The Western world has done well to acclimatise to the surging numbers of hungry vegans and vegetarians. It seems like any carnivorous meal can be substituted with tofurkey, fakon or…mushrooms! But what about the countries that haven’t quite caught the tofu bug? Being a member of the life-long vegetarian club, the plight of finding a meat-less meal outside of the First World can have its struggles. Mexico is no exception. So, my fellow eternal herbivores and the newcomers, here is my ultimate guide to vegetarian Mexican food in Mexico!
1. Champi(g)non Tacos
In Sydney, you can find most things on four-legs or feathers, fried and shoved between tortilla sheets. Mexicans are a little more artistic about what graces their taco shells. Exactly where in the country you’re eating will usually decide the type of meat you’ll find in your food. Once a Taqueria (a place that serves tacos) has decided to be specific about a particular meat, they’ll seldom have any other choices…besides one! Invariably, almost every taco stand, stall or restaurant will have the Champignon (mushroom) option. Laced with a little cilantro, finely chopped red onions and an assortment of sauces. Welcome to taco heaven!
2. Queso Quesadillas
Probably the most versatile Mexican dish out of today’s selection. Quesadillas can come in all shapes and sizes, from NYC style pizzas to the diameter of a pie. Many stores will do a mushroom or peppers quesadillas, but I’ve always preferred the original Queso (cheese) Quesadilla. It may sound pretty plain-jane, but remember, sauces, dips and other condiments are standard on Mexican dining tables. With a side of spicy guacamole sauce for me, thanks!
3. Chilli Relleno
My favourite Mexican meal by a country mile. This ones’s a filler, so maybe skip lunch or pass on dinner if you’ve got your sights set on this gem. Available in most dine-in restaurants, the chilli relleno is an oven roasted whole pepper (capsicum), stuffed with cheese and sautéed vegetables, finally dressed with some melted cheese; served with a side of fresh salad and/or rice. Don’t leave Mexico till you’ve tried it!
Typically served in the morning or for lunch, molletes are pieces of large toast spread with roast vegetables and beans, topped with some melted cheese. They come in two pieces and are a delicious post breakfast meal to energise you for an afternoon hike or day in the office. Think of them as an open panini, topped with melted cheese. Molletes are not usually available at street stalls. You’ll find them in restaurants or small eateries.
5. Rajas Empanadas
Mexican bakeries are divine. Usually serving an assortment of freshly baked goods from croissants, to donuts, to cakes and savoury snacks like, empanadas! Best described as a flattened pie, empanadas come in all shapes and sizes. They serve as the perfect mid-major-meal snack. Rajas (sliced poblano pepper) empanadas are baked pastries with a filling of sliced pepper and cream cheese. They go great with traditional Tepicor hot sauce.
Forget the fake meat and tofu substitutes, Mexico is loaded with plenty of vegetarian options to satisfy your hunger bug. Make sure you prefix your meal request with either “sin carne”, meaning without meat or “vegetariano”, with the ‘V’ pronounced as ‘B’, meaning vegetarian.