On this island paradise, portable eateries are certainly not a new thing. For years, some local families have created delicious food in their small cocinas, not just for personal consumption, but for sale in a food cart. Not to be confused with a food truck, these small carts are usually pushed into El Centro to a designated parking area on the street. Some carts have been modified to include two wheels and a seat, using an old bicycle, for much easier transportation. Regardless of its mobility method, these carts seem to have a spot that is “theirs”. Some cart vendors are constantly moving to places that tourists and locals might be gathering.
One of the smaller side streets boast a local torta (sandwich) street vendor that seems to be a crowd pleaser for many locals. The local islanders gather around this tiny cart and load up their tortas with, what I assume is pork or chorizo and then top with the provided salsa. Next to that cart EVERY morning is THE ORANGE JUICE GUY. He has bags of fresh oranges and squeezes each one with a manual juice press.. now that’s fresh!! At the north end of the main pedestrian only street, a wonderful woman cuts up papaya, jicama and cucumber… places the fresh cut slices in a small plastic bag, ready for a portable snack. After making your selection, she will offer you the addition of lime and chili powder on top…yes, please!!!
Head toward the islands zocalo (town square) and a few tables are lined up with plastic dishes filled with pico de gallo , pickled red onions and salsa. Point to your meat selection from the tabletop grill and you’re about to enjoy the practice of “eating out of tupperware”. That phrase coined by my sister-in-law, who originally brought us to this island paradise. As the sun begins to consider going down, here come the BIMBO dog carts. BIMBO dog...well a large hot dog wrapped in loads of bacon and grilled on the food cart. I must confess that I have not indulged in a BIMBO dog yet, but I believe I’m the ONLY holdout. They are an island favorite!!
After chowing down on a BIMBO dog, many tourists and locals take a few steps and order off the MARQUESITAS cart. A sort of crepe batter is poured onto a round skillet and maneuvered around with a small wooden utensil, so the crepe creeps to the pans edge. After flipping, you can choose Nutella, caramel, sweet condensed cream or banana slices to be added to your sweet treat. The crepe is then rolled up and you’re off with a fan favorite. I have one friend who will only go to a certain MARQUESITA cart because “they are the best on the island”!
Then MY personal favorite THE ELOTE LADY!! Elote, a grilled corn on the cob, carted around in a steamer pan, is topped with a mayo, Mexican crema and Cotija cheese, plus chili powder and lime! I’ve been known to get two a day, they are that good…and a vegetable ..right!! Of course, paletas (popsicles) are sold on the streets and the beach daily. Certainly a kid pleaser!!
No, I haven’t forgotten the COCO carts!! I have my fav and soon I’ll take you to meet my friend David who owns it. Well island street food is alluring, addicting, messy, convenient, delicious and just plan good!! Buen Provecho!!