The Puebla food scene is a highlight of traveling to the Central-Western Mexican state of Puebla and its cultured capital, Puebla de Zaragoza. Mexican food is known around the world for its variety and flavor.
(UNESCO even recognized it as an ¨Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity¨ in 2010!) But Mexican food is far more than just tacos, tortillas, and burritos.
Regional cuisine varies significantly from one part of Mexico to another. For example, in the north of Mexico, dishes are very grilled meat heavy and carne asada is extremely popular.
In the Yucatan, many recipes have been used since the days of the Ancient Maya. Traditional cooking methods are still used too.
For example, famous Yucatan dishes like cochinita pibil and pollo pibil see marinated meat slowly cooked in a traditional underground oven known as a pib.
Puebla food is most famous for its mole and the use of poblano chilies in many dishes. It is unlike anything you will find elsewhere in the country.
Puebla Food: 18 Dishes to Try During Your Visit
Sampling the local food is one of the best things to do in Puebla. It is just as rewarding as exploring the various districts and neighborhoods, seeing the Zocalo and the Puebla cathedral, and searching for street art.
18 of the best Puebla food dishes to add to your radar for your visit are detailed below.
Mole is arguably the most famous Puebla food dish. This flavourful seasoned salsa takes its name from the Nahatual word mōlli meaning ” sauce “.
Like many great dishes across the world, it was invented completely by accident! It is said that nuns at the Santa Rosa convent in Puebla first created the dish in the 17th century.
Juan de Palafox, Viceroy of New Spain and Archbishop of Puebla was visiting and the nuns were stressed because they had a near-empty pantry and no idea what to cook. Frantically, they threw a little bit of this and that into a pot based on whatever they could find.
The resulting mole was a hodgepodge of various herbs, spices, fruits, and chocolate. Somehow it just worked.
The Archbishop loved it and mole caught on as a local dish. It is fair to say that today, no two moles are the same.
Every Puebla household and restaurant has their own variation and secret recipe for mole. Many have been handed down through their families for generations.
Some are very spicy whereas others are mild to taste. You can find mole everywhere across Mexico from Merida to Guadalajara but it will never compare to the authentic mole of Puebla.
Mole is commonly served with chicken. Sometimes it is slathered generously over a chicken sandwich (¨torta¨).
Many delicatessens in Puebla sell jars of homemade mole. This is a great gift/souvenir to take home for the foodies in your life.
Poblano cream soup
You will find poblano chilis used in seemingly every dish in Puebla. These bright green chilis are relatively mild. (Nothing like jalapenos!)
So, even if you are someone with a low spice tolerance, you can enjoy this dish.
(When you spend a lot of time in Mexico, you will probably find that Mexicans are constantly reassuring you that things are ¨not that spicy¨. Then you take a bite and you feel as though your head is almost blown off! Poblano chilis aren’t like that, thankfully.)
The green, creamy soup is prepared with poblano chilis, garlic, onion, and Mexican oregano. Sometimes shredded chicken breast is added but you can also get vegetarian versions.
A swirl of media crema is usually added in to make it extra creamy. Then, the soup is served with a soft, freshly baked bread roll or some crunchy homemade tostadas.
Savory poblano crepes are another wonderful local delicacy in Puebla. This Puebla food is made by stuffing thin crepes with turkey or chicken and zucchini.
They are then drenched in a sauce made from poblano chilis and cream and decorated with zucchini flowers. Yum!
The crepes and the filling make a perfect contrast of sweet and savory.
Chanclas meaning ¨flip flops¨ in English are Mexican sandwiches (tortas) that hail from Puebla. They are essentially the Puebla food answer to the torta ahogada (¨drowned sandwich¨) that you get in Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque, Jalisco.
Torta ahogadas are crusty bread rolls stuffed with pork carnitas and then drenched in a mildly spicy tomato sauce. Meanwhile, chanclas are made when the bread roll is stuffed with ground meat, chorizo, onion, and salad.
It is then drenched in a guajillo chili sauce. Maybe you have never eaten a sandwich with a spoon before but there is a first time for everything!
Chile en Nogada
Chile en Nogada is a very patriotic Mexican dish that hails from Puebla. Patriotic because its ingredients form the colors of the Mexican flag (red, white, and green).
Also because you will see this dish everywhere around the country on Mexican independence day. It was invented by Augustinian nuns at the Convent of Santa Monica in Puebla on the 28th of August 1821.
This was right after the Treaty of Cordoba was signed, and Mexico was granted independence from Spain. Ever since the dish is enjoyed around this holiday each year.
But if you don’t want to wait until Mexican independence day, you will find chile en nogada served at Puebla restaurants all year round. The dish is made by stuffing a green poblano chili with ground meat and picadillo.
It is then topped with a creamy walnut sauce known as nogada. Then, pomegranates are sprinkled along the top.
This is a must-try Puebla food while you are in Puebla de Zaragoza. It is also one of the best things you can eat in Mexico period.
Delicious chalupas are fried, bite-sized tortillas that can be shared and enjoyed as an appetizer or eaten alone as a light snack. You will find this Puebla food everywhere in Puebla state.
You can get red or green chalupas. (Usually, you are served with a mixture of both.)
The red chalupas are made with tomato salsa while the green chalupas are made with slightly tangier green tomatillo salsa.
Tacos aribe (Arab-style tacos) are one of the most famous Puebla food delicacies. It is quite unlike anything else you can find in the city, and can be enjoyed at the various food markets around town.
During the 1920s and 1930s, many Middle Eastern immigrants moved to Puebla and other parts of Central Mexico. Many of them moved from Lebanon in particular.
To make a taco aribe, marinated meat is prepared on a vertical skewer (similar to a Turkish kebab or a Greek gyro. It is then sliced and tucked inside a piece of Arabic pita bread.
The original version of the dish was made with lamb. (Arabs and Muslims do not eat pork).
But as time went on and the dish was adapted to local tastes, it is most commonly made with pork today.
Cemitas are meat sandwiches that hail from the state of Puebla. To make it, a variety of fillings are stuffed inside a crusty sesame-seeded bun.
Cemitas are usually prepared with meat (commonly beef), onions, avocado, mountains of cheese, onions, chipotle adobado, quesillo, and papalo leaves. This isn’t a small, bite-sized sandwich either.
Vendors will usually pile a mountain of fillings into the sandwich – to the extent that you cannot close it! Cemitos El Gordo (Av. 13 Ote. 403, El Carmen) is a great, casual sandwich shop that serves some of the best cemitas in town.
They make their cemitas a little differently from the traditional recipe because they add fried potatoes and poblano chilies to the stuffing. (Which makes it ultra tasty!)
Cemitas las Poblanitas (Av. 21 Ote. 206) is arguably the most popular cemita spot in town. It sits beside the Mercado del Carmen.
Whatever time of day you stop by, you will always see a queue of locals here waiting for their cemitas. I don’t know about you, but I generally take that as a good sign that a place serves good food.
Rest assured, the cemitas here are well worth the wait!
Enchiladas de Mole Poblano
Enchiladas de mole poblano is a tasty savory dish that can be enjoyed at dinner or at breakfast time. They are also sometimes referred to as ¨enmoladas¨.
To make them, chicken and lettuce are rolled in fried corn tortillas and then generously topped with mole and raw red onion. If you order this dish at breakfast time, it is often served with a side of fried plantain.
Molotes are extremely popular in both the states of Puebla and Oaxaca. There are some slight differences in how the dish is made in each state.
But in Puebla, you will find them sold on virtually every street corner. They are made using corn dough (like the dough that is used to make tamales).
Then, they are stuffed with meat, chilis, and vegetables and fried.
Memelas are simple yet tasty bean-filled tortillas. They share some similarities with chalupas but when memelas are made, the fried tortillas are always slathered with a layer of refried beans (frijoles) first.
Then, red tomato salsa or green tomatillo salsa is added as is a generous sprinkling of cheese. This simple snack is such a big part of Puebla food culture that there is even an annual Memela and taco fair in the city in honor of it!
(As you might expect, the fair sees street vendors set up stalls to sell their memelas. The fair is scheduled for August 2023).
Traditional Sweets from Puebla
Did you know that within Mexico, Puebla is famous for its sweets? There are more than 300 different types of traditional candies that you can try here.
(That’s almost one different candy to try each day of the year. But who knows how your teeth will fare at the end of that challenge!)
There is even a dedicated candy street in the state capital. (Seriously!)
Calle de los Dulces (Avenue 6) in the center of Puebla is an entire street lined with candy stores! The very first candy shop in the city opened here in 1892 and was owned by a local lady named Victoria Ortiz.
After seeing the store’s success, many other locals started following suit and opening candy stores. Today there are dozens of them here!
Camote means ¨Sweet potato¨ in Spanish. This is a fitting name for this Puebla candy since it is made from sweet potato.
It sounds obscure and perhaps even a bit gross. But camote treats are actually pretty tasty. Beautifully wrapped little boxes of them make great gifts too.
There is a fun story about this candy’s invention. Local legend has it that a child was playing a prank on some nuns at a local nunnery.
One of the nuns had a pot hanging over the fire, ready to start cooking. The mischievous child took a sweet potato off the counter, smashed it up, added sugar, and molded it into weird shapes before tossing her creation into the pot.
To her surprise, the nun loved the candy! Since then, camotes have become a Puebla tradition.
You can get them in all different colors and flavors. Some are flavored with vanilla, some with strawberry, etc.
Dulces de leche con nuez
Jamoncillo de leche are traditional Mexican candies made from milk that have a somewhat similar flavor and consistency to fudge. You will find them all over the country.
Dulces de leche con nuez are a special variety prepared with nuts that you will find in Puebla.
Palanquetas are a type of Mexican peanut brittle. They take their name from the Nahatual word papaquil meaning ¨happy¨.
Great name. Who isn’t happy when eating candies?
The recipe has changed since this sweet first started being enjoyed centuries ago in Pre-hispanic times. Today, it is made with piloncillo, peanuts, and various other nuts and seeds.
You will often get palanquetas in the little mixed candy gift sets and boxes that you can buy from the stores on Calle de los Dulces.
Los borrachitos are traditional candied jellies that are coated with sugar. So if you like candies like gummy bears, you will most likely enjoy these.
These candies have a fun name too. ¨Boracha¨ means drunk in Spanish so ¨Los borrachitos¨ means ¨the little drunks¨!
They are made with flour and dusted with sugar and a creamy filling. You can get different colored and flavored borrachitos and many of the flavors are fun and obscure.
For instance, cappuccino cinnamon flavor, rompope liquor flavor, tequila flavor, and wine flavor. Yum!
Traditional Drinks from Puebla
Mexican drinks are just as unique and varied as the cuisine. You will find many non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages here that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Many are also native to specific regions.
Raisin liquor at La Pasita
A ¨must try¨ while in Puebla is raisin liquor from La Pasitas (Av 5 Ote 602) in the Los Sapos district. The bar, which first opened its doors in 1916 is one of the oldest cantinas in Puebla today.
It serves a variety of different tipples but it is most famous for its raisin liquor. The unique beverage has delighted locals and tourists alike for decades.
It is served in a small shot glass with a cube of goat’s cheese inside. The drink is intended to be sipped slowly (not down like a shot).
La Pasita itself is a cute and charming place. It is the size of someone’s living room and patrons sit on stools at the bar which is decorated with vintage posters and decor.
Today, the son of the founder manages the place.
Rompope is an eggnog-style drink that is made with vanilla, eggs, and vanilla flavoring. You can find it at bars and supermarkets across Mexico all year round.
But just like eggnog, it becomes even more popular at Christmas time. It is believed that the drink was invented by nuns at the Santa Clara convent in Puebla.
If you go to any supermarket or liquor store in Mexico, you will see the famous ¨Santa Clara¨ brand of drink on sale. It is in a yellow bottle with the image of a nun on the front.
One of the most famous and beloved regional drinks in the state of Puebla is Zacatlan cider. The cider is made in a small town called of the same name, which is affectionately nicknamed ¨Zacatlan de las mananas¨ because the sparkling apple cider is such an important part of local culture and gastronomy.
Zacatlan was recognized as a Pueblo Magico by the Mexican tourism board in 2011. Pueblo Magicos (¨Magic towns¨) are settlements in Mexico that have a particularly special culture, history, nature, or gastronomy.
When you see that somewhere has been designated as one, it is usually a good indicator that it is a place worth visiting. Indeed, Zacatlan has also won awards for being one of the best gastronomical places in Mexico!
If you visit Zacatlan, you can visit the local cider factory that has operated in the area since 1928. During your visit, you will learn about the area’s history, and the production process for the cider, and of course, you can try some free samples!
If you don’t have time to visit Zacatlan, you can find specialty cider in bars and restaurants in Puebla, Cholula, and Mexico City.
Final thoughts on Puebla food
Do you have any further questions about Puebla food or perhaps even some recommendations for your fellow travelers? I tried all of these wonderful Puebla delicacies during my time in the state in February 2023.
I can personally vouch for their tastiness! More dishes will be added to this dish as I discover them on subsequent visits.
If you are traveling to Puebla for the first time, you might also find this guide on safety in Puebla to be useful. Puebla is well worth visiting and I am sure it will quickly become a highlight of your time in Mexico.
I live in the Yucatan capital of Merida. You can always reach out to me if you need anything.
Have a wonderful time traveling in Mexico! Safe travels! Buen Viaje! Melissa Xo