana in Puerto Vallarta
This adults-only resort is pure relaxation! Photo Credit: Grand Fiesta Americana

If you’re going to be taking a taco tour in Cancun, then you’ll need a place to stay! Below are some of the best hotels (for every budget) in the Cancun Hotel Zone.

For budget travelers, the Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone is a great choice. It has the typical hostel vibes, which includes the woes of a shared living space, but overall I really enjoyed my stay. For the price (about $40 USD for a bunk or $100 USD for a private room) and fun atmosphere, you can’t go wrong! You can book this hostel on Hostelword or Booking.com.

If you prefer something a little nicer, I love the JW Marriott Cancun Resort. It’s not all-inclusive, which I enjoy because there are so many delicious restaurants in Cancun! The hotel is located right on the beach and has a huge pool. Rooms are typically $300-$500 USD depending on the time of year.

Of course, we all love a luxury all-inclusive stay, and for that, I always book either the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun or the Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun Adults Only. Both are not cheap, as rooms can range from $600 USD to upwards of $1,400 USD, but they are equally as luxurious with fantastic oceanfront locations, delicious food, quality alcohol, and more.

More of a luxury traveler? Learn about the absolute best resorts in Cancun!

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. 

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while walking on a beach on Isla Mujeres
Thanks for reading!

If you’re a foodie in Cancun, you absolutely must go on a taco tour! It’s the best way to find the tastiest tacos in town. Plus, you’ll be meeting fellow travelers and learning all about the culture. And if you’re already sold on taco tours, we hope you’ve found a tour that suits your needs.

If this guide was useful, read our other blogs about Mexico here. We traveled all throughout the country and love sharing what we’ve learned. To give you an idea of the topics we cover, I’ve linked to some below.

12 BEST Tours in Tulum, Mexico

8 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Lucha Libre Tour in Mexico City

12 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Cancun Sunset Cruise

12 Things you NEED to Know about the Day of the Dead in Mexico