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Oaxaca Food Guide

Welcome to Oaxaca City, the culinary paradise nestled in the heart of Mexico’s gastronomic landscape. Oaxaca welcomes food lovers from around the world with their diverse and mouthwatering cuisines. From complex moles to tlayudas and tamales, Oaxaca offers a myriad of options. No visit is complete without some mezcal and street food delights, so check out these favorite spots for the best Oaxaca food.

title Oaxaca Food Guide with three small polaroids: one of grasshoppers, one of green enchiladas and the last one of raw meat at a market

Pan con Madre

This bakery is my favorite in the city, offering amazing pastries and coffees. Pan con Madre has a beautiful courtyard with free WiFi. I loved the rol dulce de leche and the croissant de espinacas. The croissant used lots of butter (not always a given in this part of the world) and sesame seeds baked into the bottom. It was flaky and warm. They offer sourdough and seeded bread loafs too for those Europeans in need of real bread. 


Ocote Cocina 

This local spot offers a mix of Oaxacan dishes, pastas and pizzas. But don’t think the array of food means the flavor is lacking. I ordered the green enchiladas and an arugula salad. Both were excellent. My friends enjoyed the black mole (great price for the dish) and some pastas. All in all the service at Ocote Cocina was wonderful and the food was delicious. 


Los Pacos Oaxaca

This region of Mexico is known for mole, a rich sauce often made with chocolate. If you are short on time or just want to try as many as you can in one sitting, visit Los Pacos Oaxaca and ask for the mole tasting before you order. They will bring 7 types of mole for you to try! You can then select your favorite as your main dish. The prices are higher than other places, but I think the service and ability to try so many kinds of mole in one the place justify the price tag for this one meal. Note: There are two locations! I walked all the way to the Los Pacos Oaxaca before I realized there was one in the historical center – Los Pacos Centro! So don’t do what I did. ☹


Levadura de Olla

This more upscale restaurant in Oaxaca offers some flavorful traditional dishes, as well as unique spins on contemporary Mexican food. The ambience is wonderful with a covered courtyard and separate smaller dining rooms for more privacy. Service is friendly and helping, speaking both English and Spanish. I would steer clear of the eggplant though; any time I see it on a menu, I always order it, but I’m afraid the chef doesn’t quite know how to cook it. The other dishes were delightful and one of the few places they provide complimentary crunchy tortillas and sauce to start. Levadura de Olla accepts reservations and credit cards.


Mayordomo Chocolate

Oaxaca is synonymous with chocolate. If you are looking for some local tastes, head to one of the many Mayordomo stops for hot chocolate, cold chocolate milk or various chocolate candies. Some locations offer a full menu and others are a stop and shop. While I have to say the choco mio (cold chocolate) is really just a large chocolate milk, when it’s 90°F outside, it’s the best thing since sliced bread. The glass comes frothy with little pieces of ice still in it. Quite a refreshing beverage for $2.50.


Oaxaca Food Tour 

When in Oaxaca, food and mezcal are the main reasons to visit. Viajero Hostel offers an amazing Oaxaca food tour for 300 pesos on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week (you can stop by the hostel to sign up). You will get to sample molotes, which are like open faced quesadillas with bean paste, meat and cheese. You also get to try tejate, a refreshing drink made with cocoa flowers and sugar. It’s like cold chocolate water. We also ate the famous local dish-  tlayuda and 9 flavors of nieve (snow cone ice cream). In the middle, we stopped at a local meat market and ordered large platters of chorizo, steak and pork, served with fresh tortilla, cactus and guac. No food tour is complete without the option to try grasshoppers! We ate big and small grasshoppers with chili lime salt. I actually preferred the large ones and enjoyed the salty crunch! 


*If you don’t want to take a tour with a bunch of backpackers, you can sign up for this street food tour that visits many of the same locations and gives you the chance to try so many different Oaxaca foods.

If you want to try different Mezcals and don’t want to leave Oaxaca, you can visit the Mezcal Cultural Center. They offer several different mezcal tastings. If you are looking for a cheaper option, visit La Mezcaleria, where you can try 3 types of mezcal for 200 pesos. 


Oaxaca Craft Beer

If all the mezcal makes you want to drink some beer, head to Oaxaca Brewery for some delightful craft brews. I loved the passionfruit pilsner and the dark cacao pilsner. You can order 6 oz, 12 oz or full pint (16 oz) sizes. The service is attentive, and they provide each table with some nuts and cold water. Can’t beat it! Prices are ~100 pesos for a full pint.


Oaxaca City is a culinary destination like no other, where the flavors of ancient civilizations meld into the modern innovations to create an authentic and unforgettable dining experience. Every bite feels like you are curling up at the feet of your abuela and listening to the stories of old. If you are looking for more contemporary spins on Mexican dishes, visit CDMX and be sure to check out my post on the best restaurants in Mexico City. Buen provecho!


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