Shot of tequila, sangrita, and lime. Photo © Konstantin Kalishko/123rf.

Regional Foods and Drinks of Mexico

With its varied terrain and diverse local traditions, it’s not surprising that Mexican food is highly regional. Certain states distinguish themselves for particular dishes and ingredients, while other treats such as aguas frescas and thick egg custard for dessert are widely enjoyed. Here’s an overview of Mexican cuisine from region to region, along with popular items from mezcal to nieves.

Cochinita Pibil is a traditional dish of slow-roasted pork. Photo © Alexander Mychko/123rf.

Traditional Food in the Yucatán

Like many regions of Mexico, the Yucatán Peninsula has a cuisine all its own. The base is recognizably Mexican, but the dishes here are strongly influenced by traditional Maya ingredients and techniques, with dashes of Caribbean and Middle Eastern flavors. Here are some popular menu items.

Dobladas de queso (folded tortillas stuffed with cheese). Photo © Al Argueta.

Traditional Guatemalan Food

Guatemalan food may at first seem a bit odd to gringo palates, though the freshness and pungency of local ingredients, including a bounty of tropical fruits and vegetables, soon have many people enticed by the local flavors.

Restaurant patio in Villa De Leyva. Photo © Edgar Zuniga, Jr., licensed Creative Commons.

Colombian Food in Villa de Leyva

If you’re looking for a taste of deliciously authentic Colombian food, Villa de Leyva and the surrounding area play host to a plentiful array. While there are upscale restaurants in the area, sticking to the same path the locals tread gives you a chance to immerse yourself in the experience, and it’s far easier on your wallet.

A small bowl of shrimp ceviche sits on a wooden table.

Where to Eat in Cartagena’s Old City

Seafood reigns supreme in Cartagena cuisine, and though many restaurants in the Walled City sport Manhattan prices, an inexpensive meal is not impossible to find. Here are local favorites from Caribbean-influenced dishes to always-popular pizza and pasta to truly authentic fritos, all with an Old City touch and a perfectly-matched drink.

Sliced Century Eggs displayed on a plate with garnish.

The Stranger Side of Vietnamese Cuisine

In a nation as food-focused as Vietnam, it is all but impossible to come up with dozens of savory masterpieces without having created a few strange dishes along the way. While pho and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) have gained worldwide acclaim as delicious, accessible facets of local cuisine, there are several specialties that manage to make some travelers wrinkle their noses.

Catch of the day on display outside Rose's Grill and Bar. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

Enjoying Belizean Seafood

One of the favorite Belize specialties is fresh fish, especially along the coast and on the islands, but even inland Belize is never more than 60 miles from the ocean. There’s lobster, shrimp, red snapper, sea bass, halibut, barracuda, conch, and lots more prepared in a variety of ways. Here’s a quick overview on specialties to try and useful advice on enjoying them sustainably.

Woman ladling bun nuoc leo into a bowl. Photo © Dana Filek-Gibson.

Traditional Vietnamese Cuisine

Some of the freshest, most flavorful, and most varied dishes in Southeast Asia belong to Vietnam. From Hanoi’s bun cha (grilled pork in fish sauce with noodles) to Hue’s bun bo (spicy beef noodle soup) or the dozens of southern meals unique to each small village and town, Vietnamese cuisine’s complex and irresistible flavors win over many a hungry traveler.

A dish of ceviche rests on a table.

Traditional Food in Costa Rica

Costa Rican cuisine is simple, and spices are shunned. Comida típica, or native cuisine, relies heavily on rice and beans, and “home style” cooking predominates. Learn all about how dishes are prepared, from favored local specialties to popular working-class meals.

Beef carpaccio with parmesan, arugula, and olive oil at Corte de Principe. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

The Best of Havana’s Paladares Part 2

Havana is in the midst of a culinary revolution. Privately owned restaurants (paladares) have exploded in number since 2011, offering heapings of style and good food. Here are the best to try in Habana Vieja and Centro Habana.