Mexico’s state of Oaxaca has some of the best traditional Mexican food in the entire country. There are so many delicious options that it can be hard to decide where to spend your precious stomach space. Here are 10 restaurants in Oaxaca that we believe are not only worthy of your hunger, but will also give you a real feel for the region’s cuisine.
Led by well-known Mexican chef Pilar Cabrera, La Olla is one of the city’s most popular restaurants. The food is traditional, yet inspired by Cabrera’s love for playing with local ingredients to achieve something familiar and yet phenomenal. Chiles rellenos, chulupas, traditional soups and a great “menu of the day” that could offer up some of the vast range of cuisines that Cabrera excels at. Cabrera is also famous for her moles, so make sure you try at least one. And she offers cooking classes if you want to go behind the curtain and see the master at work.
With an incredible view of the nearby Santo Domingo church, Mezquite restaurant and bar is a great place to spend an afternoon in Oaxaca city. You can eat there all day. For breakfast we like fried eggs with both red and green salsa, bean paste, and purslane. For lunch how about something light, like their plate of Oaxacan cheeses, and for dinner, definitely the catch of the day in green mole with squash blossom cream and encrusted in roasted grasshoppers. At night this place fills up with locals and residents and is a lively place for a mezcal and a snack.
With a location in Mexico City and one in Oaxaca City, Los Danzantes has made a name for itself in representing Oaxacan cuisine from around the state. We definitely recommend you start with cheese wrapped in fragrant hierba santa, and follow that up with a pork shank in manchamantel mole (literally the “tablecloth stainer”). The ambiance of Los Danzantes in Oaxaca City is half the experience—super romantic and, despite its size, intimate, under a cloth canopy which folds back on warm nights to give you a view of the stars above.
Right in the heart of downtown, La Biznaga is a trendy and welcoming spot that draws in a very mixed local and tourist crowd. Sit in its open patio and have a regionally-inspired cocktail, or enjoy Oaxaca’s gastronomical flavors—mole, local cheeses, amarenth, or pumpkin seeds. They also have delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches that follow a more international style. Finally, don’t miss out a chance to sample a local craft beer or mezcal—Biznaga has a wide selection of both.
Catedral is a well-respected and long-standing traditional restaurant in Oaxaca City. It sits in one of those grand old colonial structures and has various corners for an intimate dinner with your beloved. Their menu is replete with the most traditional Oaxaca dishes—beef fillet in a Oaxacan pasilla sauce, wild trukey in mole negro, and beef medallions and pickled criollo zuchinnis in corn mole. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, so you have plenty of time to fit La Catedral into at least one of the mealtimes.
Mercado 20 de Noviembre
Oaxaca’s quintessential local market, you can find everything deliciously Oaxacan you dream about here. The market is famed for its hot chocolate and pan de yema (egg bread), as well as lots of other Oaxaca delights like tlayudas, roasted grasshoppers, and melt-in-your-mouth quesillo cheese. The center of the market is where you will find all its eateries, and there’s no shortage of great options—enchiladas, chiles rellenos, mole, tacos dorados and more. You can also purchase blocks of Oaxaca chocolate for making your own at home, and walk through the aisle of cured and smoked meats for sale. You won’t go home hungry.
Las Quince Letras
Head chef Celia Florian takes great pains to source her ingredients locally and work with local producers to support sustainable agriculture. The restaurant is part of the Slow Food movement, and they have a strong commitment to preseving local food traditions in Oaxaca. Try the xochitl soup, the chiles de agua en caldillo, and the grilled quesadilla with epazote, and finish up with a Oaxacan hot chocolate.
Zandunga focuses its menu on regional fare from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the southeast part of Oaxaca, as well as a region that is shared by the state of Chiapas and Tabasco. This area of Oaxaca is unique in its culture and cooking, and includes ingredients like fresh seafood (because of its proximity to the ocean) and other lowland animals like armadillo and iguana. Look for dishes like tamales de cambray, a savory-sweet tamal with chicken, raisins, almonds, and capers, and the isthmus‘ famous stews called estofadas. You will find the ambiance and the food a delight.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
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.