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A Slice of Paradise: Visiting Mexico with Food in Mind

A Slice of Paradise: Visiting Mexico with Food in Mind

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It’s an understatement to say that my culinary-focused trip to Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso was a delicious treat, because the food was wonderful and the very talented chefs could not have been more gracious when describing the meals they created.

Director of operations for Iberostar Mexico, Jordi Sole, gave our group insight into Iberostar’s philosophy for running a hotel chain that spans the globe, one that prides itself on delivering vacations filled with quality, superior service, and delicious cuisine.

The superior service was clear from the moment I arrived. Check-in was a breeze, and my butler, Luis, was most helpful getting me situated in my room. Of course, the delivery to my room of executive pastry chef David Gimenez’s artistic chocolate grand piano filled with perfectly crafted truffles along with a bottle of red and white wine and champagne had me beaming from ear to ear.

Yet it was the magnificent view of the Gulf of Mexico that insured a very tranquil stay. I had the opportunity to spend time walking along, as well as relaxing on a chaise lounge, on the beach and the peacefulness of the area was delightful.

The hotel, in conjunction with the Riviera Maya Tourism Board, arranged a visit to Cobá, Mexico, where I climbed a Mayan temple (going up seemed pretty easy, but looking down was terrifying!) and learned about the Mayan people.

After seeing the ruins, we were driven to Casa Itzamná, a center for the study of traditional Mayan medicine. The shaman, who serves as the ultimate healer and voice of men to the gods, shared with us how he promotes holistic healing. The center has its own apiary, and the honey produced by the bees was golden and delectable.

After experiencing either a massage or bathing ritual, we enjoyed lunch at a Mayan family home. The pride taken in the workmanship of each delicious dish prepared was apparent. It was, truly, an experience I highly recommend.

That prideful attitude is crystal clear in everyone at the resort. There are many activities available both on and off the property, but the staff is happy to assist guests with excursions. A perfect example is guest relationship chef Danyelle Valmont, who works with guests who have special dietary issues, seeing to it that each individual need is met — it’s an incredible feat.

It’s in the world of gastronomy that the Iberostar chefs are most comfortable. Many Iberostar chefs come from the Basque region of Spain, and several of them have worked previously in Michelin-starred restaurants.

Iberostar recently published its first cookbook, La Cocina Iberostar, featuring the delicious dishes of 14 Iberostar executive chefs. With recipes drawing inspiration from Morocco to Mexico, the book reflects the high quality of culinary offerings available at Iberostar hotels worldwide.

I felt fortunate to taste the workmanship of four of the 14 executive chefs, as well as the impressive knowledge of sommelier Yamir Roadriguez. I also saw firsthand the care and attention to detail that Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso executive chef Joseba Goikoetxea puts into the hotel’s international buffet. Dishes are constantly being replenished and guests may select individually made-to-order meals in addition to a vast selection of prepared foods.

Whether guests choose to dine at the international buffet or enjoy a meal in one of the other on-site restaurants, they are assured a delicious meal with impeccable service. All of this, with the added bonus of staying at a beautiful property and watching the waves roll in from the Gulf of Mexico — it’s truly a slice of paradise!

A Slice of Paradise at Punta Esmeralda, Playa del Carmen

We just had such a wonderful week in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and one of my favourite days was when we went to visit this hidden cenote less than 30 minutes from the city centre. We love highlighting hidden gems like Punta Esmeralda over on our YouTube channel but what I love even more is connecting with our amazing viewers from all over the world. Seriously, you guys are the best. This past week we had the absolute pleasure of meeting with an inspiring family who gave us the scoop on this little paradise and today I'm sharing it with you all. Enter, Punta Esmeralda.

Fried Stuffed Pambacitos –

Ingredients (for 18)

1 ½ cups (225 g) all-purpose wheat flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cream of tartar
5 tbsp (50 g) non-hydrogenated margarine, or butter
2 eggs
¼ cup milk, as needed
Enough oil for deep-frying, preferably safflower or peanut

Fillings, to taste, such as (click on highlighted text for recipes): fried chorizo with cooked cubed potatoes, poblano pepper strips with cream, and cooked shredded chicken in red mole :

To serve: washed and shredded lettuce and Mexican sauces, for example: green tomatillo, red de árbol, and guacamole (click on images, for recipes):

Once stuffing dishes, lettuce and sauces have been prepared, set aside.

To prepare buns: Sift flour together with salt, baking powder and cream of tartar, into a bowl (photo below, left). Add margarine (or butter) to the bowl (photo below, right):

Mix fat and sifted ingredients, until no clumps are visible, to a sandy texture add eggs to the centre (photo below, left). Beat eggs in the centre, then incorporate, adding milk, one tablespoon at a time (photo below, right):

Continue mixing and gradually adding just enough milk to achieve a soft dough, not sticky I used three tablespoons of milk for this batch. Knead dough very lightly on the working surface dusted with flour, then roll to a thickness of approximately a quarter of an inch (half a centimetre). Cut circles using a round cookie cutter or rim of a jar of approximately 2.5 to 2.75 inches in diameter (6.3 to 7 cm), as shown in the photo below, left. Using hands or rolling pin, slightly flatten each circle to form ovals of 3 inches (7.5 cm) in length (photo below, right):

Gather any leftover dough, and repeat, to obtain about 18 ovals. The ovals may be prepared in advance, kept on covered trays until ready to cook, or stacking layers separated with parchment paper (photo below, left) and packed in sealable plastic bags or containers (photo below, right):

The packed dough ovals may be kept in the fridge overnight, or in the freezer for up to three months (fry from frozen).

Deep-fry the dough ovals right before serving time. There is a lot of finesse involved in the science of deep-frying, but just a few simple steps are needed: 1) Use a type of oil with a high smoking point, such as safflower or peanut. 2) Choose a small pot to use as little oil as possible pour oil in pot, making sure there is at least a one-inch (2.54 cm) depth. 3) Warm up oil over medium/high heat to 375ºF (190ºC) if a food thermometer is not available, watch for the oil to glisten and start forming pandurate ripples, a point called “shimmering” if it starts smoking, turn down the heat. 4) Fry the buns in small batches when gently immersed in the oil, the buns should immediately sizzle, produce bubbling, and cook fairly fast (photo below, left). The buns will swell with hot air inside flip as soon as they float, and allow for the other side to brown (photo below, right):

As soon as they are golden brown on both sides, transfer to a tray lined with paper towels:

Open the buns along one side with a serrated knife to create a pocket, and fill with the different dishes available, to taste:

I prepared a serving on a plate with a bed of shredded lettuce, with three pambacitos, as shown at the top of this post, from left to right: chorizo with potatoes, poblano pepper strips with cream and a slice of fresh cheese, and shredded chicken with red mole:

Offer salsas on the side, for each person to add some, to taste. In the photo below, notice the fluffy crumb in a close-up of a pambacito filled with chorizo and potatoes, with a dollop of guacamole:

My homemade pambacitos were so good, with just the right size, texture and medley of flavours to bring back memories of “Los Pambacitos de Benjamín Franklin“, a truly unique Mexico City street food from “La Escandón.”

For your convenience, click on the images below to check out products available on Amazon™. DISCLAIMER: Any reviews included in this post are my own, for items I have purchased, not provided by any company as an Amazon Associates Program affiliate, I might receive a commission for any purchases originated from the links, at no extra cost to you (thank you to readers who have bought other products starting with a click from my links!):

18 Safest - Mérida

A growing favourite for tourists who hate tourists, Mérida is a wonderful alternative to nearby Cancun’s Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

Located just a three-hour drive away on the Yucatán Peninsula, it’s the perfect getaway to trade in the poolside resort experience for a dip into freshwater cenote sinkholes – over 6,000 of which can be found along the coast, thanks to a lovely little asteroid that slammed its way into the area’s sea floor over 66 million years ago.

Once used as sacred wells to perform spiritual rituals and offerings to the gods by the Maya, whose influence is still very felt in the area, visitors can experience their very own shaman-led healing journey, complete with fragrant incense, medicinal plants and cocoa beans, at underground cenotes like Sacamucuy. Merida is also a well-known destination for celebrating equinoxes. (Come to the Castillo temple at the right time, and catch the shadow of a serpent slithering down the pyramid's steps!)

But if getting your soul cleansed isn’t a priority for you right now, Mérida is also arguably one of the best places to enjoy real-deal, beyond-delicious Yucatecan food. To boot, it is quite possibly one of the most wonderfully walkable places on earth. Twice named the American Capital of Culture, the city is beaming with brightly coloured colonial buildings, broad central plazas, beautiful 17 th century cathedrals, and bustling local markets like Mercado Lucas De Galvéz and Mercado Santiago. Visit on a weekend if you can, when its historical core is closed to vehicles, to enjoy a strollers’ paradise amid taco stands and open-air stages.

Las Quekas

Avenida Tulum

Las Quekas is a small chain restaurant that was started just north of Tulum in Cancun and the complete opposite of Hartwood. I know what you are thinking, how can this be eating local in Tulum?

Las Quekas as far as we could tell was a local spot for a quick lunch. Also all the ingredients are fresh, and the tortillas are made and cooked to order. This is not the typical fast food joint and we have a hard time even calling it one. Las Quekas is known for two things: quesadillas for 13 pesos and sopes for 15 pesos. Actually that is all they serve although they have different toppings and fillings depending on what they have fresh that day.

When Ashley and I stopped in one for lunch they were freshly out of sopes but they were able to cook us up a couple of cheap and delicious quesadillas. We ordered a rojas poblanas and papas e chorizo quesadillas, one with peppers and the other with potato and chorizo. It cost a total of 26 pesos which is just over one U.S. dollar and it was fantastic. It hit the spot for a quick bite to eat.

If you are in Tulum and you are starting to get hangry, just pop into a Las Quekas and believe me you won’t regret this cheap but delicious eat.

Note: They make everything to order and it seems that whatever ingredients they get in that day is all they are going to have. So they might not have the full menu. Plus once they run out they run out.

International Travel

When looking for a chance to get away, people often look for a vacation that comes with these four things:

1. A change of scenery: Sometimes, you just need to switch up your sights to change your point of view. When people see breathtaking nature and luxury resorts, they can easily forget the stressors of the office.

2. Fine dining: Entering a new culture means enjoying the local cuisine. There’s something exciting about trying new flavors you’ve never experienced before.

3. Pampering: When visiting luxury resorts, most people are looking forward to the complete spa treatment. Few people get the chance to fully indulge themselves at home.

4. Relaxation: When your flight takes off, it’s easy to leave all your everyday worries on the ground. You can enter a new mindset that is more conducive to serenity and inner peace.

When your plans get canceled, it might seem like all those opportunities go away. However, with a bit of creativity and resourcefulness, you can bring all these things to your backyard.

Even if your plans have to change, you can still bring the elements of international travel into your backyard. Whether you were headed to Kenya for a safari or an island for a tropical getaway, you can take parts of those trips and incorporate them into your time at home. With just a few accent pieces, you can make your home look like a vacation destination.

African Safari

While your local neighborhood cat might be the biggest animal you’ll see on a home-based safari, you can still recreate an African resort in your backyard.

To start building your own paradise, you’ll want to focus on maximizing your time in the sun. Make your backyard a place where you can catch some rays or spend time in the shade while enjoying a tall glass of your favorite cold drink.

Adding some paradise-inspired, summer-themed furniture to your home will make your space comfortable and start to look like a resort. Getting bamboo furniture for your home takes you to an exotic vacation far away from any stressors. For sunbathing, make sure you have a comfortable reclining chair you can lean back and face the sun in. When you want to enjoy the weather under some shade, set up an African reed umbrella to cover your table to better set the tone for your African-themed backyard vacation. Measure the area you’re looking to cover, so you can determine which size works best. That way, you can get full coverage on whatever size table you have.

Do you already have a covered structure in your backyard that offers shade? You can still give it the appearance of an African resort by attaching African reed thatch panels to the roof.

Since your backyard is probably not home to a cape parrot or bearded vulture, you might miss the sounds of birds soaring through the skies. Try adding a wind chime to your backyard to add an auditory element to your backyard experience.

If you were looking forward to discovering wild animals on a safari, bring out a laptop or tablet and find a documentary to enjoy. With the quality of modern video, you could watch lions and elephants with better detail and closer zoom than you could expect on your own safari.

Mexican Siesta

Were you planning a Latin American vacation to experience the beautiful beaches of Mexico? While you can’t bring the deep blue waves to your porch, you can still bring some of the best elements of a Mexican resort to your backyard.

One of the most memorable parts of a Mexic an vacation is the unique cuisine. Find a recipe and cook some authentic chilaquiles or tostadas to brin g some new flavors into your home. There are thousands of recipes available online for any dish you could imagine, so don’t be afraid to get creative. Here are some popular Mexican dishes to consider trying:

  • Carnitas: Braised or simmered pork in a small taco with cilantro, onion, refried beans, salsa and guacamole.
  • Enmolada: A corn tortilla filled with cotija cheese and chicken and covered in black mole with cheese and sesame seeds.
  • Rajas con queso: Taco filled with Poblano chiles, rajas, and crema de poblano.
  • Salbut: Puffed tortilla deep-fried and topped with avocado, pulled meat, lettuce, pickled red onion and tomato.
  • Taquito: A rolled tortilla filled with some combination of beef or chicken and cheese that’s fried.

If your dish doesn’t turn out as expected, order take-out from your local Mexican restaurant. Finish off your dish or take-out, with a homemade margarita or Aguas Frescas.

Once you’ve experimented with your latest creation, enjoy your Mexican meal under a palm thatch Mexican umbrella. If you already have one on your de ck, placing an umbrella cover ov er your current umbrella transforms the existing space. Play a recording of the sounds of waves crashing and seagulls chirping.

Fiji Oasis

If you have a pool in your backyard, a great theme to build on is the beaches of Fiji. Known for its stunning vistas and native culture, you can see from the pictures alone why it is such a desired vacation destination.

Even if you can’t go hiking on Mount Tomanivi or snorkeling by the Yawasa Islands, you can incorporate elements of island time back home. Appreciate the beauty of nature in your backyard with planters of colorful flowers. This gives you something to admire while floating in the pool. Even if you don’t have your own poolside bar, enjoy a tropical fruit cocktail of your own making while lounging poolside.

To make your own F ijian bar, add a Tahitian Palm Thatch to your outdoor structure to make your backyard feel like a resort with a poolside cabana. Getting a sustainable bamboo wine rack gives you a great place to store your spirits and adds to the feeling of a tropical poolside bar.

If you’re missing that ocean wildlife, you can find aquarium livestreams online that show shark, jellyfish, coral reef and tropical fish tanks. They’re relaxing to watch while you unwind in the pool, and sometimes you can catch aquarium directors narrating the livestream and taking questions from viewers. If you get nervous in the ocean, this is an excellent alternative for you to appreciate the beauty of wildlife without worrying about what might brush up against your leg. Plus, you don’t have to worry about a wave knocking over your glass of wine!

Hawaiian Luau

Known for its beautiful beaches, Hawaii is home to both natural beauty and cultural entertainment. While you won’t have fire dancers in your home, you can incorporate tiki elements into your backyard to have a luau of your own.

The traditional luau celebrates joy and happiness. During your vacation, take the time to celebrate the simple joys in your life and find delight in the world around you. By making your backyard feel like a luau, you remind yourself that the little moments in life deserve just as much celebration as the big ones.

For some staycation decoration ideas, add tiki masks, tropical signs and hanging birds to your backyard. For a special twist, hang a bamboo tiki bar wind chime to add some musical tones with e very breeze.

To start a part of your own, make some fun tropical drinks and finger foods to enjoy. Good choices for a menu include meats and fruits cooked on a grill, and make sure to add seafood to incorporate the island theme. Sweet, fruit-based marinades are excellent options, and using a pineapple garnish adds color and flavor to each dish.

Creating authentic dishes to pair with the tropical decor of your home will bring cohesion to your relaxing staycation. To really make your home feel like a vacation spot, here are some Hawaiian-themed dishes to try creating on your own:

  • Ahi poke: This simple dish only includes a few ingredients, so the tuna gets to be the star of the show. Only try this dish if you have a local market with high quality, fresh fish.
  • Chicken long rice: With a Chinese food inspired taste, this stew features clear mung bean noodles and chicken with a ginger flavor — it pairs well with many Hawaiian dishes.
  • Luau stew: A dish with multiple iterations, this famous stew focuses on cooked taro leaves and has ingredients like onion, ginger, pepper, seaweed and coconut milk. A popular version includes brisket.
  • Acai bowl: These combinations of banana, granola, berries, honey and acai have made their way into local coffee shops in North America, and for good reason — they’re delicious. Beginning your relaxing staycation as soon as you wake up is the best way to turn your home into a tropical oasis.

Staying home does not mean you cannot take the time to celebrate you. Throw your own luau as a testament to your accomplishments of the year and give yourself an escape from the demands of your workday. Take this time and make it all about you.

How to get around Mexico

Bear in mind Mexico is a large country, and journeys between key destinations can be very long. Although public transport is frequent and reasonably efficient everywhere, taking an internal flight at least once may be worthwhile for the time it saves. If you’re travelling around Mexico on a budget, buses are your best bet. Only a couple of tourist train routes exist: the Copper Canyon railway in Chihuahua and the Tequila Express from Guadalajara. Ferries connect Baja California with the Pacific mainland, and smaller boats serve islands off the coasts. Driving in Mexico requires care, but renting a car is often an extremely good way of quickly seeing a small area that would otherwise take days to explore using public transport. Read more travel advice on how to travel around Mexico.

Best Mexico City Food Markets

Now we’ve covered what to eat in Mexico, let’s discuss the best food markets in Mexico City for street food. A few options include.

Mercado Medellin

Mercado Medellin has some of the best street food Mexico City has to offer. What was originally a Colombian market is now one of Mexico City’s most popular markets for groceries, flowers, and affordable Mexican cuisine. You can browse the bustling market picking up souvenirs and trying adventurous Mexican street snacks like chapulines (crunchy fried grasshoppers). For a more famous foods of Mexico City, you can sample tacos, quesadillas, mole, and enchiladas at the sit-down area located at the market rear.

Mercado de Roma

Mercado de Roma is located, unsurprisingly, in the Roma neighborhood of CDMX. In line with the area’s stylish reputation, this Mexico City street food market has a hipster vibe with many popular local cafes serving food from pop up stalls. Here you can eat chilaquiles, tacos, and many other Mexican dishes. Beware prices are slightly inflated.

Mercado de Coyoacan

As well as its famous tostadas, this Mexico City market in Coyoacan is known for street food, souvenirs, pinatas, and flowers. Here you can try many traditional Mexican dishes from breakfast chilaquiles to meaty tacos. Don’t miss La Cocina de mi Mamá Coyoacán, a modest, traditional Mexican cafe.

Mercado de San Juan

One of the biggest and busiest food markets in Mexico City is Mercado de San Juan located near Centro Historico. It’s known as a chef’s market due to the many high-quality ingredients available. This Mexico City market is busy and crowded so wear closed-toed shoes, put away your valuables, and don’t wear white when standing nearby the butcher’s chopping board!

50 States of Pizza Slices

What’s really the greatest thing since sliced bread? Pizza, by the slice. Foldable triangles of tomato sauce- and cheese-topped dough was one of the original street foods to be adopted by New Yorkers. Since it’s humble Big Apple beginnings, slices have spread across the country adapting to local flavors, ingredients and styles of dining. From Roman al taglio to classic New York triangles, here are 50 slices to try around the United States.

Related To:

Photo By: Will Blunt/Star Chefs

Photo By: Intern Andrews Agency


Photo By: The Restaurant Project

Virginia: Wiseguy Pizza

After years of turning failing pizzerias around, Tony Nuri Erol decided to throw out his winning formula to start over from scratch. He traveled to New York, New Jersey and even Italy to explore different methods for pizza preparation. The results of his research can be tasted in the pizza he serves at Wiseguy. It all starts with the water. Before adding it to his dough, Erol filters the local Arlington water to mimic the famous liquid flowing through New York City&rsquos taps. His pizza-making process also entails fermenting and proofing the dough for at least 24 hours. This careful attention to detail also carries over to the ingredient list. To wit, Erol uses hand-pulled mozzarella that is stretched on-site every day. The resulting pizza contains all the qualities of NYC&rsquos best pies: lightly charred slices that are crisp and thin yet still firm enough to fold over.

New Hampshire: Alley Cat

Like kitties to catnip, customers are drawn to the hand-tossed pizzas served at Alley Cat. This Manchester mainstay has consistently ranked as a top pick in local and national publications for its feline-inspired pies. Individual slices come in just two options &mdash plain cheese and pepperoni &mdash but the impeccable thin-crust alone makes them just as worthy of attention as the specialty pies. If you&rsquore game to commit to an entire pie, the most-popular picks include the Aztec Cat with buffalo chicken and blue cheese the Fat Cat with barbecue chicken and red onion and the Stray Cat with eggplant and ricotta.

Florida: Steve's Pizza

Frequently referred to as &ldquothe sixth borough,&rdquo South Florida has all the NYC staples expat New Yorkers need to survive&hellip including pizza by the slice. The Brooklyn-worthy slices at Steve&rsquos are what elevated this neighborhood spot established in 1974 into a North Miami destination. Sweet and tangy tomato sauce accents a simple thin-crust base, which is both crisp on the outside and springy within. While pepperoni is the most-popular pick, the bustling shop offers 22 of the freshest &mdash and best &mdash pizza toppings that can be found south of the Hudson.

Alaska: Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria

Rock climber Rod Hancock and skier Matt Jones spent their university years in Portland, Oregon, at the early heyday of the craft beer scene, scheming and dreaming about how they would break into the biz with a pizza pub. Hancock perfected his pies and Jones geeked out over homebrews before opening Moose's Tooth in Anchorage in 1996. The place is perennially packed, thanks to its selection of house-brewed suds and piping-hot pies. Stop in at lunch to get pizza by the slice. In addition to the standard options like classic cheese, pepperoni or white, there's a rotating daily special. Keep an eye out for the Avalanche, a meaty slice piled with pepperoni, blackened chicken, bacon, red onions, parsley, three different cheeses and barbecue sauce.

South Carolina: Slice Co.

When Todd Lucey and his wife took a trip to Charleston to visit friends in 2015, they fell head over heels for the city&rsquos Southern-tinged charm. About a year later, in a leap of faith, they relocated to Chucktown. When the couple was unable to find slices quite like home in their newly adopted city, Lucey took it upon himself to bring authentic New York pizza down south. On May 5, 2017, he opened Slice Co. inside Workshop, an exploratory food court in North Charleston, then moved the shop to a permanent location along Savannah Highway. He hasn't looked back. The shop sells more pepperoni slices and whole pies than anything else in about a two to one margin, but the square Grandma slice is starting to pick up steam.

Washington: Princi

The combination of carefully sourced small-lot coffee and meticulously made Italian fare offered by the Starbucks Reserve Princi collaboration is proving to be a siren call of the artisanal sort for Seattle locals. They&rsquove been flocking to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in droves for famed Italian baker Rocco Princi&rsquos flaky cornetti, freshly baked bread and, of course, his flavorful focaccia pizza. Each one is layered with vibrant housemade pomodoro sauce, then topped with an impeccable array of Italian ingredients like imported mozzarella di bufala, speck, twenty-month-aged prosciutto, Scamorza cheese, roasted eggplant and a rainbow of pepper varieties. These traditional Italian rectangular-shaped pies are served al taglio, literally translating to &ldquoby the cut,&rdquo so you can indulge in just a slice &mdash or as many variations as you&rsquod like.

Georgia: Fellini's Pizza

The $2.75 slices served at Fellini's have reached Atlanta icon status. Not only are these massive slices affordable, but they're also available until the wee hours of the morning. It has proven to be a winning formula for the cherished New York-style pizzeria, which has grown from one shop in 1982 to a total of six locales throughout A-Town today. Order the local favorite, Fellini's Special. Available by the pie or the slice, the namesake pizza comes loaded with pepperoni, mushrooms, Italian sausage, onions, meatballs, green peppers, black olives, green olives and extra cheese.

Kentucky: The Post

This pizzeria and craft brew joint is about as cool as it gets. Opened in 2015, it&rsquos located in a former VFW Post in one of Louisville&rsquos hippest &lsquohoods. Renovations have left the space a bit sleeker, but Americana accents throughout pay homage to the building&rsquos past life as a hangout for veterans. The spot is known for its chill atmosphere and elevated bar fare. The menu features a rotating selection of American craft beer, subs, salads and specialty pies. According to owner Nash Neely, the New York-style slices are the &ldquobest thing on the menu.&rdquo Options include cheese and pepperoni, along with a slice of the day that can range from a typical topping trio of sausage, mushroom and roasted red pepper to unexpected riffs like bacon, giardiniera and pineapple atop a beer cheese base.

Illinois: Pie-Eyed Pizzeria

The family behind Pie-Eyed Pizzeria has combined their love of guitar riffs and great slices at this Chicago River West spot. In addition to the band flyers that adorn the space, their musical inspirations are apparent in the selection of thin-crust and deep-dish pizza that pays homage to heavy metal and rock bands. Their Black Sabbath Pizza and Red Hot Chili Pie have both been featured on local news segments. And one of their best-sellers was dedicated to Gwar when the band headlined Riot Fest. This amped-up take on a typical supreme pizza features hot soppressata, applewood-smoked bacon, Italian sausage, pepperoni, red bell peppers and extra sauce. With slices and pies available until 5 a.m. on weekends, it&rsquos the perfect post-concert stop.

Arkansas: Vino's Brewpub

Known as Little Rock&rsquos first brewpub, Vino&rsquos has been drawing the crowds with its combination of live music shows, house-brewed beers and New York-style pizza since 1993. The mushroom and Italian sausage pizza alone has earned a legion of local fans. This fan favorite features a sturdy yet chewy, foldable crust evenly spread with chopped mushrooms and bits of savory meat. Even specialty pizzas like the Muffaletta are available by the slice, so you can find out what the fuss is about without having to commit to an entire pie. And with no silverware necessary, Vino&rsquos slices are perfect for devouring while getting your dance on.

Louisiana: Pizza Delicious

Native New Yorkers Mike Friedman and Greg Augarten met as undergrads at Tulane University in New Orleans. They loved NOLA and its food culture, but they did have one major concern &mdash they couldn't find pizza like home in their adopted city. The duo decided to take matters into their own hands. Inspired by their favorite slice joints, they started Pizza Delicious as a pop-up pizzeria. It proved to be so popular that they moved the operation into a permanent brick-and-mortar space in 2012. Today, the pair offers housemade pastas and a rotating cast of specialty pizzas (like spicy marinated kale), in addition to their classic cheese, pepperoni and margherita, most of which are available by the slice.

Arizona: Otto Pizza & Pastry

For more than two decades, this family-owned restaurant helmed by Otto Hobeheidar has been churning out impeccable pastas and pizzas in a casual setting. Hobeheidar is a Paris native, but he certainly knows his way around a New York-style slice. Every ten minutes, he pulls a fresh pie out of the oven to be used specifically for slices. Made of house-made dough topped with sweet tomato sauce and high-quality mozzarella cheese, his pies are always piping-hot and glistening with just the right amount of grease. For an extra 59 cents per topping, you can customize your slice with add-ons like spinach, artichokes, feta and meatballs.

Texas: Home Slice Pizza

Foodwise, Austin has it all: mind-blowing tacos, upscale sushi, world class barbecue. Yet the Live Music Capital of the World wasn&rsquot fully onboard with New York-style slices until 2005. That&rsquos the year New York University college roommates Terri Hannifin Buis and Jen Strickland converted Austin&rsquos masses with their spin on the slice. Along with Jen&rsquos husband Joseph, the team brought enormous, foldable slices to Congress Avenue. These crisp triangles are served on plain paper plates, which adds to the air of New York authenticity. Every day, guests can pick from regular cheese, pepperoni, margherita and up to four other specialty slices, ranging from crispy eggplant pie (a lesser known Big Apple staple) to New Haven-inspired white clam.

California: The Cheese Board Collective

Shortly after this cheese shop and bakery opened its doors in 1967, workers began combining dough and cheese for their own lunches. Customers noticed and wanted in on the action, so the shop began making and serving unique vegetarian pizzas on sourdough crust. The pizza option changes daily, but they have come up with about 60 different variations so far, many of which have been a celebration of California cuisine. Fan favorites have included heirloom tomato with Montalban cheese fresh corn with pasilla chile and feta peach and blue cheese and wild mushrooms with French chevre. With its impeccable selection of pizzas, cheeses and baked goods, it&rsquos no wonder that this worker-owned collective has long been considered a cornerstone of Berkeley&rsquos artisan-focused Gourmet Ghetto area.

Tennessee: Five Points Pizza

David and Tara Tierman quit their day jobs in 2011 to follow their bliss: pizza. Now recovering attorneys, the couple teamed up with their lifelong friend (and experienced restaurateur) Tanner Jacobs to bring New York-style pies to East Nashville&rsquos hip Five Points neighborhood. The trio traverse familiar terrain with straightforward classics like the ever-popular pepperoni slice, but also veer into gourmet territory with the likes of hot capicola and spicy habanero cream sauce. No matter your pick, the pies are big, slices are huge and the ingredients are always fresh. The place has been such a hit, the team is opening second location to keep up with demand.

Michigan: The Original Buscemi's

What started as a party supply store and sub shop in 1956 has morphed into one of Metro Detroit's longest-running pizzerias. Located on the outskirts of Motor City in Eastpointe, The Original Buscemi's is one of the few local spots that offers slices of Detroit's famous thick-crusted square pizza made in the traditional style of cheese first, then sauce. It all starts with fresh dough that's made daily. The dough is blanketed with a thick layer of 100% real mozzarella Grande cheese, then slathered with homemade tomato sauce made from vine-ripened California tomatoes. Many of the pizzas are also finished with a flurry of dry-aged pepperoni. Once ready, the pizza is cooked until the crust turns golden and chewy and the cheese begins bubbling down the sides.

Colorado: Boss Lady Pizza

Set right on Boulder's University Hill, this creative pizzeria is a favorite late-night haunt for local students. The pizzas themselves seem as though they've sprung from a late-night hallucination. Thin, New York-style crusts come adorned with such unusual options as macaroni noodles, tater tots, alfredo and the shop's signature chipotle ranch Bossy Sauce. The spot offers a dizzying selection of about 50 different specialty pies, which are all available by the slice. One standout is the MoFo Hawaiian, a barbecue sauce base coated with Grande mozzarella cheese, red onion, ham, pineapple, bacon, asiago and parsley.

Connecticut: Da Legna Pizzeria

New Haven may be known as one of America&rsquos preeminent pizza cities, hailed for its white clam pies and thin, chewy crusts. It is not, however, a slice town. If you want to get in on the New Haven pizza action, you&rsquove usually got to commit to an entire pie. Fortunately, Da Legna fills the void of individual cuts by offering slices on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during lunch. Chef Daniel Parillo opened this wood-fired place in 2012. The son of Italian immigrants who grew up in Connecticut, Parillo has found a way to bring together the tastes of these two worlds via his pizza. The New Haven-meets-Neapolitan pies come adorned with local (whenever possible) and imported ingredients like San Daniele cured meats, San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella.

Delaware: Café SíTALY

In the United States, most purveyors of pizza by the slice focus on New York City-style pies. Café SíTALY&rsquos Alessandro Spenato does sell those foldable thin-crust slices, but his real infatuation is old-fashioned crispino. In Italy, home cooks who do not have access to a brick oven or pizza stone cook rectangular dough in a pan. In the Big Apple, that thin and crispy square, which looks kind of like Sicilian but without the thick bready base, is known as Grandma-style. &ldquoWe may not be the only ones to make this unique style of pizza outside of a home kitchen or the streets of Brooklyn,&rdquo says Spennato. &ldquoI can assure you that ours is the best.&rdquo And yes, customers can sample a slice.

Hawaii: JJ Dolan's

When Danny Dolan and JJ Niebuhr decided to open a restaurant in Honolulu, they knew they wanted to keep it simple. The premise for their place? Pizza and beer in a relaxing, clean environment. They realized their idea with JJ Dolan&rsquos. The place quickly became a neighborhood favorite, serving craft brews and East Coast-style pies inspired by Niebuhr&rsquos Jersey City roots. The menu features classics like Margherita, Jersey white, and spinach and garlic. Combine any two styles in one pie with the half-and-half pizza. Don&rsquot want a whole pie? Stick with the Cheese or Classic Pepperoni, which are available by the slice.

Idaho: Piehole Pizza

Owner Russ Crawforth's inspiration for Piehole came during a trip to San Francisco in 2005. When he stumbled across the 3 a.m. crowds at Pizza Orgasmica, he saw a line stretched all the way down the block. Instantly, Crawforth knew he had to create the kind of pizza that would inspire that same late-night enthusiasm in his hometown of Boise, Idaho. Open all day and into the early hours of the morning, Piehole offers a solid selection of pizza. Classic slices like cheese and pepperoni share the menu with creative combos like basil-roasted bell pepper and potato-bacon (pictured above). Crawforth also keeps it fresh with a rotating slice of the day.

Kansas: D'Bronx

In 1990, D&rsquoBronx established itself as a New York-style slice shop serving busy employees and med students at nearby University of Kansas Medical Center. The from-scratch pies proved to be so popular that the operation has since expanded to three more locations in the Kansas City metro area. East Coast deli items like brisket and corned beef are part of D&rsquoBronx&rsquos draw, but pizza accounts for more than half of the restaurant&rsquos sales. A fan favorite is the shop&rsquos namesake D&rsquoBronx Special, a thin-crust pizza topped with spicy pepperoni, Italian sausage, meatballs, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, onions, natural ripe olives and green peppers. It&rsquos available by the slice or as a pie.

Iowa: Mesa Pizza

When owner Luis Hernandez founded this Iowa City shop in 2006, his goal was to offer customers pizza combos they wouldn't be able to find anywhere else. He has realized his plan with a unique selection that includes such pairings as steak and guacamole with Southwest sauce and cheddar cheese. The pizzeria offers more than 100 different types of slices to customers at any given time. While there are plenty of picks, the most-popular selections tend to be chicken-centric: Barbecue Chicken Bacon Ranch, Buffalo Chicken and Thai Chicken. Oh, and mac lovers, don't miss out on the Macaroni and Cheese.

Maine: Otto Pizza

Hailed for its perfectly thin and crisp crusts cooked in a 650-degree oven, Otto consistently ranks as one of the best pizza places in Maine. Every slice at Otto comes stacked with high-quality ingredients that are locally sourced whenever possible. Basic pepperoni is the most-popular pick, followed by The Masher. Inspired by the tastes of a traditional dinner side, this slice features a mix of mashed potato, bacon and scallions. The combination of superb crusts and stellar toppings has earned Otto much success. Since opening on Portland's hip Congress Street in 2009, owners Mike Keon and Anthony Allen have expanded their operation to an additional five locations in the Pine Tree State, as well as another half dozen spots in neighboring Massachusetts.

Maryland: Mario's Original Pizza & Pasta

Two words: tortellini pizza. This Baltimore spot takes the concept of mac &lsquon&rsquo cheese pie to the next level by topping cheese pizza with tri-colored tortellini. That creative combo has proven to be the most-popular pick at this cheery counter-serve space. A close second is the Meat Lovers option loaded with pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon and ground beef. Mario&rsquos has mastered the art of a crisp browned crust slathered in a bright sauce, which means you&rsquoll have a stellar slice even if you strip away all the rich toppings. Both the pepperoni and cheese options may well be this spot&rsquos sleeper hits.

Minnesota: Hello Pizza

The inspiration for this Minneapolis slice shop started flickering to life during meals on a shabby couch in New York City. It was there that then-student Ann Kim scarfed down many a slice, which in turn sparked the passion for New York-style pizza that inspired her second restaurant endeavor. In 2013, Chef Kim debuted her ode to the pizza of the Big Apple with the opening of Hello Pizza in the Mini Apple. The shop stands out for its careful attention to the craft, ingredients and, most importantly, grease that have come to define the quintessential New York slice. The menu features a mix of salads, meatball subs and pizza, of course. Sicilian-style and thin-crust pies can be customized with a slew of toppings, which include Berkshire bacon, Kalamata olives and organic spinach. Prefer to leave the combinations to the pros? Opt for a specialty pie like the top-selling Hello Trinity, which blends sweet red sauce with whole milk mozzarella, house-made fennel sausage, natural casing pepperoni and cremini mushrooms on a dense, chewy crust.

Massachusetts: Antonio's Pizza By The Slice

A kaleidoscope of colorfully topped slices beckons from the glass-front case at this beloved slice shop. Long a favorite of university students from the Five College Area, this pizzeria lures the crowds with its multi-page menu of specialty pies sold by the slice. Antonio's features more than a dozen vegetarian combinations alone, with choices that include a classic mozzarella option simply topped with basil and tomatoes, a Florentine slice festooned with spinach and feta cheese, and a quesadilla-inspired creation heaped with avocado slices and nacho chips. The rest of the extensive menu is divided into categories that include meat, pesto, chicken and salad.

Montana: Tarantino's Pizza

At Tarantino&rsquos Pizza, you better grab that slice when you see it. All four locales turn out a varied selection of pizzas that switch up throughout the day, so once a pie has been devoured, a totally different option will take its place in the display case. Sought-after combos include the Blanca strewn with chicken, bacon, garlic, a mozzarella-white cheddar mix and a signature sauce composed of Alfredo and Caesar dressing. Prefer a spicier option? Keep an eye out for the Red Hot topped with fiery hot chicken, green peppers, onions and plenty of the hot sauce that inspired its name. These one-of-a-kind pies are what&rsquos helped this local company grow from one locale to four over the past 14 years.

Mississippi: Sal & Mookie's New York Pizza and Ice Cream Joint

When Chef Daniel Blumenthal and Jeff Good opened Sal & Mookie&rsquos in 2007, they brought the City of Jackson something it was sorely missing: authentic New York City pizza. These pies aren&rsquot just good for Mississippi &mdash they&rsquore just damn good, period. The team put a painstaking amount of research into their pizza recipe, coming up with a key list of ingredients (King Arthur flour, whole milk mozzarella and imported Italian tomatoes) and just the right ratio of dough to sauce to cheese. Every pie is cooked in a brick-lined, gas-fired oven to ensure a crust that&rsquos both chewy and crisp. Pro tip: Stop in for the lunchtime slice special and don&rsquot leave without a scoop from the full-sized ice cream parlor in the middle of the restaurant.

Missouri: Waldo Pizza

What&rsquos better than a slice? All the slices! That&rsquos what you&rsquoll find at this Kansas City spot, which offers an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet stocked with salads, pastas and multiple types of pizza from 11am to 2 pm daily. It&rsquos one of the few places in Missouri where guests can sample St. Louis-style &lsquoza by the slice. The city&rsquos signature pies are characterized by their paper-thin crusts and Provel cheese, a processed blend of Swiss, cheddar and provolone. At Waldo Pizza, they add whole milk mozzarella and muenster to the mix.

Nebraska: Yia Yia's Pizza and Beer

Talk about groundbreaking: When Yia Yia&rsquos opened its doors in 1993, it was Lincoln&rsquos first pizzeria to offer thin-crust by the slice. The place continues to draw the crowds with its customizable pies that can be tweaked with different toppings, cheeses and sauces to suit each customer&rsquos preference. Pretty much every kind of pie on the menu is available by the slice, even the specialty pizzas like The Local. This popular pick comes loaded with a meat-lovers&rsquo combo of bacon, hamburger, pepperoni and sausage, along with mushroom, bell pepper and onion, all piled atop a marinara and mozzarella base. Once you choose your slice, don&rsquot sleep on the impeccable beer selection that favors craft brews. There are more than 350 bottled beer options available, along with an ever-changing array of drafts.

New York: L&B Spumoni Gardens

New Yorkers can find a great slice on nearly every corner. But many still make the trek to this Brooklyn institution that&rsquos been in existence for more than 70 years. Located in the borough&rsquos Bensonhurst neighborhood, this local landmark is composed of an ice cream parlor, red sauce restaurant and pizzeria. And it&rsquos the pizzeria&rsquos World Famous L&B Sicilian slice that has arguably elevated this place into a pizza-lovers&rsquo destination. This slice sets itself apart with an upside-down composition. The cheese is sprinkled right on top of the dough, which is then layered with a sweet tomato sauce and finished with a flurry of salty Parmesan flakes on top. When it&rsquos pulled out the oven, the thick crust is lightly browned around the edges with a springy center. It&rsquos certainly not your typical New York slice &mdash but fans swear it&rsquos better.

Nevada: Slice House by Tony Gemignani

A 12-time World Pizza Champion, Tony Gemignani has mastered the art of the pie. He&rsquos hailed for his classic American, Italian, Sicilian and Neapolitan pizzas, all of which can be sampled by the slice at this casual offshoot of his acclaimed sit-down restaurant Pizza Rock. Slice House offers a number of standout options &mdash among them are the classic square Grandma slice covered in cheese and tomato the Picante loaded with spicy meat, pepper and Cholula sauce and the savory Purple Potato accented with bacon, mozzarella, feta, rosemary and a pesto swirl.

New Jersey: Dominick’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria

While New York City gets all the pizza cred, New Jersey&rsquos pizzaiolos can stand up to the best of the Big Apple contenders. And set yourself apart in the Garden State, you&rsquove gotta know your dough. Peter and Sal Lombardo, owners of Dominick&rsquos, certainly do. They learned the trade in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn &mdash basically the pizza mecca of the United States &mdash before opening up shop in Jersey. Their pizzeria is now known as the oldest one in Sussex County. The duo sell a fantastic Brooklyn pizza that&rsquos a bit on the spicy side, as well as the rare New York-style Palermo square pie with marinara, red onions, herbs and spices.

New Mexico: Back Road Pizza

Taste a thin-crust pizza at this neighborhood restaurant and you may detect a tinge of Santa Fe&rsquos signature flavors, from the flour crusts rolled in cornmeal to the locally-sourced ingredients that adorn many of the slices and pies. Topping choices include New Mexico green chiles, as well as beef and pork sourced from ranchers in the region. And the spot&rsquos sauces, dressings and signature dough are all made in-house. The pizza dough alone has won this place a legion of local followers, as well as featured media spots that include an appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

North Carolina: Pie Pushers

Pie Pushers has been pushing pies on Durham locals since 2011. Owners Becky and Mike Hacker combine their respective Midwestern and New England roots with a bit of regional flair. Their specialty pies, available by the slice, bring local produce and meats together with artisanal ingredients from across the country. For instance, their 1243 pie features a mix of salami with pistachios, bell peppers, caramelized red onions, smoked gouda and mozzarella with tomato sauce on a hand-tossed New England-style crust. A standout from the start, this pizza operation began as a food truck before branching into a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and later, a pizza concession stand in the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

North Dakota: Spicy Pie

New York-style pies on the Midwest prairie is what you&rsquoll find at this North Dakota fixture that&rsquos a favorite of locals. When Spicy Pie&rsquos first shop opened in Downtown Fargo in 2010, it filled the need for pizza by the slice in the steadily growing city. Today, the operation has six locations across the state. Unlike many pizzerias that only offer basic options by the slice (like simple cheese or pepperoni), this place features an extensive selection that can be customized with any toppings from the menu. All their specialty pies are also available by the slice, including the Margherita, The Carnivore and the Chicken Bacon Ranch. There&rsquos more to the menu than just pizza, but the jumbo, foldable slices and 18-inch pies are definitely the all-stars.

Oklahoma: Empire Slice House

You know you&rsquore doing something right when locals tattoo themselves with your logo. This OKC slice shop has such an intense following that more than 65 fans have gotten inked with Empire Slice House &ldquoE&rdquo tattoos. Around six different slice options are available daily at this &lsquo90s hip-hop themed restaurant, which also offers whole pies. The slice selection rotates regularly. One day, it might be the Ghostface Killah with searing ghost chili marinara, pepperoni and poblano sprinkled with barbecue chips. Another day, it could be the Spuds MacKenzie, a retro blend of Cheez Whiz (yes, Cheez Whiz), roasted potato, bacon, jalapenos and cheddar topped with scallions and sour cream.

Oregon: Sizzle Pie

Sizzle Pie was founded in 2011 by two friends from the music and art community who both have a passion for pizza. The place readily embraces all the things the Michael "Mikey" McKennedy and Matt Jacobson have loved since they were kids: rock &lsquon&rsquo roll, rad art and that pizza party spirit. With a belief that pizza is for everyone, this East Coast-meets-West Coast pizzeria serves slices and pies in a wide array of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Popular slices range from the salami, ricotta and pepperoncini-laden Ol&rsquo Dirty to the vegan Spiral Tap with house-made creamy caramelized onion spread, red sauce and cheesy-tasting nutritional yeast.

Pennsylvania: Primanti Bros.

Primanti Bros. is arguably Pittsburgh&rsquos most famous dining establishment. Founded in 1933, this 24-hour spot has long drawn hungry hoards at all hours of the day and night for its massive sandwiches piled high with French fries and cradled on soft Italian bread. While the original Strip District location sticks to its storied sandwiches, the newly franchised company offers pizza at many of its more recently opened locations. The Waterfront store offers its perfectly greasy thin-crust slices for just $1.50 during both weekday lunch and happy hour. Those crisp, al dente slices are covered with tangy tomato sauce and cheese, then topped with traditional accoutrements such as sausage, pepperoni, anchovies or mushrooms.

Rhode Island: The Pizza Gourmet

Following the ethos of the Providence grilled pizza tradition, this modest counter-serve restaurant cooks its pies over oak and maple hardwood at 1800 degrees. Doing so gives its crisp crusts that signature char and infuses its gourmet toppings with the subtle scent of a smoky campfire. Pies feature classic but rare flavor combinations in picks like the Fig Prosciutto with paper-thin shreds of Italian ham, fig puree, crumbled gorgonzola and arugula with a balsamic drizzle. It&rsquos sweet and savory with some nice funk definitely worth a try. But, here, even the simple margherita is truly sublime.

Wisconsin: Ian's Pizza on State

Mac &lsquon Cheese, tater tots, smoked brisket: the toppings at this Wisconsin pizzeria sound like they were dreamt up at a late-night party in a college dorm. Whether they were or not, we can&rsquot say for sure. But we do know that you&rsquoll probably find plenty of colorful biodegradable Ian&rsquos boxes in dorm bins on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The place serves more than a dozen quirky specialty pies, all of which are sold in 12-, 16- and 20-inch pies, as well as by the slice. That&rsquos what makes it a favorite among local students at University of Wisconsin-Madison, who scarf down comforting creations like the signature Mac &lsquon Cheese slice or the Drunken Ravioli, which combines vodka sauce, Mozzarella, Asiago, and yes, actual cheese ravioli.

South Dakota: R-Pizza

Back when it opened its doors in 1968, R-Pizza was the first ever pizzeria to hit Vermillion, South Dakota. Fifty years in, the place is still going strong. It is the late-night haunt for local college kids looking to refuel &mdash or soak up the booze &mdash with a slice of pepperoni after a night out at the bars. Individual slabs are only available on weekend evenings, but the place is worthy of a visit any time of day. Everything is made from scratch. The dough is mixed on the premises and cooks shred their own cheese. Plus, they try to use as many local and organic ingredients as South Dakota&rsquos growing season will allow.

Vermont: Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza

This mini-chain of pizzerias has been steadily spreading the gospel of the New York-style slice throughout the New England region, with locations in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Ramunto&rsquos pies are cooked in a brick oven to give the crust that distinctive crisp bottom and springy bite. Each one is topped with whole-milk mozzarella &mdash no cheddar or fillers in sight. And unlike most other Vermont pizzerias, Ramunto&rsquos offers multiple options by the slice. Pepperoni is the top-selling pick, but those in the know opt for a slice of the signature garlic knot pizza. Creamy mozzarella balances out a bright mix of tomato sauce, minced garlic, fresh sliced tomato and fresh basil leaves ringed by a circle of garlic knots perched along the edge of the crust.

West Virginia: Pies and Pints

This mini-chain with the clever name focuses on two things: pizza and beer. It clearly was ahead of its time when it debuted in Fayetteville in 2003, offering creative toppings and a near-encyclopedic selection of craft brews (seriously, they even put together a guide of beer styles to help customers navigate the menu). The concept proved to be so popular that Pies and Pints now has 13 locations spread across five states. Most of the pizza options are only available as whole pies, but both cheese and pepperoni can be ordered as single slices on weekdays until 2 pm, along with a daily special that rotates regularly. Pro tip: Stop in on Fridays for a grape and gorgonzola slice.

Wyoming: Pinky G’s Pizzeria

Tourists and locals alike pack into Pinky G&rsquos for a taste of the one-of-a-kind pizza that the Jackson Hole joint has been serving since 2011. You can even score the same popular options that Guy Fieri sampled when the restaurant appeared on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Want to follow Guy&rsquos lead? Opt for the Funky Chicken (a panini-like combination of marinated chicken breasts, ricotta, red onions, artichoke hearts and mozzarella smothered in basil pesto) or the Ferris Bueller-inspired Abe Froman Pizza that pairs spicy sausage fit for the original Sausage King of Chicago with buffalo mozzarella and fresh chopped basil.

Utah: The Pie Pizzeria

A true local&rsquos secret, this subterranean restaurant is hidden beneath the University Pharmacy, just steps away from the University of Utah. You pretty much need to know exactly where to look if you hope to find the gateway to some great slices &mdash The Pie only has one sign hidden behind a wall on South 1320 East. But the hunt is worth it. Since 1980, the spot has been turning out pizzas made from hand-tossed dough dressed up with innovative flavor combinations. To wit, the Wise Guy is layered with cream cheese, fresh spinach, artichokes, chicken breast, mozzarella and tangy marina, then baked and topped with even more tomatoes, fresh-cut basil and a drizzle of sweet Balsamic reduction. If you&rsquore lucky, you may even be able to score it as a slice of the day (this special option switches up daily).

Alabama: Tortugas Homemade Pizza

Pizza is a shared passion for the Vizcaino family. Carlos and Carol met while working at a pizza joint in Chicago back in the 1980s. They married, started a family and then relocated to Birmingham with a plan to introduce the Windy City's stuffed pizza to the Magic City. The Vizcainos realized their dream with Tortugas, which has become the go-to pizzeria for decadent slices in Birmingham since opening in 1999. Their hand-tossed pizza is so in demand that the couple's son, Matt, opened a second locale in 2017. Both spots offer thin-crust slices, but if it's an authentic taste of Chicago you're after, opt for stuffed (local Chi-Town transplants say these pies are as close to home as it gets). A popular pick at both places is the carne special, a stuffed slice packed with Italian sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon and bacon.

Ohio: Crust

There&rsquos no need to order a second piece at this inventive pizzeria: it sells one-pound slices cut from 32-inch pies. And each giant slab can be customized with whatever you want. Add on fried egg, stuffed banana peppers, Spanish chorizo and Danish blue cheese. Or stick with a specialty pies featuring fresh dough made from scratch daily. The spot is known for its eccentric flavor combinations like lemon rosemary chicken (garlic potato, Pecorino, mozzarella, roasted tomato, feta, red pepper flakes, olive oil and a hint of lemon zest) and mixed mushroom topped with goat cheese, thyme, garlic, caramelized onion, balsamic reduction, Pecorino, mozzarella and an umami-laden drizzle of white truffle oil.

Indiana: Giorgio's Pizza

This New York-style pizzeria looks like it has been teleported straight from Brooklyn to Downtown Indy. Founded by Neapolitan immigrant Giorgio Migliaccio in 1990, this no-nonsense shop offers a small but mighty selection of pastas, salads and subs. The real draw, though, is the pizza by the slice. Though Migliaccio's selection includes a couple of stuffed options (meat and vegetarian), the most-popular styles are the simple thin-crust New York Neapolitan and the fluffy Sicilian squares. Both are offered with plain cheese and sauce, as well as a choice of up to three straightforward toppings. For those who don’t want to ruminate on ingredient combinations, Migliaccio serves thin-crust slices in ready-to-go options like Margherita, Eggplant and Chicken & Spinach.

Mexico Travel Guide

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check attractions, activities, etc before you go as things can change quickly.

While most people visit Mexico for its resorts and big tourist centers like Tulum, Cancun, Punta Cana, or Cozumel, the rest of the country has way more to offer.

I admit. I was late to visiting Mexico.

But when I did, I fell in love with it. Mexico — and its people — is an incredible place with a rich history and wonderful food.

Mexico is an incredible country to backpack around, drive through, or just vacation in. There’s a ton of stuff to do here, and the locals are some of the friendliest people on the planet.

From Mayan ruins and lush jungles to pristine Pacific Coast surf beaches to Mexico City’s art and food scene to Mezcal to beautiful Oaxaca, Mexico is just amazing. Gorge yourself on delicious tacos, tostadas, tamales, sopas, seafood, and mole (to name a few items from Mexico’s very long list of traditional dishes).

I could go on forever as to why I love this country but, I will simply say, that whatever amount of time you’re planning to visit for is not enough! You’ll leave wanting more.

This Mexico travel guide will help you get out of the touristy towns, explore the country, and fall in love with what you discover.

Table of Contents

Click Here for City Guides


Top 5 Things to See and Do in Mexico

1. Visit Oaxaca

2. Visit Mexico City

3. Relax on the Pacific Coast

4. See the Mayan Ruins

5. Visit a volcano

Other Things to See and Do in Mexico

1. Wander through Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park

Chapultepec is one of the largest city parks in the world, spanning almost 700 hectares. It encompasses the Mexico City Zoo, La Feria amusement park, and the Museum of Anthropology. The museum houses a vast collection of sculptures, jewels, and artifacts from ancient Mexican civilizations. It costs 70 MXN to visit. You can also rent a rowboat or paddleboat and go out on Chapultepec Lake for 60 MXN.

2. Visit the markets

Just about every town in Mexico has a busy, diverse market for you to experience traditional food, pick up some bargain items, and purchase souvenirs. Two of the best are the Mercado Ciudadela in Mexico City (for handmade textiles and artwork), and Oaxaca’s Mercado Benito Juárez (for local foods like fresh ground coffee beans, juices, and grasshopper tacos). If you’re in Merida, check out Mecardo Santa Ana for their Yucatecan cuisine, like cochito horneado, a marinated pork dish that is slow-cooked in underground pits, or head to El Mercado Lucas de Galvez for their specialty seafood cocktails (the locals swear by it to cure your hangover).

3. Explore Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución)

Zócalo the main plaza in the heart of Mexico City. It dates back to the Aztecs, encompassing both the Templo Mayor (an ancient Aztec temple) and the Palacio Nacional (a colonial palace with offices of Mexico’s president). Situated just off the Zócalo is La Catedral Metropolitana, a magnificent cathedral with a gold altar. It’s a perfect example of Spanish colonial architecture.

4. Go diving

The seas surrounding Mexico have some of the world’s best diving spots thanks to their diverse marine life, large coral reefs (including the second largest reef system in the world, the Great Maya Barrier Reef), and excellent visibility. The Gulf of Mexico is home to five different species of sea turtles, blue whales, lemon sharks, and dolphins, and so much more! Aside from diving, the waters are popular with snorkelers, sports fishermen, waterboarding, surfing, and more or less any other watersports enthusiast. A day of diving starts at 2,400 MXN. Some of the best places to dive in Mexico are Discovery Bay, Cenote Dos Ojos, Revillagigedo Islands, and Isla Mujeres.

5. Relax in Cancun

Depending on what you’re looking to do, Cancun can offer you a crazy-fun party in the sun or some quiet and hidden local markets and restaurants. On the one hand, you have spas, resorts, and picturesque beaches. On the other, you have Mayan ruins, archaeological sites, and little nearby villages.

6. Get lost in Guadalajara

Guadalajara is the second-largest city in Mexico and known for its tequila and mariachi. It’s chock full of museums, such as Cabañas (a UNESCO building with incredible murals), MUSA (paintings & sculptures by local artists), and the Páramo Galeria (contemporary art) nightlife venues, and a labyrinth of old colonial streets. Visit the Hospicio Cabañas, a hospital built in the 19th century, and then spend some time at the Guadalajara Cathedral. The cathedral’s Gothic interior features artworks from famous Mexican artists like Murillo.

7. Hang out in Oaxaca

The state of Oaxaca is known for its strong arts scene, food, and, of course, mezcal. Oaxaca city itself is a beautiful old colonial town with a thriving expat community and countless restaurants, bars, and cafes to explore. I loved my time there! Down the coast, be sure to visit Puerto Escondido and Mazunte, two coastal towns famous for their surfing, seafood, and easy living.

8. See Teotihuacan

The Aztec empire left an enormous mark on Mexico. Don’t miss the awe-inspiring Aztec pyramids at Teotihuacan, located 30 miles (48km) outside of Mexico City. Teotihuacan was founded as early as 400 BCE, but its biggest structures weren’t completed until around 300 BCE. Its three giant pyramids are known as the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of Moon, and the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, and they dominate the landscape. If you’re going to visit just one Aztec site, this is it. It’s unsheltered here, so bring sunscreen and a hat. Admission is 75 MXN.

9. Visit the bizarre Island of Dolls

Known as “La Isla de la Munecas” in Spanish, this is perhaps one of the creepiest tourist attractions in the world. Decades ago, a hermit named Don Julian Santana moved here, learned a girl drowned in the nearby lake, and started collecting and hanging dolls all over the island to please the drowned girl’s spirit. It’s creepy. Like beyond creepy. You’ll have to hire a boat from Xochimilco (200 MXN) to get there.

10. Honor the Day of the Dead

Yearly on November 1st and 2nd, Mexico celebrates a major festival: Dia de Los Muertos. The festival is a vibrant and lively affair with celebrations for those who are gone but not forgotten, including parades of elaborate and colorful costumes. Families also commemorate their dead relatives by setting up ofrendas, or altars, with pictures of the deceased, candles, yellow marigold petals, and food. This meant to encourage the deceased to cross back over into the land of the living and join in the celebrations. Oaxaca or Mexico City are the two best places to experience this celebration.

11. Visit the UNAM Botanical Garden

If you need to escape the hustle and bustle of Mexico City for a little while, the Botanical Garden at the National Autonomous University of Mexico is the perfect place. Keeping with the Aztec traditions of having gardens for both medicinal and ornamental purposes, there is also an added focus on conservation and environmental education here. Built on top of and around lava formations from the eruption of the volcano Xitle, visitors can explore the naturally formed grottoes, ponds, and waterfalls. This garden has the most diverse cactus collection in the world (800 different kinds!), and ponds full of koi and turtles, an orchidarium, and a medicinal garden. Admission is free.

12. Relax on Isla Holbox

Holbox is an island located off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and is home to white sand beaches and crystalline waters. It is a relaxing, slow paced island that’s easy to get stuck on. One day can easily turn into a week. It’s an island paradise where you can relax in a hammock on the beach, hike in the jungles, swim, dive, snorkel, and everything in between! While it used to be a hidden gem, it’s slowly becoming more and more popular (and developed). Be sure to see bioluminescent waters here. From Cancun, you can get to the ferry port in around two hours by bus. The ferry takes 25 minutes and costs 220 MZN.

13. Visit Merida

Merida is one of my favorite places in all of Mexico. It is a safe and wonderful city filled with history, cool mezcal bars, and some of the best food in the country. Some of my favorite places to eat and drink in town are La Chaya Maya Casona, Acervo Mezcalero, La Negrita Cantina, and Café Créme. Also, don’t miss the nearby Uxmal ruins, which are just one-hour away. There are also some cool museums here, like the Folk Art Museum of Yucatan, the Yucatan Music Museum, and the City Museum (which has all kinds of Mayan artifacts).

14. Enjoy San Cristobal de las Casas’ architecture

San Cristobal is a highland town known for its charming colonial architecture. There are narrow cobblestone streets, local craft markets, and the entire area is enveloped in pine forests. Don’t miss the town’s 16th-century cathedral, and if you want to get out and explore the nearby nature, take a boat tour of the Canyon de Sumidero. You’ll see tons of birds, monkeys, and crocodiles. For a view of the town and surrounding area, visit the Guadalupe Church and pay 5 MXN to enjoy the view from the roof.

15. Sample the Cenotes of Yucatan

Cenotes are natural sinkholes that are full of groundwater. They were used by the Mayans as sources for freshwater, however, today they are popular swimming holes for locals and tourists alike (you can even scuba dive in some). There are tons of them all around the Yucatan Peninsula. Some are completely exposed, some are walled in by cliffs, and some are covered entirely by caves. Calavera, Cristalino, Casa Cenote, Yaxmuul, Choo-Ha, and Escondido Cenote are some of the most popular cenotes in the region.

16. Visit Sayulita

Located on the Pacific coast, Sayulita is a hip beach town with a lively community of expats and surfers. The town has a laid-back vibe owing to the sizeable surfing and yoga community. It’s a great place to surf and there are plenty of yoga retreats available here. You can also take a jungle trek, go zip lining, ride ATVs along the coast, and simply soak up the sun on the beach. It’s the perfect place to chill for a few days.

17. Explore Campeche

Campeche is located just south of Merida on the Yucatan. It’s home to UNESCO World Heritage colonial architecture, including fortified walls and over 2,000 historic buildings. Visit the Museo De La Arquitectura Maya for Mayan history and antiquities, see the Mayan ruins at Edzná (which is just 45 minutes away and see very few tourists), and wander the old city wall to take in the view.

Mexico Travel Costs

Accommodation – In Mexico, hostels start at 160 MXN per night for a dorm bed, but the average is closer to 200 MXN. Free Wi-Fi and free breakfast are both common, as are self-catering facilities. Private hostel rooms average about 500 MXN a night.

For budget hotels, expect to pay 700 MXN for a basic room in a two-star hotel. These two-star rooms typically include an ensuite bathroom and free Wi-Fi, but not always air conditioning.

Airbnb is also an option in Mexico, with private rooms starting around 305 MXN. Entire homes and apartments start at 815 MXN.

Food – You’ll find a lot of rice, beans, fruits, and veggies like tomatoes, corn, avocado, and peppers in Mexican cuisine. Typical Mexican dishes include tacos, mole (a sauce with lots of ingredients, often including chocolate), salsa, enchiladas, tamales (stuffed corn pockets), pozole (hominy stew topped with onion, avocado, and chili) guacamole.

Street stalls and markets are the best way to go for authentic and inexpensive food. Tacos, quesadilla, sopas, tortas, and other street foods are generally 15-45 MXN. Sometimes, you’ll find tacos for as cheap as 10 MXN. In Mexico, the street food is the best — and most affordable — option.

A meal at a local Mexican restaurant serving traditional cuisine costs around 75-135 MXN. Look for the ones filled with locals as that is generally a sign that the food is really good.

A beer is about 20 MXN in the street but double that at a restaurant, while a cocktail shouldn’t cost more than 77 MXN in most places. A combo meal at McDonald’s costs around 110-120 MXN.

Tap water is not safe to drink in Mexico. Bring a portable water purifier or use bottled water (LifeStraw makes a good one.

If you plan to cook your meals, expect to pay between 500-585 MXN per week for groceries that will include rice, vegetables, chicken, and beans.

Activities – Activities in Mexico are generally quite affordable. Admission to historical sites, like Tulum or Chichen Itza, ranges from 80-250 MXN per person. For museums and other city attractions, prices are usually between 60-100 MXN. Diving costs around 2,400 for a multi-tank dive while a hired boat to the Island of Dolls costs around 200 MXN.

Backpacking Mexico Suggested Budgets

If you’re backpacking Mexico, you will spend at least 950 MXN per day. This budget will get you a hostel dorm, street food and self-cooked meals, local transportation, and a few attractions (such as museums and galleries) each day. If you plan on eating out more or drinking, you’ll need to add another 100-300 MXN per day.

On a more mid-range budget of about 1,600 MXN per day, you can stay in a budget hotel or Airbnb, eat at restaurants serving cheap traditional cuisine for every meal, visit more attractions, have a few drinks, and take the occasional taxi.

A luxury budget will cost you at least 4,925 MXN per day and up. You will stay at a four-star hotel, eat out for all your meals, have plenty of drinks, take taxis everywhere, and do some guided trips.

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might pay less every day). We want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in MXN.

Mexico Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Mexico is incredibly budget-friendly. Unless you’re out spending lots of money in touristy areas, it’s really easy to visit Mexico on a budget. It was hard to spend money here unless I was doing something geared towards tourists. Even so, here are some ways to save money in Mexico:

  1. Shop at the markets for food – Mexico’s markets are a great place to eat inexpensively and also to stock up on food for day trips. Most towns will have a local market selling fresh fruits, veggies, and other goods with many items under 19 MXN.
  2. Eat street food – Street food is the best food in the country — and the cheapest too. Stick to street stalls to save money and enjoy the country’s best eats.
  3. Take a free walking tour – Many cities have free walking tours that will give you a solid introduction to the main sights. Both Mexico City and Oaxaca have excellent free tours — just be sure to tip your guide!
  4. Travel off-season – By traveling between late April and early December, you can pick up bargain accommodation, food and travel rates as this is low season.
  5. Venture inland – Mexico’s coasts are the most famous, most touristy parts of the country, but the interior has an amazing amount to offer. Prices are cheaper, and you’ll be more likely to meet some locals if you head away from the coast.
  6. Couchsurf – Use Couchsurfing to stay with locals and meet the great people living in Mexico. When you get to see a home in a country you’re visiting, it’s a very unique experience and gives you a whole different perspective.
  7. Embrace “comida corrida” – This hearty mid-day meal option is usually available between 2pm-4pm and is often quite affordable. It will be a set menu, but you’ll find it much cheaper than most lunch or dinner options. If you plan on eating out on a budget, aim for places that offer comida corrida.
  8. Drink less – Alcohol is cheap in Mexico, but it’s definitely more expensive at bars and clubs. Try to buy your alcohol from a local store instead of drinking at the bar if you’re on a budget.
  9. Take public transit – The Metro is the most affordable way to get around. You can purchase a rechargeable Smartcard at any of the Metro stations for 16 MXN (this includes the first 5 MXN ticket), and you can use the card for the metro and metro buses.
  10. Skip the taxis – Taxis are overpriced and not always safe. Skip them. If you do need a taxi, don’t just hail one on the street. Head into a nearby hotel/hostel and ask them to call one for you. Only get in taxis that use a meter.
  11. Being a water filter – Since the tap water here isn’t safe to drink and single-use plastic is bad for the environment, bring a water filter. LifeStraw makes reusable bottles with a built-in filter so you can ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where To Stay in Mexico

Still need a place to stay on your trip? Here are some of my favorite places to stay in Mexico:

How to Get Around Mexico

Public Transportation – Public buses (also known as camiones) are the most common way to get around in cities and towns (and nearby villages). These buses are also the cheapest, costing no more than a few pesos per journey. In some cities, smaller microbuses have replaced the older buses, but the cost is still the same.

Mexico City and Guadalajara also have subway systems. One-way tickets for the subway and the bus system are around 5 MXN (.25 USD). In Mexico City, you’ll have to buy a rechargeable smart card at any of the Metro stations for 16 MXN (this includes the first 5 MXN ticket), and you can use the card for the metro and metro buses.

Bus – Most of Mexico is served by buses. On longer journeys, make sure to take an express bus (called a “directo”) if you can as they are much faster and stop less. A bus from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara (5.5 hours) costs around 480 MXN. A bus from Cancun to Mexico City (15 hours) costs around 1,450 MXN. A bus from Puebla to Mexico City (2 hours) costs around 190 MXN.

Some of the biggest and most reliable bus companies include:

  • ADO
  • Primera Plus
  • Estrella de Oro
  • Omnibuses de Mexico
  • ETN (Enlaces Terrestres Nacionales)

Most cities will have a central bus terminal from where all long-distance buses depart. You can show up to buy your ticket, or research routes and ticket prices via each company’s website.

Fly – For long journeys, consider flying. The route from Cancun to Mexico City by bus takes 15 hours and costs around 1,450 MXN but a flight starts around 550 MXN and only takes 90 minutes. A one-way fare from Mexico City to Guadalajara is about 905 MXN. Even a 4-hour flight coast to coast from Cancun to Puerto Vallarta is just 1,200 MXN one-way.

Aeromexico is the biggest airline in Mexico, but low-cost carriers are becoming more popular. These include:

Train – There is no rail network in Mexico.

Car rentals – Car rentals are surprisingly affordable in Mexico. You can find week-long rentals for around 1,500 MXN. Renters must be 21 years of age and have had their license for at least two years. Some companies require renters to be over 25. Avoid driving at night, when crimes against drivers are more likely to occur. Also, don’t leave any valuables in your vehicle overnight.

Hitchhiking – Hitchhiking is not advised in Mexico. It’s not very common and it’s very unsafe. Avoid it.

When to Go to Mexico

Summer (June to October) is rainy season in Mexico, but mostly in the center of the country. You can expect it to rain each day heavily, but the downpour is usually short. It hardly ever rains in the northern part of the country, and humidity is thick in the south and along the coastal areas. Temperatures during this time are somewhere between 79-90°F (26-32°C). September to the middle of October is hurricane season and is not a good time to visit.

December to the end of April (winter) is the busiest tourist season as temperatures are hot, but the coastal areas provide plenty of relief for vacationers. This is the best time to visit if you’re looking to take advantage of Mexico’s tropical environment. It’s the dry season, so you’ll experience very little rain. You can expect big crowds as people flock to the resort areas around Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. The average daily temperature during this time is 82°F (28°C). But if you’re in the mountains, pack lots of layers! It can get frigid, especially in the evenings.

How to Stay Safe in Mexico

The media (especially the American media) likes to paint Mexico as a dangerous place to visit but the reality is far more complex. While petty theft is very common here in Mexico, most of the serious conflict is between the authorities and Mexican drug cartels. The people who do tend to be involved in some sort of major incident are usually doing drugs or taking part in sex tourism.

Moreover, where you are greatly influences your dangers. Yucatan and Oaxaca are incredibly safe states to visit while states near the US border are less so and more likely to experience violence and crime. Officials looking for bribes are pretty common in Quintana Roo as is drug related violence due to tourists looking for drugs there. States near the southern border can also be sketchy and it’s wiser to keep an eye out on your stuff there thought violent crime is pretty uncommon.

So don’t believe the media that “Mexico is unsafe.” Mexico is like any big country – some parts are safe, some parts aren’t. Use some common sense when you travel: don’t flash your money, avoid wearing expensive watches or jewelry, don’t walk along drunk at night, make copies of your passport and official documents, and tell people where you are regularly.

If you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it here! Follow that rule and you’ll be fine.

Another important safety tip to keep in mind is the drinking water. While Mexico’s water purification and treatment systems have improved, it still is not safe to drink ordinary tap water when visiting. Luckily, bottled water is available everywhere. Bringing water filter like LifeStraw is advised.

Keep an eye out for common scams against tourists, such as fake ATMs, taxis that don’t use a meter, and questionable tour operators.

The emergency services number in Mexico is 911. However, if that doesn’t work (since it isn’t in use in every region of Mexico), try 066.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.

Mexico Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to Mexico. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the ones I use the most and are always the starting points in my search for travel deals.

  • Momondo – This is my favorite booking site. I never book a flight without checking here first.
  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great flight search engine which searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I use this site too as a way to compare prices.
  • Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability. – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone). – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around Mexico, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link! – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost. – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
  • World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!

Mexico Gear and Packing Guide

If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!

The Best Backpack for Travelers

If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.

What to Pack for Your Trip

  • 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them a good alternative is khaki pants)
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 5 T-shirts
  • 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
  • 1 pair of flip-flops
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
  • 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
  • 1 toothbrush
  • 1 tube of toothpaste
  • 1 razor
  • 1 package of dental floss
  • 1 small bottle of shampoo
  • 1 small bottle of shower gel
  • 1 towel
  • Deodorant

Small Medical Kit (safety is important. )


    (safety first)
  • Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
  • Plastic bags (great for laundry) (this applies to everyone) (A water bottle with a purifier)

Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:

  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 sarong
  • 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
  • 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
  • 2-3 long-sleeve tops
  • 2-3 T-shirts
  • 3-4 spaghetti tops
  • 1 light cardigan
  • 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
  • 1 hairbrush
  • Makeup you use
  • Hair bands & hair clips
  • Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)

For more on packing, check out these posts:

Mexico Travel Guide: Suggested Reading

Maya Roads: One Woman’s Journey Among the People of the Rainforest, by Mary Jo McConahay
Mary Jo McConahay has been living and traveling in the remote areas of Central America for three decades, so she knows a thing or two about the region. Maya Roads is her fascinating account of the people, politics, and archaeology of the rainforest, otherwise known as “the cradle of Maya civilization.” It’s a beautiful chronicle of not only the sheer beauty of Central America and the resilience of its people, but also the region’s harsher side – like drug trafficking and intense violence.

Walking the Americas, by Levison Wood
This is the true story of Levison Wood’s 1,800-mile trek across the Americas, through eight countries from Mexico to Colombia. He works his way down through Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama – meeting refugees in Nicaraguan camps, friendly locals, and dangerous wildlife along the way. Some of his tales are harrowing, but mostly you’ll want to be right there with Wood, enjoying secret waterfalls and making awkward negotiations with policemen.

The Conquest of New Spain, by Bernal Diaz Del Castillo
This is an actual first-person account of one of history’s most devastating military events, when Hernan Cortes and his crew violently overthrew the Aztec Empire. Bernal Diaz Del Castillo was a soldier of Cortes, and his storytelling is powerful and vivid. He describes what it was like for the Spanish arriving in Mexico in 1520, and their shock when encountering the city. He goes on to talk about the cruel treatment of the natives and the Spaniards’ exploitation of them for gold and treasure, and then the eventual conquest of the city. It’s a gripping read.

On Mexican Time: A New Life in San Miguel, by Tony Cohan
Tony Cohan is an American writer from Los Angeles who moved to the quaint 16th-century town of San Miguel de Allende with his wife, Masako. Having fallen in love with Central Mexico on a previous visit, Cohan and his wife decided to sell off their house in California and head south to begin a new life amongst cobblestone streets and raucous daily fiestas. This is his memoir as the couple buy a fallen down 250-year-old house and begin to familiarize themselves with the ups and downs of living in Mexico.

Alone in Mexico: The Astonishing Travels of Karl Heller, 1845-1848, by Karl Bartolomeus Heller
Karl Bartolomeus Heller was a 21-year-old aspiring botanist from Austria who traveled to Mexico in 1845 to conduct research and collet specimens. This is the first English translation of his incredible memoir as he moves from living in the mountains of Veracruz to traveling onward to Mexico City, Puebla, and Cholula. Other adventures include journey by canoe through southern Tabasco and Chiapas, eventually returning home with thousands of samples. This is one of the very few accounts of travelers visiting Mexico during this time period, making it a very rare gem indeed.

Mexico Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Mexico and continue planning your trip:

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