One of the most challenging things to adjust to is the change in mealtime norms. In the US we typically eat breakfast at 7 or 8 am, lunch at 12, and dinner at 6 or 7. Things are different in México. Different-good, in my opinion, not different-bad.
BREAKFAST – DESAYUNO
In México, people generally get up and out of the house with a quick something like coffee and a small snack. They head to work or school and get going on their day. Sometime in the range of 10 am, though, they start to need a bit of something more substantial to eat. That’s when everyone heads out to the sandwich (torta) stand, the coffee shop, or to a morning taco stand. Depending on where you are what people eat will be different but plan on finding a lot of congestion in your favorite coffee shops at this time.
LUNCH – COMIDA
Lunch for most office workers is in the late afternoon from 2 or 3 pm to 5. Laborers seem to have comida more or less at noon, in my experience, though. Lunch is the largest meal of the day and is often prepared at home. Kids return from school and the whole family eats together. But when that isn’t possible people often head to reasonably priced restaurants called comida economicas for a complete meal that usually includes soup, salad, main dish, rice, beans, dessert and a drink. Usually the dessert will be pudding or gelatin and the drink will be hibiscus flower tea (jamaica) or a rice drink called horchata.
DINNER – CENA
After lunch everyone heads back to work and often works until 7 or 8 in the evening. Once they’re back home again they might start thinking about food around 9 pm. This time it will be a smaller meal, more of a snack really. A quesadilla or something left over or a pizza to share. In larger cities restaurant reservations for la cena start at about 8 and most restaurants will stay full until closing. No matter the meal, Mexicans take their time and especially at dinner they enjoy a leisurely time chatting and sipping a nice mezcal or tequila until it is time to head home. This is called sobremesa and is my favorite time of the meal.