Looking for fast internet? The Corner Taco Stand.

Looking for fast internet? The Corner Taco Stand.

Today I had the fortune to visit a different neighborhood, leaving the richy-rich area which has gradually engulfed my life in recent months. I happily took the opportunity to walk a few blocks before hailing a cab from the street. NOTE: CABS ON THE STREET IN MEXICO ARE PERFECTLY SAFE, IN MY OPINION. (But if you happen to hail a sketchy cab and get robbed one day, I am not taking responsibility. It is best to check out the driver and assure they have proper identification painted on the cab.)

So, today I strolled down Insurgentes, a big busy street with lots of action, and happened first upon a large, sprawling display of pirated movies with a police man standing guard. I couldn’t figure out if the policeman was selling the pirated movies or waiting around to arrest someone for buying one, or perhaps he was just visiting with his girlfriend who happens to sell pirated movies. I was tempted to look through the selection and pick out one or two, but decided against it, what with the armed policeman confusion and all.

I strolled on, trying to decide what I might like to eat. (My second favorite past-time, after aimlessly strolling the streets of Mexico City, involves discovering new and fun places to eat on the street.) I used to feel a little uneasy about eating on the street – not for fear of getting sick, but rather because I didn’t know the proper way to go about eating on the street.

  • Do I sit on the little stool or stand?
  • Which of the 5 people behind the counter do I order my food from?
  • And how do I know how much it costs? (prices are rarely posted)
  • And what should I order? what is best?
  • And what do I do with my dirty plate?
  • Then, who do I pay?

So many doubts. So many little unknowns making the experience more stressful than it was worth. But as a good anthropologist, I realized that with a bit of observation, a few shameless questions and some trial and error, I could get the custom down pat.

Now, after living in Mexico City for nearly 3 years in total, I am almost an expert street-stand taco customer. Here´s my technique.

  • First, I look for a busy stand with local customers. Locals always know best.
  • Second, I look for a stand with other women. It may sound strange, but I feel a little intimidated with a bunch of dudes staring at me while I eat.
  • Third, I make sure there is a big dude behind the stand making tacos – I personally believe chefs should not be skinny.
  • Fourth, I do a brief check to see if the place looks semi-clean. Presence of napkins and clean plates is a must.
  • Fifth, I make sure I have enough money so I don’t have to worry about the cost. Pay at the end.
  • And lastly, I try to smile or say something to my fellow taco-stand-eaters. It makes the whole experience nicer.

So, I followed my personal street taco eating guidelines, found a busy, semi-clean looking taco stand with lots of woman and a nice, chubby Mexican dude behind the counter. I sat down to order my tacos and almost fell off my little stool when I realized that sitting on the stand before me was a modern laptop, tapped into some wireless connection (surely “borrowed”), playing the real-time version of the Mexico-US soccer game from the Coca-Cola website. Amazing. I have never seen such a delightful mixture of technology with tradition. Good greasy street food with a fast wireless connection. Deep-fried tortillas filled with sketchy meat happily married to a shiny silver Dell laptop with streaming video. I think Mexico just might be headed in the right direction after all.