Tomato and mezcal soup, delicate seafood ceviches and margaritas made using caramelized lime are all on the menu in this food-loving Pacific beach resort on the Oaxaca coast.
Once a practically untouched stretch of Pacific coastline, Huatulco’s purpose-built stretch of places to stay and play now reaches across nine scenic bays and some 30-plus beaches, shouldering wildlife-rich Huatulco National Park at its northern end. Further inland, the town of Santa María Huatulco goes about business as usual, catering to a trickle of backpackers en route to the Oaxacan coast. It’s also a very food-friendly corner of Mexico, with Oaxaca being the undisputed queen of the country’s varied culinary scene.
When it comes to top-quality, unpretentious seafood, few can compete with Kayuko’s, at the north end of Santa María Huatulco town. Visitors to this low-rise, red-brick joint can enjoy some of the area’s freshest fish and shellfish, with ceviche, sushi and even a lobster burger on the menu. Seating is mostly open-air and spread around a tropical garden terrace. Why not treat yourself to one of their colorful cocktails to sip while choosing your food.
Part of the Hotel Quinta Bella, Aroma is considered one of the finest restaurants for experiencing typical Oaxacaña flavors. Many dishes are served in traditional tlayudas – think crispy edible bowls – and others with Asian-fusion elements. Dumplings de mar are a particularly tasty example, while their moles (traditional sauces) are as good as you’ll find anywhere in the region. Beyond average touches, such as caramelized lime margaritas, show genuine innovation.
With an elevated position directly overlooking the gorgeous Chahué Bay, Clio’s has certainly snagged itself quite the enviable sea-view setting. Sibling chefs Olivia and Roberto de la Fuente employ French culinary techniques to reinterpret Mesoamerican cuisine, with exceptional results. They open from breakfast through to dinner, fusing Mediterranean with Mexican flavors and only the finest meat and seafood. Tomato and mezcal soup is a popular starter and you’d be hard pressed to find a better ceviche in Huatulco.
This small restaurant is located just off a leafy square next to Huatulco’s Santa Cruz marina. It opens for lunch and dinner, serving up an eclectic menu of dishes ranging from the likes of buddha bowls to grilled octopus, with a liberal sprinkling of Thai cuisine. There’s a real emphasis on market-fresh ingredients (hence the name) and word is spreading about how outstanding their food is, so best to book ahead.
Housed in a breezy thatch-roof palapa, overlooking the pretty cove of Playa Arrocito, Ocean Restaurant scores highly for its setting. As you’d expect from the name, seafood forms the core of the menu here, with renowned Oaxacan chef and owner Eugenio Santillana at the helm. Dishes range from resolutely regional to Italian, Asian and simple juicy burgers, topped with guacamole. Those with a sweet tooth might want to save some space for the churros popcorn with chocolate, a dessert highlight.
Another one of Oaxaca’s top places to eat, embedded in the Hotel Quinta Bella, Restaurante Uno earns the number one spot for outstanding Asian cuisine. The likes of table-top shinpo grills and a shabu-shabu hotpot ensure an authentic Japanese-accented dining experience. All the gadgetry is backed up with top-quality ingredients and well-thought-out flavors, too. Choose a protein and marinade, or plump for one of their mixed selections to share in a couple or group and get cooking right where you sit. Fun and delicious.
A fact easily gleaned from the name, this central Crucecita restaurant is where you come for your hit of traditional Oaxacan flavor. Most agree this is where you’ll find the best moles in town, with a veritable rainbow of the wonderful sauces available on the menu. Several dishes feature chapulines (fried grasshoppers), as well as a good choice of tlayudas (a plumper regional take on tacos). There’s also a tasting platter if you don’t want to miss a thing.
This locals’ favorite serves big portions of tasty seafood in the laid-back and unpretentious setting of a thatched palapa. The family-run restaurant is a perfect antidote to the more touristy options, though still easy to find in La Crucecita’s dining district. Cooked-to-perfection tuna steak comes highly recommended and their garlic butter shrimp will have you contemplating a return visit. Look for the building painted with colorful murals of deep-sea divers and sea creatures.
During your visit to Huatulco stay in a beautiful beach hotel overlooking the ocean or travel up to Oaxaca for a more local stay, all bookable through Culture Trip. Need more inspiration? Check out our best recommendations of what to see and do in Oaxaca state, as well as the best bars in the city.
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