Alfonsina: The Award-Winning Restaurant Hidden in a Home in Oaxaca, Mexico

Alfonsina fuses haute cuisine with home-style cooking
Alfonsina fuses haute cuisine with home-style cooking | © Carlos Jose Urquijo / Culture Trip
Daniela Castillo Gómez

Trained by some of the best chefs in Mexico, Jorge León has created a new, hidden gastronomic experience that mixes traditional home cooking with five-star dishes.

Loved by over 40s

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

The best-kept culinary secret of Oaxaca

The façade is just like any other Oaxacan house. The adobe bricks frame the entrance and a series of metallic sheets act as a roof to protect the building from the intense sun. There is no sign, no outdoor terrace, no hostess and no website. The only way to know that this particular residence is actually a restaurant called Alfonsina is by word of mouth.

“That’s the chef’s house,” one of the neighbors says, pointing at the main door.

Jorge León worked with some of the best chefs in Mexico before returning to his hometown

Once you cross the gate, you’re welcomed by the mouthwatering aroma of freshly made tortillas and sweet mole sauce. The kitchen station is right next to the dining tables, so you not only get to enjoy the cooking process from start to finish, you also get the chance to talk to Jorge León, the founder of Alfonsina.

Alfonsina opened its doors to the public in November 2018. After working with some of the best chefs in Mexico, León returned to his hometown with the idea of creating not only a restaurant, but a completely different dining experience. And now, with the help of his mother, Elvia, he mixes traditional and modern techniques to feed locals and foreigners alike.

A home away from home

Located twenty minutes away from Oaxaca City and isolated from the main popular spots, Alfonsina has relied entirely on word-of-mouth to keep afloat. However, despite the limitations, this unusual eatery won the New Restaurant of the Year Award in 2018, granted by New Worlder Magazine.

High-end plating meets home-grown Oaxacan flavors at Alfonsina

Although chef Jorge is proud of his achievement, he clarifies that Alfonsina is not really a restaurant in the typical sense.

“There isn’t just one word to define Alfonsina,” he says. “It is not only a restaurant or a hotel. It is an experience. Alfonsina is home.”

León says he wanted to create a place where people could eat, but also rest, relax and share their daily lives. That’s the reason he decided to locate it inside his parents’ house and not in a commercial space. Additionally, Alfonsina doesn’t have a fixed menu. Their daily dishes depend on the produce they find at Oaxaca’s Supply Center, which they can customize to meet their clients’ needs.

“We ask our customers if they have allergies, or if they don’t like a particular ingredient, like onions, garlic or hot peppers, so we can prepare a personalized meal. We also use only fresh and seasonal produce, and every day we offer a different option. Our dishes are never the same.”

From dishwasher to world-renowned chef

Despite having a brilliant culinary career, Jorge admits that his journey into the gastronomic world happened out of necessity.

“I was young and needed the money,” he explains, “I was walking by when I saw a sign outside Casa Oaxaca. They were asking for dishwashers, so I entered the place and told them to take that sign off, because the new dishwasher had just arrived.”

Casa Oaxaca is one of Latin America’s 50 best restaurants. However, Jorge confessed he had never heard of the place before applying for the position.

“My mother was always passionate about food, but I never felt the same way until I started working in a kitchen. And after that, it changed my life.”

Alfonsina uses only fresh and seasonal produce

After getting to know the chefs and displaying some of his innate talent, Jorge began receiving training from some of the world’s most renowned culinary personalities. Gourmet Award Winner and founder of Casa Oaxaca, Alejandro Ruiz, became a mentor to Jorge. Thanks to him, Jorge was able to learn the most advanced food techniques. This knowledge eventually led him to work at Pujol, which is not only the best restaurant in Mexico, but in all of North America.

Jorge’s abilities caught the eye of Pujol’s owner, Enrique Olvera, who put him in charge of the Oaxacan-inspired dishes.

“It really opened my eyes to a whole new world,” León explains. “When I arrived, Pujol was already a world-class restaurant, so I wasn’t sure how could I contribute to it. But, in the end, I was able to bring a bit of Oaxaca to the dishes, and that is something that will always make me proud.”

Haute cuisine meets homemade cooking

If there is something that stands out about Alfonsina, it’s the coalition of two worlds. At first sight, it looks like a traditional Mexican fonda (eatery), but the dishes are at the level of a five-star restaurant.

With his experience in Casa Oaxaca and Pujol, Jorge decided to take all his learnings and apply them in Alfonsina. However, he went a step further and combined these high-class techniques with his mother’s traditional cooking.

“Alfonsina is all about mixing the old with the new, the traditions with the avant-garde,” he says. “I wanted to offer my customers the comfort of a home-cooked meal, but with the influence of the greatest chefs in Mexico.”

The aroma of tortillas and mole fill the air

Every day, Jorge’s mother Elvia prepares breakfast and a dish of the day, while he works on a five-course menu. The contrast is surprising, but also harmonizing. The clay bowls and rustic wood-fire oven blend with the high-end plating and exotic flavors, offering guests the best of both worlds.

“When you’re from Oaxaca, you don’t need to be a professional chef to recognize good food,” León assures. “You grow up with great tortillas, great salsas, great moles and great mezcal, so you automatically become an expert. I wanted to share this knowledge with my customers and show them a bit of Oaxaca’s gastronomical quality.”

Whether you want to enjoy a traditional bean tlayuda (savory Mexican crêpe) or a luxurious sea bass sashimi with coconut, Alfonsina caters to every palate while making you feel at home.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.