Many people are familiar with Mexico’s stunning beaches, and we can now say that the country’s interior is just as spectacular. Oaxaca is as high as Denver, has a sub-tropical climate, is surrounded by beautiful mountains, and is known as the culinary capital of Mexico. So there’s no shortage of excellent dinning options in Oaxaca. From cheap eats to fine dinning, here are a few places we absolutely loved. Plus we’ll recommend an excellent place to unwind with a massage, and our perfectly located Airbnb with the best balcony.
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1. Terraza Los Amantes
Terraza Los Amantes was our absolute favorite spot in Oaxaca — which says a lot after spending a week dining everywhere from market stalls and street vendors to a chef’s table, a cooking class, and fine-dining tasting menus. We had a 6pm seating and got the very best table overlooking the cathedral on a gorgeous night at sunset. We came for the view, and the food and service were also 5-star quality. We highly recommend the Aztec soup, croquettes, shrimp, and nuez dessert. Everything was delicious. Our server was also so kind and helpful with our Spanish. This is a great place to visit whether you’re in Oaxaca for awhile or only a short time because you’ll get a feel for the stunning landscape and beautiful local dishes with a sophisticated spin.
An experience like Crudo is one-of-a-kind. The Oaxacan-Japanese fusion omakase tasting was so unique — and every dish was perfectly presented and absolutely delicious. While expensive for Oaxaca, it was worth every penny and still only a fraction of what this experience would cost in the U.S. or Canada. We had to make a reservation through WhatsApp well in advance and pay a deposit — which makes total sense because the Chef’s Table style of dinning can accommodate only 8 people. The dinning room is spacious yet intimate, and we really enjoyed chatting with the chefs and the two other couples at our seating.
3. Mercado 20 de Noviembre
Give your wallet some time to recover by visiting one of Oaxaca’s many traditional, covered markets. Mercado 20 de Noviembre was our favorite one, and it offers many wonderful food stalls serving traditional Oaxacan dishes like mole negro and Tlayuda (the authentic Mexican pizza). We were blown away by how beautiful all the markets were in Oaxaca. It was also nice to have a $5 meal!
4. Try the Street Food
Speaking of affordable options, you will see plenty of vendors lining the streets selling all kinds of fantastic foods. Our favorite calorie-packed treat was Dorilocos — Doritos tops with all kinds of ingredients, like lime juice, chili powder, peanuts, cheese, and sauces. Some people get really loco and add gummy bears and other candies (but we’re big on the savory).
5. People Watch at the Zocalo
A Zocalo is a main square in Mexico — and Oaxaca’s is beautiful. We visited the Zocalo every day, sometimes up to three times a day. The vibe changes from morning, afternoon, and night. It’s a great spot to have a drink and people watch. The food was just OK — as you would expect at such a touristy spot, but it’s well worth it for the vibe.
6. Sign Up for a Cooking Class
One of our favorite things to do as we travel the world is participate in cooking classes. You get intimate knowledge about how the local dishes are prepared and an opportunity to learn with love from a local chef or home cook. Our vegetarian cooking class with Etnofood was fantastic. First we went to La Mercado Merced to select some ingredients. Then we made mole amarillo — which is traditional to Oaxaca — and empanadas (though perhaps they are called something different in Mexico?) This was such a great way to honor the local produce. With so many amazing fruits, vegetables, and beans, you will not even notice the lack of meat!
7. Escondido Oaxaca
We were lured into Hotel Escondido Oaxaca by the beautiful rooftop lounge and decided to try dinner in the first-floor dinning area. We opted for the chef’s tasting menu, which was super unique. Each dish honored a local vegetable and made it the star. From corn, to beets, to huauzontle — and a prickly pear tamale for dessert. The meal’s beauty lies in its simplicity. While it was not the most filling dinner, it was definitely one of the most interesting and delicious.
Where to Stay
Our Airbnb was so perfect that we had to include a link here. Our two-bedroom apartment was located on a plaza in the heart of town near one of the many cathedrals. Oaxaca is a city of celebration, and we could view the parades from our balcony and hear the festivities of the plaza below. While the location may be too lively for some, it was perfect for us. Our balcony was huge and provided a lovely place to unwind with a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at sunset. And the inside of the condo was super comfortable and spacious, too.
Bonus: Get a Massage at Xolotl Spa
Oaxaca is a great town for walking and eating. You’ll surely be looking for a break at some point and we highly recommend getting a massage at Xolotl Spa. The place is simple, clean, and affordable — and the massage therapist are friendly, professional, and highly skilled. We loved it so much we went twice!
Have you been to Oaxaca? What do you recommend? Let us know in the comments.
2 responses to “Where to Eat (and Stay) in Oaxaca Mexico”
I loved this one! I need to go! Love all of the foodie adventures you had here. I didn’t know it was as high as Denver!
You gotta add it to the list. Next up in MX: San Miguel de Allende 🇲🇽