Flavors of the world: Our favorite food spots in Oaxaca
While Mexico City dominates in the arena of street food, Oaxaca brings a potent mixture of ancient wisdom and local flavor to the table. It's easy to see why Oaxaca is recognized as a culinary powerhouse around the world.
It would be impossible to give a complete review of all the tasty offerings you can find in this vibrant city. But here are a few places that kept us coming back for more.
Av. de la Independencia 403
Located just a couple of blocks from the Zócalo, this tiny eatery blew us away on our first visit. Their smoky salsa that comes with fresh bread was one of the best salsas we've had in Mexico. We put it on everything we ordered. Combining their own unique dishes with flavors of the Oaxacan coast, these guys consistently serve killer food. And at $40 pesos for a savory sandwich or $80 pesos for an entrée featuring a mouthwatering filet of fish, you can't beat the price.
Ceviche at Benito Juárez Market
Corner of Calle de Ignacio Aldama and Miguel Cabrera
If you wander towards one of the corners near the meat and seafood section of the Benito Juárez market, you're likely to see a small crowd huddled around a counter drinking cold beers and holding cocktail glasses filled with ceviche. With three sizes to choose from (ranging from $35 to $85 pesos) you can make this a tasty snack or a filling meal. If you order it con todo y picante and crumble some of the saltine crackers on top, you won't be disappointed. Tangy, sweet, and spicy, this mix of shrimp, octopus, and avocado will delight any seafood lover. After a walk around the market, grab a bite at this family-run corner kitchen while watching the game.
Av. Belisario Domínguez 513
Despite being across town and about a 30-minute walk from our apartment, we couldn't help but make the trip to Itanoní several times. This breakfast and lunch spot offers an impressive lineup of delicious Oaxacan treats for a very reasonable price. We definitely recommend the mole tamales and the tetelas con quesillo. The restaurant prides itself on its heirloom corn-based concoctions, and we can confirm that their tortillas and masa kick ass.
Food cart at the corner of Bustamante and Miguel Hidalgo near the Zócalo
Hands down, our favorite place to grab an evening snack. If you love potato chips, you'll love these fresh cut, paper thin spuds. Our usual was the bucket of hojas con todo. The true genius of this place are the toppings they put on: hot sauce, soy sauce, freshly squeezed lime juice, "jugo" (still not exactly sure what this is?), and chili powder. And to satisfy our sweet tooth, we usually ordered a side of fried plantains with lechera, too.
Miguel Hidalgo 1111
This vegetarian-friendly spot was the perfect lunch date for the two of us. The pastel papel picado hanging from the ceiling and dainty wooden tables create a light, charming ambiance. Like most restaurants that offer a menú del día, you get a starter, entrée, drink, and dessert all at a bargain for $75 pesos. But what sets Casa Taviche apart is the creativity of their dishes. From the molete to the yellow mole to the squash tart, each plate was as beautiful as it was delicious.
Esquite at the night market off Periférico
On Monday and Thursday nights starting around 9 pm, there's a huge produce market located near Central de Abastos off Periférico. We only found out about it because we happened to befriend a local whose sister-in-law runs a restaurant and does her shopping here and took us along one night. All the food there is super fresh and cheap — we got the juiciest and sweetest pineapple we've ever tasted here. But you also have to check out the esquite, a yummy snack consisting of boiled corn kernels mixed with queso fresco, mayonnaise, chili powder, lime juice, and hot sauce. Though esquite stands are prevalent throughout the city, the difference here is that they fry the corn as well.
Calle de J. P. García 207
After eating so much rich and heavy food in our travels through Mexico, we were craving something on the lighter side. This vegetarian/vegan restaurant and natural products store had just what we were looking for: veggie burgers, vegan tacos, refreshing juices, and creamy smoothies. Being from the States, we're used to paying a premium for healthy vegan food, so you can imagine our surprise at paying a mere $60 pesos for a plant-based burger and a large smoothie. At one point we realized we'd been to Trigo Verde four days in a row, and our bodies were happier for it.
Calle Porfirio Díaz 207
This bakery and bistro combines the craftsmanship of French breads and pastries with the flavors of Mexico. While known particularly for their pizzas, everything on the menu is fabulous. We really enjoyed the savory mushroom sandwich on house-baked bread and the egg, ham, and cheese croissant. The small things, like the pickled veggies, artisanal cheeses, and infused oils, added special touches that made every bite memorable. And before you go, it's worth finishing off with a rich cup of coffee and a flaky pastry.
Ever been to Oaxaca? Let us know some of your favorite eats in the comments!