monterrey mexican food

Try the Machaca in Monterrey. (Photo: Getty Images)

Eat + Drink

5 Foods You Have to Try in Monterrey

Every state in Mexico has its own cuisine and Nuevo León, the state to which Monterrey is the capital, is no different. The north of Mexico is known for its meat-heavy diet (sorry vegetarians), pinto beans and accompanying flour tortillas and Monterrey’s food scene is certainly in keeping with that.

There are, however, a few dishes that are quintessential to Nuevo León that you will want to try while you are there. This piece will guide you in choosing Monterrey’s best culinary offerings.


Believed to be a dish created out of necessity, machaca has now become a firm favorite in Monterrey. In the 1930s, in the arid region of Northern Mexico when there were no refrigerators, people had to preserve meat by leaving it to dry in the sun and the wind.

However, sun cured meat has an unusual flavor, so an innovative woman known as La Tía Lencha found a way to mix it with eggs and a little chile piquín to create a dish so tasty that it is now a favorite not just in Monterrey but beyond. If you want to eat a typical Monterrey breakfast while in the city, make sure you ask for machaca.

Carne Asada

monterrey mexican food
Barbecued meat is one of the best things Monterrey has on offer. (Photo: Getty Images)

Cabrito might be one of the most iconic meats in Monterrey, but barbecued meats of all kinds are a big thing. Those on the Keto diet will be in heaven with the amount of meat available on every menu in Nuevo León’s capital.

A little wander around the city at the weekend will likely see you bump into families cooking up a barbecue outdoors together. If you can’t muscle an invite to a family gathering, there are restaurants all over the city serving up the best cuts of meat from the region.

Frijoles con Veneno

Beans are popular across Mexico, and the type of bean used varies region by region. In Monterrey, it is most common to be served pinto beans. Some pinto beans packed with real flavor, are the local favorite frijoles con veneno, literally meaning ‘beans with poison.’

Never fear, though, the poison just refers to the meat fat used in the recipe. A good helping of pork lard is what makes these Norteño beans so tasty, as well as the bay leaves, that gives them their unmistakable northern flavor.


Roughly an hour and a half outside of Monterrey is the Magic Town of Linares, the official home of the candies called Glorias but these goat milk and pecan candies in their shining red wrappers are for sale all over Monterrey.

While all the ingredients used to make these sweet treats are native to Mexico, it is believed that the combination is a result of Moorish influences brought by Franciscan monks to Mexico after the conquest. Whatever the history, the result is a deliciously creamy and nutty candy with which you will be filling your suitcase before you leave.


Probably Monterrey’s most typical dish, cabrito will, undoubtedly be the first thing on everyone’s list when you ask them what local food to try. Cabrito, which means a kid or baby goat, has a name that tells you exactly what you are getting. Cabrito is served in several different ways, spit-roasted (al pastor), oven cooked (al horno) or in salsa.

Of these, cabrito al pastor is by far the most famous option, which you will see all over Monterrey. The baby goat is opened in the middle, spread flat and cooked while impaled on a stake. It is roasted slowly for hours and even days above burning embers. The tender and flavorsome meat is best enjoyed with some flour tortillas and beans to get the full Monterrey flavor.

And a little extra…

Topo Chico

monterrey mexican food
No list of Monterrey delights would be complete without mentioning Topo Chico. (Photo: Getty Images)

While not a dish, no list of Monterrey delights would be complete without mentioning Topo Chico. Probably Mexico’s most famous and sought-after water, its fizzy goodness hails from Monterrey

It is, in fact, easier to find Topo Chico in the US than it is in more central and southern areas of Mexico, so make sure you enjoy it while you are there. You might think the hype is pure marketing, but we think that Topo Chico is some of the bubbliest and most refreshing mineral waters around.