- North America
- Ellie Ross
With incredibly flavourful dishes, recently we’ve seen a few restaurants springing up abroad which share the culinary delights of Oaxaca (Wah-hah-kah). These venues have helped to spark interest in this region; if you find yourself in Oaxaca here’s our guide to the best restaurants to discover just why this particular branch of Mexican cooking is so special.
When you crave bagels, fresh orange juice, veggie sandwiches and freshly brewed coffee – head to Cafe Brujula. This intimate cafe will satisfy all your New York brunch-style needs whilst also providing typically generous Mexican portions. Situated within a quiet patio area studded with colourful tiles and warm terracotta walls, Cafe Brujula is right in the middle of the centro historico, bringing a sense of authentic culture to proceedings. The moist banana cake is a particular speciality and to be best enjoyed with a glass of iced coffee against the sonorous background of relaxed live jazz.
Named after one of the most popular films in Mexican history, Calabacitas Tiernas alters their menu daily to offer seasonal variation and refreshing culinary experiences. The food is vegetarian, traditionally Oaxacan and creatively crafted, with an emphasis on local ingredients and well-seasoned food. Reviewers of the restaurant consistently compliment the freshness of the ingredients and the cosy atmosphere: it;s a locally popular venue that offers delicious Mexican flavors prepared in an intimate, welcoming environment. For 90 pesos ($7) expect soup, salsa, salad, dessert and tea.
Calabacitas Tiernas, Macedonio Alcalá, Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico, +52 951 201 2582
One of the most striking aspects of Casa Oaxaca is the number of Mexican wines on the wine list. There are five choices in total including a Casa Madero Chenin Blanc and a Blanca Mexica Mission. As for main dishes, enjoy a combination of deer on fried sweet potato with grasshoppers and cheese or fresh, wild mussels. The food is exciting and consistently evolving to reflect seasonal flavors and ingredients, all prepared and served in a beautiful, boutique hotel located in the heart of Oaxaca’s cultural district.
Casa Oaxaca, Garcia Vigil, Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico, +52 951 514 4173
Catedral offers Oaxacan fine-dining. Dainty slivers of regional beef come atop a bed of local cabbages and juicy olives, served with tortillas and fresh guacamole with lashings of lime. The flavors are precise and strong but never overwhelming, offering something refreshingly lighter than the meat-orientated restaurants in the surrounding area. Finish your meal with the tart sorbets then kick back and relish the culinary fusion and convivial atmosphere.
Catedral, Calle de Manuel García Vigil 105, Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico, +52 951 516 3285
A pervading air of smoky deliciousness and bowls of sweet-roasted peppers is how most people remember Itanoni. This restaurant focuses on using corn in every way possible. The menu is a mix of fine-dining options and street-food inspired dishes, resulting in fantastic fusion of strong, urban flavors and delicate, high-brow arrangement. Their signature dishes are the antojitos – corn-based dishes that are traditionally the centerpiece of many Mexican meals. The quality of the corn enhances the simplicity of the dishes to create meals with incredible flavor and delicate texture. Full of businessmen with laptops, school kids and tourists, Itatoni is the place to be if you like corn, great food and a fun-loving atmosphere.
Belisario Dominguez, San Antonio de la Calle, Oaxaca, Mexico, +52 951513-9223
At La Biznaga, enjoy mojitos in an effortlessly trendy setting or choose another regional-focused cocktail from the menu. As for the main dishes, the black mole with chicken is one of the signature dishes at La Biznaga. The restaurant describes itself as an arte-cafe and sandwicherie but the real treats at La Biznaga are the fresh soups. As well as being a feast for the eyes, the Crema de Roquefort al Chipotle con Pistaches y Pepitas is full of rich, creamy, cheesy flavors and packs a real punch.
La Florecita de la Merced
With a standout location in the center of the market, La Florecita is one of the best open-hatch restaurants serving tostadas, tortas and tostaditas. Whilst advertised as simple ‘workers’ meals, the cuisine is flavorsome and authentic, with locals leaning on the bar and enjoying snacks and full Mexican fare. With waiter service and long communal tables, La Florecita serves great memelitas. Sit and watch the busy market open up around you, tuck into plates of beans, grilled meats and mugs of hearty, spicy hot chocolate.
La Olla is both a local gallery and a cafe with many stunning works of art painted by local artists available for perusal. The restaurant is a rustic 30 seat eatery with a hand-painted tile hearth at the center. The cheese selection is locally considered to be one of the real perks of La Olla, accompanied by piles of fresh, tangy green salsa. Another great aspect of La Olla is its strong belief in administering free food to its much-loved customers. Almost before you’ve sat down, you’re presented with fresh bread, tortillas, vegetables and salsa. This attention to detail really contributes towards creating a relaxed, buoyant mood and allows the staff time to prepare dishes with the utmost care and attention.
La Olla, Calle de Reforma, Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico, +52 951 516 6668
Los Donzante’s have three restaurants scattered across Southern Mexico, but the one in Oaxaca is locally considered to be outstanding. Their salads in particular are crisp and fresh with unique flavor combinations – perfect for enjoying in the hot climate. Choose from a spinach, apple and avocado salad with a tangy mustard dressing or opt for something heartier such as Southern Highlands meat stuffed with creamy local goat’s cheese and sprinkled liberally with herbs. The night patio is an ideal spot to sit and gaze out at the darkening city, enjoy the panoramas with a crisp glass of white wine.
Los Danzantes, Calle Macedonio Alcalá, Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico,+52 951 501 1187
The quirky name comes from the pitonia plant, a shrub used frequently in Oaxacan cuisine. Diners can expect versatile and delicious food at the eccentric Pitiona, with food crafted by Jose Manuel Banos Rodriguez – who briefly trained at the three Michelin starred El Bulli in Spain. The experimental menu includes dishes such as lamb accompanied with a rosemary ice cream and chicharron which is crunchy and fragrant. Try the six course tasting menu for a full whack of southern Mexican flavor.
Pitiona, Ignacio Allende, Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico, +52 951 514 4707