The dining scene in Mexico City is legendary, and for good reason. From sleek, high-end restaurants on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list to street carts and everything in between, it is exceptionally hard to have a bad meal in CDMX. Escape flavor withdrawal once you get back home by packing your suitcase with sweet, spicy and boozy Mexico City souvenirs.
① Mole Powder
Mole is one of Mexico's best creations—a complex and flavorful sauce made from chiles, spices and sometimes chocolate that's thickened by nuts/seeds, tortillas, bread or plantains. There are many regional variations (with seven hailing from Oaxaca alone), but all are a bit sweet, a bit spicy and entirely delicious. Skirt around the fact that mole can take hours to make by purchasing it in powder form at one of the city's numerous mercados. Be ready for your entire bag to smell like mole (which is not a bad thing), and for chicken and vegetables topped with mole powder reconstituted with hot broth at home.
② Dried Chiles
Entire market stalls are devoted to the many kinds of chile varieties found in Mexico. You can get dozens of types in dried form for easy transport, ranging in shape, color, size, flavor and heat level. Mexican favorites include ancho, cascabel, pasilla, guajillo and chiles de arbol, and they'll be way fresher than the ones you can find in the U.S.
It's not all about the spice in Mexico City; capitalinos have a sweet tooth as well. Obleas are thin wheat flour wafers often used to make sweet sandwiches with various fillings like jam, cajeta (goat's-milk caramel) and sweetened condensed milk. All are delicious, and all are easy to take home—if they make it beyond the flight.
You'll find several brands of smoky mescal in Mexico's capital that aren't as easy to find stateside, especially if you make your way to mescal store Sabra Dios in the Condesa neighborhood. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, travelers entering the U.S. are permitted to bring one liter per person through customs as duty free, so grab as many bottles as will hit that quota. While you're there, go all out and pick up some worm salt as well.
Devorah Lev-Tov is a contributing writer for Tasting Table who travels the globe—and traverses NYC block by block—in search of her next amazing meal. See her latest adventures on her Instagram at @devoltv.
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