Breakfasts on the go in Mexico

What do you do when you're in a rush in the morning, running late perhaps?  Maybe you have to get to work/ get to an appointment/ get the kids to school on time/ catch a plane or a bus and you just don't have time to eat breakfast at home?

Do you skip breakfast?  Not a great idea - breakfast is the most important meal of the day (in my opinion!).  I can't live without breakfast, i just don't function.  Here are some of the main reasons we need to eat in the mornings:

  • To kickstart our metabolism, which tends to slow down overnight 
  • To boost our mood - morning grumpiness isn't helped by an empty stomach 
  • To give us the energy we need to get through all our morning activities and stay focused and alert
  • To help weight loss (or prevent weight gain) - if you don't eat in the mornings your body starts to store fat, your metabolism may be slower and you're more likely to be tempted by unhealthy snacks or to overeat at your next meal.
It's especially important for children to get into a routine of eating a healthy breakfast every day so they grow up with healthy eating habits.  Of course, kids will follow their parents' example.

So back to the original question - you've left the house in a hurry without any breakfast, so what are you going to do?  What would we do in Mexico?

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico

Mexican street food to the rescue!

In Mexico you can almost always grab some breakfast to go from a street stall or small informal eatery or cafe.  There are different types of street food, with varying levels of nutritional value and healthiness.

Here are a few examples of Breakfasts on the go that you can buy on the street to takeaway or eat quickly there and then, along with how healthy they may or may not be.

I'm no expert in nutrition, so whatever I say on the subject is just my opinion - feel free to disagree or correct me!

Breakfast on the go in Mexico

Jugos - Juice

A freshly squeezed fruit juice is a great way to start the day.  In Mexico you might come across stalls in the street that set up only in the mornings with an array of different fruits, or a small section in a grocers or greengrocers shop.  They prepare the juice when you order it so you can guarantee its freshness.  The most popular is always orange juice, but other common juices are grapefruit, carrot and beetroot.  You can combine juices, too - my favourite combination would have to be orange and grapefruit.  Another popular type of juice is green juice, although really it's more of a smoothie as it's made in a blender.  It's usually made with orange or pineapple juice and blended with various green ingredients which are high in fibre and have cleansing properties, such as nopal cactus leaves, parsley, alfalfa, celery, etc.

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico - Freshly-Squeezed Fruit Juice

My opinion: Very healthy, rich in vitamins, but not very filling.  You may need to eat something else along with your juice.

Licuados - Smoothies

Many places that sell freshly-squeezed juice in the mornings will also do licuados, which are basically smoothies made in a blender.  They are made with either milk or juice and different fruits.  Other ingredients could include yoghurt, honey, amaranto (amaranth) or granola, even a slightly alcoholic splash of sherry or rompope (sort of similar to eggnog) if that's what you fancy in the mornings!  If you want some extra protein and are willing to risk salmonella you can get a raw egg in your licuado - often they have little tiny quail eggs for this.  Add some avena (oats) to your licuado for some slow burning energy to keep you going for a bit longer til your next meal or snack.

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico - A Blender

You can select your ingredients or choose from a menu of different types of licuados that may purport to having certain health benefits, for example, there's an "energetic" smoothie, or others to prevent colds and raise your defenses, to help weight loss, for diabetics, to detox, and so on.  It all depends on how sophisticated the place is you are buying your smoothie from.

When I first arrived in Mexico I fell in love with the papaya smoothie - just made with milk, papaya, honey and egg (when I was feeling intrepid/reckless!).  There are endless combinations of ingredients, though.

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico - A Green Licuado Or Smoothie
You're unlikely to get your smoothie in a mason jar, though!  Plastic or polystyrene cups are the norm, or a small plastic bag with a straw.

My opinion: Depending on the ingredients, it can be a very balanced breakfast drink, containing fruit, protein (from the milk or yoghurt) and cereal.  The fruit content means it gives you fibre and vitamins.  Maybe skip the alcohol!

Eco-friendly tip: Take your own bottle or cup to avoid getting a disposable plastic or polystyrene cup.

Tamales + atole

If you fancy something more substantial and loaded with carbohydrates you could try tamales.  You will most likely find them set up with a little cart in a specific place each morning; on a corner, outside a convenience store, near a bus stop, etc. Tamales are made from corn dough formed into a lozenge shape with fillings such as chicken or pork in green or red salsa and rajas con crema/queso (strips of poblano chile cooked with cream and/or cheese) to name some of the most popular fillings. They are wrapped in corn leaves and steamed.  You can also get sweet tamales which are usually pink with maybe raisins or pecan nuts in them.  Tamales oaxaqueños are another type of tamale wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn leaves in smaller square-shaped packages.

Tamales are always accompanied by atole or champurrado (click here for a champurrado recipe and to find out more about it), a thick, sweet, custardy drink made with cornflour and that comes in different flavours such as chocolate, vanilla, guava, cajeta (caramel), etc.

Here in Querétaro a popular way to eat tamales is in a torta - as the filling inside a bolillo or bread roll.  If you really want to pack in the carbohydrates, a torta de tamal is the way to go!  I haven't tried one yet, so can't give my opinion on the experience of eating one, but I will one of these days.

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico - Tamales And Champurrado

Tamales and atole are not a particularly healthy option, especially if you are watching your weight, but make quite a filling high-carb breakfast and atole is a wonderfully warm comforting drink on a cold morning.


Tacos may be more common in the evenings and at night for dinner  - and generally the Taquerías open in the evenings - but you can usually find a taco stand in the street or on a market, or a little taco place open in the mornings for breakfast or brunch.

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico - Tacos De Mixiote
Tacos de mixiote (specially seasoned slow-cooked meat)

Tacos are usually made with meat, usually beef or pork and served in a small corn tortilla.  You can then add a salsa, lime juice, chopped onion, sometimes beans.

Tacos de Barbacoa 

You are more likely to find tacos de barbacoa in the morning than at night.  Barbacoa is traditionally made with lamb but you can often find it made from beef.  It is very slow-cooked wrapped in banana leaves in a special kind of oven in a hole in the ground.

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico - Barbacoa Oven In The Ground

The meat is very soft and tender and served with chopped onion and coriander (cilantro), lime juice and salsa.  You can also often get consomé de barbacoa, a kind of soup made with the juices of the meat as it cooks, which is very tasty.

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico - Tacos De Barbacoa

My opinion:  Tacos are not the healthiest option, but they definitely make a very meaty, protein-rich and substantial breakfast.

Gorditas, Sopes + Quesadillas 

Gorditas are like thick corn tortillas cut open to form little pockets with different fillings.  Here in Querétaro, they add either cheese or migajas (crumbs of fried pork skin) to the ball of corn dough before making it into a gordita.  Sopes are also thick tortillas with a little raised "wall" around the edge, spread with refried beans, cream and cheese, and if you like, an extra "guisado" on top.  Quesadillas are corn tortillas folded in half with cheese melted inside and you can add an extra filling too.  

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico - A Sope Topped With Nopalitos And Cheese
A sope topped with nopalitos, cheese and cream and a gordita in the background.

The guisados are different fillings or toppings. Some of the most typical guisados are chicharron (pork skin cooked in salsa), picadillo (made with minced meat), tinga (shredded chicken in a type of salsa), shredded beef, potatoes with chorizo, nopalitos (chopped cooked cactus leaves), scrambled egg in salsa, rajas con crema (strips of poblano chile cooked with cream), mushrooms, huitlacoche (corn smut - a delicacy),  pork in pasilla chile sauce to name but a few.  There are many more delicious guisados, depending on the region you are in.

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico - Pots Of Fillings For Gorditas
"Guisados" - fillings for gorditas

Again these are not a healthy option as they are generally fried in oil or lard.  They are delicious as an occasional treat but don't eat gorditas for breakfast every day!

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico - Blue Corn Sopes On A Market Stall
Blue corn sopes and tortillas on a market stall

If you want some ideas for thirst-quenching drinks made with natural ingredients you might like to check out my post on How to make refreshing Mexican aguas frescas
or sign up below to receive a free printable recipe booklet.

Café de Olla 

Unless you are in a cafe or somewhere reasonably sophisticated you're unlikely to get a decent coffee - you might find instant coffee or if you are lucky you could be offered café de olla.  This is a traditional Mexican coffee made in a pot on the stove and usually they add cinnamon and piloncillo (derived from sugar cane with a flavour similar to muscovado sugar).  It's a great way to warm up on a chilly winter morning.

Breakfasts On The Go In Mexico - An Earthenware Pot Of Cafe De Olla On A Traditional Stove

So which of these breakfasts on the go appeals to you the most?  What do you normally have for breakfast when you're in a hurry?  Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

Fancy reading about some more mouthwatering and healthy Mexican food?  Try these:

Anyone for some cactus?
Things to do in Mexico when you're hungry - Nopales

Mexico's most homely, comforting soup:
A quick and easy recipe for Sopa de Pasta - Mexican pasta soup

A refreshing drink to wash it all down?
How to make refreshing Mexican Aguas Frescas

Shank You Very Much


  1. We had a Mexican exchange student live with us for a year. When the year was over, we visited her family in Mexico. I remember the delicious Mexican street food, especially the tamales. So delicious!

  2. Yummm! The food looks amazing! I would love to try them all!


  3. I hadn't really considered what Mexicans enjoy for breakfast but now I want to try them out! Makes British cereal or toast look very dull... Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

  4. I have yet to have a bad food experience in Mexico. You can't go wrong with street food! Gorditas would have to be my favorite and anything with carnitas in it. Over here in Southern California they are starting to make cheeseburgers with conche as the bun. Looks like an interesting sweet and salty combination I want to try. #KCACOLS

  5. I've wanted to visit Mexico for a while. (I'm a Guider and there's a World Centre -Our Cabana in Mexico) but now seeing all the delicious food, I'd like to visit even more! #KCACOLS

  6. You make everything sound amazing, I love breakfast and agree it is the meal we should all eat and has many health benefits. I must confess though I am the most boring breakfast person, I am obsessed with WeetBix and eat my WeetBix every morning with some bran and soy milk YUMMY! If we do go out or breakfast or stay at a lovely resort then I tend to give other things a go. #ABloggingGoodTime

  7. YOu have me salavating and looking at the clock for when my next meal could possibly arrive! Wow this looks good. Everything looks good! #KCACOLS xoxo

  8. Oh wow some of these look amazing and so many I want to try! I have to say breakfasts on the go are good for me, I like to make a range of smoothies and juices for the little lady and I to try. Thank you so much for linking up with us for #KCACOLS and we hope to see you next time.

  9. Oh you are just making me hungry reading this. I love Mexican food! I have never tried tamales so I would love to taste them. But everything looks really really good. I love the pictures you put up! #KCACOLS

  10. These look so good. Love the sound of tacos for breakfast. I'm a coffee and eggs kind of girl. #KCACOLS

  11. These options would all make a change from Weetabix! They sound delicious, although I don't think I'd be asking for a quail's egg in my smoothie... #kcacols

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