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Eating off the Sidewalk Stands in Small Town Mexico

Updated on January 10, 2019
Peter Strahm profile image

I am an avid traveler. After driving from Kansas to Alaska, my brother and I decided to try to drive south to Tierra Del Fuego.

With the Family We Knew

Small town Mexico

As I walked around the city square in Ixtlan Mexico I slowly realize what a unique but very accessible experience I am enjoying. The party atmosphere of the Mexican evening is here the fireworks, the fountains and the lights. But there are not the high-level fashion clothes, no bars with blaring music, and the people are not the dudes of the big city. The people are the hometown crowd and the food the sidewalk stands are selling is the real authentic Mexican food. I ate that night entirely off the sidewalk stands.


I started of the evening with 3 small tacos for 20 pesos. The taco ladies fried the meat and onions in hot grease. The meat and onions were then chopped on a worn wooden block and sprinkled with cilantro, and wrapped in a flour tortilla. These three tacos were about the size of a small meal. They were delicious, but I decided to look for a little bit more.

Small Tacos

My Chocolate Ice Cream

Ice Cream

The ice cream caught my eye next. I maybe didn’t expect it but ice cream is very popular in Mexico. The sidewalk stand provided approximately 30 flavors. I chose to buy chocolate with chocolate shavings mixed in. The serving is about what we would call one scoop. The cups are small but they only cost 13 pesos. This ice cream was scooped (hard served) but I have since seen larger portions of soft serve for about the same price.

Mexican sweet bread

After another walk through the stands I decided to try the Mexican sweet bread. Mexican sweetbread comes in many different shapes round loaves, rectangle loaves, and there are portion sized loaves as well as large loaves. The taste is similar to a cross between a cake donut and angel food cake. One portion sized loaf, which is plenty for one person, costs 7 pesos.

Two Shapes of Sweet Bread

Tamale and Atole

I wasn’t really hungry anymore but the opportunity of more real Mexican food was too tempting. I chose to buy a tamale. My tamale had a meat with red sauce in it. I honestly don’t know what kind of meat and sauce it was, and my Spanish was not good enough to find out. The corn bread was not crispy at all under the corn husk. It was a completely different type of food for me but it was warm and tasty. The same stand sold a drink called atole which sees to be served with tamales. I had never heard of atole before but I had to try it. Atole is like thick hot chocolate with a little caramel flavor. From my research it looks like ingredients are optional. But I think that corn hominy, cinnamon and unrefined cane sugar are usually added to boiling milk among other things. Honestly the atole was worth trying but I would rather have hot chocolate.

Tamale and Atole

Other Options

I was so stuffed by now that all I could do was watch the other vendors sell their wares. There was a stand that chopped up fresh fruits and vegetable, seasoned them and put them in small plastic bags. An enchilada stand was in full swing. Also, there was a young lady roasting garbanzo beans. These beans are dumped with a little oil and salt in a flat dish with a propane burner underneath. When the beans are done, they are dispensed to the crowd in small bags.

Pros and Cons of Visiting a Small Town

The experience of small-town Mexico is very accessible in one sense, there are a lot of small towns out there. The reasons people don’t commonly tour small towns are many. First, there are a lack of tourist traps. There are no ruins and no fancy churches. Second there is not as much or as easy of a public transportation system, and no nearby airports leaves driving as the only option. But still, if the opportunity ever comes up I would highly recommend visiting a small town in Mexico, especially if you have a contact living in a small town. I did have a contact who was living in Ixtlan, so since I was driving my opportunity worked out perfectly.

Facts about Ixtlan

Ixtlan the town I visited is situated in Michoacán state. Its population is around11000 and its elevation about 5000 feet. The town is surrounded by produce and fruit production as well as livestock. I found the atmosphere very relaxing compared to the night life of Monterrey and Zacatecas.


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