A number of food stalls concentrate along Avenida Constitución, Francisco Madero, and Pino Suárez just south of the Río Cuale; several others cluster on the side-street corners of Avenida Olas Altas a few blocks away.
One of the stalls, the Calamar Aventurero (The Frisky Squid, tel. 322/222-6479, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $2–6), has become a very popular open-air seafood restaurant, at the corner of Aquiles Serdán and Constitución. Choose from smoked marlin tacos, ceviche, fish burritos, and much more.
Some of the most colorful, untouristed places to eat in town are, paradoxically, at the tourist-mecca Mercado Municipal on the Río Cuale, at the Avenida Insurgentes bridge. The fondas (7 a.m.–6 p.m. daily) tucked on the upstairs floor (climb the street-side staircase) specialize in steaming home-style soups, fish, meat, tacos, moles, and chiles rellenos ($2–4). Point out your order to the cook and take a seat at the cool, river-view seating area.
Although food stalls are less numerous north of the Río Cuale, you can fill up quite well with the sprinkling of evening taco, hot dog, and sweet corn (elote) stands around the downtown plaza.
Alternatively, try Tuti Fruti lonchería (corner of Morelos and Corona, tel. 322/222-9621, 8 a.m.–11 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $3–4), an inviting nook (bus noise notwithstanding) for a refreshing snack, especially while sightseeing or shopping around the Malecón. You could even eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner there, starting with juice and granola or eggs in the morning, a torta and a licuado during the afternoon, and an hamburguesa for an evening snack.