Wanderluxe Home’s Guide to Oaxaca, Mexico
Part Two: Foodie Adventures
Oaxaca, Mexico is one of the most amazing places we have visited for Wanderluxe Home to date. As you wander the historic cobblestone streets of Oaxaca City or watch The Women of the Red Clay in San Marcos Tlapazola transform earth into art – you feel inspired. In our first post on this majestic city, we explored the cultural and biological diversity. But we also loved all the foodie spots we came across in Oaxaca as well.
The diversity not only provides places to explore and historic roots to discover, but it also cultivates an incredible food scene. Due to the incredible assortment of products available and the distinct cultures present, their cuisine is some of the best in Mexico.
Oaxaca is also the heart of the Mezcal culture of Mexico, producing over 70 percent of the nation’s mezcal. Walking the streets, you can’t go more than a few steps without passing another traditional mezcal bar, and as foodie feigns we absolutely loved it.
As we explored, we crafted an exclusive list of our absolute favorite spots for foodie finds in Oaxaca… here it is!
Where to Eat: A Foodie’s Guide
For a Unique Take on Local Cuisine:
Casa Oaxaca | Calle de La Constitución #104-A, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
When we arrived in Oaxaca for the first time, this special spot was our first stop. Located in a unique hacienda-style building, the interior exudes a homey feel. Light wood tables and chairs that pop against the whitewash walls. Modern light fixtures blend perfectly with the historic vibe of the hacienda. An open ceiling accented by dark hand-carved wood soars above. It’s a truly stunning spot, and the service and food were both impeccable.
The chef aims to provide a foodie experience that mixes flavors and senses, elevating traditional Oaxacan dishes. We tried the fresh, handmade salsa which they make tableside. The unique add-on? Chapulines! Chapulines are the toasted grasshoppers that are very traditional fare in Oaxaca. Even if you aren’t an adventurous eater, try them! They’re super tasty.
The chef creates plates with locally sourced products. You will see this through all the fresh market produce highlighted on the menu. They serve the produce aside delicious seafood and pork, both typical for the area and most smothered in mole. Mole is a very traditional dish in Oaxaca, it’s a sauce made from chiles, tomatillos and tomatoes, a mix of spices, sometimes chocolates and nuts. There are so many varieties, all made so differently. Some moles are sweet, some spicy – but they’re all a little smoky and earthy. Super delicious!
If you’re a vegetarian this is the perfect spot because they have lots of vegetarian-friendly options.
For an Upscale Dining Experience (A Foodie’s Dream):
Criollo | Francisco I. Madero 129, Santa María del Marquesado, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
If you’re looking for a true dining experience beyond a standard meal, Criollo is a must-try. This understated restaurant is in a less touristy area of Oaxaca and is owned by globally renowned chef Enrique Olvera. He hails from Mexico City and is the brains behind the famous Pujol restaurant that we love (enough to highlight it in our Mexico City guide).
The restaurant offers a seven-course meal that features transformed Oaxacan staples and internationally inspired plates. They do accommodate dietary restrictions, even though it’s a nightly set menu. As someone who is mostly vegetarian/ pescatarian, I was super appreciative of this. It’s not always easy to find spots that so seamlessly provide an incredible dining experience, especially abroad.
Highlighted plates could range from tamales filled with savory huitlacoche, tacos filled with greens, Caribbean-inspired seafood dishes, and so much more. It’s a meal you will talk about for years to come.
They also have a stunning garden outside where they grow a lot of their produce themselves. No wonder the dishes are so incredibly flavorful!
For the Best Breakfast:
Boulenc | Calle Porfirio Díaz 207, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Bakeries aren’t the first thing that come to mind when you think of Mexico. But once you start wandering you realize panaderias are a daily staple in the lives of many Mexican families. Our favorite was Boulenc Pan. An artisanal bakery, this local spot serves up fresh loaves of bread, pastries, pizza, and more. Their buttery, flaky croissants are the perfect base for any breakfast sandwich. Beyond the bread, they also serve up items like homemade yogurt and a yummy shakshuka.
They are also open in the evening and they freshly bake bread and pastries around 5:00 p.m. for those who prefer their treats later in the day.
For the Best Local Foodie Finds:
Mercado 20 de Noviembre | 20 de Noviembre 512, OAX_RE_BENITO JUAREZ, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
If there is one thing we really need more of in the United States it is markets. This colorful central market is a hub for the community in Oaxaca. You can find stalls for just about anything you want or need under one roof!
Markets are the best place to get a feel for the local people. You can see where they shop, dine at the stalls with the longest line, listen in on conversations. The moment you walk into the market for the first time it is exciting and intriguing, you’ll likely want to stand there for just a moment to take it all in. You’re listening to the clanking of pots and pans and neighbors catching up. Smelling the distinct aromas of traditional cuisine swirling all around you. Taking in all the colorful signs and bright papel picado that line the aisleways. It’s such an incredible experience, even if you don’t buy anything.
As you walk in, you’ll find staples like fresh tortillas and empanadas. One thing you must try when at the market is the Tlayudas. Many people compare it to pizza because the base is a huge tortilla, covered from edge to edge with refried beans. It’s then topped high with things like chorizo, Oaxacan string cheese, lettuce, tomato, and lots of avocado.
For meat-eaters, head to “El Pasillo de las Carnes Asadas”. The market is famous for the fresh, grilled meats prepared and sold in the stalls you find there.
Where to Drink Mezcal
Mezcal is an Oaxacan way of life. So much so that we dedicated an entire blog post to it!
When experiencing Oaxaca we stumbled upon so many amazing local mezcalerías. Each had their own favorites, some even made their own brand of mezcal. Typically, the bars will offer a mezcal tasting. They will set you up with a few glasses filled with mezcal that originates from different areas, that come from different varieties of agave so you can experience the diversity in this local staple. Every foodie needs to expand their palate, and mezcal tasting is the best way to do that!
Check out our post on Mezcal to discover more about the production and the best spots to taste it around Oaxaca!
Where to Stay
All proper adventures, especially foodie adventures with heavy Mexican eats, require the perfect place to rest your head and have a nightcap. Oaxaca City is a fantastic spot to explore Oaxaca and all the surrounding areas. It’s a great jumping-off point, and there is so much to discover right in the city. Our favorites are:
Hotel Los Amantes Oaxaca | Calle de Ignacio Allende 108, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
In terms of location, you can’t get any better than this beautiful boutique property right in the bustling center. The makers of Los Amantes mezcal, a popular global brand that originates in Oaxaca, own the hotel as well. One of the best features? The amazing rooftop. As you step onto the rooftop you’ll realize the bar offers some of the best views of the city. The views go for days, overlooking Oaxaca City’s charming streets and soaring mountainous landscapes.
While you’re taking in all the scenery around you, you can order a mean cocktail (we recommend it with Los Amantes mezcal, of course!) and meet visitors from all over the globe. It becomes an amazing melting pot of cultures with so many people whom we were able to learn more about the city from their adventures! Don’t forget to order an appetizer too. You can order guacamole with chapulines here as well, they also have a really tasty hummus made from guaje. Guaje are the pods that grow on the leadtree, and they are actually what Oaxaca was named after, so it’s only fitting you give it a taste!
There are ten suites that are elegant and impeccably designed to highlight the local culture. Each room boasts art crafted by local artisans, which you can purchase in support of the artisan communities throughout Oaxaca.
Casa Antonieta | Miguel Hidalgo 911, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
If you’re a history buff, you must stay at Casa Antonieta. The building is one of the first buildings that the Spanish built in Oaxaca in the mid-1500s. It was an old convent that was one of the first places inhabited in the city. When designing the hotel, they maintained the history, the authentic architecture, and the overall feel of this historic property which is oh so charming.
As you enter the hotel you’re welcomed by a bright open courtyard with magnificent stately pillars and iron accents with unique designs in the doors and railings. The design of the rooms is incredibly unique. They mix modern, contemporary design elements with the brick of the original restored façade. It’s such an incredible place, we’d highly recommend staying a few nights while you explore the city.
Subscribe for Oaxaca Artisan Handicrafts
We’re going to be launching our first seasonal subscription box soon, friends! We can’t wait to share with you the luxury homewares we have sourced from our favorite spots and artisan partners in Mexico. If you want to be the first to know when you can purchase your box, join our e-mail list!